Spring is in the air in Washington, DC and hope seems to permeate every corner of this storied city. Along with the promise of longer days and warmer weather, there's hope that the new congress and administration can help us return to a true participatory democracy. As a member of Earthjustice's legislative team, my biggest hope is that we're witnessing the dawn of a new era when it comes to environmental policy.
The Latest On: public lands
The Colorado Senate has passed a package of regulations on oil and gas drilling that increases protections for drinking water, wildlife and natural resources. The rules, which will be signed by Gov. Bill Ritter in the next few days, are the strongest, most comprehensive regulations in the nation.
A couple of weeks ago we jumped the gun and announced that Mineral King, a lovely high-elevation valley in the southern Sierra Nevada in California, would be added to the National Wilderness System along with around 170 other areas totalling about two million acres. Last minute parliamentary tricks in the House kept it from happening then.
Today, under new rules, the House passed this monumental bill -- the greatest single expansion of the National Wilderness Preservation System in 15 years. President Obama is expected to quickly sign it into law.
Mineral King is especially close to our hearts because it was a lawsuit in the late 1960s challenging plans for a huge ski resort in the valley that gave birth to modern environmental law and to Earthjustice itself.
The King Lives! Long Live the King!
We knew the proposed Red Cliff coal mine in western Colorado had a lot of problems. It's no secret that coal is a dirty fuel. On top of the predictable global warming impacts from burning the mined coal, this mine each year will spew thousands of tons of methane - a greenhouse gas 20 times more powerful than CO2 - into the atmosphere witho
Last week, a Colorado legislative committee approved new oil and gas drilling rules that will protect drinking water, wildlife and the state's natural resources. The state spent almost two years developing the rules, which will be the most comprehensive in the nation, to deal with the impacts of the state's unprecedented oil and gas boom.
Earthjustice has been there since the beginning as attorneys for the Colorado Environmental Coalition. Before the committee hearing, Earthjustice activists in Colorado sent more than 1,300 e-mail messages to legislators urging their support.
Order "Roadless Rules" at www.islandpress.org/roadlessrules. On the checkout page type in RR09 (that’s a zero, not a capital O) for a 25 percent discount.
As longtime readers of this screed know all too well, I’ve been obsessed by the Roadless Rule for a long time. The trigger for this was when several states, the timber industry, a few counties, some off-road vehicle interests, and an Indian tribe challenged the rule in court.
The news on climate change is coming thick and fast these days. Over the weekend, news reports stated scientific studies showed global warming accelerating faster than predicted. Tuesday, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) agreed to take a second look at regulating CO2 from coal-fired power plants as a pollutant, signaling a 180 from the Bush administrati
In less than a month, President Obama has tackled several items on a list of Six Easy Things that Earthjustice President Trip Van Noppen set forth for the new administration last November.
1) Move towards reducing CO2 emissions under the Clean Air Act
After cancelling oil and gas leases in Utah last week, Interior Sec. Ken Salazar is strongly hinting that he might do the same with a crown jewel of Colorado -- the Roan Plateau. The Roan is a rippling expanse of natural riches that rises dramatically 3,000 feet above a plain in the state's northwest quadrant.
The Roan was leased off for oil and gas exploitation last August despite massive public outcry from a remarkably diverse group of folks, including hunters and fishers, Republicans and Democrats, locals and people from across the country, and of course dedicated environmentalists. Salazar, then a U.S. senator from Colorado, was among those urging the Bureau of Land Management to not proceed with the lease sale.
Now, as boss of the BLM, Salazar is in position to put money where his mouth was last year -- $113 million in lease payments already divvied up between the state and feds. But it's a pittance compared to the priceless wilderness qualities that would be displaced by industrial drilling operations.
In those cold days of last December -- as Bush feverishly tried to finish crippling the nation's environmental protections -- the new day promised by Obama seemed only a flicker at the end of an 8-year tunnel.
After today's news out of Utah, that flicker is looking more like a flare. Interior Sec. Ken Salazar announced the cancellation of oil and gas leases on 110,000 acres of public land abutting some of the West's purest wilderness. Aside from validating Earthjustice legal action challenging those leases, the cancellation could be interpreted as the first sign of Obama turning back the Bush tide.