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Endangered Species Act

Roger Beers, a lawyer who worked for Earthjustice and the Natural Resources Defense Council, once said that environmental cases are the most political of all. He meant that in environmental cases, the biases of the judge in a case are more likely to steer his decisions than in other kinds of cases.

I don't know if that's true, but I do know that our lawyers were always happy to draw federal judge Sam King should they be filing suit in Hawai`i. His biases--that's too loaded a word, of course, maybe his instincts--tended to be on the side of people and the natural world.

Reporters speak of a story having legs, meaning that it is likely to continue over an extended period. Spotted owls have legs.

The story began in the late '80s, when it became evident that out-of-control logging in ancient forests in the Northwest was about to extinguish the owls. Earthjustice sued, and managed to achieve Endangered Species Act protection for the owls.

End of story? Not quite.
 

What the heck are we doing to our animals? I read a startling piece on birds afflicted with “long-billed syndrome” – abnormally long beaks which inhibits preening and eating in some dire cases. Many of these birds end up starving and infested with feather lice. These incidents are appearing in Alaska and the Pacific Northwest. The cause: undetermined. But I can’t help but suspect there’s a chemical, human-induced reason behind all of this.

There is no reason to beat around the bush: Tuesday's election results are a setback in our progress towards a cleaner, healthier, more sustainable planet.

At a time when the world desperately needs leadership from the United States, voters have installed in the House of Representatives those who have vowed to do all they can to obstruct progress in cleaning up dirty coal-burning power plants, reducing health-destroying and climate-disrupting pollution, and protecting wild places and wildlife.

An estimated 20 percent of Atlantic bluefin tuna, spawned this year in the Gulf of Mexico, died because of BP's oil spill according to an assessment based on satellite images.

The European Space Agency, in league with the Ocean Foundation, reached that conclusion after collecting satellite images and other data from the start of the spill on Apr. 20 until Aug. 29. The nearly-200 million gallon spill occurred at the height of the spawn and affected one of two areas in which the tuna spawn.

Already under great stress because of overfishing and the impacts of longline fishing, the oil spill has put the tuna in such peril that the National Marine Fisheries Service is conducting its own year-long study into whether it should be protected under the Endangered Species Act.
 

Bears, you’ve had it tough this past year.

Out in Yellowstone, the grizzly members of the family are being thwarted by voracious mountain pine beetles, who are depriving the bears of one of their key food sources (fatty and delicious whitebark pine seeds). A year ago, Earthjustice won ESA protections for the bears, but the federal government has appealed the court’s decision. The fight continues.

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About the Earthjustice Blog

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. Learn more about Earthjustice.