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.

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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 Tom Turner's blog posts
08 April 2008, 12:19 PM
 

What's the best expression to describe the Bush administration these days? Pig-headed? Stubborn? Incorrigible? Mulish? Headstrong? Dogged? Intractable, Recalcitrant, Rigid? Willful? Indeed, all those adjectives apply to the outgoing (not soon enough) Bush administration, particularly with respect to its environmental activities. A handful of illustrations.

A year ago, the Supreme Court ruled that greenhouse-gas emissions from vehicles are pollutants that the Environmental Protection Agency must regulate. The EPA has refused. More litigation is underway to force action, but if the Supremes can be ignored one wonders what's the point. Pig-headed, meaning no disrespect to swine.

Up in the Arctic, the administration has missed several self-imposed deadlines to announce its decision whether to protect polar bears. During the delay time, the administration sold leases for oil drilling in the bears' Chukchi Sea habitat. When Senator Barbara Boxer asked Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne to explain to her committee what was going on, he simply refused to appear. Incorrigible.

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View Ted Zukoski's blog posts
01 April 2008, 3:32 PM
 

In 1996, the Forest Service described the 1.8 million acre Rio Grande National Forest, which rings the San Luis Valley in southern Colorado, as "large … and … essentially undeveloped."

The agency expected things to stay that way, at least as far as petroleum extraction was concerned. An analysis of the management plan the Forest adopted that year concluded "development of oil and gas is not likely" by 2011.

And for the dozen years since that analysis, not a single acre of the Rio Grande NF was leased for oil development. That’s about to change. On May 8, the Bureau of Land Management (which manages federally-owned minerals) will put up for bid 144,000 acres of the Forest for oil and gas drilling.

View Tom Turner's blog posts
03 March 2008, 5:45 PM
 

I have a simple rule of thumb to decide how to vote on the ever-more-complicated, ever-more numerous propositions that infest the ballot here in California come election time. It is this: Anything that is supported by the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association is something that I will enthusiastically vote against. The late Mr. Jarvis and a co-conspirator named Paul Gann managed to get a property tax measure passed in 1978 that ruined the public schools in our fair state and caused much other mischief that we still suffer from. The association remains active and is reliably wrong on everything.

Well, it looks as if we may have just such a lodestone on matters environmental. It's a new group known as Responsible Resources. The website gives immediate clues-a rotating slide show with heroic photographs of offshore oil rigs, a dam, the Alaska pipeline, giant cooling towers, and an onshore oil rig, with solar panels and windmills thrown in for good measure. An ad launching the group argues against raising taxes on the energy industry.

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View Tom Turner's blog posts
28 February 2008, 4:23 PM
Renzi rider has blocked efforts to rein in growth of Ft. Huachuca

Sometimes, not often enough but sometimes, the bad guys get their just deserts. (And yes, that's deserts not desserts in case you wondered. But I digress.)

We're speaking today of a congressman from southern Arizona named Rick Renzi. Mr. Renzi, a Republican and chairman of John McCain's Arizona campaign, persuaded Congress to enact a nefarious little paragraph in 2003 that declared the Army at Fort Huachuca not responsible for the full impact of its water withdrawals on the San Pedro River.

The San Pedro is a desert (not dessert) miracle, a verdant, meandering stream teeming with an amazing variety of wildlife, including the most varied array of mammals outside Costa Rica, or so they say. The river rises in Mexico, flows north past the fort and the town of Sierra Vista, which exists to serve the fort and its personnel, and eventually joins the Gila. The Renzi rider has blocked efforts to rein in the growth of the fort and the town. Increased groundwater pumping has been a principal cause of the river's drying up from time to time, wreaking havoc on its wildlife. Earthjustice has made some headway with litigation, but the rider is a big bad obstacle.

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View Tom Turner's blog posts
26 February 2008, 6:01 PM
 

Sometimes, not often enough but sometimes, the bad guys get their just deserts. (And yes, that's deserts not desserts in case you wondered. But I digress.)

...the next 11 months promise to be even worse than the last 85!

By my oh-so-sophisticated calculations we have now endured 85 months of the Bush assault on our environmental laws, our environmental agencies, and our environment itself.

That leaves eleven months to go, and the administration seems hell-bent on ratcheting up the pace of its assault as the public becomes a tad outrage-weary and hopes that whoever eventually wins a ticket to the White House can't possibly be as bad as what we've suffered through for seven long years.

Do I exaggerate? Here's a bit of what happened in Month 85:

View Ted Zukoski's blog posts
25 February 2008, 4:33 PM
 

Since the 1930s—following decades of shooting, trapping, and poisoning—Colorado has been a wolf-free zone. There are two ways wolves can return to Colorado: with human help, or under their own power.  The Department of the Interior over the last few months made decisions calculated to block both avenues of return.

View Trip Van Noppen's blog posts
25 February 2008, 2:10 PM
 

With late winter, sunlight returns to the North Pole, revealing an ice-bound ocean that looks deceptively like it always has—a frozen, pristine wilderness. Deceptive, because profound and rapid change is underway from the forces of climate change and our relentless quest for energy.

Year-round ice that once gouged trenches 1,300 feet below the ocean surface is now so thin in the Arctic seas that summers may be ice-free in 30 years, if not sooner, exposing an entire wild ocean to large-scale economic exploitation and ecological devastation.

View Ted Zukoski's blog posts
19 February 2008, 4:32 PM
 

The Bush Administration's hostility to environmental protection is not news. But seeing the numbers in black and white (or, as in this chart, in red and green) is startling. Created by the Appropriations Committee of the U.S. House of Representatives, it shows that the President's budget for the Interior Department—which manages national parks, national wildlife refuges, and endangered species protection—was cut by a sixth in real dollars over the last eight years. By the same measure, EPA's budget has been cut by more than a quarter, and the Forest Service saw its budget aside from fire-fighting cut by more than a third.

View Tom Turner's blog posts
19 February 2008, 4:24 PM
 

We've had a spate of stories here in northern California about the crash of the fall run of king salmon returning to spawn in the watershed of the Sacramento River. Historically, many hundreds of thousands of the fish would return annually; this year the count was around ninety thousand, which spells disaster for salmon fishermen up and down the coast. It is also one more indicator that the river system, and the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta in particular, is very sick, largely because of the enormous volume of water diverted via giant pumps for agricultural and domestic use.

This was the story that the papers carried, and it did not make Big Ag happy. Just this morning (Feb 19) the San Francisco Chronicle carried an opinion piece from one Laura King Moon of the State Water Contractors that tries to put a different spin on the matter. She argues that the pumps that suck water from the delta are carefully regulated to protect salmon, that the problem must be out in the ocean or with fishing. And she puts much of the blame on striped bass, a species that was introduced into the delta more than a century ago and has coexisted with the salmon ever since. Moon says predation by bass on baby salmon is significant. She conveniently ignores the desperate plight of scores more delta species including the delta smelt, which recently provoked a court order that requires that more water be allowed to flow through the delta during the first half of the year. This may require that diversions from the delta be reduced unless we have big wet year.

View Tom Turner's blog posts
12 February 2008, 5:14 PM
 

If the polar bears aren’t drowning it's flooding somewhere and drying to dust somewhere else. Or, as a folk group from my youth sang, "They're rioting in Africa. . .and Texas needs rain." Plus ça change.

With all the horrible news, a bright spot is welcome, and this week's comes from the World Wildlife Fund via MSNBC. It has to do with African rhinos, which have staged an admirable comeback over the past decade or so as poaching has been cracked down on, habitat restored, and local people involved in the tourism trade.

White rhinos, the larger of the two subspecies, have seen their numbers rise from 8,500 to 14,500 in the past ten years. Black rhinos, the smaller cousin, have gone from 2,600 to about 4,000 in the same period, which leaves them still seriously endangered but headed in a better direction than they were ten years ago. One key has been stopping the killing of the huge beasts for their horns, much prized in some versions of Asian medicine. WWF reports that rhinos have been reintroduced recently to areas in Zambia and Uganda, from which they had been extirpated.

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