Over the last month, while oil spilled in the Gulf of Mexico has poisoned thousands of square miles of waters, coasts, fish and wildlife, there has not been much occasion for celebration. Today, there is finally some good news.
Revelations flooding out of the Gulf oil spill disaster provide damning evidence about the main federal agency tasked with regulating offshore oil leases. Corrupted by its closeness to the oil industry and lax oversight from political leaders, the Minerals Management Service allowed British Petroleum to drill under risk-heavy circumstances, in waters too fragile to sustain a major spill, without an adequate plan to keep a spill from being catastrophic.
Last week, Senators John Kerry (D-MA) and Joe Lieberman (I-CT) released a long-awaited discussion draft of their climate and energy bill, the American Power Act. Among the bill's big giveaways to polluters was a surprise invitation to exempt dirty old power plants from clean-up requirements for soot, smog, and toxics such as mercury.
In just two months, Shell Oil could do in America's Arctic Ocean what British Petroleum has done in the Gulf of Mexico—drill an environmental time bomb without being able to defuse it or deal with the consequences of it going off.
In both cases, we're talking about exploratory offshore oil drilling under conditions so extreme that the risks are unreasonable and the consequences severe.
In Appalachia, moving mountains is easy. What's hard is keeping them where they are. Coal companies have used dynamite's muscle to blast hundreds of the earth's oldest summits into neighboring valleys, permanently altering the landscape. But two recent developments are shaking the foundations of mountaintop removal mining, signaling that perhaps, at long last, what's moving is the mountain of science and law that compels the end of this destructive practice.
In a popular Simpsonsepisode, the diabolical Mr. Burns builds a giant disc to eclipse the sun and force Springfield's residents into round-the-clock reliance on electricity from his power plant. It's pitch-perfect cartoon sarcasm, but with a foot firmly in reality: the fledgling U.S. solar industry faces an array of Burnsian obstacles to its growth across the country.
A year ago, the 111th Congress looked like a friend to those who care about clean water. I praised Senators Russ Feingold (D-WI), Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Ben Cardin (D-MD) and others back then for introducing legislation that would restore teeth to the Clean Water Act.
Do household cleaners contain ingredients linked to asthma, nerve damage and other health effects? Manufacturers aren't telling, but Earthjustice attorney Keri Powell may have uncovered the key to their pursed lips.
In his State of the Union address, President Barack Obama made it clear—when it comes to the environment, we are at a crossroads. There is historic opportunity for us to lead the clean energy revolution that will transform our societies or watch as others claim the technologies, jobs and environmental benefits that will be its rewards.
Last year, the U.S. government started taking environmental protection seriously again, but as 2010 dawns, we continue to see political and economic interests preventing or stalling critical environmental solutions.
In the face of this opposition, this year Earthjustice is targeting key issues with our legal and advocacy work. Our focus is on three core priorities: building a clean energy future, protecting our natural heritage, and safeguarding our health.