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Drilling in the Uinta Basin near the town of Ouray.

The people living in the Uinta Basin in eastern Utah are the unwitting participants in a massive scientific experiment.  What happens when you put more than 11,000 oil and gas wells in a geologic basin and then seal off the air for days or weeks on end?  And the initial results are alarming—smog pollution that exceeds the federal standard set to protect public health by a whopping 89 percent.

Aspens in Gunnison National Forest.

Autumn’s beauty was on full display in Colorado’s aspen forests late last month.

So was the Obama administration’s schizophrenic approach to climate and public lands policy.

In late September, I was fortunate enough to spend a day each hiking through two roadless areas—Pilot Knob and Sunset—managed by the Gunnison National Forest.

The fireball that followed the derailment and explosion of two trains, one carrying Bakken crude oil, on December 30, 2013, outside Casselton, N.D.

Forty-seven people, including a four-year-old child, died in July 2013 when a train carrying crude oil derailed in Lac Mégantic, Quebec. Sixty-three tank cars derailed and of these, 59 punctured or ripped open and spilled oil, which ignited, exploded and destroyed the downtown. This catastrophe awoke the public to a 4,000 percent increase in the amount of crude oil shipped by rail and the incredible dangers posed by these crude oil trains to communities. 

A small private plane tied down next to the runway at a regional airport.

(The Right to Know Reader is a series of blog posts to educate families on the toxic chemicals in our daily lives. Earthjustice is working to enact stronger protections from these toxic chemicals for our families, communities and the environment because everyone has a right to know the truth about harmful toxins.)

A new crack in a foundation in proximity to Inglewood Oil Field, CA

Colorado, Texas and Oklahoma aren't known for earthquakes, but that’s changing thanks to hydraulic fracking. Fracking-triggered earthquakes may become stronger and more frequent as the wastewater is injected underground, according to new research. Enormous amounts of wastewater are produced from the fracking process, and underground injection of wastewater is the most commonly used disposal technique. Each time a new well is fracked, the stakes grow higher.

Helen Holden Slottje, a winner of the 2014 Goldman Environmental Prize.

In 2010, Helen Holden Slottje, a lawyer in upstate New York pioneered a legal strategy to keep fracking out of communities using local zoning laws. She and her husband David spent the next four years going from town to town, sharing what they’d learned. Today, more than 170 communities in New York have fracking bans or moratoriums on the books.

Residents rally outside Berkeley City Hall to show opposition to a proposed crude by rail project.

Is volatile crude oil coming by rail to a town near me? For weeks, I’ve been asking myself that question as I kept hearing about the skyrocketing number of trains that are transporting potentially explosive types of crude throughout the U.S. to East and West Coast export facilities.

And I’m not alone.

A child suffering from asthma.

A proposal for a large—570-megawatt—gas-fired power plant is pitting two Southern California cities against each other, and has aroused citizens worried about air quality and their children's health. Members of Desert Citizens Against Pollution are suing to challenge the plant’s approval.

The plant would be sited in Palmdale on the border of Lancaster.

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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. Learn more about Earthjustice.