Posts tagged: Bush administration

unEARTHED. The Earthjustice Blog

Bush administration


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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 Sam Edmondson's blog posts
28 July 2009, 1:45 PM
Satellite images show alarming loss of Arctic summer sea ice
Arctic sea ice. Photo: USGS

On July 15th, the Department of Interior, at the urging of the National Academy of Sciences, released hundreds of satellite images that show the impact global warming is having on the Arctic. Though the images have been public for almost two weeks, the story they tell hasn't lost any of its potency. They are a strong indication that the Arctic—a true natural and international treasure—is changing rapidly, perhaps irrevocably.

The Guardian reports that more than one million square kilometers of Arctic sea ice were absent in 2007 compared to 2006. For scale, that's an area significantly larger than the entire state of Texas (a little less than one-and-a-half Texases, to be exact). One pair of images, taken above the town of Barrow, AK in July of 2006 and 2007, clearly shows this dramatic loss of summer sea ice.

View Raviya Ismail's blog posts
23 July 2009, 10:51 AM
EPA says it will consider impact of Bush rule on low-income communities

Twenty-one citizens and experts testified June 30 at an Environmental Protection Agency public hearing about the impacts of living near hazardous waste sites. Among them was Sheila Holt-Orsted, a cancer survivor who's seen her mother, father, sister, cousins, aunts and uncles suffer from cancer and other illnesses believed to be caused by contamination from a Dixon County, Tennessee landfill.

Her father died in January 2007, stricken by prostrate and bone cancer, diabetes and hypertension. In 2003, Holt-Orsted was diagnosed with stage 2 breast cancer. After several surgeries, chemotherapy and radiation, she began looking for answers and didn't have to look far. Her family's farm was adjacent to the town landfill where toxic chemicals were dumped for years. Among the chemicals was trichloroethylene—a cancer-causing chemical and one of the most toxic agents known to man.

"No other community should have to experience a toxic legacy that has plagued my community," Holt-Orsted testified. "I urge EPA to protect the public's health and environment as RCRA intended it and to say no to this new rule. Get it right this time."

View Tom Turner's blog posts
26 June 2009, 4:54 PM
 

The Alabama-based environmental law firm Wildlaw has just announced the hiring of Mark Rey as a part-time lobbyist to work on national forest restoration projects in the Southeast and to help with land acquisition efforts.

Here's a little backstory. Wildlaw is headed by an attorney named Ray Vaughan, and it has done much good work in the Southeast defending national forests and scarce species and waterways and other resources. Mark Rey was the Under Secretary of Agriculture overseeing the national forests under George W. Bush, and a more reviled figure among environmental activists would be hard to find.

View Tom Turner's blog posts
25 June 2009, 4:39 PM
A thumping for environmental cases

Two long and thoughtful pieces today, one from the Daily Journal, the other from Greenwire, discuss in painful detail the thumping environmental cases suffered at the hands of the Supreme Court this term. In each case, the court overturned a pro-environment ruling from a court of appeals.

The first case involved whether the Navy must protect whales and dolphins from the effects of loud noises. The most recent case, an Earthjustice case as it happens, revolved around a permit the Corps of Engineers awarded to a mining company that allows the company to dispose of toxic mining wastes in an Alaskan lake. In between, the court found that environmental groups didn't have the right to challenge certain Forest Service regulations, that Shell Oil was not responsible for cleaning up a Superfund site in California, and that cost-benefit calculation at a New England powerplant was legal. The decision the court overturned in the last case, incidentally, was written by Sonia Sotomayor, who looks likely to become the next associate justice. In all five cases, the court upheld rules put forward by the Bush administration.

View Tom Turner's blog posts
23 June 2009, 2:14 PM
High court clears way for mining company to destroy Alaskan lake

On June 22 the Supreme Court handed down a 6-3 decision that makes lakes and other waterways across the country vulnerable to being used as waste dumps for mining operations and other industrial processes. The case involved the Kensington mine, a gold mine north of Juneau, Alaska. The owner of the mine, Coeur Alaska, was awarded a permit by the Army Corps of Engineers that allows the company to deposit mine tailings into Lower Slate Lake as long as the mine operates, killing all aquatic life in the lake. The company promises to restore the lake to its former state, a process that would take several decades if it is possible at all.

Earthjustice sued to block the permit, arguing that it is in blatant violation of the Clean Water Act and that other methods are available for disposing of the tailings.

View David Guest's blog posts
17 June 2009, 3:26 AM
 

A disappointing decision by the federal appeals court in Atlanta will legalize pollution in many American drinking water supplies, and we have the former Bush administration to thank for it.

The case goes back to 2002, when we sued, on behalf of the Florida Wildlife Federation, to get the South Florida Water Management District to stop pumping contaminated drainage canal water into Lake Okeechobee, one of the biggest drinking water sources in Florida, and the second biggest lake in the United States. For years, the district has been disposing of contaminated runoff from urban areas and industrial-scale sugar and vegetable farms by "backpumping" its untreated waters from drainage canals into Lake Okeechobee.

Since the Clean Water Act doesn't allow anyone to add pollutants to lakes and rivers without a permit that limits pollutants to safe levels, we argued that the Water District needed a federal permit to pump filthy water into the public lake.

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View Tom Turner's blog posts
12 June 2009, 11:45 AM
 

Remember "Healthy Forests"? This was one of the euphonious program names hatched by Karl Rove or another of the Bush wordsmiths to mask a real purpose. There was also the Clear Skies Initiative, which actually aimed to weaken the Clean Air Act.

Healthy Forests argued that the best way to control wildlfire and protect rural communities was to thin the forests of dead brush and sick trees, such growth having accumulated to dangerous levels owing to decades of fire suppression.

Fair enough, but many scientists and environmental advocates argued that Healthy Forests was really a smoke screen (forgive me) aimed at obscuring the fact that much of the planned "thinning" would be far from human settlements and would in fact involve logging big, living, valuable trees.

View Jared Saylor's blog posts
21 May 2009, 11:09 AM
 

Appalachia's mountains never seem to get a break. First, back in 2007, a district court judge ruled in favor of a lawsuit we brought on behalf of some West Virginia groups that stopped five mountaintop removal mining permits from going forward because of the permanent destruction they would have done to Appalachian streams and headwaters. It was a short-lived victory: the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals overturned the decision and the permits were moving forward again.

But then, the Obama EPA said it was going to review a slew of pending mountaintop removal mining permits that were awaiting the outcome of the court decision, and all were optimistic that the agency would put a halt on them and help prevent further stream and mountaintop destruction from happening. Appalachian groups hailed this decision, but again, victory was short-lived: just this month, the EPA said that despite having reviewed the permits (and despite mountaintop removal mining completely flattening entire mountain ranges and completely burying streams and headwaters) it was going to let 42 mountaintop removal mining permits proceed.

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View Trip Van Noppen's blog posts
21 May 2009, 3:00 AM
 

The Beaufort Sea, off Alaska's northernmost shores, and the Chukchi Sea, which separates Alaska from Russia, are home to one in five of the world's remaining polar bears. These icy waters are crucial feeding and migration zones for bowhead, beluga and other whales, seals, walruses and migratory birds; for thousands of years they have also sustained a vibrant Native culture. But the Bush administration treated America's Arctic as just another place to be exploited, relentlessly pushing oil and gas drilling without regard for the consequences.

Now a new President and his Interior Secretary, Ken Salazar, have pledged to restore science to the forefront of decisions about energy and the environment. They have no better opportunity to fulfill that pledge than in the coming weeks, as they face key decisions on oil and gas activity in the Beaufort, Chukchi and Bering Seas—decisions that will determine the future of the region, its people and its creatures.

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View Terry Winckler's blog posts
15 May 2009, 11:25 AM
 

Last November, as Barack Obama won the election, we recommended a list of "easy things" the new president could immediately do to cement his promises about being a pro-environment president. This is our second update on how he's doing.

The new president's greatest achievement clearly is the abrupt reversal of the Bush-era philosophy favoring those who devour our natural resources for short term gain. He also has taken major steps towards restoring integrity to our regulatory agencies, potency to our environmental laws, and respect internationally for our country's leadership.

Nonetheless, the administration has taken some actions—for example, the delisting of northern gray wolves—that are deeply disappointing. Some of the administration actions, notably with regard to mountaintop removal mining, fall short of being complete solutions. Likewise, there remain significant environmental challenges yet to be addressed.