Tom Turner's Blog Posts

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Tom Turner's blog


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Everyone has The Right To Breathe clean air. Watch a video featuring Earthjustice Attorney Jim Pew and two Pennsylvanians—Marti Blake and Martin Garrigan—who know firsthand what it means to live in the shadow of a coal plant's smokestack, breathing in daily lungfuls of toxic air for more than two decades.

Coal Ash Contaminates Our Lives. Coal ash is the hazardous waste that remains after coal is burned. Dumped into unlined ponds or mines, the toxins readily leach into drinking water supplies. Watch the video above and take action to support federally enforceable safeguards for coal ash disposal.

ABOUT EARTHJUSTICE'S 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.

Tom Turner is an Editor-at-Large and unofficial Earthjustice guru after having been at the organization for more than 25 years. A lifelong resident of Berkeley, he is most passionate about Earthjustice's maiden issue, wilderness preservation, which he believes no longer gets the attention it deserves. Over the past two decades, Tom has told the captivating, influential stories of Earthjustice's work in three books and countless articles that have no doubt inspired the masses. When he's not bleeding ink, Tom enjoys watching baseball, playing jazz and umpiring Little League games. His favorite place in the world is, to quote John Muir, "Any place that is wild."

View Tom Turner's blog posts
16 December 2008, 4:20 PM
 

Poznan LogoAt the just-concluded U.N. climate negotiations in Poznan, Poland, Earthjustice attorneys Martin Wagner and Erika Rosenthal advocated for rapid action to reduce emissions of black carbon, now considered one of the most effective strategies to slow near-term global and Arctic warming.

This could prevent catastrophic, irreversible tipping points such as the melting of Arctic sea ice and the Greenland ice sheet, and buy time for implementation of critical strategies to cut long-lived greenhouse gas emissions.

Recent studies identify black carbon, a component of ultrafine particulate air pollution, as a critical climate warming agent both in the atmosphere and when deposited on snow and ice. Technologies exist to rapidly reduce black carbon emissions from diesel and coal sources, and fast-track mitigation efforts will have an immediate cooling effect. As black carbon is a leading cause of mortality from air pollution and accelerates the melting of glaciers that provide fresh water for millions, controlling these emissions is critical to promote sustainable development, improve human health and save lives.

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09 December 2008, 2:56 PM
 

Yes, one knows that the economy and the climate are jobs one through ten, but I can't help but be a tiny bit concerned that the new Obama administration still lacks a Secretary of the Interior, a Secretary of Agriculture, a Secretary of Energy, an Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, and a Chairman of the President's Council on Environmental Quality. Plus and all the under secretaries and assistant secretaries and directors and assistant administrators who will eventually be nominated and confirmed to carry out extremely sensitive and important tasks. I have no reason to think that these nominations will not be up to the standard of the nominations we've seen so far, but I hope this doesn't signal a back-burner approach to wildlife and public lands and national parks and national forests, and so forth. A large fraction of our oil and gas, for example, come from the public lands and a smaller but important fraction of our lumber and pulp too. One thing we're going to have to be vigilant about over the next months and years is to ensure that environmental regulations are not sacrificed in the name of economic recovery—and you can be sure that such suggestions will be made. We need strong, bright people to run the environmental agencies, people who have the full support of the president.

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03 December 2008, 12:21 PM
 

As faithful readers will recall, we’ve been reporting on the saga of the Roadless Area Conservation Rule for a very long time. Put in place at the end of the Clinton administration and immediately hamstrung by Bush operatives, the rule, which bans most roadbuilding and logging on roadless areas of the national forests, has bounced around a dozen courthouses, with Earthjustice lawyers defending the measure from attacks by states and the timber industry as the new government talked out of four sides of its mouth. Though there have been both wins and losses, the national forests have remained largely protected.

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01 December 2008, 3:29 PM
 

The Guardian, over there across the pond, has just published a splendid piece that should help put to rest some misconceptions about the ease, expense, and possibility of converting the world to a sustanable/green/you name it energy system. The writer is Chris Goodall, author of Ten Technologies to Save the Planet. He lays it all out succinctly and clearly, and I hope he gets a wide audience.

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26 November 2008, 10:44 AM
 

It appears that Compassionate Conservatism, the muddled sound bite that was supposed to guide activities early in the reign of George II, has made a comeback, at least insofar as it applies to killers of wildlife.

On November 24, right before Thanksgiving and right after Sarah Palin pardoned a holiday turkey and then proceeded to be interviewed on TV with full-scale turkey slaughter raging right behind her (I'm not putting in a link; it's just too gory), the president (can we say "lame-turkey" president?) issued 14 pardons. Here's the Associated Press And here's USA Today.

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19 November 2008, 11:39 AM
 

This blog posting by Earthjustice President Trip Van Noppen appeared this week in Celsias.

For all Americans who care about our environment, which is most of us, a hopeful dawn broke with the election of Barack Obama.

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18 November 2008, 12:03 PM
 

Mathis Wackernagel of the Global Footprint Network had an important (and scary) piece in the San Francisco Chronicle the other day that one hopes the new administration and the new Congress will take note of.

Using data from the United Nations and elsewhere, Wackernagel reports that we’ve been overdrawing nature ever since about 1970. That is, humans take more from nature—wood, water, marine life, soil, and on and on—than can be replaced year by year, so the deficit is accelerating.

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14 November 2008, 1:42 PM
 

Now let's see if I’ve got this straight. Thanks to two very expensive wars, tax cuts for people who don’t need them, and assorted combinations of malfeasance and corruption, the federal budget deficit is at an all-time high and growing like kudzu.

So what's the response to the financial and monetary crisis? Why bailouts, of course. A new stimulus package. Where's the money coming from? That's what I can't figure out. Printing presses, I guess. Pretty soon we'll be like those Europeans in the famous Depression-era photographs with, literally, wheelbarrows full of paper money headed off to buy a loaf of bread.

I'm no economist, but spending our way out of a shortage of money reminds me of Dave Brower’s deathless line: "That's like sobering up on martinis."

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05 November 2008, 12:45 PM
 

So what will this incredible development mean for the earth? Time will tell, of course, but we here at Tom's Turn are quite optimistic, both because of and in spite of what was said in the campaign.

The first thing to watch, as always, is the appointments—Interior, Energy, EPA, climate czar if there is to be one, and the under secretaries and assistant secretaries and others in the supporting cast. When Bill Clinton won the first time, he hired quite a few people from national environmental groups, as did Jimmy Carter. You can bet resumes are pouring into the Obama transition team right now. I, for one, have heard no rumors on that score so far.

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29 October 2008, 12:20 PM
 

Have they no shame? (Hint: No.)

We speak of the current band of varlets and scoundrels just ending their eight-year reign of terror in our nation's capital. With both presidential candidates lambasting Mr. Bush and his henchmen daily, the lame ducks are hell-bent on wreaking as much havoc as they can in these last not-quite-three-months of their joyride.

One particularly odoriferous episode is still seeping out from under the backroom doors of the Interior Department—an attempt to rewrite Endangered Species Act regulations to remove the requirement that the Forest Service and other agencies consult with the scientific agencies before they undertake projects that might affect protected species. Another change would preclude the agency from considering global climate change in its decision process.

Now pay attention: this is incredible.