Posts tagged: forests

unEARTHED. The Earthjustice Blog

forests


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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 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 Peter Campbell's blog posts
17 August 2009, 5:09 PM
Some Woodstock artists had a lasting impact on our environment.
Richie Havens performing at Woodstock. Photo: Derek Redman and Paul Campbell

Much is spoken about the legacy of Woodstock, the concert that defined a musical era, now celebrating a 40-year reunion. I came across this fascinating slideshow on Treehugger's website, discussing the post-Woodstock environmental activities of some of the famous rock and folk musicians that performed there. While some might be skeptical as to how great a conference Woodstock was, discovering this 40-year history of environmental stewardship that followed speaks to the historic importance of the event.

The slideshow notes some fascinating environmental pursuits of classic 60's artists. Here are some additional links and details on the musicians featured and their earth-friendly activities:

View Kathleen Sutcliffe's blog posts
28 July 2009, 1:19 PM
Imagine how drilling will alter the landscape of this special patch of earth
Photo: USGS New York Water Science Center

This piece from New York Times editorial writer Verlyn Klinkenborg on proposed gas drilling in the Catskill mountains of New York pulled at my heartstrings. To date, much of the criticism of the drilling proposals has centered on the risk to drinking water. And rightly so: while drilling for gas, companies inject millions of gallons of chemically treated water into the underground rock deposits to force the gas to the surface. The technique, known as hydraulic fracturing (or hydrofracking), can poison drinking water supplies as well as put a strain on water resources.

But Klinkenborg takes some time out to walk the riverbanks of the East Branch of the Delaware River and imagine how drilling will alter the landscape of this special patch of earth. How it will turn a small clearing in the woods into an industrial landing pad for drilling equipment. Or a simple gravel fishing path into a byway for heavy machinery.

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View Tom Turner's blog posts
08 July 2009, 3:41 PM
 

As a candidate, Barack Obama promised to "uphold and defend" the Roadless Area Conservation Rule, which set out to protect nearly 60 million acres of pristine national forest lands across the country. Not long ago, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, who has responsibility for the Forest Service among many things, announced that he will personally review any projects proposed in roadless areas. This move was labelled a year-long "time out" for road building and logging by some in the media, but in fact, there's no guarantee.

With an eye toward nudging the president to a more bold and forthright act, five conservation organizations are launching a major ad campaign aimed directly at the president.

View Tom Turner's blog posts
26 June 2009, 4:54 PM
 

The Alabama-based environmental law firm Wildlaw has just announced the hiring of Mark Rey as a part-time lobbyist to work on national forest restoration projects in the Southeast and to help with land acquisition efforts.

Here's a little backstory. Wildlaw is headed by an attorney named Ray Vaughan, and it has done much good work in the Southeast defending national forests and scarce species and waterways and other resources. Mark Rey was the Under Secretary of Agriculture overseeing the national forests under George W. Bush, and a more reviled figure among environmental activists would be hard to find.

View Tom Turner's blog posts
16 June 2009, 10:54 AM
America's special rainforest remains in a state of regulatory limbo

The Ketchikan newspaper just published a long editorial titled "We Love Surprises," urging Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack to surprise them and approve some new roads and timber sales in the Tongass National Forest despite the recent directive that suggests the administration is planning to take a year or two to study the situation and decide whether to make the 2001 Roadless Rule permanent.

The editorial makes it sound as if the only thing at stake is the very survival of Southeast Alaska. The piece also makes it sound as if the environmental movement is all powerful and dictating how the Obama administration acts in these matter.

If only that were so.

View Tom Turner's blog posts
12 June 2009, 11:45 AM
 

Remember "Healthy Forests"? This was one of the euphonious program names hatched by Karl Rove or another of the Bush wordsmiths to mask a real purpose. There was also the Clear Skies Initiative, which actually aimed to weaken the Clean Air Act.

Healthy Forests argued that the best way to control wildlfire and protect rural communities was to thin the forests of dead brush and sick trees, such growth having accumulated to dangerous levels owing to decades of fire suppression.

Fair enough, but many scientists and environmental advocates argued that Healthy Forests was really a smoke screen (forgive me) aimed at obscuring the fact that much of the planned "thinning" would be far from human settlements and would in fact involve logging big, living, valuable trees.

View Tom Turner's blog posts
04 June 2009, 10:50 PM
 

Back in my early days at Earthjustice I got into an argument with a colleage that has stuck with me ever since. She (no names) observed that if we—the movement in general—conceded that restoration of damaged ecosystems is possible that we'll never be able to protect forests, wetlands, parks and the like because developers could simply say they'll eventually restore the land to its former glory.

In fact, we have a case before the Supreme Court at this very moment, where a mining company says not to worry that its tailings will kill all life in Lower Slate Lake in Alaska—they'll put it all back together, better than ever, when the mine eventually closes.

Sure. And what's lost in the mean time?