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.

Learn more about Earthjustice.

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)

1 Comment   /   Read more >>
View Erika Rosenthal's blog posts
22 June 2012, 1:56 PM
Nations take positive actions to enhance ocean protections

The news out of the Rio+20 Earth Summit has been bleak. World leaders, yet again caught in the headlights of financial crises and electoral cycles, fundamentally failed us and the planet. However, there is a bright spot—and it is blue. Both the formal Rio text and the voluntary, on-the-ground and on the water commitments nations made, are a reason for hope.

The oceans sequester, or absorb, about 30 percent of the CO2 we spew into the atmosphere from burning fossil fuels. But this remarkable environmental service, helping to moderate the climate impact of our fossil fuel addition, comes at a heavy cost—ocean acidification.

Ocean acidification has created renewed urgency to reduce pollution, over fishing and coastal damage to build ocean ecosystem resilience against the adverse effects of carbon pollution. The only long-term solution to acidification is deep cuts in CO2 emissions, but to ensure that as much marine biodiversity as possible survives the inevitable acidification in the coming decades, building resilience is essential and urgent.

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View Roger Fleming's blog posts
22 June 2012, 12:16 PM
Finally, oversight coming for poorly regulated fisheries
Herring school.

A special thank you goes out to the thousands of Earthjustice supporters who took action over the last few months by writing to the fishery management councils. Your voices made a huge difference.

After a long struggle, we just concluded two great weeks in the campaign to protect forage fish, some of the most important fish in the sea.

I want to share with you some of the details about what happened.

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View Jessica Knoblauch's blog posts
21 June 2012, 2:54 PM
Plus: Body snatching weeds, clean air apps, cold chemicals, pineapple pesticides

Mexican government saves miracle reef
Cabo Pulmo, an ecological treasure and the jewel of California, recently received a stay of execution after the Mexican government announced its decision to cancel a mega-resort development project near the reef in Baja California Sur, reports the LA Times. The cancelled Cabo Cortes resort development was by far the largest of three proposed development projects near the area (two still remain). The government’s decision comes after the Interamerican Association for Environmental Defense (which partners closely with Earthjustice) challenged a conditionally approved environmental impact assessment, arguing that the new developments would harm the rich biodiversity of the nearby Cabo Pulmo National Park. Though threats to the reef from other projects and intensive marine resource use remain, the Mexican government’s decision is a big win for defenders of the 20,000 year-old reef, which  has experienced an unprecedented 463-percent increase in biodiversity just 10 years after Mexico established the surrounding the reef as a Marine Protected Area. 

Higher CO2 levels breathe life into body-snatching weeds

Weeds, those pesky invaders that break through sidewalk cracks and blemish perfectly good vegetable beds, are getting a leg up over agriculture crops thanks to increased CO2 emissions, reports ScienceNews. According to recent research, because weeds can adapt more quickly to a changing climate than food crops, they’ve already figured out how to use increased carbon dioxide to their advantage. Food crops, on the other hand, are slow learners by design so that their tastes are not constantly changing, which keeps consumers happy. Though faster growing weeds are a headache in their own right, the more troubling finding of the research is that carbon dioxide makes the weed-like quality in weeds more contagious. As CO2 emissions increase, researchers found that the weedy natural form of rice “increasingly hybridized with the crop plants,” with the result being a diminished value and quality of the cultivated rice. In other words, the crops that breeders have spent decades cultivating into perfect specimens could eventually be transformed into weeds. It seems that when it comes to climate change, you really do reap what you sow.
 

View Liz Judge's blog posts
19 June 2012, 11:13 AM
Congress finally addresses community health emergency in Appalachia
Mountaintop removal mining devastates the landscape, turning areas that should be lush with forests and wildlife into barren moonscapes. (OVEC)

Big news today in our fight to end destructive mountaintop removal mining: 13 congressional leaders joined to introduce legislation to protect communities and families from the dangerous health effects of our nation's most extreme form of coal mining—mountaintop removal mining.

The Appalachian Community Health Emergency Act is the first federal legislation to address the human health effects of mountaintop removal mining. More than 20 peer-reviewed scientific studies show significantly elevated birth defect rates, early mortality rates, cancer rates, and major disease rates in areas of mountaintop removal mining. There is truly a public health emergency, and these studies point the blame to mountaintop removal mining.

This bill aims to protect communities and address this health emergency: It would require the Department of Health and Human Services to conduct thorough health studies on the human impacts of mountaintop removal, and until it is proven that this form of mining is not killing, harming, or sickening families, children, and people across Appalachia, it would place a hold on all new mining permits.

View Jim McCarthy's blog posts
15 June 2012, 1:01 PM
Fish-friendly project on Sacramento nears completion
Chinook salmon

One of the most significant measures undertaken to protect California’s iconic Sacramento River salmon runs and improve fish passage will enter its final stage this summer.

Workers are completing a new, more fish-friendly pumping station at the former Red Bluff Diversion Dam, a river-spanning structure operated by the Tehama Colusa Canal Authority. The dam’s seasonal operations had provided water for 150,000 agricultural acres for decades, but also prevented threatened and endangered salmon, steelhead, green sturgeon and other fish from migrating to and from their spawning grounds.

The win-win project is the result of trailbreaking efforts by Earthjustice attorneys to help struggling Sacramento salmon populations. Those efforts started way back in 1988, when scientists realized that the river’s once-mighty winter-run Chinook salmon population was headed for extinction.

View Ted Zukoski's blog posts
15 June 2012, 3:54 AM
Agency pushes lose-lose-lose-lose coal mine expansion
The Sunset Roadless Area.
(Photo: Ted Zukoski)

Coal is dirty.

It’s the dirty fuel that gives us mercury in our lakes, acid rain in our skies, carbon pollution, leaky ash ponds, and scraped-off mountains and buried streams in Appalachia.

And just like the coal itself, Arch Coal’s proposed West Elk mine expansion into the Sunset Roadless Area in western Colorado will be a lose-lose-lose-lose proposition. Sadly, that doesn’t mean it’s going away.

View Jessica Knoblauch's blog posts
15 June 2012, 3:41 AM
Plus: Testy turtles, gas pump fallacies and Alberta oil spills
Seaside in Victoria, Australia (Shutterstock)

Australia announces world’s largest marine reserve
Just in time for this week’s Rio+20 Earth Summit, Australia has announced its plans to create the world’s largest marine reserve, reports the BBC. The protected zone will cover more than a third of Australia’s waters (about 3 million square kilometers) and will include restrictions on fishing as well as oil and gas exploration. The announcement comes on the heels of another big environmental win, courtesy of the Australian government, which last week announced that it is putting a stop to a billion-dollar coal project that could negatively impact the Great Barrier Reef. Though this latest move to create a marine reserve didn’t quite go as far as some environmentalists groups would have liked, it’s a great first step in building resilient oceans, which are already being battered by overfishing, pollution, habitat loss, and now ocean acidification. Find out more about Earthjustice’s work to push for building resilient ocean ecosystems.

Turtle couple that’s been dating for decades calls it quits
After more than 100 years of companionship, a pair of Giant Turtles at an Austrian zoo have decided to call it quits, reports the Austrian Times. According to the zoo staff, the century-long love fest came to a seemingly sudden end after the female turtle, Bibi, attacked her partner by biting off a chunk of his shell. Afterwards, Bibi continued attacking the male turtle until he was moved to a different cage. Since there have been no apparent changes in the turtles’ routine, the zoo suspects that Bibi may simply want to be single and nothing—including “romantic good mood food” and couples —will change her mind.

View John McManus's blog posts
11 June 2012, 12:38 PM
Judge tosses road claim by Inyo County
Inyo County's claimed Last Chance "highway" starts in the center foreground. (Ted Zukoski / Earthjustice)

A 6-year legal battle to save some of Death Valley National Park’s wilderness areas from development paid off this week.

The national park (biggest in the lower 48) is in Inyo County, California. Inyo County asserted it had legal title to several dirt paths in the park under a Civil War-era federal law intended to promote highway construction across the west. This law, which gave local governments legal rights of way to highways that had been constructed within their jurisdiction, was repealed in 1976. Inyo County sued to gain title to the paths and Earthjustice attorneys Ted Zukoski and Melanie Kay intervened in the case to preserve the wilderness.

Inyo County called one of the paths in question the “Last Chance Road,” but it might as well have been called the “Road to Nowhere.” The route was little more than a sandy desert streambed for much of its path, and then it veered to two or three different destinations, depending on which maps you looked at—a point Earthjustice’s Zukoski and Kay made to the judge. Wash bottoms and little-used paths that don’t go any place in particular don’t count as “highways” under the law.

View Jessica Knoblauch's blog posts
08 June 2012, 11:13 AM
Plus: fatty flame retardants and debris tsunamis
Great Barrier Reef. (Shutterstock)

Coal project kept out of Great Barrier Reef
This week, Australian environment minister Tony Burke put a stop to a billion dollar coal project that could have negatively impacted the Great Barrier Reef, reports CorpWatch. The world’s largest coral ecosystem, the Great Barrier Reef contains an abundance of marine life, is one of the seven wonders of the natural world, and provides a major boost to the Australian economy. The massive coal project—the first of several proposed coal projects—would have increased the likelihood of damage to the delicate reef ecosystem by expanding the number of ship journeys occurring near the reef. Though Burke’s decision is a big win for the environment, many of the ocean’s reefs still face other environmental stressors like pollution and ocean acidification, which could alter their very existence. Currently, Earthjustice is working to reduce ocean stressors to help protect coral reefs and the millions of creatures (including us) that depend on them.

Flame retardants may be making you fat
Flame retardants are back in the news again, and this time they’re being tied to obesity, anxiety and developmental problems, reports the Chicago Tribune. According to new research, small doses of flame retardants can disrupt the endocrine system by altering levels of thyroid hormones, among other effects. Given that the average American baby is born with the highest recorded levels of flame retardants among infants in the world, the recent study is raising concern amongst researchers and parents alike. And though flame retardants have been widely touted as lifesavers for preventing household fires, research by government and independent scientists has found that they actually provide no meaningful protection from furniture fires. Find out more in the Chicago Tribune’s special report, “Playing with Fire.”