Posts tagged: Endangered Species Act

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Endangered Species Act


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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 Jessica Knoblauch's blog posts
21 November 2011, 7:33 AM
“The orcas are just so magical. They’re very much a part of the region.”

This is the second in a series of Q and As on Earthjustice’s oceans work, which works to prevent habitat loss and overfishing as well as reduce the impacts of climate change on the ocean. In early 2000, Patti Goldman, Earthjustice’s VP of Litigation, spearheaded efforts to protect the Puget Sound’s threatened orca whale population. Learn more at earthjustice.org/oceans

Jessica Knoblauch: Earthjustice has been working to protect a unique population of orcas in Washington State’s Puget Sound for almost a decade. Why?
 
Patti Goldman: Well, the orca whales in this region are hugely important to the people. They are so much part of the fabric here. There are three pods and each year when they come back to the Haro Straits in July, they do a ritual where they line up by pods and welcome each other. It’s just so magical. And there are no other orcas that really concentrate here in the same way, so they are unique and really special to this region.
 
The problem is that these orcas are further south than a lot of other orcas, so they are more accessible to where people are. In the 1960s and 1970s, about a third of the population was targeted for live capture by Sea World. Live capture ended when one of our clients, former Secretary of State Ralph Munro, was out on a boat with his wife and they found themselves in the middle of a live capture operation where they could hear the babies squealing as their mothers were captured. That was a very pivotal moment because he was then a member of the state legislature and was the lead proponent of banning live capture in Washington waters.

View Jessica Knoblauch's blog posts
17 November 2011, 3:27 PM
“A lot of people have no idea that many of these ocean species are so badly depleted.”
Steve Roady speaks about Earthjustice's oceans litigation.

Intro: This is the first in a series of Q and As on Earthjustice’s oceans work, which works to prevent habitat loss and overfishing, as well as reduce the impacts of climate change on the ocean. Earthjustice’s Oceans Program Director Steve Roady has been litigating cases that help protect our oceans for more than a decade. Check out earthjustice.org/oceans for more information.

Jessica Knoblauch: What first drew you to oceans management work?
 
Steve Roady: I was first exposed to the oceans while growing up on Florida’s Gulf coast. I spent a lot of time on the beaches as a child and was always fascinated by the shrimpers. But I really first became aware of the key problems in the environment in middle school where we were all forced to read Rachel Carson’s classic book, Silent Spring. The idea that birds were dying because of DDT was just amazing to me and it really got me thinking about environmental issues.
 
JK: How does Earthjustice use the law to protect oceans?
 
SR: Earthjustice is one of the leading groups to begin looking at oceans’ problems through the lens of potential federal litigation. Basically, we work with three or four of your standard environmental laws. There’s the Magnuson-Stevens Act, the main federal fisheries act, which directs the federal government to prevent overfishing and to minimize bycatch, to protect habitat and to rebuild overfished fish populations. There’s also the National Environmental Policy Act, which mandates the federal government to carefully study the environmental effects of their actions before they take them. And we also invoke the Endangered Species Act to protect species like sea turtles, which are protected under the ESA but often killed as so-called bycatch in trawl fisheries around the country.
 
We invoke all of these statutes in an effort to try to curb the unrestrained fishing practices going on in federal fisheries and do our best to make sure the federal government is complying with the basic thrust of the laws that protect the ocean resource. Since we started the Ocean Law Project back in 1998, we’ve had a number of significant wins in the courts that set some significant precedents with respect to how the federal government manages ocean resources in a sustainable way. And typically we’ll have a case that we’ll bring on behalf of other groups, so if a case is won the precedent goes to everybody’s benefit.

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View Liz Judge's blog posts
14 November 2011, 2:17 PM
Will the Senate defeat a Dirty Water Amendment this week?
The Barrasso/Heller Dirty Water Amendment would wipe out pollution limits for streams, brooks, wetlands, lakes and other waters in every state.

From early morning tadpole pursuits to sunset creek walks, my summer days started and ended in the creek that ran behind my home. My dad built a bridge across the creek, but for our neighborhood gang of rascals, well, there was no use for such bridges when we could splash and wade right through that water. Whether we were forging the stream or sitting cross-legged in it with our heads above the water, exploding with impish giggles, this creek was as much our home as our bedrooms 50 yards away. And when we outgrew the shallow waters of our backyard creek, my siblings and I took our energies to nearby Lake Erie, where we swam in deeper, more mysterious waters.

Many people have memories of swimming, fishing, wading, visiting, or skipping rocks in waters during their youth—whether those ran through their hometowns or were the destinations of family travels. That these waters were safe for recreation—or even drinking water—was no accident. Our nation’s Clean Water Act is the force that has allowed us to fish and swim and sip our water without ill consequences.

But today, the Clean Water Act and 59 percent of our nation’s streams and headwaters are in peril. The danger facing our nation’s waters, along with all the little kids who want to play in them, has arrived in an amendment by Senators John Barrasso (R-WY) and Dean Heller (R-NV).

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View John McManus's blog posts
04 November 2011, 4:39 PM
Court refuses to denude smelt of ESA protections
The Delta

On Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court handed conservationists a victory and some good news for endangered wildlife. The court denied a request by an anti-wildlife right-wing group to strip federal Endangered Species Act protections from a rare species – a California fish called the delta smelt.

The right-wing Pacific Legal Foundation, has tried repeatedly to get any federal court to rule that the federal government has no power to extend ESA protection to species that exist only in a single state and have no current commercial value. The smelt just happens to be a species of convenience that fit those terms. PLF has been rebuffed by five different federal courts of appeals and now the Supreme Court.

Earthjustice attorney Trent Orr was involved in the big rebuff of PLF, pointing out to the courts that the anti-wildlife group simply didn’t understand established law. The Supreme Court hardly needed to hear it, having upheld the ESA by rejecting review of five earlier challenges from other corners of the nation.

View David Lawlor's blog posts
21 September 2011, 3:10 PM
Earthjustice petitions to compel analysis of threat to wildlife
Whooping crane.

You can’t get something for nothing—there is always a trade-off, always a catch. In the case of Canada’s tar sands crude oil project, what’s being sacrificed in the name of the United States’ oil addiction are the lives of stoic woodland caribou and majestic whooping cranes.

Earthjustice filed a Pelly petition today 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 is harming threatened woodland caribou and at least 130 migratory bird species, including endangered whooping cranes.

The Pelly petition calls on Salazar to promptly investigate and determine whether tar sands activities are weakening treaties that protect endangered and threatened species. If Salazar’s investigation finds that tar sands activities are weakening those treaties, then he is required to report those conclusions to President Obama. The vast majority of Canada’s tar sands crude is exported to the United States.

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View Marjorie Mulhall's blog posts
27 July 2011, 1:42 PM
Republicans abandon ship to keep species on the ESA ark
Rep. Norm Dicks (D-WA)

The current leaders in the House think that saving America’s wildlife is asking too much so they introduced legislation to remove all funds used by the government to add new species to those receiving ESA protections, never mind there’s a list 260 species long waiting to get on the ark.

The legislation also would have similarly frozen any work to designate habitat critical to species protection and recovery. Finally it would have prevented the government from increasing protection for those species spiraling from threatened to the more critical endangered status.
But when the time came to vote, the House leaders lost.

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View Trip Van Noppen's blog posts
22 July 2011, 4:05 PM
Hijacking our democracy to attack our environment
Part of The Procession of the Trojan Horse in Troy (1773) by Domenico Tiepolo.

If you've ever suspected that Congress thinks of corporate polluters first and the polluted public last, the debacle unfolding in Washington, D.C. this week should leave you with little doubt—and a bitter taste. Many of our elected leaders have hijacked the process by which we fund government agencies to sack the environment like Odysseus did Troy.

The Trojan Horse that is the federal appropriations bill is filled with an unprecedented number of anti-environmental "riders"—provisions added to a piece of legislation that have little to no connection with the subject of the bill itself. And just as the Greeks sought to extinguish the fires of life in Troy, these riders are meant to run down the bedrock environmental protections that were created to keep our environment clean and our imperiled wildlife safe from extinction.

One egregious effort—dubbed the Extinction Rider—would paralyze the nation's ability to protect hundreds of species and turn the decision-making about endangered wildlife into a one-way street where protections can only be weakened, never strengthened.

This is an absolutely inappropriate way to set new policy. It demeans the democratic process and indicates that such extreme measures can't stand on their own—instead, they have to be slipped as stowaways into a must-pass bill.

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View Marty Hayden's blog posts
22 July 2011, 11:08 AM
Congress gives industry free ride on back of environmental protections

Perhaps inspired by the triple-digit heat afflicting Washington D.C., the House of Representatives is putting legislative flames to our important environmental and public health protections.

This week, the House will consider a spending bill for the Department of the Interior, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Forest Service and other federal agencies. The bill is stuffed with open attacks by House Republicans on protections for our air, water, wildlife and iconic places.
 
Laden with nearly 40 so-called anti-environmental “riders”— policy provisions added to a measure having little or nothing to do with the appropriating funds—the bill hasn’t even reached the House floor yet. One provision will lift a moratorium on uranium mining near the Grand Canyon--one of the world’s seven natural wonders, and the only one in the U.S.

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View Jessica Knoblauch's blog posts
15 July 2011, 10:56 AM
Conservative face off, hot climate deniers, big coal’s big misstep
The hunting and fishing crowd is increasingly unhappy with GOP efforts to slash conservation spending. Photo courtesy of eadmund42

Republicans cutting enviro bills shoot themselves in the foot
Republican measures to cut environmental programs that keep the nation’s air and water clean may prove foolish if they continue to ruffle the feathers of outdoorsmen, reports Politico. The angler and hunter crowd may typically swing conservative, but that could change if House Republicans continue their attempts to pull the trigger on a number of programs that keep wildlife intact, such as the North American Wetlands Conservation Act or State Wildlife Grants. Last week, leaders from a handful of conservation organizations like Ducks Unlimited met with top officials to make their case for restoring funding for environmental programs, arguing that the benefits of wildlife conservation go far beyond the duck pond, like cleaning up waterways and providing flood control for coastal communities. Though hunting and fishing types tend to be fiscally conservative, when it comes to slashing conservation programs that diminish the favorite pastimes of a large voting bloc, Republicans better think twice before going in for the kill.
 

View Ben Barron's blog posts
13 July 2011, 12:23 PM
Fracking invades rainforest havens of birds and natives who mimic them

Anyone who has seen the “Planet Earth” episode on jungles has witnessed the colorful plumes and remarkable displays of the Birds of Paradise.

But when you’re hiking (read: struggling) through the dense growth of Papua New Guinea’s rainforest, one of the world’s largest at over 100,000 square miles and home to 38 of the 43 Bird of Paradise species, it’s pretty difficult to catch a glimpse these magnificent birds.

You can’t help but hear them, though. Jungle life has a soundtrack, and the BOPs are the lead singers.

However, a new voice is about to join the New Guinea chorus, threatening to drown out the unique birds.

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