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 Tom Turner's blog posts
15 June 2012, 12:18 PM
Shell Oil hopes to drill this summer
The Shell drillship Kulluk, off the Seattle, WA, waterfront. (Dave Nakayama)

As I write this, ships are being prepared to steam northward from several ports to begin poking holes in the floor of the Beaufort and Chukchi seas in search of oil.

Thanks to legal action by Earthjustice over the last few years, and thanks also to a one-year time-out called in the wake of the catastrophic blowout in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010, the drilling has been forestalled, but it could finally begin this July. Legal challenges are still pending, but the odds seem long against them.

That said, this is closer to the beginning of this struggle than to its end.

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View Jessica Knoblauch's blog posts
15 June 2012, 3:41 AM
Plus: Testy turtles, gas pump fallacies and Alberta oil spills
Seaside in Victoria, Australia (Shutterstock)

Australia announces world’s largest marine reserve
Just in time for this week’s Rio+20 Earth Summit, Australia has announced its plans to create the world’s largest marine reserve, reports the BBC. The protected zone will cover more than a third of Australia’s waters (about 3 million square kilometers) and will include restrictions on fishing as well as oil and gas exploration. The announcement comes on the heels of another big environmental win, courtesy of the Australian government, which last week announced that it is putting a stop to a billion-dollar coal project that could negatively impact the Great Barrier Reef. Though this latest move to create a marine reserve didn’t quite go as far as some environmentalists groups would have liked, it’s a great first step in building resilient oceans, which are already being battered by overfishing, pollution, habitat loss, and now ocean acidification. Find out more about Earthjustice’s work to push for building resilient ocean ecosystems.

Turtle couple that’s been dating for decades calls it quits
After more than 100 years of companionship, a pair of Giant Turtles at an Austrian zoo have decided to call it quits, reports the Austrian Times. According to the zoo staff, the century-long love fest came to a seemingly sudden end after the female turtle, Bibi, attacked her partner by biting off a chunk of his shell. Afterwards, Bibi continued attacking the male turtle until he was moved to a different cage. Since there have been no apparent changes in the turtles’ routine, the zoo suspects that Bibi may simply want to be single and nothing—including “romantic good mood food” and couples —will change her mind.

View Jessica Knoblauch's blog posts
08 June 2012, 11:13 AM
Plus: fatty flame retardants and debris tsunamis
Great Barrier Reef. (Shutterstock)

Coal project kept out of Great Barrier Reef
This week, Australian environment minister Tony Burke put a stop to a billion dollar coal project that could have negatively impacted the Great Barrier Reef, reports CorpWatch. The world’s largest coral ecosystem, the Great Barrier Reef contains an abundance of marine life, is one of the seven wonders of the natural world, and provides a major boost to the Australian economy. The massive coal project—the first of several proposed coal projects—would have increased the likelihood of damage to the delicate reef ecosystem by expanding the number of ship journeys occurring near the reef. Though Burke’s decision is a big win for the environment, many of the ocean’s reefs still face other environmental stressors like pollution and ocean acidification, which could alter their very existence. Currently, Earthjustice is working to reduce ocean stressors to help protect coral reefs and the millions of creatures (including us) that depend on them.

Flame retardants may be making you fat
Flame retardants are back in the news again, and this time they’re being tied to obesity, anxiety and developmental problems, reports the Chicago Tribune. According to new research, small doses of flame retardants can disrupt the endocrine system by altering levels of thyroid hormones, among other effects. Given that the average American baby is born with the highest recorded levels of flame retardants among infants in the world, the recent study is raising concern amongst researchers and parents alike. And though flame retardants have been widely touted as lifesavers for preventing household fires, research by government and independent scientists has found that they actually provide no meaningful protection from furniture fires. Find out more in the Chicago Tribune’s special report, “Playing with Fire.”

View Jessica Knoblauch's blog posts
25 May 2012, 8:46 AM
Cruel pizza toppings, superweed takeover, Hollywood bags the bag
(Cambridge Brewing Company)

Breweries worry that extreme gas drilling will frack their beer
It turns out that hydraulic gas drilling or fracking doesn’t just contaminate the air and water; it could also mess up your favorite brew, reports Mother Jones. Brewmasters like Brooklyn Brewery and upstate New York’s Ommegang Brewery are raising the alarm about toxic fracking chemicals like benzene making their way to America’s beers through weak fracking regulations that don’t protect an area’s water supply. After all, beer brewing takes a whole lot of water and places like the Brooklyn Brewery often get their water from local watersheds. The Brewery’s founder, Steve Hindy, says that fracking threatens the purity of his beer. New York has promised to ban high-volume fracking in areas where the city sources its water, but environmental groups like Earthjustice say that the state’s rules are weak and leave aquifers vulnerable to contamination by fracking chemicals. Find out how we’re helping breweries like Ommegang to keep their beer from being fracked.

Domino’s pizza’s meat policy makes little piggies cry
Domino’s may have recently had an artisanal makeover, but the pizza giant still isn’t budging on its policy to continue serving pork from pigs raised in gestation crates, reports Grist. For the uninitiated, gestation crates are cages about the same width and length of a pig’s body, a space so small that the pigs are unable to even turn around in the crates. Given that pigs are extremely smart animals capable of feeling fear, pain and stress, many food vendors have been successfully pressured into working with its pork suppliers to eliminate the cruel practice, but not Domino’s, which is one of the last holdouts in the industry. It looks like Domino’s new “artisan toppings,” meant for food-conscious customers, is just lipstick on both the proverbial and the literal pig.  
 

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View Erika Rosenthal's blog posts
18 May 2012, 2:42 PM
Environmental groups urge Obama to attend Rio+20 summit

Twenty-two environmental organizations including Earthjustice, representing more than 5 million Americans, sent a letter to President Obama on Friday, urging him to lead the U.S. delegation at the Rio+20 Earth Summit in June and be a strong advocate for action on clean energy, environmental rights and healthy oceans.

More than 130 heads of state and government leaders are expected to attend. Like the first Earth Summit in Rio 20 years ago, this gathering will help set the international agenda on environment and sustainability for the next 20 years.

The Earth Summit presents a rare opportunity for the global community to ratchet up action on issues like healthy oceans in the face of new challenges like ocean acidification. Ocean acidification is thought by many to be the greatest threat to marine ecology in this century, and is squarely on the agenda at Rio+20. Coral reefs—the nurseries of the sea—along with the shelled creatures that form the base of the marine food web are among the species and ecosystems most vulnerable to acidification.

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View John McManus's blog posts
17 May 2012, 12:57 PM
Coastal training kills, injures more than thought
A Navy vessel with research ship and orca pod, in the foreground. (Center for Whale Research)

Last week, the U.S. Navy came out with a shocking confession. They now admit that their coastal training exercises kill or harm more marine mammals than previously acknowledged. Apparently, new data led to a recalculation about how many whales, dolphins and seals are hurt by the mid-frequency sonar and explosions the Navy routinely use in training off our coasts.

Earthjustice is challenging a permit by the National Marine Fisheries Service allowing the Navy to train in the Pacific Northwest, off the coasts of Washington, Oregon and northern California. The challenge aims to get the Navy to move its training a short distance to deeper waters off the continental shelf where marine mammal populations quickly thin out, and away from other areas where marine wildlife congregate.

Note of clarification: We agree that warfare is more sophisticated than ever before, meaning the Navy has to use more sophisticated measures to make sure enemy subs and the like don’t get close enough to the U.S. to harm us. Unfortunately, they choose to train in the same coastal waters where ocean food production is high and are thick with marine mammals.

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View Brian Smith's blog posts
20 April 2012, 10:59 AM
Eleven people died when the Deepwater Horizon well exploded

Never Forget.

Here are a few reflections on that day and what it means for us now.

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View Kari Birdseye's blog posts
12 April 2012, 3:54 PM
Will Obama listen to the risk market makers?
Are you listening, Mr. President?

The Obama administration is all ears—deaf ones—when it comes to dire warnings about drilling in the Arctic made by scientists, policymakers, international figures and celebrities.

The latest caution came today from the world’s largest and oldest insurance market, Lloyd’s of London, which warned that offshore drilling in the Arctic would “constitute a unique and hard-to-manage risk.” The agency urged companies to “think carefully about the consequences of action” before exploring for oil in the region.”

Also weighing in today was Dr. Jeffrey Short, the research chemist with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration for 31 years, who as lead chemist for both the state of Alaska and federal government, witnessed firsthand the devastation of the Exxon Valdez oil spill in 1989 and the Deepwater Horizon blowout two years ago.

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View Jessica Knoblauch's blog posts
06 April 2012, 12:42 PM
Dumping ship, passing the food safety buck, flame retardant flameout
Say bye-bye to pancakes and waffles covered in maple syrup (little blue hen)

Climate change ruins breakfast for everyone
This year’s early arrival of spring is devastating maple production, which generate the most sap when freezing nights follow cool days, reports the Washington Post. Typically a month-long season, maple syrup producers who rely on traditional taps and buckets saw their maple season cut dramatically this year, which means less maple production . One producer only came up with about 40 gallons of syrup when her typical haul is 300. Another family in Wisconsin, which usually collects about 400 gallons of syrup, ended up with only 165 gallons this year. Though, as Grist points out, the heat wave that we’re having now could easily be followed by a cold snap next year, climate change is expected to cause more global weirding like freakishly warmer temperatures, so it’s time to start stocking up on real maple syrup now...or resign yourself to the artificial tastes of Aunt Jemima’s and Mrs. Butterworth.

Ships still dumping pollution despite government crackdown
Over the past 10 years, the Department of Justice has fined ship operators more than $200 million for illegal ship dumping, yet the violations may just be the tip of the iceberg, reports iWatch News. Under federal and international law, ships are required to properly dispose of oily wastewater and sludge, but that costs money and time, so instead ships sometime dump their waste directly into the water using so-called “magic pipes,” which can be detached and easily rerouted when inspectors come by. Though the federal government has stepped up efforts to crack down on polluters by, in part, rewarding whistleblowers with six-figure digits and hunting for magic pipes, there's more work to be done to keep waste out of ocean waters. Last June, Earthjustice successfully defended Alaskans’ right to rein in wastewater dumping from cruise ships, which dump an estimated 148 million gallons of wastewater laced with partially-treated sewage, heavy metals and toxic chemicals like flame retardants into Alaska’s pristine waters every year.

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View Jessica Knoblauch's blog posts
22 March 2012, 11:42 AM
Gas price lies, “safe” fracking water, BPA bans
Dirty air, not eating all those chips, may cause obesity, so munch on! (Photo courtesy of loop_oh)

Forget Fritos: Air pollution may be making people fat
Sure, it’s got nothing on the much-hyped “Paleo Diet,” but a new theory that air pollution may be making us fat could provide one more bullet in the never-ending arsenal of dieting ticks and trips that people can use to lose weight. According to Discovery News, just as the oceans are becoming more acidic as they sequester more carbon dioxide, studies show that our blood becomes more acidic when we breathe in CO2-laden air, even just for a few weeks. But though higher acidity in the ocean means weaker coral reefs and shell-covered creatures, a drop in pH in our brains acts much differently by making appetite-related neurons fire more frequently, which could result in us eating more, sleeping less and, eventually, gaining more weight. Though the theory hasn’t yet been heavily tested, previous studies have shown that the issue of obesity goes far beyond cutting calories and exercising more. And, even if the theory doesn’t pan out, clean air is definitely tied to a whole host of other great health benefits, like not dying early, so take a deep breath!

History shows that “drill, baby, drill” mentality doesn’t lower gas prices
The commonly held notion that more domestic drilling leads to lower U.S. gas prices is completely false, reports the Associated Press, which came to the conclusion after analyzing more than three decades’ of monthly, inflation-adjusted gasoline prices and U.S. domestic oil production. Though both political parties are guilty of using the "drill, baby, drill" mentality to link higher gas prices to an "unfriendly" domestic drilling policy, the facts tell an entirely different tale. For example, since February 2009 we’ve increased oil production by 15 percent (yes, during the Obama presidency, which is supposedly extremely unfriendly to domestic energy production), yet between 2009 and 2012 prices at the pump spiked by more than a dollar during that time. The reason, much to Americans’ dismay, is that since oil is a global commodity, neither the U.S. nor our president has much say in determining the price of gasoline. We do, however, have a say in how much gas we use, which means that the only real way to decrease the amount that we pay at the pump is to, simply, use less gas by driving more gas-efficient cars and taking public transit, to name just a few examples.

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