Posts tagged: oceans

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.

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 Shirley Hao's blog posts
14 December 2009, 5:11 PM
A tale of octopus and coconut shells
Octopus merrily scampering along with coconut shell. Photo: BBC.

While Copenhagen and climate change are crowding the headlines at the moment, Monday Reads is breaking ranks to bring you news of a lighter—but we hope just as interesting—variety. Tool-use was once thought to be the exclusive realm of humans, but one by one other species have been added to the club—and now we welcome the octopi.

Researchers from Australia’s Museum Victoria observed the veined octopus (Amphioctopus marginatus) digging up coconut shells from the ocean floor, specifically to use as a protective cover. Not wanting to be left empty suckered when they needed to hide and there was not a shell to be found, the octopus jauntily scamper around with oversized shells in tow. See for yourself (fast forward to 0:50 for the goods; stay until 2:05 to experience the sensation of being enveloped by an octopus):

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View Molly Woodward's blog posts
10 December 2009, 4:40 PM
Copenhagen, the Chukchi Sea, Clean Air, Trees

Some top stories from the last week at Earthjustice...

The Copenhagen conference started off with a bang of optimism when the EPA announced that greenhouse gas emissions endanger public health. The cooperative spirit quickly fizzled after a draft agreement surfaced that apparently favors the interests of the U.S. and other wealthy nations. There’s more news by the hour: Be sure to check out our daily reports from Copenhagen, and analysis by two attending Earthjustice attorneys, Erika Rosenthal and Martin Wagner.

All the buzz from the conference nearly drowned out a disturbing, and related, piece of news: Shell Oil was granted conditional approval to drill exploratory wells in the Chukchi Sea. Earthjustice attorney Erik Grafe warned that the approvals outpace the science of what we know about Arctic waters.

On the same day that the EPA released its endangerment finding, Earthjustice challenged the agency on a toxin polluting the air in Appalachia, to the point where kids can’t play outside. It’s coal dust, and we think the coal plants that produce it should do something about it. 

Farm workers and their families will get some long-awaited help to deal with toxic pesticides poisoning the air around their homes and schools, thanks to a new EPA policy. Going forward, the EPA will assess the health risks posed by pesticide drift with the same standards by which pesticides in food are assessed. 

And finally, this week Earthjustice saved taxpayers $1.5 million!and 4.3 million board-feet of old-growth forest in the Tongass to boot. This also means we kept a little C02 out of the atmosphere. Indeed, one of the least controversial ideas out of Copenhagen is also one of the simplest: don’t cut down trees.

View Terry Winckler's blog posts
08 December 2009, 4:56 PM
Feds grant approval despite obvious threats to fragile area

Some ominous news about the Arctic from the Obama administration almost escaped attention yesterday, amid Copenhagen climate conference hoopla and the EPA's determination that greenhouse gases are a public health hazard.

Sec. of Interior Ken Salazar announced that Shell Oil Co. has been granted conditional approval by the Minerals Management Agency to drill three exploratory wells next year in the Chukchi Sea off Alaska's northwest coast. Approval comes even though the government has yet to resolve legal problems with a Bush-era five year leasing plan opening vast areas of the Arctic Ocean seabed to oil and gas activities.

Reading between the lines, Salazar sounded a bit too positive about what the drilling means:

By approving this exploration plan, we are taking a cautious but deliberate step toward developing additional information on the Chukchi Sea.

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View Trip Van Noppen's blog posts
18 November 2009, 12:26 PM
An ocean continues to wait for change
The Chukchi Sea. Photo: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

In the Arctic waters surrounding Alaska, George W. Bush is still president, but Interior Secretary Ken Salazar has the chance to inaugurate a new regime.

Shell Oil recently got the green light from the Department of Interior to drill next summer just off the shores of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, in waters that are an important migratory route for endangered bowhead whales. With numerous decisions on offshore drilling in the Arctic still pending, the looming question is, will Sec. Salazar chart his own course—using science as a guide—or will he continue to make decisions as though Bush were still in charge?

Last summer, Salazar told the magazine American Cowboy, "The science is fundamental to decisions we make. Ignoring the science will imperil important priorities to the United States and our world. Unfortunately, the last administration often ignored the science to get to what it wanted to get to. We will not do that."

On the Arctic, science has spoken, and I hope Sec. Salazar meant what he said.

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View David Guest's blog posts
18 November 2009, 11:44 AM
EPA agreement on nutrient runoff has national impacts
Algae slimes Christopher Point Creek

Even though a large group of polluters tried to derail it, Earthjustice won this week a historic settlement—with nationwide implications—that requires the Environmental Protection Agency to set legal limits for the widespread nutrient poisoning that triggers harmful algae blooms in Florida waters.

Our settlement has been a long time coming, and its impact goes far beyond this state's borders. Currently, Florida and most other states have only vague limits regulating nutrients. The EPA will now begin the process of imposing quantifiable—and enforceable—water quality standards to tackle nutrient pollution, using data collected by the Florida DEP.

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View Shirley Hao's blog posts
13 November 2009, 1:00 AM
Love bite brings baby sharks into the world
The proud mother. Photo: New Zealand Herald

[UPDATE: "Friday Reads" is now moving to Mondays! Look for us at the start of your week.]

Imagine you're a prospective new mum, walking down the street, minding your own business. Maybe you're thinking about which hospital you should deliver your little ones at. Or perhaps which nursery school to enroll them in. When all of a sudden, a fellow pedestrian suddenly decides to help said little ones out of your womb—with their teeth!

Such was an unusual afternoon this week at Auckland's Kelly Tarlton's Antarctic Encounter and Underwater World for one school shark (Galeorhinus galeus), who was bit by a Broadnose Sevengill shark. Or, as Kelly Tarlton's curator Andrew Christie put it, "took some of its normal seasonal aggression out on her."

Unbeknownst to the aquarium staff, the school shark was pregnant, and the situation quickly went from horrifying to bizarre for stunned spectators, as four shark pups gleefully slipped out through the sizeable gash in their mother's side and into the wide world of the aquarium tank.

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View Shirley Hao's blog posts
06 November 2009, 4:15 PM
Part of a series of Friday posts on the fascinating natural world around us
Nomura's jellyfish contemplates curious diver. Photo: CDNN

The jellyfish are coming! The jellyfish are coming! Off the coast of Japan, fishing boats are locked in battle with a veritable armada of jellyfish. They actually sank one boat! Also known as Echizen kurage or Nemopilema nomurai, Nomura’s jellyfish aren’t your garden variety jellyfish, growing 6 feet long and 400 pounds heavy.

The jellyfish are thought to originate in the Yellow Sea, picking up a pound or several hundred as ocean currents propel them towards the Sea of Japan. Hiroshima University Professor Ue Shinichi, a leading jellyfish researcher, told Yomiuri Shimbun:

The arrival is inevitable. A huge jellyfish typhoon will hit the country.

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View Terry Winckler's blog posts
21 October 2009, 4:41 PM
Earthjustice will work with other agencies to prevent drilling

This week, the federal Minerals Management Service issued a disappointing decision to approve plans by Shell Oil to drill for oil and gas in Alaska's Beaufort Sea—starting next summer.

There are a number of steps and permits for Shell to navigate before drilling begins, but this action sets the stage for large-scale industrial drilling just offshore of the Arctic refuge, directly in the migration path of endangered bowhead whales. An oil spill in these icy waters could not be cleaned up.

With this decision, MMS repeats past mistakes by its failure to properly address the potential for massive environmental consequences, said Earthjustice attorney Erik Grafe. A spill would be devastating for people, wildlife and the environment. Earthjustice stopped a similar Shell drilling plan in that area two years ago, winning an injunction from the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals on the basis of MMS's shallow analysis of impacts.

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View David Guest's blog posts
14 October 2009, 4:04 PM
Polluters join ag commissioner in fighting against clean water
Algae slimes Christopher Point Creek

It is hard to imagine anyone defending the polluters that are turning Florida's waters green and slimy. But, hey, money talks.

At long last, The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is agreeing to set legal, enforceable limits on such nutrients as phosphorous and nitrogen, which are poisoning Florida's public waters. EPA's historic decision settles the lawsuit we filed in July 2008.

Now the state's biggest polluters are trying to block the settlement. Big Agriculture, sewage plants, utilities, and phosphate miners have filed legal challenges to try to force the EPA to back down. And the state's Agriculture Commissioner, Charles Bronson, is using taxpayer dollars to side with the polluters and against clean water.

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View David Guest's blog posts
02 October 2009, 12:05 PM
Uses tax dollars in resisting efforts to clean up waterways
Agricultural runoff creates toxic algae bloom in Florida waters

 It is shameful that Florida Agriculture Commissioner Charlie Bronson is siding with the state’s worst polluters to fight against cleaning up algae-choked waters poisoned by agricultural runoff.

There are toxic algae blooms all over the state, water treatment plants are closing due to nutrient poisoning, and yet Bronson directs the state to work for the polluters and against the people. 

In August, in a historic move, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency signed a consent decree in which it agreed to set legal limits for the widespread nutrient poisoning that triggers harmful algae blooms, like the one above, in Florida waters.

But, instead of working to make the public's water cleaner and safer, Bronson is spending tax dollars to help special interests like the Florida Pulp and Paper Association and Big Agriculture block the clean water settlement. The Florida Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services filed a motion to intervene in the case on the polluters' side.
 

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