Posts tagged: Department of Interior

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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 Ted Zukoski's blog posts
15 March 2013, 9:46 AM
Drought highlights need for smart solutions to water demand in West
Glen Canyon Dam on the Colorado River. The white bathtub ring will get bigger as water levels drop. (Photo: BuRec)

Winter in the Rockies is almost over. Almost, because April is still one of our snowiest months in Colorado. But even with a few days of snow last week, April would have to be pretty darned wet just to get this year’s snowpack up to average. As of March 15, snowpack in the watersheds that feed Lake Powell—which is just upstream of the Grand Canyon on the Colorado River behind the Glen Canyon Dam—was at less than 80 percent of average.

It’s so low, the National Park Service—which manages boating on the Lake as part of the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area—is spending a half-million of its sequester-reduced dollars to dredge a new channel for boats that would otherwise have to make a detour around new land that’s exposed as lake levels recede. The Bureau of Reclamation is predicting that inflows to Lake Powell this spring will be less than half of the 30-year average. In Denver, the water agency—which relies heavily on water grabbed from the Colorado River basin—is already warning it will put in place tough restrictions on lawn watering this summer to deal with the ongoing drought. His answer is, it could, as temperatures rise and water supplies dwindle due to global warming.

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View Ted Zukoski's blog posts
13 February 2013, 3:57 PM
Obama can act on climate change by taking on a few western coal mines
Coal mining damage caused by West Elk Mine. (U.S. Forest Service)

In his State of the Union address, President Obama said some stirring things about climate change. Most dramatically, he urged Congress to take action and then said:

But if Congress won’t act soon to protect future generations, I will.

Well, if you want to act on climate change to protect future generations, Mr. President, I have a modest proposal: stop rubber-stamping coal mine expansions on federal lands in the western U.S.

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View Elijio Arreguin's blog posts
12 February 2013, 2:41 PM
Court agrees that Utah leases were granted improperly
Green River Butte.

Thanks to a recent federal court decision, visitors to Utah’s public wild lands can continue to raft the Green River in Dinosaur National Monument without seeing oil derricks around the river’s bends.

They can continue to enjoy the outlook from Canyonlands National Park’s Grand View Point without drill rigs littering the landscape.

And they won’t be forced to see the formations at Arches National Park as gateways to increased carbon emissions and environmental disruption.

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View Kari Birdseye's blog posts
18 January 2013, 4:05 PM
Industry not ready for offshore drilling in treacherous waters
Shell drill rig grounded near Kokiak Island. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Zachary Painter)

As Royal Dutch Shell continues to make perfectly clear, industry is not prepared to safely explore for oil in the pristine waters of America’s Arctic. Shell’s Arctic operations have been called the “gold standard” of the oil industry and if this is the best they’ve got, the industry is not Arctic ready.

Beyond the arguments of the Arctic being a harsh, dangerous, infrastructure-less environment, the question remains, does it make economic sense to drill for oil in this remote region now for barrels of oil in 10 years? In 12 years, cars will be averaging 54.5 mpg. Energy efficiency and a growing renewable fuel market are also making headway. U.S. oil production hit its highest level in 20 years in 2012 and it is projected to increase an additional 14 percent this year—without the extreme oil of the Arctic. In 10 years, will Americans need the extreme oil of the Arctic that Shell is so desperately seeking?

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View Trip Van Noppen's blog posts
04 January 2013, 4:53 PM
Obama must halt dangerous, misguided operations in Arctic Ocean
The conical drilling unit Kulluk sits aground 40 miles southwest of Kodiak City, AK, on the shore of Sitkalidak Island, Jan. 2, 2013. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Travis Marsh.)

With one Arctic drill rig shipwrecked on an Alaskan island and the other reportedly under criminal investigation for possibly “operating with serious safety and pollution control problems,” oil giant Royal Dutch Shell is doing a pretty thorough job at proving the quest for oil in the pristine waters of America’s Arctic is just too dangerous, too dirty, and too damaging. The week’s events also prove once again that the U.S. Department of Interior should not have approved drilling in the most remote, dangerous place on the planet. It’s past time for the plug to be pulled on this operation.

The cone-shaped drill rig Kulluk sat in 30 to 40 feet of water along the rocky beach of Sitkalidak Island for the entire week and 18 crew members were evacuated by U.S Coast Guard helicopters. A cast of more than 500 salvage experts is working feverishly to stabilize and rescue the rig.  Further, after delays leaving the Arctic Ocean as winter closed in, Shell reported made its decision to move the rig, which does not have a propulsion system and requires towboats to haul it around, from the port of Dutch Harbor south of Alaska to avoid having to pay Alaska state taxes.

View Kari Birdseye's blog posts
20 December 2012, 4:56 PM
Salazar announces National Petroleum Reserve conservation measures
Caribou in the western Arctic, Alaska. (Florian Schulz / visionsofthewild.com)

Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar recently announced a final plan for managing the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska, a vast and wild area in northwestern Alaska that provides vital habitat for caribou, countless shorebirds, waterfowl, bears, wolves and wolverines, among others.

The plan is the first that covers the entire reserve, and it is a major step forward for protective management of the western Arctic.

Under provisions of the plan, key habitat areas such as these are protected:

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View Trip Van Noppen's blog posts
21 September 2012, 2:59 PM
On way out of town, House votes industry a free pass to pollute

It's been a long two years with the 112th Congress. In that time, House leadership has often tried to "help the economy" by wiping away our basic public health and environmental protections—in the process putting thousands of Americans at risk of disease and death from exposure to toxic chemicals and carcinogens in our air and water.

And today, as a final departing gift before recessing for the fall, House leaders put through H.R. 3409—a toxic sell-out bill that decimates our fundamental public health protections with the pretext of addressing the "war on coal." The House passed the bill by a vote of 233 to 175.

To wit: H.R. 3409 includes provisions we believe will:

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View Maria Beloborodova's blog posts
14 September 2012, 8:40 AM
Earthjustice files notice of intent to sue
The loss of federal protection for the wolves is a death sentence for at least 56 wolves now occupying areas of the state are now a shoot-on-sight zone. (Shutterstock / CritterBiz)

The tragic delisting of Wyoming’s gray wolves from the Endangered Species List has many wildlife defenders up in arms, and with sound reason: the removal of protections for the wolves marks an end to many years of successful recovery efforts of a species that was once on the verge of extinction.

To hand over the “wolf management plan” to a state that intends to eradicate wolves from most of its territory seems at odds with the idea of protecting and recovering an endangered species, yet that is exactly what Interior Secretary Ken Salazar has done.

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View Ted Zukoski's blog posts
13 September 2012, 8:54 PM
Appeals court will hear arguments Wednesday in state's war on wildlands
Salt Creek, Canyonlands National Park. The state of Utah hopes to turn the creek into a highway. Ted Zukoski photo.

Canyonlands National Park—which contains some of the planet's most fantastic desert scenery and, paradoxically, two of the West's mightiest rivers—just celebrated its 48th birthday.

The state of Utah is working to drive a knife into the heart of the park before it reaches 49.

The state and its ally, San Juan County, Utah, contend that Salt Creek, one of the few permanent streams in the park, is a "constructed highway" that the state—not the Park Service—can manage.

They plan to manage this stream not to protect its rich habitat for wildlife, but instead as a playground for Jeeps and SUVs, relying on a repealed, 19th Century law known as "R.S. 2477."

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View Ted Zukoski's blog posts
13 April 2012, 4:12 PM
State prepares assault on national icons
Salt Creek Canyon, Canyonlands National Park, claimed as a "constructed highway" by the State of Utah. Ted Zukoski photo.

Go to the website for the State of Utah and you’ll find a list of 12 “Popular Utah Destinations.” Five of the 12 are national parks.

And rightly so. Utah has some of the most jaw-dropping scenery in the world protected by the National Park Service. The term “Red Rock” can't capture the beauty and majesty of the many-hued spires, arches, hoodoos, petrified dues, cliffs, slot canyons and towers that are found in places like ZionCanyonlands, and Capitol Reef national parks.

So you might expect that Utah would bend over backwards to protect this bounty for future generations of (paying) tourists to enjoy.

You’d be wrong.