Posts tagged: Wildlife and Places

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Wildlife and Places


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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.

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View Kari Birdseye's blog posts
18 July 2012, 4:16 PM
Shell’s latest Arctic blunder
Noble Discoverer being towed away from land on July 14. (Photo courtesy of Kristjan Laxfoss)

U.S. Coast Guard divers are now on the way to Dutch Harbor, Alaska to inspect the 571-foot drill rig Noble Discoverer, which is scheduled to drill three exploratory wells in the American Arctic waters of the Chukchi Sea as early as August. The locals say it ran aground in the harbor in broad daylight on Saturday and took pictures to prove it. Shell Oil Co. says otherwise; it “lost its moorings and came close to the coast.” We’ll have to wait and see what the Coast Guard has to say about reasons for the mistake.

The company that can’t keep a ship in safely anchored in a harbor (in four-foot seas!) has had a tough couple of weeks. First the company told the federal government it based its nearshore and shoreline oil spill cleanup equipment on the “assumption” that the company will be able to recover 90 percent of any oil spill in the water, which helped get approval of the spill plans. Later Shell took it back and said it only expected to “encounter” 90 percent of the oil spilled, whatever that means. Then Shell asked the Coast Guard to let the company back out of its commitment to have its oil spill containment barge, the “Arctic Challenger,” meet the 100-year storm-worthy standard and instead drop to the less-stringent 10-year storm standard. And just last week, Shell said whoops, it can’t meet the air pollution standards imposed by it Clean Air Act permit and asked the federal government to lower them …

View Trip Van Noppen's blog posts
13 July 2012, 9:54 PM
Drilling proposals foreshadow larger struggle over Arctic

(Trip Van Noppen is President of Earthjustice)

Shell Oil’s Arctic drilling plans are premised on a growing legacy of broken promises regarding the company’s ability to protect the fragile Arctic from drilling impacts. And, as in the past, Shell is again asking the federal government to be lenient, accept more empty promises, and let the drilling begin.

This isn’t surprising. It’s a trend we’ve experienced during the last five years of successful legal and public advocacy efforts aimed at keeping Shell out of the Arctic until it proves that it can drill without grievously wounding this magnificent ecosystem.

The latest Shell failure happened a few days ago when Shell announced that one of its two main drilling ships – already in Alaska – couldn’t meet the standards in its air permit from the Environmental Protection Agency. Meanwhile, Shell also is reneging on its commitments to meet Coast Guard standards for its oil spill containment barge. Shell expects the EPA and the Coast Guard to ignore the problems, so Shell can drill this summer.

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View Jessica Knoblauch's blog posts
13 July 2012, 1:56 AM
Plus: Toxic ships, seed wars and dirty produce

Extreme gas drilling fracks up ice cream ingredient
Hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, may cause a worldwide ice-cream headache by eating up supplies of a food additive that’s used in everything from ice cream to cosmetics, drugs and explosives, reports the Houston Chronicle. It turns out that guar gum, a magical white flour-like substance that’s added to all kinds of foods for thickening, binding and volume enhancing, is also useful for forcing pockets out of gas out of deep fissures in the earth. Currently, purchasing guar gum accounts for about one-third of fracturing costs. A typical fracking job requires about 20,000 pounds of the stuff so it's unsurprising that the U.S.'s fracking boom has put a strain on guar gum availability over the past few years, causing prices to skyrocket. That’s bad news for ice cream lovers since guar gum is one of the main ingredients in the dairy dessert. So what does the fracking industry get for ruining our water, our air and now our ice cream? According to Grist, the industry gets a tax loophole that allow gas industries like Chesapeake Energy Corp. to pay just 1 percent in income tax over the last two decades. There’s got to be a better way to get our energy

Navy rekindles its love for dumping toxic ships into U.S. waterways
The U.S. Navy is going back to its old ship-dumping ways, reports the LA Times. After a nearly two-year moratorium spurred by both cost and environmental concerns, the Navy will soon dump three inactive warships into Hawaii’s waters as part of a series of naval exercises known as RIMPAC. In late 2011, Earthjustice sued the U.S. EPA for failing to adequately regulate the Navy’s ship sinking program, which pollutes the sea with a group of highly toxic chemicals called PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls). Though PCBs were banned by the EPA in 1979, they still linger in many of the Navy's old ships. Currently, the Navy is required to document the amount of toxic waste that’s left on the ships while removing as much as the material as possible. But, environmental groups believe that the Navy should clean up the vessels to higher standards before sinking them, especially because some of the toxics have been found to eventually work their way into the ecosystem.

View Kelsey Oliver's blog posts
09 July 2012, 11:42 AM
Mountain Heroes are my inspiration

With the Fourth of July comes a resurgence of patriotism, fireworks, and tasty BBQs, but also the opportunity to reflect on what makes America so great. Here at Earthjustice, we like to think that part of what makes this nation so great are its mountains, our “purple mountain majesties,” and the uniquely American history embedded in those slopes and valleys.

As part of honoring America’s mountains, this week’s featured Mountain Hero is Iraq war veteran Jonathan Gensler, a former officer and native of West Virginia.

In his story, Jonathan reconnects the history of America to its mountains:

The battlefield at Blair, spread across the ridgelines slated for destruction, is the site of the momentous coal miner uprising that launched our nation’s workers’ rights movement and remains the largest violent uprising in our nation’s history since the Civil War. The importance of this site goes far beyond Logan County and is pivotal in understanding and remembering the struggles of our forefathers to give working men and women basic rights—a history the coal industry would also like us to forget.

Jonathan Gensler.

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View Kari Birdseye's blog posts
06 July 2012, 3:38 PM
A tale of Americans hard at work
A large lead develops north of Point Hope in the Chukchi Sea during sea ice breakup in late May. Chukchi Sea, Alaska. (Florian Schulz / visionsofthewild.com)

Many Americans used a Wednesday Fourth of July as an excuse to take the entire week off as a holiday. Here’s a patriotic tale of two examples of those who didn’t and we thank them for it.

First off—my red, white and blue hat is tipped to the Los Angeles Times for the excellent reporting today on the not-ready-for-prime-time oil spill cleanup barge called “Arctic Challenger” being readied to head to the Arctic. It is a story that most definitely didn’t come from a Royal Dutch Shell Company press release. In fact, I’d bet the winnings from a watermelon eating contest that Shell’s folks aren’t pleased with the story at all. During these lean times for newspapers, the enterprise article on a piece of cleanup equipment, vital to Shell’s final permits to drill for oil in America’s pristine Arctic waters, is about as apple pie as it gets.

The second nod goes to the Coast Guard—for this from Coast Guard Cmdr. Christopher O’Neil, chief of media relations:

Because of the intended use of the Arctic Challenger and the harsh conditions experienced by maritime traffic in the Arctic, the Arctic Challenger is required to be able to withstand the forces generated by a 100-year storm. The operators of the Arctic Challenger contend that the 100-year standard is too stringent of a design standard, and that a 10-year [storm] standard is more aligned with historical conditions for the area of the Arctic they intend to operate [in] this summer.

View David Lawlor's blog posts
02 July 2012, 2:37 PM
NMFS dragging its feet on implementing safeguards

If you were a false killer whale off the Hawaiian coast you’d probably be calling ocean 911 right about now on your underwater cell phone.

You’d frantically shout: “Hurry, send help now! Us false killer whales are being killed by longline fishing hooks!” And the ocean 911 operator would respond: “We have been receiving a lot of calls from you false killer whales and I’m going to tell you what I tell everyone else: you’re just going to have to sit tight and wait because the National Marine Fisheries Service is still figuring it out! Have a nice day and may the odds be ever in your favor.”

Seriously, NMFS, what’s the deal? The agency said it would finalize its plan by last December to reduce the number of false killer whales dying at the hands of Hawai’i’s longline tuna fishery. Well, here we are at the start of July and still no final plan; the agency says it needs more time. But if you’re a false killer whale dodging longline hooks just to stay alive, excessive delay and bureaucratic hand-wringing is the last thing you need.

View Jessica Knoblauch's blog posts
28 June 2012, 5:17 PM
Plus: Pesticide poisonings, fracking evictions and druggy meat

Bumblebees join honeybees in buzzing off
It turns out honeybees aren’t the only pollinators experiencing mysterious, massive die-offs, reports Grist. Bumblebees, those fuzzy, buzzy bees that pollinate everything from alfalfa to apples, are also disappearing. That’s bad news for farmers...and anyone who happens to like eating food. According to research published last year, the abundance of some bumblebee species has declined by as much as 96 percent in a mere two decades. One reason for the massive die-off may be a lack of wildflower-rich habitats. Another may be pesticides, which have been under increased scrutiny after two scientific studies linked a commonly used corn pesticide to the die-offs of pollinating bees. And yet still another cause may be climate change, which impacts the bees’ habitat range.
 
Pesticide poisoning all too common among farmworkers
The EPA estimates that up to 20,000 physician-diagnosed poisonings occur each year among agricultural workers but since no comprehensive database to track pesticide exposure incidents currently exists, there may be a lot more incidents that go unreported, reports iWatch News. Lack of data is just one of the many challenges in making agricultural fields safe for farmworkers, who often come in contact with toxic pesticides that can cause nose bleeds, rashes and vomiting. Another challenge  is that many farmworkers are illegal immigrants, so they're reluctant to speak up in fear of getting reported to the federal authorities. Currently, Earthjustice, along with other groups, is trying to increase protections for farmworkers by pressing for upgrades to the Worker Protection Standard, which hasn’t been thoroughly revamped in 20 years. 
 

View David Lawlor's blog posts
27 June 2012, 4:02 PM
Court decision protects biologically rich area from oil and gas development
The Rulison Gas Field on the Roan Plateau. (Photo by Save Roan Plateau)

How much are oil and natural gas worth? I’m not asking how much a barrel of sweet crude is going for these days or what your gas bill from the utility company was last month. The real question isn’t how much fossil fuels cost in terms of dollars, but rather, what is worth sacrificing in their pursuit? Since the physical process of extracting oil and gas tends to severely despoil the surrounding environment, asking how much oil and gas are worth is akin to asking what nature is worth.

But in nature, there is value that dollar signs cannot quantify—take Colorado’s Roan Plateau for instance.

View Liz Judge's blog posts
27 June 2012, 2:03 PM
Mountain Hero continues the work of her celebrated mother, Judy Bonds

Could there be a love more unconditional and more powerful than the love of a mother for her child? Most mothers I know would say, "No, not even possible." But if you've ever observed the adoring eyes of a child looking up to his or her mother, you might think twice.

Lisa Henderson's story is a remarkable tribute to this love and bond between mother and child.

Through our Mountain Heroes campaign, Lisa tells the story of watching her mother, renowned anti-mountaintop removal mining activist and Goldman Prize winner Judy Bonds, grow into a leader of the movement to save mountains, communities and people.

Lisa Henderson. (Chris Jordan-Bloch)

View Liz Judge's blog posts
25 June 2012, 12:55 PM
Please join them and add your photo petition

Junior Walk is not a celebrity. He grew up in Whitesville, West Virginia, born into a family of coal miners and workers. When he was just a kid, the water in his family's home became contaminated with coal slurry. Though it was blood-red and smelled like sulfur, Junior, who was just a child at the time, thought that was normal. Surrounded by neighbors who all eventually dealt with the same contamination.

"I thought that's what water did," said Junior, "It just went bad."

When he grew up, the day finally came when Junior had to make a choice. Stay silent and see his family and his community continue to be poisoned, or speak out and get kicked out by his father and threatened by neighbors who were afraid to go against the coal companies.

Junior Walk did what every hero has done. He did the right thing.

Junior Walk. (Chris Jordan-Bloch)

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