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Northwest

Residents rally outside Berkeley City Hall to show opposition to a proposed crude by rail project.

Is volatile crude oil coming by rail to a town near me? For weeks, I’ve been asking myself that question as I kept hearing about the skyrocketing number of trains that are transporting potentially explosive types of crude throughout the U.S. to East and West Coast export facilities.

And I’m not alone.

The largest environmental protest in Baltimore, MD, called on political leaders to stop Dominion Power's Cove Point liquefied natural gas export terminal on the Chesapeake Bay.

Last month, the people of Oakland, California, defeated a coal industry scheme to use export facilities to transport its dirty product to other countries. Public pressure and Earthjustice advocacy convinced port authorities to reject bids to construct a coal-and-fossil fuel export facility that could potentially transport more than five million tons of coal and petroleum coke per year. 
 

Ten years ago, my family saw firsthand the power of the Endangered Species Act in action. We were backpacking in the Grand Canyon and a California condor soared overhead. The sheer size of his wingspan was awe-inspiring. As we rounded the next bend, there sat the condor at the side of the trail, a marvel to behold.

In November, whales and other marine mammals along the Pacific Coast from Northern California to the Canadian border got a little help from a federal court. Magistrate Judge Nandor Vadas set a deadline of August 1, 2014 for the National Marine Fisheries Service to develop a plan that will ensure Navy sonar and live-fire training doesn’t violate the Endangered Species Act.

Two years ago, after a decades-long struggle that involved Native Americans, biologists, Earthjustice, and eventually Congress itself, engineers began to dismantle two century-old dams on the Elwha River on the Olympic Peninsula in Washington state. The river is only 70 miles long, but most of it is in the Olympic National Park, and so is in pretty good shape, having avoided the fate of other Pacific Coast streams, that have been badly damaged by logging.

A coal export ship.

The use of coal in the U.S. has declined over the past few years, and orders for new plants are being cancelled at an increasing rate, owing to pressure from Earthjustice and others and competition from cheaper natural gas. Meanwhile, President Obama has made increasingly stern pronouncements about moving toward a renewable energy regime.

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