Posts tagged: oceans

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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.

ABOUT EARTHJUSTICE'S 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.

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View Alexander Rony's blog posts
16 April 2014, 11:37 AM
Captured 40 years ago, Lolita symbolizes movement to free captive animals
A pod of southern resident orcas in Boundary Pass, north of San Juan Island, WA. (Howard Garrett / Orca Network)

(An infant orca was captured in 1970, named Lolita, and has lived ever since in a tiny pool at the Miami Seaquarium. The following is about her life and a growing movement supported by Earthjustice to have Lolita reintroduced to her native waters and possibly rejoined with her family pod in Washington state waters.)

The whale trappers were exhausted. For months the southern resident orcas of Puget Sound had been outsmarting them, dodging their traps and distracting their ships away from the younger whales. But the trappers meant business, and they returned with faster boats and loud explosives. On August 8, 1970, the trappers corralled the orcas into a cove and captured them in nets.

The trappers took home seven infant orcas, those still young enough to be trained and sold as entertaining distractions to marine parks. But the event soon unfolded into a larger scandal—a fisherman later found the purposefully sunk corpses of four infant orcas—galvanizing public opposition and leading to an agreement banning orca captures in Washington state waters. By the time these captures stopped in 1976, 13 orcas had been killed and 45 more had been removed from their families. The demographic hole left in the population caused a decline that, along with other factors, led to Endangered Species Act protection for this population in 2005.

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View Kari Birdseye's blog posts
24 March 2014, 8:10 AM
What we have learned (not much) since the Exxon Valdez oil spill
The Exxon Valdez off the coast of Alaska. (NASA Photo)

Tragedy struck Prince William Sound in Alaska 25 years ago today when the Exxon Valdez ran aground, rupturing its hull and pouring nearly 11 million gallons of oil into the sound’s pristine waters.

The effects of that oil spill haunt the remote region to this day. Oil remains trapped between and under the boulders on beaches in the Gulf of Alaska. And thousands of gallons of Exxon Valdez oil lurk in beach sediments—still toxic and harmful to marine life.

Some 250,000 seabirds, nearly 3,000 sea otters, 300 harbor seals, 250 bald eagles and up to 22 killer whales were killed in the aftermath of the spill. Less than half of the monitored wildlife populations in the region are considered recovered to their pre-oil poisoning numbers.

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View Erik Grafe's blog posts
22 January 2014, 5:52 PM
Court denies offshore oil lease in the Chukchi Sea for the second time
A beluga whale surfaces in the Chukchi Sea. (Florian Schulz / visionsofthewild.com)

A court gave the Arctic great news today. The Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruled that the Department of the Interior violated the law when it sold offshore oil and gas leases in the Chukchi Sea off the coast of Alaska, including the leases on which Royal Dutch Shell wants to drill. This is the second time a court has ruled against the Department’s decision to open this remarkable sea to offshore drilling.

The Court said the Department made arbitrary assumptions about development that may have low-balled the potential environmental impacts of the sale in violation of a bedrock environmental law and sent the decision back for the agency to reconsider.

The agency must now revise its analysis, disclose the full potential impacts of oil development in this fragile but dangerous environment, and reassess whether to allow oil drilling in the Chukchi Sea.

This is once again an opportunity to send a loud and clear message to the Obama administration—going to extremes to extract fossil fuels from such a fragile, important habitat and culturally rich area just doesn’t make sense. The Chukchi Sea is part of America’s Arctic Ocean north of Alaska. It is home to iconic species such as polar bears, walrus, beluga whales, bowhead whales, and seals. It is also home to vibrant Alaska Native communities that have depended for millennia on the ocean for their subsistence way of life.

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View Nailah Morgan's blog posts
23 December 2013, 1:41 PM
Key deer, loggerhead sea turtle among 233 federally protected species at risk
Nearly all of the Florida land area where the tiny Key deer live will be submerged by this century's predicted average 3–4 feet sea level rise. (Photo by U.S. FWS)

A recent report, Deadly Waters, details a new threat to endangered species: rising sea levels. After analyzing data from scientific literature, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and National Marine Fisheries Service, scientists at the Center for Biological Diversity identified 233 federally protected species in 23 coastal states that risk habitat loss due to sea level rise.

And these species are not alone. Excessive flooding from rising sea levels combined with powerful Atlantic hurricanes, will lead to storm surges that thrust onto the coast, similar to the one that hit Atlantic City during Hurricane Sandy. Many coastal homes will be lost to rising seas. As climate change continues, coastal residents and wildlife will need to move further inland to survive threats from sea level rise.

The United States is home to more than 1,000 threatened and endangered species, and 1 out of 6 of those species rely on habitats like salt marshes and coastal forests that will be affected by rising sea levels. The state of Florida encompasses the fourth largest population of endangered species (120) and more than half are at risk from increasing sea levels, including Key deer and Loggerhead sea turtles which reside in different areas of the Florida coast.

View Brian Smith's blog posts
12 December 2013, 1:20 PM
Legislators support full examination of new science to protect whales
Humpback mother and calf. (Achimdiver / Shutterstock)

In November, whales and other marine mammals along the Pacific Coast from Northern California to the Canadian border got a little help from a federal court. Magistrate Judge Nandor Vadas set a deadline of August 1, 2014 for the National Marine Fisheries Service to develop a plan that will ensure Navy sonar and live-fire training doesn’t violate the Endangered Species Act.

The deadline came after a September 2013 court decision that found the Fisheries Service approved Navy training based on incomplete and outdated science.

“These training exercises harm Southern Resident killer whales, blue whales, humpback whales, dolphins, and porpoises—through the use of high-intensity mid-frequency sonar,” said Steve Mashuda, an Earthjustice attorney who represented Northern California tribes and environmental groups. “The Fisheries Service must now employ the best science and require the Navy to protect whales and dolphins in its ongoing training exercises.”

View Sarah Burt's blog posts
25 October 2013, 2:53 PM
Earthjustice, AIDA target Mexico's failure to protect coastal ecosystems
Aerial view of Cabo Pulmo. (Sidartha Velázquez)

Earlier this month, the North American Commission for Environmental Cooperation (CEC) agreed to review a petition by Earthjustice and the Interamerican Association for Environmental Defense (AIDA) asserting that Mexico is failing to enforce its environmental laws to protect coastal ecosystems in the Gulf of California from rampant tourism development.

The petition, submitted on behalf of 11 local and international conservation groups, calls for an investigation into Mexico’s unlawful approval of four “mega resorts” that threaten important mangrove, coral reef, and marine ecosystems in the Gulf of California.

View Jessica Lawrence's blog posts
25 October 2013, 2:39 PM
Country is striving to become carbon neutral as sea levels rise
Funafuti Atoll, capital of Tuvalu. (Bruce Richmond / USGS)

During a United Nations session on human rights last month, Earthjustice’s U.N. representative applauded Costa Rica for acknowledging the link between its carbon emissions and climate change-induced human rights violations like the ones occurring in Tuvalu.

Representative Yves Lador was part of a coalition of NGOs that took the floor at the U.N. Human Rights Council to support an important step in the protection of environmental human rights. The session was the U.N.’s periodic review of the status of human rights in the tiny atoll nation.

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View Brian Smith's blog posts
14 October 2013, 3:11 PM
Court decision helps keep Caribbean coral reefs alive
Parrotfish are being fished to dangerously low levels. (NPS)

If you tried to invent the perfect caretaker for the Caribbean’s fragile coral reefs, it would be hard to top what nature already has created—the parrotfish.

And thanks to a court victory this week, these strikingly colored butlers of the sea will get help in carrying out their mission of removing remove algae that can smother and kill coral reefs.

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View Terry Winckler's blog posts
02 October 2013, 11:53 AM
They fled rising seas that threaten their low-lying island home
Tarawa and Maiana Atolls, part of the Kiribati islands. (NASA Crew Earth Observations)

A family of five is seeking asylum in New Zealand because, they say, climate change is making life too dangerous in their low-lying island homeland in the Kiribati islands. They are going to court later this month to argue their case as climate refugees.

New Zealand has twice refused to let the family stay because they aren’t political refugees, the usual reason people seek asylum in other countries.

This is the beginning of what could be wholesale flight from places slowly being inundated by rising seas linked to climate change. A recent U.N. report makes clear that coastal areas around the planet—from the Arctic to the South Seas—are feeling the impacts; and while many people are making elaborate plans to live with higher water levels, others like this family are planning to flee.

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View Terry Winckler's blog posts
27 September 2013, 8:49 AM
U.N. report asserts that humans are responsible for global warming
Superstorm Sandy batters the East Coast, on Oct. 29, 2012. (NASA GOES Project)

The good news in today's U.N. report on global warming is that I'll be dead before the predicted ocean rise floods my island home in San Francisco Bay. But here's what I—and you and every other human on Earth—won't escape, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change:

Responsibility.

It is almost 100 percent certain that humankind's use of fossil fuels like oil and coal is warming and acidifying the oceans, melting glaciers and causing sea levels to rise around the planet, the IPCC says. With scientific certainty, the report warns us to throttle back on carbon consumption or move to high ground—unless of course you live in Appalachia where the high ground is being blown up to get at the coal.