Posts tagged: public lands

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 John McManus's blog posts
17 May 2012, 4:08 PM
Bison are returned to their ancestral plains
Bison at Fort Peck, with one of the newest herd members. (Bill Campbell)

Home on the range, where the deer and antelope play? Forget about it. How about buffalo (yeah, I know they’re really bison).

After years of dreaming about getting one of the original Americans back out on the prairie where they belong, we’re a big step closer to seeing it happen.

After killing every last buffalo they could find, and starving the native folks who relied on them for food, 19th century market hunters missed a couple of handfuls of buffalo deep in the high country that would become America’s first national park, Yellowstone. The offspring of this small herd are among the last genetically pure buffalo (most other buffalo scattered across the country carry some cow genes).

Native tribes in northern Montana for years have sought to reestablish herds using Yellowstone stock. Until this year, they were blocked by cattle interests. But then the state agreed to move approximately 60 buffalo to the Fort Peck Indian reservation in far northeastern Montana. The Fort Belknap reservation, located in north central Montana, has asked for some buffalo and will hopefully get them soon.

Earthjustice attorney Tim Preso has worked for years on behalf of wild buffalo. Most of this work has been to ease rules unnaturally restricting buffalo to the confines of Yellowstone National Park. Outside the park, buffalo have for years been set upon by federal and state agents in helicopters, snowmobiles and on horseback—all intent on driving them back into the park.

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View Ted Zukoski's blog posts
20 April 2012, 3:44 PM
Court lets Earthjustice argue for wildlife and waters near iconic park
The Grand Canyon.

We’re in!

Judge Martone of the U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona today granted our motion to intervene to defend the Department of the Interior’s decision to ban new uranium mining claims for 20 years across 1 million acres of public lands adjacent to the Grand Canyon.

Today’s order – read it here – means we’ll have a seat in the courtroom to protect the life-giving waters and deer, elk, condors and other wildlife found adjacent to America’s iconic National Park from an ill-considered legal attack by a uranium prospector.

View Ted Zukoski's blog posts
13 April 2012, 4:12 PM
State prepares assault on national icons
Salt Creek Canyon, Canyonlands National Park, claimed as a "constructed highway" by the State of Utah. Ted Zukoski photo.

Go to the website for the State of Utah and you’ll find a list of 12 “Popular Utah Destinations.” Five of the 12 are national parks.

And rightly so. Utah has some of the most jaw-dropping scenery in the world protected by the National Park Service. The term “Red Rock” can't capture the beauty and majesty of the many-hued spires, arches, hoodoos, petrified dues, cliffs, slot canyons and towers that are found in places like ZionCanyonlands, and Capitol Reef national parks.

So you might expect that Utah would bend over backwards to protect this bounty for future generations of (paying) tourists to enjoy.

You’d be wrong.

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.

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View Ted Zukoski's blog posts
22 February 2012, 9:54 AM
Speculative energy source won't fund highways
A chunk of oil shale-bearing rock. Try burning this in your gas tank. (Dept. of Interior photo.)

Getting energy from oil shale is a half-baked idea.  Literally.

Oil shale, also known as kerogen, is a waxy pre-petroleum substance found in rock layers in Colorado, Utah and Wyoming.  Unlike pools of oil in the ground, it can't be turned into liquid fuel for transportation unless it's baked to 700 degrees.  And no company in the U.S. has been able to develop a process that turns it into oil in a way that actually makes money, despite a century of trying.  No wonder oil shale has been mocked as the "fuel of the future - because it always has been, and always will be."

Because of the technological and economic challenges, oil shale is putting as much liquid fuel into U.S. markets as it did in the early 1900s.  Which is to say:  zero.

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 David Lawlor's blog posts
25 January 2012, 4:36 PM
Jaw-dropping beauty from the comfort of your desk
The Hetch Hetchy Valley. (Photo: Sam Edmondson)

Everyone knows that Yosemite National Park is one of America’s most beautiful places. Half Dome, El Capitan, Yosemite Falls, and a host of other natural wonders make Yosemite an iconic symbol of the American West. And while many of us have hiked in Yosemite or camped in the picturesque valley, a new video reveals a deeper layer of beauty and awe.

Videographers Sheldon Neill and Colin Delehanty have collaborated to create a stunning time-lapse, high-definition look at Yosemite. The video, titled Project Yosemite, captures sunrises and sunsets, stars swirling about the night sky, and trees trembling in high mountain winds.

1 Comment   /  
View Ted Zukoski's blog posts
13 January 2012, 12:29 PM
Finally, something to cheer about for the West's public lands
Grand Canyon National Park. As compared to doing nothing, the 20-year withdrawal will reduce impacts to wildlife habitat by two-thirds.

About a century ago, a Republican president said:

In the Grand Canyon, Arizona has a natural wonder which is in kind absolutely unparalleled throughout the rest of the world. I want to ask you to keep this great wonder of nature as it now is. I hope you will not have a building of any kind, not a summer cottage, a hotel or anything else, to mar the wonderful grandeur, the sublimity, the great loneliness and beauty of the canyon. Leave it as it is. You cannot improve on it. The ages have been at work on it, and man can only mar it.

Teddy Roosevelt was right then. And President Obama was right last Monday to take action to prevent uncontrolled uranium mining from marring streams, wildlife habitat and archeological sites across a million acres of public land next to the Grand Canyon.

Obama’s Secretary of the Interior, Ken Salazar, signed an order withdrawing the million acres from hard rock mining claims for 20 years. Numerous editorials, including in the LA Times and Arizona Republic, applauded the move, as did long-time supporters of the ban, including local and national conservation groups and Indian tribes whose ancestral lands have now been protected for two decades.

It was the type of bold action we’d love to see more of from this administration.

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View Jessica Knoblauch's blog posts
13 January 2012, 12:22 PM
The oceans' acid test, playing with wildfire, raising a glass to climate change
Napa Valley vineyards in autumn. (tibchris)

Transit riders run over by reduced tax breaks
Thanks to a lack of action by Congress before the holidays, mass transit commuters will have to pay an additional $550 in taxes this year, reports the New York Times, while those who commute by car will benefit from an increase in pre-tax benefit for monthly parking. In addition to encouraging the number of cars with single occupants, the move will no doubt clog already congested streets and increase carbon emissions. It also takes a jab at people who, for the most part, already deal with enough aggravation (think late bus arrivals, screaming babies and the person who insists on practically sitting on your lap despite the availability of other seats.) Maybe when Congress gets back in session, they’ll consider making the tax benefit, at the very least, apply equally to car and transit users.

Acidic oceans threaten entire food chain
Sharks are already stressed by the public’s taste for shark fin soup and warmer weather meddling with their dating habits. Now it looks like they will have to add acidic oceans to their list of worries. Increasingly acidic waters thin the shells of their main food source, tiny marine creatures, reports MSN. But it’s not just sharks that rely on these species for food. Virtually every creature from salmon to seals to even humans will be affected, thanks to a little thing we like to call the marine food web. Scientists already know that as oceans absorb more carbon, the waters acidify, which makes living conditions very uncomfortable for any animal with a shell, and creates food scarcity for everyone else. Add this to the already overwhelming threats of pollution, habitat loss and overfishing, and it’s clear to see that the oceans—and the people who work to save them-- including Earthjustice—have their work cut out just trying to keep their heads above water. 

View Ted Zukoski's blog posts
11 December 2011, 10:44 PM
But there’s still a chance for one big present under the tree
Aerial view of the Alton coal strip mine near Bryce Canyon. Photo (c) Ray Bloxham, Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance.

As fall turns to winter, President Obama has continued his virtually unbroken streak of bending over backwards for the coal industry in the West.  For those who love Western public lands and could do without more subsidies to Big Coal, Mr. Obama has been more Grinch than Santa.

For example, the Forest Service recently consented to a coal lease in western Colorado that will result in more than two square miles of the beautiful Sunset Trail Roadless Area being chewed up with 48 well pads and 6.5 miles of road.  It’s a Christmas present to corporate goliath Arch Coal, and coal in the public’s stocking.

But wait, there’s more! BLM is moving ahead with plans to approve a strip mine on the doorstep of Bryce Canyon National Park.  Denuded habitat, truck trips that will disrupt tourism and the lives of local residents, and dust will all result.  Not everyone is wild about the idea - including the Salt Lake Tribune, which editorialized against the project.  (And if you're not wild about the strip mine either, go here to tell the BLM.) 

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