Posts tagged: Arctic

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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 Trip Van Noppen's blog posts
04 May 2010, 12:42 PM
In wake of gulf oil spill, Obama must protect Arctic seas from drilling

In just two months, Shell Oil could do in America's Arctic Ocean what British Petroleum has done in the Gulf of Mexico—drill an environmental time bomb without being able to defuse it or deal with the consequences of it going off.

In both cases, we're talking about exploratory offshore oil drilling under conditions so extreme that the risks are unreasonable and the consequences severe.

For gulf coast residents, the impact of BP's exploratory oil drilling explosion is tragic: 11 drill workers lost their lives, fishermen are losing their livelihoods, and the impacts are increasing daily. Two weeks later, the environmental consequences are building offshore in an oil mass the size of Puerto Rico. Growing daily by more than 200,000 gallons, the oil is killing sea birds and attacking the habitat of more than 400 animal species. It threatens four coastal states and could become—in the words of President Barack Obama—an unprecedented environmental and economic disaster.

We can't afford to witness another such disaster in the Arctic, where exploratory drilling has been greenlighted by the Obama administration and could begin as early as July 1.

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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
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 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 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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View Jared Saylor's blog posts
31 March 2010, 3:48 PM
Obama administration sends mixed signals on drilling
The Chukchi Sea. Photo: Florian Schulz / visionsofthewild.com

Today, the Obama administration sent a mixed signal on offshore oil drilling, a move guaranteed to raise concerns from native groups, environmentalists, and communities living near some of the most sensitive and biologically diverse coastal areas. Obama and Department of Interior Secretary Ken Salazar announced a plan to halt oil and gas leasing in Bristol Bay off Alaska's southwestern coast and to postpone future lease sales in the Chukchi and Beaufort seas, off Alaska's northern coast, while needed missing information is gathered.

We agree that Salazar made the right move on Bristol Bay—home of the world’s largest salmon fishery—and on postponing future oil and gas lease sales in the Chukchi and Beaufort seas, sensitive areas of America's Arctic Ocean that are undergoing dramatic shifts due to climate change and about which large gaps in basic scientific information remain. These proposals give the administration the chance to use sound science and smart planning in future decisions about new leasing in the Arctic.

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View Molly Woodward's blog posts
17 December 2009, 3:19 PM
Coal-fired power plants, oil and gas drilling, sea turtles in peril

Some top stories from the last week at Earthjustice...

On this final day of the Copenhagen conference, our daily report and attending attorneys Martin Wagner and Erika Rosenthal will keep you apprised of the latest. Check for updates during the day at unEarthed.

The EPA's endangerment finding (now under assault by a GOP senator) was one of the biggest pieces of news from the conference. But Earthjustice President Trip Van Noppen warned that existing coal-fired power plants (responsible for a third of U.S. global warming pollution) could escape regulation.

This week, Earthjustice also responded to the second Arctic drilling permit granted to Shell Oil over the span of the Copenhagen conference, this time to drill in the Beaufort sea.

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View John McManus's blog posts
15 December 2009, 4:40 PM
What wasn't said in Copenhagen: native people fear consequences

Last week, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar told the world from the Copenhagen Climate Conference how U.S. public lands, which include the continental shelves off our coastlines, are being managed by the government to reduce climate pollution. What he didn't say was that he had recently approved oil drilling permits allowing Shell Oil to drill for oil in the Arctic Ocean, including one site 20 miles offshore of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

He didn't tell the world about the fear of some like Robert Thompson, who lives in the Arctic Ocean village of Kaktovik. Thompson worries that an oil spill in Arctic water in front of his village would be impossible to clean up, and many experts agree. Coast Guard Commandant Admiral Thad Allen noted in a recent hearing in Alaska that this lack of capacity to clean up a spill in the Arctic could spell disaster for its pristine waters.

Thompson worries because native people living along Alaska's Arctic Ocean coastline rely on the ocean for their food. They hunt whale, duck and other marine wildlife to feed their families and pass their culture from one generation to the next. An oil spill could destroy their way of life.

On behalf of Robert Thompson and others like him, as well as conservationists across the country, Earthjustice filed a legal challenge to the drilling permit.

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View Molly Woodward's blog posts
10 December 2009, 4:40 PM
Copenhagen, the Chukchi Sea, Clean Air, Trees

Some top stories from the last week at Earthjustice...

The Copenhagen conference started off with a bang of optimism when the EPA announced that greenhouse gas emissions endanger public health. The cooperative spirit quickly fizzled after a draft agreement surfaced that apparently favors the interests of the U.S. and other wealthy nations. There’s more news by the hour: Be sure to check out our daily reports from Copenhagen, and analysis by two attending Earthjustice attorneys, Erika Rosenthal and Martin Wagner.

All the buzz from the conference nearly drowned out a disturbing, and related, piece of news: Shell Oil was granted conditional approval to drill exploratory wells in the Chukchi Sea. Earthjustice attorney Erik Grafe warned that the approvals outpace the science of what we know about Arctic waters.

On the same day that the EPA released its endangerment finding, Earthjustice challenged the agency on a toxin polluting the air in Appalachia, to the point where kids can’t play outside. It’s coal dust, and we think the coal plants that produce it should do something about it. 

Farm workers and their families will get some long-awaited help to deal with toxic pesticides poisoning the air around their homes and schools, thanks to a new EPA policy. Going forward, the EPA will assess the health risks posed by pesticide drift with the same standards by which pesticides in food are assessed. 

And finally, this week Earthjustice saved taxpayers $1.5 million!and 4.3 million board-feet of old-growth forest in the Tongass to boot. This also means we kept a little C02 out of the atmosphere. Indeed, one of the least controversial ideas out of Copenhagen is also one of the simplest: don’t cut down trees.