Posts tagged: Obama administration

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Obama administration


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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 Ben Barron's blog posts
23 August 2011, 4:53 PM
Protesters ask Obama to stop Keystone pipeline project
Bill McKibben

D.C. police have arrested 160 people and counting, in response to a non-violent protest against the Keystone XL Tar Sands pipeline. Among those arrested-- Bill McKibben, prolific environmental author and co-founder of 350.org. Released today after three days in jail, McKibben encouraged the continuation of the two-week protest, which is taking place in front of the White House.

The proposed pipeline, which would in fact be a network of pipelines spanning the U.S. and Canada, is a disaster waiting to happen – a plan to tap an enormous carbon reserve that would dramatically increase CO2 emissions and put millions of Americans and Canadians at risk.

Oil spills in America’s heartland and water contamination from drilling byproducts would become commonplace. Not to mention that oil from tar sands is an inefficient energy source, requiring enormous effort to extract – a desperate asset that oil companies plan to exploit only because they have nowhere else to turn. In May, Earthjustice filed a suit against the State Department, which refused to release communications with lobbyists for the pipeline.

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View Jessica Knoblauch's blog posts
11 August 2011, 4:41 PM
Food foraging, corporate greenwashing, big rig gas sipping
SpongeBob SquarePants is in hot water for talking to kids about climate change. Photo courtesy of gnislew

FOX News attacks climate change believing sponge
A sea sponge is the latest target of the FOX News climate denial-sphere, reports ThinkProgress. In a recent episode of FOX and Friends, the hosts rip into the popular kids’ cartoon SpongeBob SquarePants for its segment on climate change, which points to humans as the source of Earth's carbon woes. Fox personality Gretchen Carlson and others chastise the cartoon for looking at only “one point of view”—that is, humans are the primary cause of global warming by releasing millions of tons of carbon dioxide into the air. Though this view is held by 97 percent of climate scientists, the browbeating does make for a nice segue into FOX’s other favorite past time—criticizing publicly funded agencies like the Department of Education for pushing anti-American agendas like global warming. The DOE’s latest transgression? Handing out Nickelodeon books at an event that pushes “unproven science” about climate change onto children.

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View Jared Saylor's blog posts
05 August 2011, 8:33 AM
Feds greenlight first offshore drilling plans in Arctic since Gulf spill

Last summer, we were captivated by a live video feed of oil spewing from a broken well at the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico. The Deepwater Horizon disaster woke up America to the dangers of offshore oil drilling, and the government was quick to act.

Shortly after 11 workers lost their lives, the Obama administration shelved plans to drill for oil in America’s Arctic Ocean. If even a fraction of the 4.9 million barrels of oil spilled in the Gulf of Mexico were to spill in the remote, fragile waters of the Arctic Ocean, the result would be devastating; there is no known technology to clean up oil spilled in these waters where 20-foot swells and huge chunks of ice are common.

But, clearly, those leassons have been unlearned.

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View Jessica Knoblauch's blog posts
22 July 2011, 10:26 AM
Fishy cleanups, meaty eco dilemmas, dirty soaps
Grey wolves in Yellowstone help keep the elk population in check. Photo courtesy of Arran_Edmonstone

Environment loses in predator versus people standoff
A new study has found that the decline of the world’s largest predators is wreaking havoc on the rest of the ecosystem, reports the Washington Post. Nature abhors a vacuum, and by killing off large sums of the world’s wolves, lions, buffalo and wildebeest, humans have inadvertently opened a door to other, sometimes less beneficial, wildlife. For example, the decimation of lions and leopards in parts of sub-Saharan Africa has allowed disease-ridden baboons to thrive, sometimes venturing into populated areas. And in the U.S., the hunting and killing of wolves in Yellowstone Park has incresed the numbers of elk and deer, which devour the forest food supply, leaving less food for other creatures. Deer also carry ticks that spread Lyme disease, an emerging infectious disease that can affect the joints, heart and central nervous system in humans.

Though the authors of the report acknowledge that it can be difficult to predict the effect that the loss of a large predator will have on the environment, what is clear is that no species is an island unto itself. In fact, the reintroduction of a native species can sometimes have a positive effect on the environment. For example, a reintroduction of wolves into Yellowstone back in the 1990s has helped keep the elk population in check, thereby allowing other creatures like beavers and birds to bounce back. Said William Ripple, co-author of the international report, “It’s amazing the effect one species, the wolf, can have on the entire ecosystem.”

View Ted Zukoski's blog posts
21 July 2011, 12:11 PM
Agency notes inadequate protection of roadless areas
A road and well pad bulldozed into roadless lands for a coal mine in Colorado. Ted Zukoski photo.

The Environmental Protection Agency found much room for improvement when it weighed in on the Forest's Service environmental impact statement that analyzes a proposed rule to weaken protection for roadless lands in Colorado. 

Among the EPA's concerns: the Forest Service proposed to grant the highest level of protection to about one-seventh of Colorado's 4 million acres of roadless lands. Not enough, said the EPA in its July 18 letter.

Further, the EPA said the proposal would allow three coal mines to bulldoze roads through roadless lands to get hundreds of millions of tons of additional coal.

View Ted Zukoski's blog posts
21 July 2011, 9:56 AM
President needs change of heart to protect national monuments
Grand Wash, in the Grand Canyon-Parashant National Monument. Photo (c) Kim Crumbo.

Late in his administration, Bill Clinton attempted to build a conservation legacy worthy of Teddy Roosevelt by designating more than a dozen national monuments across the West.

George W. Bush tried to undo that legacy.

And President Barack Obama, to his dis-credit, has allowed the Bush-adopted, monument-undercutting status quo to remain, despite being the "hope-y, change-y" candidate in 2008.

But a little more background.

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View Liz Judge's blog posts
12 July 2011, 3:52 PM
Study links birth defects to MTR, but coal industry lawyers blame inbreeding

A major new scientific study shows significantly higher rates of birth defects in areas of heavy mountaintop removal mining, even after controlling for a range of other contributing factors. The study found that living near a mountaintop removal site poses a much greater risk to unborn babies than smoking during pregnancy. More than double the risk!

Says the study: "For babies born specifically with defects of the circulatory or respiratory system, smoking increased risk by 17 percent, and living in a mountaintop mining area increased risk by 181 percent. Living in a mountaintop mining area was a bigger risk for birth defects than smoking."

At this point, there have been numerous scientific studies on the environmental destruction caused by mountaintop removal mining. Mountains are torn down and destroyed, biodiverse forests are cut down and cleared out, streams are obliterated, waters across Appalachia are contaminated, and drinking water supplies are poisoned. But even more upsetting than the barren moonscapes is the fact that the people are being poisoned.

View Liz Judge's blog posts
06 July 2011, 9:03 AM
House comes out swinging in its newly revealed 2012 spending bill

The 112th Session of the House of Representatives is at it again, doing what they do best: writing legislation to strike and block the clean air and clean water laws that keep us alive and healthy.

This morning, the House majority released its spending bill for the year 2012, and not to disappoint those who wish to live in a world with big corporations enjoying full freedom to foul our air and water without restriction, penalty or accountability, the bill manages to take direct aim at a handful of landmark environmental safeguards and a slew of major public health protections.

Legislating through appropriations is a back-door, manipulative move in its own right. It essentially means that instead of having to muster the votes required to pass new laws or take our current environmental and health safeguards off the books, House leadership is using a spending bill to simply stop and block all funding for these protections. The laws still stand as they are, they just can't be enforced. The way this House sees it, if the agencies can't get the money to enforce our current laws, there's no need to worry about what the laws actually mandate.

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View David Lawlor's blog posts
30 June 2011, 1:49 PM
Under mounting political pressure, administration dumps science-based policy

“The saddest aspect of life right now is that science gathers knowledge faster than society gathers wisdom.” – Isaac Asimov

In American culture, perhaps no method or form of knowledge is regarded more highly than science. Philosophy and religion are unsettled debates over unknowable questions; art and poetry are the realms of divine inspiration and the muses. But science, ah science, the bearer of truths heretofore uncovered and the proverbial sledge hammer of objective reality—surely science is where we can find answers about how to govern our land and its people.

Don’t just take my word that science is the penultimate arbiter of truth; President Obama feels (or at least used to) the same way. In a March 2009 presidential memorandum titled “Memorandum for the Heads of Executive Departments and Agencies,” the president wrote: “Science and the scientific process must inform and guide decisions of my Administration on a wide range of issues, including improvement of public health, protection of the environment, increased efficiency in the use of energy and other resources, [and] mitigation of the threat of climate change…”

And then gas prices climbed to more than $4 a gallon.

View Liz Judge's blog posts
20 June 2011, 4:55 PM
High court affirms EPA authority

Today, a U.S. Supreme Court ruling once again affirmed the Environmental Protection Agency as the most rightful and authorized regulator of climate change pollution in the land.

While some in Congress have been trying to take this power away from the EPA, and have been attempting to block EPA controls on climate change pollution, the Supreme Court today ruled that the EPA -- not the Supreme Court, not states and not Congress -- is "best suited to serve as primary regulator of greenhouse gas emissions."

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