Posts tagged: forests

unEARTHED. The Earthjustice Blog

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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 Sam Edmondson's blog posts
29 May 2012, 3:59 PM
Air pollution penetrates the heart of California's wild places
A giant ponderosa pine. Photo: USFS.

Over this past long weekend, spent backpacking in California's Sierra Nevada mountains, I was reminded of a memorable method for distinguishing two of our stateliest trees. Though these two specimens are similar in many respects, the pine cones of "prickly ponderosa" have small spikes that point outwards, while those of "gentle Jeffrey" curve inward. (The bark of Jeffrey pines additionally smells like butterscotch or vanilla, which makes ID'ing them doubly delicious.)

But lo, after a string of days spent with these gentle giants, I returned to some sobering news. The Associated Press reports that smog pollution is weakening the growth of ponderosa and Jeffrey pine stands in California's Sequoia National Park. Ozone, the primary component of smog, inhibits the trees' ability to perform photosynthesis, evidenced by a yellowing of their bundles of long needles.

If you need a refresher, photosynthesis is the process by which plants harness energy from the sun and convert it into cellular energy. That energy is conferred to us animals when we eat plants. So, you know, it's really important.

View Jessica Knoblauch's blog posts
02 March 2012, 11:15 AM
Google oceans, cutting oil subsidies, beach-bound tsunami debris
(Photo courtesy of B Rosen)

The Lorax peddles SUVs to elementary kids
The main character from Dr. Seuss’ “The Lorax,” a book that has long been considered a timeless screed on the environmental perils of overconsumption, is now being used to hawk gas-guzzling SUVs to school children, reports the Washington Post. In the book, the Lorax speaks for the trees against the greedy Once-ler. But recently, the fuzzy character showed up at Alexandria’s James K. Polk Elementary School, encouraging kids to persuade their parents to take a test drive of a Mazda SUV. In exchange, kids could help raise money for other schools’ libraries and qualify for a sweepstakes entry. At the event, a Mazda rep defended the move, arguing that the eco-friendly Lorax would like the new SUVs, which have “really good environmentally friendly technologies,” like getting 35 miles per gallon. Yikes!  (If that's considered "good" gas mileage, I'd hate to know what's poor gas mileage.) Luckily, not all the kids were taken in by the greenwashed marketing pitch. For example, when a group of kids walked past the car and started excitedly yelling, “Lorax car!” , one student quietly pointed out that the Lorax doesn’t even drive a car.

Google takes its street view to the oceans
Ocean enthusiasts who are terrified of the water can now take a virtual swim among parrotfish, coral reefs and other sea creatures, all without getting wet, thanks to a new Google venture that brings Google Street View to the oceans, reports the Wall Street Journal. Partnering with oceanographers and the international insurance company Catlin Group Limited, the program will give ocean access to anyone with a computer. It will also allow scientists to track data such as migration patterns, sea turtle populations and the health of the Great Barrier Reef, which, among other reefs, is under constant threat from climate change. As with other environmental programs like wilderness treks and farm-to-school initiatives, the hope is that Google Oceans will inspire people to protect the ocean environment, which are under threat from overfishing, habitat loss, pollution and now climate change.
 

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View Liz Judge's blog posts
28 February 2012, 10:19 AM
State may become first to ban high-altitude mountaintop removal mining
Tennessee mountains -- Image courtesy of EarthFirst

A bipartisan bill is coming up for a vote in the Tennessee state legislature tomorrow (Feb. 29) that would ban surface mining and mountaintop removal mining at altitudes above 2,000 feet in the state.

This legislation would ensure that the most scenic vistas are protected for residents and visitors instead of being razed.

The Tennessee Senate’s Energy and Environment Committee will vote on the bill, determining whether it makes its way to the whole state’s senate for full floor vote.If it passes, this will be the first and only mountaintop removal mining ban in any state in the U.S., setting a precedent for other Appalachian states and citizens who are coping with this abominable type of coal mining.

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View Tim Preso's blog posts
16 February 2012, 5:15 PM
Last, best wild national forest lands shielded from development
A grizzly bear taking a stroll in Yellowstone National Park.
(Terry Tollesfbol / USFWS)

Nearly 50 million acres of America’s most pristine public forest lands remain protected today, thanks to a decision this afternoon by the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals denying a last-ditch effort by the State of Wyoming and the Colorado Mining Association to overturn the U.S. Forest Service Roadless Area Conservation Rule, more commonly known as the Roadless Rule.

Earthjustice has been in the courts for the past 13 years fighting to protect the Roadless Rule, a landmark conservation measure that protects wild national forests and grasslands from new road building and logging. Protection of these forests secures vital habitat for some of our nation’s most sensitive wildlife. From condors of the southern California mountains, to grizzly bears and wolves near Yellowstone National Park, to migratory songbirds among the Appalachian hardwoods, many species would no longer exist—or would be severely depleted—but for the forest lands protected by the Roadless Rule.

View Liz Judge's blog posts
27 January 2012, 5:07 AM
Their water protections are strong, wildlife safeguards need to be stronger

Today, the Obama administration’s Forest Service revealed final rules for managing of our national forests. These rules typically last 15-30 years, and they serve as the blueprint for how 193 million acres of our most important watersheds are managed. Their impact is sweeping.

My own memories from time spent in national forests remind me of why Earthjustice’s fight for strong protections is so important. Whether it was hiking and camping with my younger brother in the Monongahela National Forest of West Virginia or touring the Custer and Gallatin national forests in Montana with my family, my time in the forests will remain among my best memories.

Although we were just a couple hours from the big city by car, it seemed like we were a world away. The jaw-dropping views, clear piney air, crystalline streams, and glimpses of precious and rare wildlife gave us perspective on what’s at stake for our country, for our people and wild places, and for future generations.

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 Ted Zukoski's blog posts
11 December 2011, 10:44 PM
But there’s still a chance for one big present under the tree
Aerial view of the Alton coal strip mine near Bryce Canyon. Photo (c) Ray Bloxham, Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance.

As fall turns to winter, President Obama has continued his virtually unbroken streak of bending over backwards for the coal industry in the West.  For those who love Western public lands and could do without more subsidies to Big Coal, Mr. Obama has been more Grinch than Santa.

For example, the Forest Service recently consented to a coal lease in western Colorado that will result in more than two square miles of the beautiful Sunset Trail Roadless Area being chewed up with 48 well pads and 6.5 miles of road.  It’s a Christmas present to corporate goliath Arch Coal, and coal in the public’s stocking.

But wait, there’s more! BLM is moving ahead with plans to approve a strip mine on the doorstep of Bryce Canyon National Park.  Denuded habitat, truck trips that will disrupt tourism and the lives of local residents, and dust will all result.  Not everyone is wild about the idea - including the Salt Lake Tribune, which editorialized against the project.  (And if you're not wild about the strip mine either, go here to tell the BLM.) 

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View Trip Van Noppen's blog posts
20 November 2011, 12:08 AM
Court ruling climaxes 13-year legal struggle
Young boy fishing in the West Fork Humptulips River by the Moonlight Dome Roadless Area in Washington’s Olympic National Forest. (© Thomas O’Keefe)

Last month, protection for nearly 50 million acres of wild lands was resoundingly affirmed in a court decision that will benefit future generations. After 13 years of legal battles by Earthjustice on behalf of our allies, the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals reinstated the Roadless Rule, a landmark preservation act that protects our nation’s wild forests and grasslands from new road building, logging and development.

The conviction behind the Roadless Rule, that we should protect pristine wild lands not only for the well-being of the last survivors of our wild heritage, but also for our own well-being, is one held by most Americans. The public outpouring of support for the Roadless Rule has been unprecedented. The Roadless Rule victory is living proof that the desire to protect America’s natural heritage lives on in us all.

But despite overwhelming public support for the Rule, the fight to uphold it has been far from easy and is still not over. Since the Clinton administration first began considering the idea of protecting the last undeveloped lands on our national forests, the Roadless Rule has been subjected to relentless attacks by loggers, miners and supporting politicians.

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View Tom Turner's blog posts
21 October 2011, 5:28 PM
Decision climaxes 13-year legal struggle by Earthjustice
Meadows and ponds abound in a roadless area in Wyoming’s Beartooth Plateau. (© Nelson Guda, 2009 / nelsonguda.com)

<In a major victory for Earthjustice and its supporters, today the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals reinstated The Roadless Rule, which protects nearly 50 million acres of National Forest lands against exploitation. Tom Turner, who literally wrote the book ("Roadless Rules") on the case, provides some background here.>

Toward the end of the Clinton administration, the Forest Service declared that most logging and road building no longer would be permitted on nearly 60 million acres of wild, unprotected national forest lands.

The so-called Roadless Area Conservation Rule was immediately challenged in nine separate lawsuits filed by states (Idaho, Wyoming, Alaska, Utah, North Dakota), a few counties, and several timber industry interests.

Earthjustice immediately moved to defend the rule in all those cases, eventually devoting thousands of hours by many attorneys to the effort. Many major national groups became involved, along with statewide groups. The Natural Resources Defense Council was a key ally in Alaska.

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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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