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.


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
17 March 2012, 8:23 AM
Yet another toxic mining threat
A uranium mine near the Grand Canyon's North Rim. Photo: Don Bills, USGS.

At the beginning of the last century, Ralph H. Cameron was a booster of the Grand Canyon. He wanted to promote – and cash in on - the Canyon as a tourist destination. He helped expand Bright Angel Trail, now one of the most popular trails into the Canyon from the South Rim.  But at a price; he charged a toll to visitors.

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View Ted Zukoski's blog posts
22 February 2012, 9:54 AM
Speculative energy source won't fund highways
A chunk of oil shale-bearing rock. Try burning this in your gas tank. (Dept. of Interior photo.)

Getting energy from oil shale is a half-baked idea.  Literally.

Oil shale, also known as kerogen, is a waxy pre-petroleum substance found in rock layers in Colorado, Utah and Wyoming.  Unlike pools of oil in the ground, it can't be turned into liquid fuel for transportation unless it's baked to 700 degrees.  And no company in the U.S. has been able to develop a process that turns it into oil in a way that actually makes money, despite a century of trying.  No wonder oil shale has been mocked as the "fuel of the future - because it always has been, and always will be."

Because of the technological and economic challenges, oil shale is putting as much liquid fuel into U.S. markets as it did in the early 1900s.  Which is to say:  zero.

View Buck Parker's blog posts
09 February 2012, 1:16 PM
President may be open to Shell promises it can clean up oil spill

On backing down, backing away, and backing into a corner . . .

President Obama’s statement, “I will not back down from making sure an oil company can contain the kind of oil spill we saw in the Gulf two years ago,” was one the more awkward sentences in his State of the Union speech, and not just syntactically.

The president had to use that particular construction, however, because he could not say what he should have and maybe even wanted to say: that he will not allow drilling in our coastal waters until he has such assurances. He couldn’t say that for the simple reason that his administration continues to approve oil drilling in the outer continental shelf almost as if the Gulf oil spill had never taken place.

Nowhere is this more obvious than in the Arctic Ocean off Alaska.

View Shirley Hao's blog posts
06 February 2012, 6:57 PM
All we know, to the best of our knowledge, is that we don’t yet know enough
A male polar bear patrols the pack ice edge in the Chukchi Sea, Alaska. (Florian Schulz /

As portions of the contiguous United States find themselves (perhaps a bit uncomfortably) in winter’s chilly embrace, a recently published study in the scientific journal Marine Biology may shed new light on the wintry lifestyles of the Arctic regions of our country.

During this season, Arctic areas like the Beaufort and Chukchi seas, off the northern coast of Alaska, experience months of ‘polar nights’—times when the sun fails to make an appearance (making for a veritable vampire haven, one might say).

The extreme degree of coldness of these winter months is key to the survival of species like the polar bear and ringed seals, who depend on the restoration of thick sea ice (long since diminished during the warmer spring and summer months) in order to hunt and raise their young.

A polar night, in Longyearbyen, Norway.

A polar night, in Longyearbyen, Norway. (Bjørn Christian Tørrissen)
View Kari Birdseye's blog posts
18 January 2012, 1:59 PM
Time to examine harmful effects of tar sands mining
The entire global population of wild, migratory whooping cranes migrates through the tar sands region twice annually. (U.S. FWS)

The President made the right decision on the Keystone pipeline XL today. House Republicans forced the arbitrary deadline of February 21 and there was really only one legal way to answer. Since the State Department hasn’t finished its environmental review of the pipeline and requests for alternative routes that bypass sensitive lands and habitats are not on the table yet—that would be a NO.

Many organizations have done great work in educating the public about the dangers of the proposed 1700-mile pipeline and it has paid off. Earthjustice has been working to protect the vulnerable habitats and endangered creatures that are being harmed right now at the open pit mines of the tar sands in Alberta, the source of the fossil fuel that currently courses through two existing pipelines that crisscross our country.

Earthjustice filed a Pelly petition in September of 2011 with the U.S. Department of the Interior, asking Secretary Ken Salazar to investigate Canada’s destructive tar sands mining and examine how the mining is hampering international efforts to protect endangered and threatened species. The petition documents how tar sands mining and drilling in Alberta are harming threatened woodland caribou and at least 130 migratory bird species, including endangered whooping cranes.

View Liz Judge's blog posts
06 January 2012, 4:16 AM
The no-brainer decisions the president must make this year

President Obama won the White House on a platform of hope and change – promising an end to dirty corporate influence over our political system and a beginning to an era in which our energy choices lead us to a clean, sustainable future, or at least don’t kill us or make us sick.

So far, the president’s performance has been mixed – with some deliveries on the promise and some disappointments. His last year, whether in office or in his first term, will be crucial in righting his spotty record and making good on his campaign promises to the American people.

Leading up to his fourth year in office, and making sure the new year got off to a good start with supporters, he handed the country a solid. His EPA, led by Administrator Lisa Jackson, finalized a strong rule to protect Americans from mercury poisoning and toxic air pollution from power plants.

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View Liz Judge's blog posts
26 October 2011, 3:09 PM
Office of Surface Mining merged into Bureau of Land Management
OSMRE's accomplishment to date

Today Interior Secretary Ken Salazar announced a major agency reshuffling that will affect how the government enforces laws on mountaintop removal and surface coal mining.  He will fold the Office of Surface Mining, Reclamation and Enforcement (OSMRE) into another Department of Interior subdivision, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM).

OSMRE is the agency that oversees the enforcement of the nation's surface coal mining laws, and BLM is the agency that oversees the federal government's management of public lands. Most mountaintop removal mining happens on private lands, not public lands, in Appalachia.

Press coverage of the agency reshuffle managed to ask an important question: Will this make a difference in the enforcement of coal mining laws? Will this change the landscape at all? 

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View Ted Zukoski's blog posts
18 October 2011, 9:29 AM
Give Oil/Gas Industry 90% of Public Lands And They Want More
Vermillion Basin, Colorado. One of the few places off-limits to drilling. Photo © Mark Pearson

Let’s say you have three kids, and one big piece of cake to divide amongst them. One kicks and cries and whines. "I want it ALL," the baby screams. "I want it all NOW!" The other two say, "We want our fair share."

To keep the decibel level in the house at acceptable levels, and because you’re a whimp, you give the crybaby 90 percent of the cake. But even that doesn’t work. The baby still whines and cries and kicks and screams, "I want it ALL. I don’t care what brother and sister get."

Meet the oil and gas industry in Colorado, the crybaby of the West's public lands debate.

View David Lawlor's blog posts
30 August 2011, 3:25 PM
Exxon signs $3.2 billion deal with Rosneft
Oil development in Prudhoe Bay, Alaska. Photo by Florian Schulz

Environmentalist author Chellis Glendinning’s 2002 work of nonfiction, Off the Map, is an indictment of maps and cartography. Glendinning asserts that maps have historically served as tools of conquest that define the territory which is to be exploited.

With that in mind, Exxon’s announcement on Monday that the company inked a deal to drill for oil in Russia’s Arctic waters should be of concern to every American and indeed every human on Earth. See, the thing is, Russia’s Arctic waters don’t stay put within the imaginary lines drawn on a map. So if there is an oil spill as a result of Exxon’s activities, the oil that leaks from the ocean floor will cross all sorts of these imaginary boundaries and threaten the overall health of the Arctic ecosystem.

The $3.2-billion deal between Exxon and Russia’s state-run Rosneft in turn gives the Russian company access to drill oil reserves in the Gulf of Mexico and in Texas. A deal was in the works earlier this year between Rosneft and BP for the Arctic contract, but it fell through, opening the door for Exxon.

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View David Lawlor's blog posts
26 August 2011, 3:13 PM
Earthjustice continues to challenge tar sands development.
Alberta tar sands development. (Photo by EvolveLove/Flickr Creative Commons)

The U.S. Department of State today issued the final environmental impact statement (FEIS) for the Keystone XL pipeline project, which would transport tar sands crude oil from Alberta, Canada to the Gulf Coast. Despite the fact that the Alberta tar sands represent the second largest pool of carbon in the world, despite the fact that the tar sands activities threaten endangered species, and despite the high potential for leaks and spills, the State Department concluded that the 1,711-mile pipeline would have a minimal impact on the environment.

If you believe that the pipeline will have a “minimal impact” on the environment, then I’ve got some prime Florida swampland to sell you.

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