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 Shirley Hao's blog posts
22 January 2010, 6:11 PM
One hundred years of national park goodness
Beargrass, a lily native to Glacier National Park, blooms along the Iceberg Lake trail in Montana. Photo: NPS.

Happy Birthday, Glacier National Park!

Okay, so we’re a few months early…but when you’re coming up on one hundred, you clearly deserve a more grandiose and extended celebration.

The birthday star is one half of the dynamic duo making up Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park. North of Glacier National Park lies its companion, Canada’s Waterton Lakes National Park. Together, these parks represent a corridor of nearly unparalleled pristine wilderness, where almost all of the historical flora and fauna still exist.

In honor of Glacier’s centennial, Glacier Park Magazine editor Chris Peterson set about to photograph the park for a hundred consecutive days. The results are nothing short of thrilling. Chris’s images and insightful commentary bring alive the beauty, diversity, and wonder of this amazing place.

A sampling of Chris’s work:

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View Trip Van Noppen's blog posts
21 January 2010, 12:25 PM
Focus is on clean energy, natural heritage, and health

Last year, the U.S. government started taking environmental protection seriously again, but as 2010 dawns, we continue to see political and economic interests preventing or stalling critical environmental solutions.

In the face of this opposition, this year Earthjustice is targeting key issues with our legal and advocacy work. Our focus is on three core priorities: building a clean energy future, protecting our natural heritage, and safeguarding our health.

To avoid global warming's worst impacts, we must build a clean energy future. Reducing demand through efficiency and increasing supply from renewable sources of power are cornerstones of the foundation. But these steps are obstructed by the political stranglehold of the fossil fuel industry. Earthjustice is using the law to help break our national reliance on fossil fuels, which we continue to extract, burn, and subsidize heavily with taxpayer money, despite the destructive impact on people and the planet.

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View Ted Zukoski's blog posts
20 January 2010, 10:22 AM
Oil shale boosters' claims still don't hold water
Wyoming badlands on the block for oil shale. (c) Erik Molvar. Used with permission.

Why should we develop oil shale? Or, more precisely, what are the best arguments for scraping tens of thousands of acres of public land and using billions of gallons of scarce water and uncounted gigawatts of electricity to bake oil from rocks? 

Jeremy Boak, of the Colorado School of Mines, has two answers. Both are wrong. 

Some background on Mr. Boak. He's director of Mines' Center for Oil Shale Technology and Research, cutely known as "COSTAR." As the school proudly announced when COSTAR was born, the center "is funded by three major oil companies, Total Exploration and Production, Shell Exploration and Production, and ExxonMobil Upstream Research Company." So you see who he has to please.

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View Molly Woodward's blog posts
15 January 2010, 10:54 AM
Clean Air Act, public lands drilling, efficiency standards, Pacific fisher

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

Sen. Lisa Murkowski seems determined to undermine the Clean Air Act, and has enlisted industry lobbyists in her quest. Earthjustice President Trip Van Noppen discussed why it's critical to take action now to protect this important environmental law.

The days of rampant, indiscriminant oil and gas drilling on public lands are over, according to an announcement from Interior Secretary Ken Salazar. The BLM will develop and extend the environmental review processes for public lands drilling plans, something Earthjustice attorneys have advocated for years. 

The DOE just released new efficiency standards for Laundromat washing machines, but unfortunately they won't do enough to weed the least efficient from the market. Next time you take a trip to the Laundromat, try to find a front-loading machine, as these tend to waste less water and energy than top-loaders.

If you haven't heard much about the rare Pacific fisher, it might be its rarity after centuries of fur-trapping and logging in the Pacific northwest. Now, an Earthjustice lawsuit has helped make sure it's still eligible for protection under the Endangered Species Act. Find out more about this mighty porcupine hunter in Monday Reads.

View John McManus's blog posts
07 January 2010, 4:41 PM
Promises to emphasize science over 'categorical exemptions'

Interior Sec. Ken Salazar stepped up to the microphone this week and told the nation the days of drilling oil and gas everywhere on public lands are over. This is welcome news to Earthjustice attorneys who opposed many of the public lands oil and gas leases ramrodded through by the Bush/Cheney administration.

Salazar made clear that he, unlike his predecessors in the prior administration, understands some public lands, especially in the west, are special and should not be drilled.

Many of the new policies result from an Interior Department review of a 77-parcel Utah lease sale in December 2008. The review came after Earthjustice litigation stopped the sale and forced the cancellation of these leases. Salazar said the department will start requiring more detailed environmental reviews, provide increased opportunities for public input, and reduce a drilling fast track known as categorical exclusions.

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View Ted Zukoski's blog posts
15 December 2009, 10:13 AM
But is a Colorado senator trying to breathe new life into a bad idea?

On November 5, 2009, something happened in Colorado that hasn't happened in a long, long time: the U.S. Forest Service rejected a proposal to turn a natural area into ski runs and a magnet for private land development.  The natural area is Snodgrass Mountain, which includes inventoried roadless lands, beautiful aspen stands, raptor habitat, and open space.  

Snodgrass rises just north of Mount Crested Butte, the company town whose reason for being is the Crested Butte ski resort to the south.  (The old mining-turned-tourist town of Crested Butte is a few miles further down the road.)  The resort has had its eye on Snodgrass for years. 

And for just as long, local conservationists have been trying to protect America's public lands on Snodgrass from being turned into a site for clearcut runs and lift towers.  Snodgrass is beloved as open space on the edge of development, as a place to hike, mountain bike and ride horses, and as wildlife habitat.

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View Ted Zukoski's blog posts
04 September 2009, 1:40 PM
Appeals court lays down the law in Kane County, Utah

We like to think of our national parks as places that are protected for generations, where outside the visitor center and a few heavily used trails, the vistas, the streams and the wildlife are there now as they have been and ever will be. But some of the West's most iconic parklands—Canyonlands, Bryce, Zion, Death Valley, Glen Canyon, Yosemite—have been under assault in recent years.

Those assaults come from a few renegade counties deciding that the Park Service can't protect rivers, habitat, archaeological sites and wilderness by closing old cattle trails and streambeds to dirt bikes and all-terrain vehicles. The counties claim they own highway rights to these rough tracks under a repealed, 19th Century law known as R.S. 2477.

Earlier this week, a court of appeals ruling turned back one of these assaults in a way that will make sure parks across the West are a little better protected.

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View Trip Van Noppen's blog posts
19 August 2009, 4:24 PM
Earthjustice president sees firsthand environmental bests and worsts
Wind power parts enroute

What does it take to peel back the abstractions of email, press reports, and legal briefs and really see some of what is at stake in Earthjustice's work? It's as easy as getting away from the computer, out of airports, and off the interstate.

Over the last couple of weeks I was lucky enough to travel across the Great Plains and the Rockies. Everywhere I went, I saw our country wrestling with the big challenges of energy supply and climate change, biodiversity and wildlands protection, and the human consequences of poorly enforced environmental standards.

Signs of change in our energy economy are everywhere. Across Missouri, Iowa, Nebraska and South Dakota, I kept running into wide-load 18 wheelers hauling giant pieces of wind towers to the sites of new wind farms. One of the truck drivers told me that the towers were made in Texas. Some of the small towns practically had to shut down their main streets to let the rigs through.

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View Tom Turner's blog posts
05 August 2009, 2:25 PM
Another (welcome) twist in the Roadless saga
Patrick’s Knob roadless area in Montana’s Coeur D’Alene Mountains. (Credit: © Terry Glase)

When we last visited this story, the original Roadless Rule, issued at the tail end of the Clinton administration, seemed to be in effect in some parts of the country, not in others, and the court ruling that reimposed it was still under legal challenge by the Forest Service.

The situation was clarified to a great degree today, with a unanimous ruling by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals upholding a lower court ruling, which had found a substitute rule put forward by the Bush administration illegal and reinstated the original rule throughout the country except for Alaska and Idaho.

This is tremendous news, and should be a powerful encouragement to the new administration to do whatever is necessary to protect roadless areas throughout the land.

View Ted Zukoski's blog posts
16 July 2009, 3:21 PM
While Washington debates climate change, coal mining in the West gets a pass

For the past month, the klieg lights have been squarely focused on attempts inside the Beltway to cobble together compromise legislation to address global climate change (AKA the Waxman-Markey bill), and President Obama's commitment at the G-8 summit to keep the planet from heating up more than two degrees celsius.

Meanwhile, out here in the West, it's CO2-emitting business as usual, with the federal Bureau of Land Management this month proposing to lock in long term federal coal leases to giant mining firms. And not small amounts of coal either.

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