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.


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 Terry Winckler's blog posts
03 May 2010, 8:27 PM
Will Democratic president also reverse course on offshore drilling?

The latest casualty of the Gulf of Mexico offshore oil spill is... offshore oil drilling. At least in California. The state's Republican governor, Arnold Schwarzenneger, today withdrew his own proposal to resume oil drilling off California. Swayed by images of the gulf spill, Schwarzenneger said:

"I see on TV the birds drenched in oil, the fisherman out of work, the massive oil spill and oil slick destroying our precious ecosystem. That will not happen here in California, and this is why I am withdrawing my support."

One can only hope that President Barack Obama sees the same images in the same light and reverses his support of renewed offshore drilling—especially in fragile areas like the Arctic Ocean, where Shell Oil is poised to sink exploratory wells as early as July 1... with Obama's blessing.

View Terry Winckler's blog posts
03 May 2010, 9:22 AM
Main body of oil a hovering threat to endangered tuna, turtles
Female loggerhead heading back to the Gulf of Mexico after laying her eggs. Photo:

Although oil from the Gulf of Mexico spill has been washing onto gulf coast beaches since Thursday, the main body of oil—perhaps the size of Puerto Rico and growing by at least 200,000 gallons a day—remains a looming, ominous offshore threat. <Update: Check out this New York Times map graphic showing how the spill is spreading.>

Onshore, clean-up efforts are assembling in four states, preparing for the worst-case scenario of heavy oil invading wetlands and feeding/breeding/birthing areas for more than 400 animal species, including endangered and threatened turtles that come ashore at this time of year to lay eggs.<Update: If there is any good news out of the spill, it is this: a necropsy on 25 dead sea turtles shows no connection to the oil spill.>

But, offshore there is only speculation at this point about what damage is being done to wildlife. The oil is spread across waters where the endangered western Atlantic bluefin tuna breed at this time of year, releasing their eggs to float in the currents. Earthjustice has fought for years to protect both the tuna and sea turtles.

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View Terry Winckler's blog posts
02 May 2010, 7:42 AM
Today's catastrophe won't happen, BP assured government
Video of President Obama's remarks after the jump.

<Update: President Obama, on the scene in Louisiana today where oil from a massive offshore drill rig blowout is coming ashore, said "a massive and potentially unprecedented environmental disaster" is occurring.>

<Update: Interior Sec. Ken Salazar said today that the Gulf of Mexico oil spill could be worse than the Exxon Valdez ship spill.>

For more than a year, British Petroleum downplayed any chance of a catastrophic oil spill occurring on the scale now threatening the shores and wetlands of four gulf coast states, The Associated Press and Gulf Restoration Network are revealing. As a result, the company had no plan in place to deal with what now is happening. AP reports:

BP's plan filed with the federal Minerals Management Service for the Deepwater Horizon well, dated February 2009, says repeatedly that it was "unlikely that an accidental surface or subsurface oil spill would occur from the proposed activities."

BP's oil rig blew out April 20, and is pouring oil at an estimated 210,000 gallons—some say much more—per day into Gulf of Mexico waters. According to AP:

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View Terry Winckler's blog posts
01 May 2010, 1:43 PM
Gulf of Mexico spill worse than Exxon Valdez? New reports.
Oil on the Alaskan shoreline following the Exxon Valdez spill. Photo: Alaska Dept. of Natural Resources

President Obama is heading to the oil-ravaged Gulf Coast tomorrow as his administration tries to catch up with a rapidly developing political and environmental crisis.

What he faces is an uncertain catastrophe that's been building for nearly two weeks since an exploratory oil rig exploded in the Gulf of Mexico, unleashing a torrent of oil into gulf waters. The spill's disastrous potential became public Wednesday as authorities revealed that 200,000+ gallons of oil are blasting unchecked from the well hole and can't be controlled for weeks or months.<Update: Today, estimates of the spill grew exponentially, with some sources saying more than 10 million gallons are afloat—akin to the Exxon Valez disaster 21 years ago in Alaska. The reports suggest that leakage is many times more than the most recent offical estimates.>

Oil from the spill first hit Louisiana's barrier islands Thursday night and is being pushed by wind and tide onto a broad expanse of coastline. Assisted by a looping gulf current, the oil is expected to assault Florida's western coastline by Monday. In the last few days, it has tripled in size.

As The New York Times reports, the potential harm could range from moderate to catastrophic. The threat is imminent for two wildlife species that Earthjustice has fought to protect for years: sea turtles and bluefin tuna. But, there are at least 400 animal species that dwell in the gulf's oil-threatened coastal areas.

View Terry Winckler's blog posts
30 April 2010, 5:09 PM
Earthjustice president says risks are too great to proceed
Exxon Valdez oil spill cleanup

In the wake of the disastrous Gulf of Mexico oil spill, Earthjustice is calling for a halt to further exploratory oil drilling off America's coasts -- especially in fragile Arctic waters. Earthjustice President Trip Van Noppen issued the following statement:

The tragic explosion and loss of life on the exploratory drilling rig Deepwater Horizon in the Gulf of Mexico reminds us that offshore oil drilling comes with continued risks to workers and the environment.

We welcome the White House announcement today that the administration would hold off on any new drilling until a full review of the spill in the Gulf of Mexico has been conducted. It is especially important that the pause in new drilling the administration announced today apply to current and future offshore drilling plans in America’s Arctic waters. Despite the dangers of offshore oil drilling, plans are already underway for new exploratory oil drilling to begin as early as July in the Arctic Ocean’s Chukchi and Beaufort Seas. If we are unable to contain the spill from Deepwater Horizon, how can we expect to do any better in the ice-laden Arctic Ocean.

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View Terry Winckler's blog posts
30 April 2010, 4:44 PM
Oil threatens what Earthjustice has spent years to protect
Kemp's Ridley sea turtle laying eggs

The disastrous spill of oil from an exploded Gulf of Mexico drill rig is threatening many sea creatures , among them species that Earthjustice has worked to protect for years—including Kemp's Ridley, the world's most endangered species of sea turtle—and the western Atlantic bluefin tuna.

The Ridley is among five sea turtles that live and breed in areas of the gulf being invaded, or soon to be, by the massive spill. By Monday, oil is expected to start fouling beaches in Florida where the turtles haul out to lay eggs. Earthjustice sued to protect the turtles from being incidentally captured by longline fishing that targets other species. Last year, in response, the National marine Fisheries Service ordered a 6-month emergency closure on longline fishing.

Oil has already spread across areas of the Gulf where endangered western Atlantic bluefin tuna breed at this time of year. As with the turtles, Earthjustice has been trying to protect the tuna from longline fishing. Bluefin tuna spawn in the same gulf waters fished by longline vessels. Because spawning bluefin are highly stressed, most hooked bluefin die even if they are released.

View John McManus's blog posts
30 April 2010, 12:31 PM
Former reporter recalls how Exxon Valdez spill hurt wildlife
Clean-up effort during Exxon Valdez oil spill

(Earthjustice Media Director John McManus remembers what it was like covering the Exxon Valdez oil spill as a CNN journalist)

The oil now washing up on the Gulf Coast reminds me of the last big oil spill America lived through, the Exxon Valdez spill 21 years ago.

On March 24, 1989 a supertanker that had just topped with oil left the port of Valdez and crashed into a submerged rock reef in Alaska's Prince Williams Sound. Eleven million gallons of north slope crude oil gushed from the side of the ship into the Sound.

Authorities immediately discussed lighting it on fire. There was even talk of the military firing missiles at the oil slick to ignite it. But the fires never happened. Maybe it was too cold, being Alaska. Instead the oil washed up on the beaches, headlands, harbors, villages and rocks that ring this giant bay. Some of the oil washed out of the Sound and into the Gulf of Alaska, fouling beaches hundreds of miles away on Kodiak Island and beyond.

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View Terry Winckler's blog posts
30 April 2010, 7:41 AM
Urgent citizen cleanup effort launched in Louisiana
Oil booms are set in Louisiana waters

<Update: By Monday, Florida's panhandle and western beaches will be seeing the same oil spill assault that Louisiana is now enduring, authorities say. Florida officials are concerned that it may cripple its $65 billion tourism economy, environment and fishing industry.>

<Update: Louisiana's $3 billion fishing industry jeopardized by oil spill, reports Wall Street Journal.>

<Update: President Obama said he is putting on hold plans to resume offshore drilling until a full investigation of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill has been conducted.>

As oil from the Gulf of Mexico spill moves onto the Louisiana shoreline today, pressure is building against President Obama's plan to expand oil drilling off the shores of America. <Update: The drumbeat of political opposition to offshore drilling is getting louder, reports The Atlantic.>

USA Today was blunt in its lead headline: "Should oil spill end Obama's offshore oil drilling plan?"

Meanwhile, a local citizens action group, Gulf Restoration Network, was on the scene in Louisiana reporting on the sights, smell and damage already occurring along environmentally sensitive shorelines. The group is organizing an outpouring of volunteers offering to help clean up the oil.

View Liz Judge's blog posts
29 April 2010, 12:24 PM
And more evidence of climate change, & learning things the hard way

Einstein defined insanity as doing the same thing over again and expecting different results. Einstein, who had a particular knack for coming up with enduring and timeless ideas, may find application in our country's energy landscape today.

Looking out yonder, we see a devastating oil spill and possibly one of the worst and most costly ecological disasters in our country's history, mountains being destroyed by explosives and the resulting toxic sludge getting dumped into our waterways, communities and people being poisoned by coal ash and coal waste, and carbon pollution exacerbating heat waves, warming our oceans, and increasing ocean acidity until building blocks of our underwater life are killed off—and these are just some of the things we are seeing here in the U.S.

Looking beyond the U.S., we see unfriendly regimes getting stronger and richer from our reliance on foreign oil, we see China boosting its share of the renewables market in its quest for global economic leadership and to meet its growing thirst for energy.

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View Jared Saylor's blog posts
29 April 2010, 11:35 AM
As oil slick approaches coast, why increase the threat?
NASA image of Gulf of Mexico oil spill

The latest news reports suggest the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico from the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig that sunk earlier this month is much worse than anticipated. The oil slick, which is now the size of West Virginia and getting bigger by the day, could hit Louisiana's coastline by this weekend. Experts say the oil continues to leak at a rate of about 5,000 barrels per day, more than five times original estimates. The Coast Guard's plan to ignite the oil slick and burn most of it away isn't going as planned as winds have limited their ability. The White House has declared this a spill "of national significance."

But just a month ago, the Obama adminsitration announced plans to open new areas off the East Coast to more offshore oil drilling, and also upheld Bush-era leases in almost 2.8 million acres of the Chukchi Sea in the Arctic Ocean. The announcement allows exploration drilling to move forward starting as early as this summer. As we and many other groups have said in the past, a catastrophic oil spill in the icy, remote waters of the Arctic would be an emergency beyond any we've ever seen.

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