Posts tagged: Wildlife and Places

unEARTHED. The Earthjustice Blog

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 Brian Smith's blog posts
02 August 2013, 1:07 PM
Earthjustice files suit to answer that question
Sea otters face many obstacles in the swim to recovery.  (Steve Lonhart / NOAA)

Should sea otters be allowed to repopulate Southern California?

Seems like a strange question, right?

When a highly imperiled species starts to recover in its native habitat, we should all be grateful and welcome them back. This has certainly been the story of the American bald eagle.

First off, let’s establish that these guys are undeniably cute. Did you know otters hold hands while they sleep so as not to be swept away from their loved ones?

And they’re not just adorable. They are also key to the health of California’s kelp forests and the many other marine critters—including shellfish and finfish—that depend on kelp forest habitat.

But being a cute keystone predator hasn’t protected the sea otter. Consider the history.

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View Liz Judge's blog posts
01 August 2013, 9:20 AM
Oil giant takes out self-pitying ads, plays the victim

Recently the oil giant BP placed full-page ads* in The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal pitying itself as the real victim in the aftermath of the Gulf Spill. BP claims it is being targeted by “unscrupulous trial lawyers” representing “thousands of claimants that suffered no losses” that “smell big bucks and want a piece of the action.”

It’s no surprise that the fifth largest company in the world, which raked in $388 billion in 2012 alone, is so out of touch with Gulf residents. Here’s the people’s side of the story since they don’t have millions of dollars to buy full page ads.*

View Ben Barron's blog posts
29 July 2013, 9:49 AM
Or why environmental law depends on anthropocentrism

The idea that humans should come first when it comes to our relationship with the natural world traces back to the roots of western culture. For example, in Genesis 1:26, God orders that mankind will “have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth.” According to that train of thought, we are the stewards of the planet. The earth belongs to us. It is ours to till and to keep—and to exploit, if we wish. There is a name for this kind of thinking: it’s called anthropocentrism. Humans at the center.

As the field of environmental law has developed and expanded, anthropocentrism has remained at its core. Since the first case Earthjustice ever argued, Sierra Club v. Morton, the key issue has been whether lawyers have “standing” to represent earth’s threatened species and spaces. To have standing, Earthjustice must represent a human client that has suffered or will suffer an “injury in fact” because of pollution, species extinction, or any other threat to the planet’s wellbeing.

View Patti Goldman's blog posts
19 July 2013, 11:28 AM
The song and sights of nature evoke pride for the work of Earthjustice
Paddling down the Colorado River. (Richard Kirst)

This is my first day back in the office after a week rafting and hiking in the Grand Canyon, a week spent marveling at the canyon’s majesty and trying to grasp its lessons of the earth’s history. The canyon wren serenaded us each day, and cicadas and fluttering bats each night. We floated through layers of time, eventually reaching Pre-Cambrian schist and granite, the bowels of the earth. As we climbed out and heard a cacophony of languages spoken, it gave meaning to Ken Burns’ depiction of our national parks as our Louvre, our contribution to civilization.

The vistas are awe-inspiring. Helped by the monsoon rains and Grand Canyon winds, we could see rock layers on the opposite rim. Earthjustice is working to keep it that way.

The Grand Canyon is 1 mile deep and up to 18 miles wide. (Richard Kirst)

The Grand Canyon is 1 mile deep and up to 18 miles wide. (Richard Kirst)
View Audrey Carson's blog posts
19 July 2013, 9:53 AM
Millions lose their fins and lives to the sharkfin soup market
Hammerhead sharks are common targets of the finning industry. (Ian Scott / Shutterstock)

Every year, Discovery Channel’s Shark Week concludes its program with a familiar saying: “Sharks have more reason to fear us than we have to fear them.” This comforting thought – more people are killed each year by falling coconuts than by sharks – has never been so true. Sharks are being brutally slaughtered for their fins by the millions, and at this rate sharks soon will be functionally extinct.

The butchery takes place at sea where fishermen haul sharks aboard to saw off their fins and then dump the still-living creatures back into the ocean. The finless sharks writhe to the ocean floor, where they die of suffocation or are eaten by other predators. This hack-and-run strategy known as “finning” allows fisherman to ditch relatively unprofitable meat and sail to port with their cargos filled only with shark’s fins, which can sell for up to $400 a pound as the key ingredient in shark fin soup. More than 80 countries participate in the global market for shark fins, but few outlaw finning; and most of the slaughter occurs in international waters, where the industry is entirely unregulated.

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View David Guest's blog posts
18 July 2013, 10:16 AM
Ag giant Lykes Brothers snubbed in attempt to fill creek, ban public access
A swimming hole at Fisheating Creek. (B A Bowen Photography / Flickr CC)

I’m happy to announce that we won the latest legal skirmish in our 23-year quest to keep one of South Florida’s wildest waterways open to the public.

On July 5, an administrative law judge in Tallahassee upheld the public’s right to boat, fish and picnic on the wonderful Fisheating Creek in Glades County, south of Lake Okeechobee. That right was imperiled by agribusiness giant Lykes Brothers, which owns most of the land on both sides of the creek. Lykes planned to provide the state with 3,300 truckloads of free sand, and had proposed that the state use the sand to close off the creek to ordinary folks.

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View Shirley Hao's blog posts
21 June 2013, 4:38 PM
And there's a surfer among them
Beaver lodge. (USDA)

The San Pedro, the last free-flowing river of the Southwest, has had an unusual cast of champions. Ecologists, birders, an emergency room physician—and yes, even attorneys—have fought to save the desert oasis's wealth from being wholesale diverted to indoor plumbing and lawncare.

Then, at the turn of the century, came a group of misfits, putting their hairy paws in service to the San Pedro. They were Castor canadensis—the industrious engineer known as the American beaver.

Beavers were once found across North America in such ubiquity that the famed 18th century surveyor David Thompson was given to remark that "this Continent … from the Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean, may be said to have been in the possession of two distinct races of Beings, Man and the Beaver."

View Kari Birdseye's blog posts
14 June 2013, 12:01 PM
Federal agency proposes handing protections to the states
The famed wolf OR-7.
(Richard Shinn / DFG)

If the Obama administration has its way, one of Oregon’s most popular travelers—OR-7—could be a goner. This week, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service proposed eliminating federal endangered species listing for wolves across nearly the entire continental U.S., handing protections to the states. This is bad news for wolves since many states are more interested in catering to powerful hunting and ranching interests than protecting this species that hasn’t yet recovered.

OR-7, a male gray wolf born in Oregon, left his pack in September 2011 to cross state lines, perhaps seeking a mate. He captured the imagination of school children and wildlife enthusiasts throughout the country as they followed his path—tracked by a radio collar. He’s traveled through ponderosa pine and mixed conifer forests, shrublands and woodlands and even crossed agricultural lands. He’s been caught on cameras planted in the wilderness.

Not one public sighting or run-in with ranchers or livestock has been reported. Nonetheless, OR-7—and untold numbers of other wolves—could be shot on sight if the FWS lifts federal protections.

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View Chrissy Pepino's blog posts
04 June 2013, 11:44 AM
320 miles of smiles
Earthjustice team members enjoying the coastline.

A traditional road trip along the Pacific Coast Highway provides many “oohs” and “ahhs” along the majestic ocean, and for good reason. The turquoise water and rolling hills encourage exploration around every twist in the road. Yet, through a 320-mile bike journey, I’ve learned that all senses are heightened when on two wheels. Our dynamic team of four women joined Climate Ride, a charitable bike ride, in an effort to fight climate change. Every rider took on the rugged terrain of winding roads with one mission in our hearts: sustainability.

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View Doug Pflugh's blog posts
16 May 2013, 10:00 AM
Lawsuit seeks to protect San Pedro River from huge development
The upper reaches of the San Pedro River.  (Melanie Kay / Earthjustice)

Earthjustice has worked with our partners for more than a decade to sustain the San Pedro River of southern Arizona. Our attorneys have taken legal action—a series of cases challenging inappropriate groundwater depletions by the U.S. Army’s Fort Huachuca—to keep water in the river until a balance can be struck between the needs of the river and the local communities. While we have had success through the years, the San Pedro is unfortunately one of those places where the effort to achieve a lasting solution has been difficult.

Champions of the San Pedro now have a great opportunity to change that tide and secure meaningful protection for the river into the future. A challenge was filed this week to a 7,000-unit suburban development planned for the upper San Pedro valley which had been given the go-ahead by the state of Arizona. This development would be fueled by groundwater pumped from the San Pedro watershed and will, if built, drain the remaining flows from the river. The challenge seeks to deny the planned groundwater pumping, force the state to acknowledge the authority of water rights granted to the San Pedro Riparian National Conservation Area and, by doing so, keep the river alive.

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