Posts tagged: Obama administration

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.


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 Ted Zukoski's blog posts
17 March 2012, 8:23 AM
Yet another toxic mining threat
A uranium mine near the Grand Canyon's North Rim. Photo: Don Bills, USGS.

At the beginning of the last century, Ralph H. Cameron was a booster of the Grand Canyon. He wanted to promote – and cash in on - the Canyon as a tourist destination. He helped expand Bright Angel Trail, now one of the most popular trails into the Canyon from the South Rim.  But at a price; he charged a toll to visitors.

32 Comments   /  
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.

2 Comments   /  
View Erika Rosenthal's blog posts
16 February 2012, 3:22 PM
Controlling methane, soot and others can reduce warming by a third
Black soot on snow (NASA)

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, along with EPA administrator Lisa Jackson, announced a program, Climate and Clean Air Coalition, today to reduce methane, soot and other pollutants. The United States is jumpstarting the program by contributing $12 million over the next two years.

"By focusing on these pollutants, how to reduce them and, where possible, to use them for energy, people will see results," Clinton said at a news conference today in Washington D.C.

So-called short-lived pollutants like black carbon (soot), methane and hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) account for more than one-third of global warming. They are key to reducing warming in the near term because they stay in the atmosphere for only weeks or a few years, compared to carbon dioxide which remains in the atmosphere for centuries.

View David Guest's blog posts
15 February 2012, 3:55 PM
Huge tide of support for Obama to keep state's water clean
Toxic algae choking Florida waterway

A big thank you to the more than 17,000 people who have sent letters to the White House so far in support of strong U.S. Environmental Protection Agency limits for sewage, manure and fertilizer in Florida waters. We so appreciate you all having our backs on our quest to clean up Florida’s number-one pollution problem.

As you know, we’ve been suffering down here from repeated toxic algae outbreaks that cover our waters with green slime -- outbreaks triggered by the excess phosphorus and nitrogen from sewage, manure and fertilizer. We had toxic algae and nasty fish kills around beautiful Sanibel Island over the winter holidays. In January, Fort Myers had an algae outbreak on the Calooshatchee River that had people holding their noses because it smelled like raw sewage. There’s been an algae outbreak killing aquatic life in the Indian River for a year, and red tide in the Gulf – which is fueled by excess nutrients -- has been sickening and killing manatees, sea turtles, and cormorants on the state’s southwest coast.

Since our tourists come from everywhere, we need folks around the country – and around the globe – to speak out and help us win the battle against these polluters who are intent on using our public waters as their private sewers. So keep those cards and letters coming to the White House.

40 Comments   /  
View Buck Parker's blog posts
09 February 2012, 1:16 PM
President may be open to Shell promises it can clean up oil spill

On backing down, backing away, and backing into a corner . . .

President Obama’s statement, “I will not back down from making sure an oil company can contain the kind of oil spill we saw in the Gulf two years ago,” was one the more awkward sentences in his State of the Union speech, and not just syntactically.

The president had to use that particular construction, however, because he could not say what he should have and maybe even wanted to say: that he will not allow drilling in our coastal waters until he has such assurances. He couldn’t say that for the simple reason that his administration continues to approve oil drilling in the outer continental shelf almost as if the Gulf oil spill had never taken place.

Nowhere is this more obvious than in the Arctic Ocean off Alaska.

View Jessica Knoblauch's blog posts
03 February 2012, 2:15 AM
Dirty lettuce, winterless havoc, sick meat
A Burmese python. (wildexplorer)

Pythons and anacondas put the squeeze on the Everglades
Forget snakes on a plane. Snakes like pythons and anacondas are taking over the Florida Everglades and eating everything—including rabbits, raccoons and even deer—in sight, reports the Washington Post. Thanks to reckless owners releasing pets they no longer want, invasive snakes are slowly climbing their way to the top of the swamp food chain to the detriment of the Everglade ecosystem, which has been listed as a World Heritage Site and boasts many rare and endangered species like alligators and wood rats. The ecological upset puts added stress on an area already plagued by water pollution from nearby industrial sugar growing operations—a problem that Earthjustice has helped clean up through recurring litigation over the last two decades. Though the Obama administration recently banned the import and interstate commerce of several snake species, others like the boa constrictor managed to slither by, which means that the snake problem may not be going away anytime soon.

Bagged greens industry gets down and dirty with contamination
The salad greens industry is trying to clean up its E. coli-tainted image by exploring new options to keep its greens clean, reports the LA Times. Over the past few years, headlines about people being sickened by bacteria-tainted greens have caused consumers to lose faith in the industry’s ability to keep salad greens safe. The easiest way to eliminate bacteria is to, of course, cook the greens, but nobody wants soggy baby spinach, so the researchers are looking into alternative methods like chlorine alternatives, radiation and even ultrasound to remove germs from tainted lettuce. In the meantime, health experts continue to argue about whether rinsing those “triple-washed” bagged lettuces makes them safer…or more dangerous. Until the debate is settled, many agree that bagging bagged lettuce and growing your own greens may just be your best (and tastiest) option.

View Liz Judge's blog posts
02 February 2012, 3:34 PM
Nothing compares to wetlands in terms of dollars saved, disasters prevented

In addition to being Groundhog Day, Feb. 2 is World Wetlands Day. Say what? An international day to celebrate swamps? If you’re scratching your head wondering why in the world we’d throw a party for swamps (and bogs and marshes and fens and floodplains and other wet, buggy places), here’s why:

Wetlands protect us. They’re our best buffer from floods and storms, better than any levees we could ever build -- after all, an acre of wetland can store 1–1.5 million gallons of floodwater. They are also our best pollution filter, absorbing the nasty stuff we can't drink and easing the workload for our man-made drinking water sanitation systems. And they keep our ecosystems alive, providing healthy habitats and resting places to the birds, critters and plants we need in order to continue to thrive in our own environment, wherever that may be.

Great thinkers all the whole world over recognized this more than 40 years ago when they came together in the Iranian city of Ramsar and signed a global treaty called the Ramsar Convention to protect the planet’s invaluable wetlands.

1 Comment   /  
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 Jessica Knoblauch's blog posts
27 January 2012, 2:36 AM
Green seas, climate change horticulture, mercury meddles with melody
Photo courtesy of AJC1

Conspiracy theorists descend on Florida climate change plan
Plans to prepare for rising sea levels and other climate change affects in south Florida are being attacked by conspiracy theorists who believe climate change is a hoax perpetuated by a group of “progressive elites” who want to raise taxes, reports the Sun Sentinel. Though the majority of comments on the draft Southeast Florida Regional Climate Action Plan came from government agencies and nonprofits that want to improve the plan, a small faction of conspiracy theorists are bent on taking it down, but that doesn't mean policymakers will listen. Said John Van Leer, associate professor of meteorology and physical oceanography at the University of Miami, “A lot of people believe the earth is 5,600 years old. A lot of people believe the human landing on the moon was staged in a Hollywood studio…but that doesn't mean we should base public policy on that." Meanwhile, other states like Hawaii are moving forward on bills to prepare their states for sea level rise. Whether those bills will sink or swim under climate climate change conspiracies remains to be seen.

Clean seas could boost economies’ green
It turns out that oceans that don't have heaps of garbage patches in them don’t just look better, they also make more money for the world economy, reports Reuters. A recent report by the United Nations Environment Program found that pollution from events like oil spills and chemical dumps, coupled with rampant over-fishing, have heavily damaged the oceans’ productivity and health. Add to that the fact that the oceans have acidified more in the last 200 years than the previous 21,000 years and it’s clear that the oceans and its critters need some help from its land-based brethren. In order to clean up oceans, the report recommends "key steps for ‘greening’ the seas across areas” like tourism, fishing and deep-sea mining. Though greening the sea may be costly upfront, the long-term benefits include a $50-billion boost to the economy each year just by restoring fish stocks and reducing fishing capacity. Find out more about how Earthjustice is working to clean up the deep blue sea and why the high value of the oceans is crystal clear.

View Liz Judge's blog posts
19 January 2012, 3:34 PM
The story of one woman's fight to save her homeland

To date, mountaintop removal coal mining has buried more than 2,500 miles of streams and leveled an area of Appalachia bigger than the state of Delaware. Perhaps even scarier than the outright wasteland it leaves are the health impacts it levels against the people of Appalachia. More than 19 peer-reviewed health studies detail these problems--from significantly higher rates of birth defects in areas of mountaintop removal mining to higher rates of major diseases like cancer and lung disease.

In spite of all of this, coal companies and their lobbyists are pushing for more than 100 new permits for mountaintop removal mine in Appalachia. President Obama and his administration showed a strong commitment to the law and science when the EPA vetoed one of the largest mountaintop removal mines ever proposed: Spruce No. 1 Mine in West Virginia. But citizens throughout Appalachia are still left unprotected.

One of those residents is Donna Branham, of Mingo County, West Virginia. She’s already been through the nightmares of mountaintop removal mining, and now she could watch it happen to her daughter’s family as well.