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Obama administration

On the Obama administration's second Earth Day, we can look back on some change we can believe in: oil and gas leases near national parks in Utah suspended, a glimmer of progress on slowing the destruction of rivers and streams in Appalachia by coal mines, the beginning of EPA's commitment to slow global warming from car tail pipes.

But 15 months in, the administration appears to have at least one glaring blind spot: how to reduce the environmental destruction from coal mining in the West - both on the ground and in the atmosphere. 

When the EPA said on its website that April was going to be the month when we'd see the first ever federal coal ash regulations, environmental groups were in support. Sure, it would be four months later than what the EPA originally promised when a billion gallons of coal ash spilled across 300 acres in Tennessee, but we remained optimistic.

Now the month is half over and still no coal ash regulations. So, we're taking our fight up the ladder.

This week, after seven months of dodging bullets, Idaho's wolves got a reprieve: the statewide hunt that left 188 of them dead is over.

The actual number of wolves killed since hunting was legalized last year is more than 500—including those shot during the Montana season and others killed by governmental agents protecting livestock.

Some top stories from the past week at Earthjustice…

It turns out that pesticides aren't just dangerous in agricultural use. Last week, the U.S. EPA called for clearer labels and tighter regulations for flea treatments after the agency noticed an increase in adverse reactions from pets treated with the pesticide-laden products.

The father of energy saving techniques, Dr. Arthur H. Rosenfield, may soon join the countless other people whose names have since been transformed into units of measurement. We think the term Rosenfield as the new unit for energy savings has a nice ring to it.

Campaign director Jared Saylor examines the Obama administration's mixed message decision to halt oil and gas leasing in Bristol Bay off Alaska's southwestern coast and to postpone future lease sales in the Chukchi and Beaufort seas, while allowing exploration drilling to move forward in both seas starting as early as this summer.

This week, Earthjustice celebrated two big wins on the environmental front. First, the Department of Energy announced its adoption of strong water heater standards, which is set to cut both energy usage and energy bills. Not to be outdone, the EPA made its own announcement with its adoption of new guidelines designed to prevent continuing harmful environmental impacts caused by mountaintop removal mining.
 

And we couldn't have done it without you. When we called on our supporters to urge DOE to adopt strong standards for water heaters, nearly 14,000 of you responded with public comments. Let's continue the momentum: in the coming months the Obama administration will consider new efficiency standards for several appliances and in December will finalize a new standard for residential refrigerators. According to DOE, the potential energy savings from strong energy efficiency standards for refrigerators could be worth more than $50 billion in reduced electric bills for American families.

DOE is also developing new standards for furnaces, air conditioning window units, heat pumps, and clothes dryers.

Let's continue to encourage the Obama administration to choose standards that will save our planet, bolster our economy, and put money back into the pockets of American families.

Today, the Obama administration sent a mixed signal on offshore oil drilling, a move guaranteed to raise concerns from native groups, environmentalists, and communities living near some of the most sensitive and biologically diverse coastal areas. Obama and Department of Interior Secretary Ken Salazar announced a plan to halt oil and gas leasing in Bristol Bay off Alaska's southwestern coast and to postpone future lease sales in the Chukchi and Beaufort seas, off Alaska's northern coast, while needed missing information is gathered.

A government report today exposed some startling problems with the federal Energy Star labeling program. In a secret audit, the Government Accountability Office found that several preposterously inefficient and even laughable fake appliances were able to earn the government's gold-standard label intended for exceptionally efficient products.

As sure as April brings showers and May brings flowers, June brings ozone pollution warnings. These alerts come to us by way of air quality reports in our local weather forecasts, and they let us know when ground-level ozone pollution, the primary component of smog, reaches a dangerous level in the air we breathe.

The clock is running down on the final day of the largest national call-in campaign ever organized by climate and environmental groups. In the first 48 hours of this historic “72 Hours for Clean American Power” event, 200,000 Americans phoned their senators to demand a comprehensive, aggressive clean energy and climate change bill that fuels job growth, reduces emissions, and safeguards our future.

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About the Earthjustice Blog

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.