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Terry Winckler's blog

Today, the Savage Rapids dam—reputedly the worst killer of Rogue River salmon—died a well-deserved death at the hands of those who spent decades seeking its removal. Heavy equipment removed the last barriers, fully opening a channel for river and fish to flow through.

For Earthjustice attorney Mike Sherwood, who watched today's demolition, this is a sweet day. He spent years litigating its removal on behalf of WaterWatch of Oregon. "This is a great day for the Rogue River, and for its coho and steelhead," Sherwood said.

Here's an eyewitness report on the demolition.

 

A lot of surprise—including from President Barack Obama himself—greeted today's announcement that he had been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. After all, he's only been in office nine months. But, the Nobel committee said it isn't achievement so much as the hope of achievement that Obama has brought to the world, especially when it comes to climate change:

"Thanks to Obama's initiative, the USA is now playing a more constructive role in meeting the great climatic challenges the world is confronting."

This award could encourage Obama to actually lead the U.S. delegation two months from now when it heads to Cophenhagen for the world climate summit. Who knows, he might even arrive with something from Congress in his back pocket.

Darkness and, with it, ice, are returning to Arctic Ocean waters after an ice-free summer that allowed two commercial ships to voyage across the top of the world. This is the second consecutive year that global warming unlocked these waters. Scientists believe the freeze-melt cycle will continue—and that, says The New York Times, is bad news for polar bears:

While open Arctic waters could be a boon for shipping, fishing and oil exploration, an annual seesawing between ice and no ice could be a particularly harsh jolt to polar bears.

As Earthjustice has consistently pointed out, Arctic polar bears already are stressed and threatened by industrial activity, and we are fighting to keep oil drilling from expanding into the bears' habitat. The growing impacts associated with climate change make our efforts even more essential.

The Environmental Protection Agency has taken another positive step towards reining in the destructive practice of mountaintop removal mining.

Today, the EPA declared that all of the 79 permits it was reviewing would violate the Clean Water Act and must undergo more in-depth environmental assessment by both the EPA and Army Corps of Engineers. This is a welcome action that Earthjustice called for two weeks ago.

Now, the two agencies have 60 days to review each permit. We can't imagine that they can reach any other conclusion than that these mines will cause irreparable harm to the waterways, land and communities of Appalachia. The permits must be denied, and beyond that, the Obama administration should follow up by reinstating and enforcing clean water rules gutted by the Bush administration.

Yellowstone's grizzly bears are back under the protection of the Endangered Species Act, thanks to a federal court decision overturning Bush-era directives.

The court ruled in favor of Earthjustice litigation by finding the Bush administration illegally removed ESA protections from the bear in 2007. In overturning the delisting, the court cited inadequate state laws and the ongoing demise of whitebark pine—a key grizzly food source—caused by global warming.

Because they grow in high, remote places, whitebark pine forests also keep grizzly bears out of harm's way: in poor seed years, grizzlies seek foods elsewhere, bumping into people more and dying at rates 2-3 times higher than in good seed years.

 

Wolf hunting began this morning in Idaho, as a federal judge continues to consider an urgent request by Earthjustice and allies to halt the hunting. A young female was reportedly the first wolf killed.

Earthjustice attorney Doug Honnold argued Monday for an injunction to stall hunting in both Idaho and Montana as part of a lawsuit seeking to restore protection of the wolves under the Endangered Species Act. Protections were removed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Idaho is allowing 255 wolves to be killed, and Montana 75.

 

Two experts on the plight of West Coast salmon fielded questions during a 30-minute online question and answer program with dozens of Earthjustice supporters. Attorney Mike Sherwood and media expert/former commercial fisherman John McManus offered insights on matters ranging from dams on the Klamath River to the proposed Peripheral Canal in the Sacramento Delta. Read the full transcript here.

Call it a no-brainer—today's decision by environmental and Native American groups to oppose a pipeline that would move the dirtiest oil on Earth into the United States from Canada.

Earthjustice attorney Sarah Burt, speaking on behalf of those groups, vowed to take legal action challenging the State Department for permitting the Alberta Clipper pipeline to carry Canadian tar sands oil from Alberta to Wisconsin.

"The State Department has rubber-stamped a project that will mean more air, water and global warming pollution, particularly in the communities near refineries that will process this dirty oil," Burt said.."The project’s environmental review fails to show how construction of the Alberta Clipper is in the national interest. We will go to court to make sure that all the impacts of this pipeline are considered."

 

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About the Earthjustice Blog

unEARTHED is a forum for the voices and stories of the people behind Earthjustice's work. The views and opinions expressed in this blog do not necessarily represent the opinion or position of Earthjustice or its board, clients, or funders. Learn more about Earthjustice.