Posts tagged: public lands

unEARTHED. The Earthjustice Blog

public lands


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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 Ted Zukoski's blog posts
16 March 2011, 1:49 PM
BLM gives Colorado coal mine expansion a second look
Drilling a methane drainage well at the Elk Creek Mine, 2008. Bureau of Land Management photo.

In 2009, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar issued an order taking aim at climate change, saying: "The Department is ... taking the lead in protecting our country's lands and resources from the dramatic effects of climate change....  The realities of climate change require us to change how we manage the land, water, fish and wildlife ... and resources we oversee."  Bold stuff.

Sadly, the Department has done little to apply this directive to coal mining, a huge source of climate-change-inducing greenhouse gases. 

Something like a third of the nation's coal is mined from public lands managed by Ken Salazar's Interior Department.  And all of that coal goes up in smoke, mostly in power plants that spew out a huge chunk of the country's climate-change-causing greenhouse gases. 

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View Marty Hayden's blog posts
16 February 2011, 10:38 AM
Amendments to funding bill target everything from wolves to water to health
Wolves are on the congressional hit list

House Republicans are using the oft-repeated refrain of “fiscal restraint” as their excuse for gutting several environmental initiatives that will put the public in harm’s way. But there simply is no excuse for hacking away at health protections that will leave our air and water dirtier and our children and seniors at risk.  It’s not hard to see their real agenda. In many cases their proposals are clearly designed to make it easier for some of America’s biggest polluters to dump their pollution on us rather than pay to dispose of it responsibly. 

House GOP’s Public Enemy Number 1: the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The spending legislation introduced this week slashes the EPA budget by $3 billion and blocks the agency from regulating greenhouse gas emissions. And in a symbolic dig against the White House, the bill also stymies President Barack Obama from replacing departing lead White House climate and energy advisor Carol Browner.
 
The spending plan also tries to block the EPA from fully implementing the Clean Water Act, while effectively letting major polluters foul our water. This will jeopardize drinking water for 117 million Americans and could leave millions of  acres of wetlands and thousands of miles of streams and rivers without Clean Water Act protections from pollution. But it doesn’t stop there.

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View Terry Winckler's blog posts
15 February 2011, 3:53 PM
Legislative amendments target air, water, public lands and wildlife

Teabag by teabag, the anti-environment faction in the House of Representatives has filled its federal government spending bill with amendments that will cripple protections for our water, air, natural resources, wildlife and public health. 

Not since the darkest days of the Bush administration have we seen such an onslaught on the environment—and the hits are still coming. By mid-day today (Tues., Feb. 15), the list has grown to include attacks on a number of endangered species, including wolves and salmon, and on the power of the Environmental Protection Agency to keep lethal pollutants out of the air we breathe and the water we drink. Some amendments are outright handouts to our nation’s worst polluters.

The spending bill will fund the government so that it can continue operating after March 4, but first the Senate must pass the bill. Today, Pres. Barack Obama warned that he would veto the bill as constructed.

The following is a list of the most harmful provisions and amendments proposed so far:

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View Ted Zukoski's blog posts
02 February 2011, 10:20 AM
Where's the leadership Sec. Salazar promised?
Strip mine in Wyoming's Powder River Basin. USGS photo.

In the not-too-distant past, Interior Sec. Ken Salazar issued a bold call to action for his department. With authority over hundreds of millions of acres of public lands and the vast majority of coal, oil, and gas owned by taxpayers, he stated that his department would be "taking the lead" in protecting the nation's wildlife and water from climate change, and that doing so would "require us to change how we manage the lands."

DOI had a great chance recently to live up to the secretary's words by changing the way it manages the nation's coal - a key contributor to climate change. 

Sadly, his staff has concluded that doing nothing is easier than leadership or change.Here's the background: 

View Tom Turner's blog posts
25 December 2010, 11:04 PM
Salazar reverses another Bush rollback
Red rock in Utah.

One of the more frustrating tactics used repeatedly by the Bush administration in environmental matters was something we called “sue and settle.” These were cases filed against the government by states, industrial interests, or others seeking, for example, to open up wild lands to development.

The defendant—the government—would then capitulate to the demands of the plaintiffs and do it in such a way that the public, frequently represented by environmental groups that were in turn represented by Earthjustice and similar organizations, was boxed out of the process. These were closed-door settlements without permitting intervenors to participate.

View Tom Turner's blog posts
16 November 2010, 11:20 AM
Spotted owl habitat under threat in Oregon

Reporters speak of a story having legs, meaning that it is likely to continue over an extended period. Spotted owls have legs.

The story began in the late '80s, when it became evident that out-of-control logging in ancient forests in the Northwest was about to extinguish the owls. Earthjustice sued, and managed to achieve Endangered Species Act protection for the owls.

End of story? Not quite.
 

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View Trip Van Noppen's blog posts
04 November 2010, 4:49 PM
A new and hostile congressional leadership is not new to Earthjustice

There is no reason to beat around the bush: Tuesday's election results are a setback in our progress towards a cleaner, healthier, more sustainable planet.

At a time when the world desperately needs leadership from the United States, voters have installed in the House of Representatives those who have vowed to do all they can to obstruct progress in cleaning up dirty coal-burning power plants, reducing health-destroying and climate-disrupting pollution, and protecting wild places and wildlife.

Yet, while the news is bad, we can take heart that the election was not a referendum on the environment. Voters still want clean water, healthy air, protected public lands, and action on transitioning from dirty power plants to a clean energy economy.

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View Ted Zukoski's blog posts
27 September 2010, 12:40 PM
Canyon’s imperiled fish left high and dry by Obama
The Grand Canyon - home of the humpback chub. National Park Service photo.

First impressions can be deceiving.

In 1861, as America entered its first year of civil war, the Government Printing Office published the report of Lieutenant Joseph Ives on his expedition up the Colorado River from the Gulf of California.

Chapter VIII of his report describes an area he called "Big Canyon." While he proclaimed the scene from the Canyon’s south rim "marvellous," he wrote off the area as a worthless wasteland, unlikely to be visited again except by the Indians who lived there:

The region last explored is, of course, altogether valueless. It can be approached only from the south, and after entering it there is nothing to do but to leave. Ours has been the first, and will doubtless be the last, party of whites to visit this profitless locality. It seems intended by nature that the Colorado river, along the greater portion of its lonely and majestic way, shall be forever unvisited and undisturbed… Excepting when the melting snows send their annual torrents through the avenues to the Colorado, conveying with them sound and motion, these dismal abysses, and the arid table-lands that enclose them, are left, as they have been for ages, in unbroken solitude and silence.

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View Ted Zukoski's blog posts
14 September 2010, 12:01 PM
When disaster strikes, politicians pounce. And sometimes miss.
The Fourmile Fire in Boulder, CO. US Forest Service photo.

On taking a walk on Labor Day, I looked up and thought, "This can't be good."  A huge plume of smoke filled half the sky.  Boulder's Fourmile Fire was on a rampage, destroying more than 100 homes about 15 miles from my own. 

I knew the smoke cloud would be followed by selfless firefighters, low-flying slurry bombers and water-laden helicopters.  I didn't count on the fact that while the fire still raged, and as families waited anxiously to find out whether their homes had survived, politicians would use the tragedy to push their agendas.

But they did.  Some with more accuracy than others.

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View Ted Zukoski's blog posts
18 August 2010, 9:48 AM
Even when it seems King Coal loses, does the environment win?
A coal mine methane well carved into national forest land, Colorado. Ted Zukoski photo.

Headlines in the last week trumpeted a decision by Xcel, Colorado's largest utility, to convert several old coal-fired power plants into natural gas plants.

The decision was hailed by some as a victory for the environment, since natural gas, when burned, results in fewer pollutants and greenhouse gases.  Some proclaimed the political power of coal on the wane in the West and natural gas ascendent.

That's the soundbite.  The real story is more complicated. First, before we all run to embrace natural gas as the savior for clean air and a less warm climate, let's remember what natural gas is doing to our lands.

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