Posts tagged: Forest Service

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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
21 February 2010, 3:09 PM
March brings Roadless Rule's day in court, but threats loom
Dome Peak Roadless Area, Colorado - Photo (c) Ted Zukoski

More than a decade ago, dedicated conservationists within and without the Forest Service began clamoring for a nation-wide policy to protect the last remnants of roadless lands across the National Forests. The rationales were many: providing solitude for wildlife, preventing wildfires (which occur most often near roads), protecting water supplies for cities and towns, and leaving the last scraps of land unharmed by the buldozer after a century of pressure from loggers, miners, and other development.

And after the most comprehensive public input process in the history of American government—more than a million comments from members of the public, hundreds of hearings and open houses, a comprehensive environmental review—President Bill Clinton signed the "Roadless Rule" into law with just a week remaining in his term. The rule proteced 58 million acres of America's last unroaded lands from auction, bulldozing and commercial logging.

But the Roadless Rule immediately came under assault. George W. Bush and the logging lobbyists he hired to run forest policy promptly set about dismantling the rule. And even before the rule had been signed, anti-environmental interests had filed the first of a barrage of lawsuits aimed at taking down the rule.

The rule had its defenders, however. Conservation groups, represented by my Earthjustice colleagues Jim Angell, Kristen Boyles, Tim Preso, Tom Waldo and others, fought off the attacks in court. And, for the most part, they won. Thanks to them, when the Bush Administration finally packed its bags, the Roadless Rule was bloodied but very much alive.

And now, nearly a decade after it was adopted, the Roadless Rule will celebrate another red letter day.

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View Trip Van Noppen's blog posts
21 January 2010, 12:25 PM
Focus is on clean energy, natural heritage, and health

Last year, the U.S. government started taking environmental protection seriously again, but as 2010 dawns, we continue to see political and economic interests preventing or stalling critical environmental solutions.

In the face of this opposition, this year Earthjustice is targeting key issues with our legal and advocacy work. Our focus is on three core priorities: building a clean energy future, protecting our natural heritage, and safeguarding our health.

To avoid global warming's worst impacts, we must build a clean energy future. Reducing demand through efficiency and increasing supply from renewable sources of power are cornerstones of the foundation. But these steps are obstructed by the political stranglehold of the fossil fuel industry. Earthjustice is using the law to help break our national reliance on fossil fuels, which we continue to extract, burn, and subsidize heavily with taxpayer money, despite the destructive impact on people and the planet.

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View Trip Van Noppen's blog posts
22 October 2009, 11:42 AM
Obama administration must stop proposed logging of old-growth stands
Advertisement in Washington, D.C. publications

Regional officials with Alaska's Tongass National Forest, the crown jewel of our national forest system, recently announced plans to log nearly 1,500 acres of old-growth forest in two roadless areas. The Central Kupreanof and Sue timber sales jeopardize intact blocks of old-growth habitat within one of the last remaining temperate rainforests in the world.

The logging projects contradict President Barack Obama's pledge, made as a presidential candidate, to support full protection of 58.5 million acres of our nation's roadless forests, which include 9.5 million acres in the Tongass. These roadless areas are some of our nation's last truly wild places.

Fortunately, the administration now has a tremendous opportunity to make good on Obama's promise. Sec. of Agriculture Tom Vilsack has taken on the responsibility of personally reviewing all proposed timber sales in roadless areas and can stop these projects with a pen stroke. In addition to blocking these timber sales, Sec. Vilsack needs to restore full protections to the Tongass under the Roadless Rule, because only then will old-growth stands in the Tongass truly be safe. Earthjustice and other groups are asking Sec. Vilsack to do exactly that in an ad that started running today in some Washington, D.C. publications.

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View Brian Smith's blog posts
12 October 2009, 3:56 PM
Regional forester out on a limb

Earthjustice was more than a little surprised to hear that a regional office of the Tongass National Forest is moving ahead with plans to open a roadless area in America's largest temperate rainforest to logging. The Central Kupreanof timber sale project, would carve 15 miles of new roads and log 1,339 acres of old growth forest.

But this is not a done deal. As the press release from the regional national forest office admits…

"The Final EIS is being released without an accompanying Record of Decision (ROD) in light of the U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary's memorandum dated May 28, 2009, which stated the Secretary reserved decision-making authority over construction and reconstruction of roads and the cutting, sale or removal of timber in Inventoried Roadless Areas (IRA)."

Earthjustice attorney, Tom Waldo called the news, "a reckless action by local officials in the Tongass National Forest…The Secretary of Agriculture should just say no to this project."

The final decision now sits on the desk of Agriculture secretary, Tom Vilsack.

View Trip Van Noppen's blog posts
19 August 2009, 4:24 PM
Earthjustice president sees firsthand environmental bests and worsts
Wind power parts enroute

What does it take to peel back the abstractions of email, press reports, and legal briefs and really see some of what is at stake in Earthjustice's work? It's as easy as getting away from the computer, out of airports, and off the interstate.

Over the last couple of weeks I was lucky enough to travel across the Great Plains and the Rockies. Everywhere I went, I saw our country wrestling with the big challenges of energy supply and climate change, biodiversity and wildlands protection, and the human consequences of poorly enforced environmental standards.

Signs of change in our energy economy are everywhere. Across Missouri, Iowa, Nebraska and South Dakota, I kept running into wide-load 18 wheelers hauling giant pieces of wind towers to the sites of new wind farms. One of the truck drivers told me that the towers were made in Texas. Some of the small towns practically had to shut down their main streets to let the rigs through.

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View Tom Turner's blog posts
19 August 2009, 9:42 AM
Obama and the courts back roadless areas. Mostly.
Roadless area in Wyoming's Beartooth Plateau. Photo: Nelson Guda, 2009

We've seen considerable activity concerning national forest roadless areas in the past few weeks in case you missed it—most of it welcome.

Early this month, the federal appeals court upheld a district court ruling that found that the rule the Bush administration cooked up to replace the 2001 Roadless Rule was illegal, and therefore reinstated the 2001 rule. (The Bush rule invited governors to suggest how national forests in their states should be run. The 2001 rule forbids most road building and logging in roadless areas in national forests.)

Shortly thereafter, the Forest Service, under President Obama and Agriculture Sec. Tom Vilsack, announced that it will appeal a ruling out of Wyoming, where a cantankerous federal judge found the 2001 rule illegal. Twice. Earthjustice has appealed that ruling, and now we're joined by the administration.

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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.