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Rocky Mountain

Aspens in Gunnison National Forest.

Autumn’s beauty was on full display in Colorado’s aspen forests late last month.

So was the Obama administration’s schizophrenic approach to climate and public lands policy.

In late September, I was fortunate enough to spend a day each hiking through two roadless areas—Pilot Knob and Sunset—managed by the Gunnison National Forest.

Aspens in the lease expansion area.

It was a good day in court for Earthjustice and our clients after four years of fighting to protect the roadless forest in western Colorado from a coal mine that would deal a double whammy of damage through road construction and millions of tons of climate pollution. 

The Sunset Roadless Area is a 5,800-acre area within the Gunnison National Forest that provides great backcountry hiking and hunting, as well as habitat for goshawk, black bear, elk, and the imperiled lynx.

Google Earth satellite images of coal ash wastewater pollution from the Mill Creek Generating Station into the Ohio River.

When you think about pollution from coal-burning power plants, you probably picture smokestacks spewing out dirty air. What most people don’t realize is that coal plants are a huge water polluter—leaking more toxic pollution into America’s waters than any other U.S. industry.

We’ve filed two cases recently—one in Kentucky and one in Florida—to stop these toxic discharges into the Ohio River and the Apalachicola River.

Map of oil and gas development in the Roan Plateau Planning Area, created by Earthjustice and included in litigation filings.

At Earthjustice, we are not waging academic battles. While our cases play out in the courts, our work is firmly rooted in the real world. Behind the motions, arguments and decisions are people, wildlife and places whose fate depends on the outcome of our litigation.

Success in our work increasingly requires that we turn to a powerful tool—Geographic Information Systems, or GIS—to understand the where, when, what and who of our issues.

A fracking drill rig.

Colorado has emerged as a western ground zero in the fracking boom, with more than 50,000 active wells in the state and 3,000 wells permitted annually on average in recent years. The state is struggling to deal with this staggering growth as well as the changing nature of the industry as operations have moved into communities along the Front Range.

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