Posts tagged: salmon

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.

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 Waldo's blog posts
10 April 2014, 5:14 PM
Unpopular Alaskan mine project meets obstacles
Sockeye salmon in a river in the Bristol Bay, Alaska watershed. (Ben Knight / Trout Unlimited)

International mining firm Rio Tinto yesterday became the second out of three remaining investors to pull its funding from a much-maligned and controversial proposed gold and copper mine in wild and scenic Alaska, the Pebble Mine. Last September, Anglo American, a London-based mining company, cited financial risks and pulled out of the project. This leaves only the small Canadian mining company Northern Dynasty Minerals still backing the giant project.

Local communities, commercial and recreational fishermen, Native tribes, recreation and tourism industry groups, and concerned citizens from around the world have vehemently opposed the Pebble Mine, an enormous mining project proposed for southwest Alaska in the headwaters of Bristol Bay and its world-class salmon runs. The Bristol Bay watershed is rich with salmon, wildlife and salmon-based Alaska Native cultures and is home to the largest sockeye salmon fishery in the world.

Earthjustice has joined with this broad coalition in waging a powerful campaign against this mine, to protect this treasured wilderness and all the people who depend on it. Earthjustice supporters have sent approximately 50,000 letters to the EPA opposing the Pebble Mine.

View Maggie Caldwell's blog posts
24 February 2014, 12:28 PM
Notes from a trip to the San Francisco Bay Delta

 “The virgin California Delta was so vast wild and confusing—its sloughs meandered everywhere and led nowhere—that John C. Fremont lost a whole regiment in there for several days and some who ventured in just disappeared.A Dangerous Place, by Marc Reisner

At the Bay Delta's Steamboat Slough. (Brad Zweerink / Earthjustice)At the Bay Delta's Steamboat Slough.
(Photo by Brad Zweerink / Earthjustice)

My photographer and I ventured into the Delta region to go to the heart of the fight over who can claim rights to water in California during the worst drought in the state’s history.

The river towns we passed through—Courtland, Isleton, Rio Vista—don’t much resemble the labyrinthine delta that nearly devoured explorer John C. Fremont’s men in the mid-19th Century. The Bay Delta’s source waters—the Sacramento and San Joaquin rivers—are dammed and diverted, its sloughs crisscrossed with drawbridges, and its marshes drained and planted with orchards and vineyards. Yet the Bay Delta, the largest estuary on the west coast of the Americas, still retains a wildness to its character, serving as home to hundreds of species of plants and animals; some, like the Delta smelt, found nowhere else on Earth.

View Jessica Knoblauch's blog posts
31 January 2014, 2:13 PM
Climate change threatens grapes, salmon and other dining favorites
Photo by Udo Schröter (Flickr)

While much of the country digs itself out from piles of snow, wine growers in Napa Valley are losing sleep over the state’s current drought, brought on by a lack of rain and freakishly warm weather.

California’s drought could spell disaster for wine growers in the region, who rely on rain stored in rivers and reservoirs to water their vineyards. But the damage isn’t just limited to the state’s wine connoisseurs. According to the Wine Institute, an industry trade group, California wines accounted for 63 percent of the total 703 million gallons—both foreign and domestic—consumed in the U.S. in 2005, or roughly two out of every three bottles sold in the country. As climate change continues to heat up the southwest, wine aficionados across the nationmay have a harder time finding their favorite pinot or syrah.
 
Of course, wine is hardly the only item on the menu that will be affected by a lack of water. Lack of rain can also stress out salmon, which require plenty of water to survive their migration from the ocean to inland waterways. Dams and diversions on rivers have already badly damaged important salmon runs along the west coast and scientists have confirmed that increasingly dry conditions will only magnify that damage.
 

View Doug Pflugh's blog posts
24 January 2014, 11:17 AM
Drought, diversions threaten Colorado, San Pedro and other rivers
The now-dry Colorado River delta branches into the Baja / Sonoran Desert, only 5 miles north of the Sea of Cortez, Mexico. (Pete McBride / USGS)

We’re less than a month in, but 2014 is already shaping up to be a tough year for rivers. Across the nation, from West Virginia to California, the headlines have been bleak. In the Rocky Mountain region, we’re gearing up for a long year defending the Colorado and San Pedro rivers.

Following recognition as America’s most endangered river in 2013, the Colorado River has become known nationwide for the unsustainable balance that exists between increasing diversions and declining flows. Much of the West has been built on a foundation of Colorado River water and millions of people in communities throughout the region depend on it on a daily basis. On-going regional drought and continued growth are now finally forcing water supply managers to accept that business as usual is no longer tenable and changes are coming to the basin.

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View Patti Goldman's blog posts
12 December 2013, 2:10 PM
Earthjustice and our clients have made the law's promise a reality
A California condor soars over the Grand Canyon. (Chris Parish / The Peregrine Fund)

Ten years ago, my family saw firsthand the power of the Endangered Species Act in action. We were backpacking in the Grand Canyon and a California condor soared overhead. The sheer size of his wingspan was awe-inspiring. As we rounded the next bend, there sat the condor at the side of the trail, a marvel to behold.

The return of condors to the Grand Canyon is a testament to our nation's commitment to protect the heritage "we hold in trust to countless future generations of our fellow citizens," as President Nixon proclaimed when he signed the Endangered Species Act 40 years ago.

But the Endangered Species Act did not miraculously save imperiled species as a matter of course. In its wisdom, Congress included citizen suits in the law to make sure the law would be followed. Earthjustice lawsuits by the dozens on behalf of hundreds of clients have made the law's promise a reality.

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View Tom Turner's blog posts
22 November 2013, 4:58 PM
Two years after Elwha dam was torn down, the fish storm back
Chinook salmon spawn in Elwha River in September 2013. (NPS)

Two years ago, after a decades-long struggle that involved Native Americans, biologists, Earthjustice, and eventually Congress itself, engineers began to dismantle two century-old dams on the Elwha River on the Olympic Peninsula in Washington state. The river is only 70 miles long, but most of it is in the Olympic National Park, and so is in pretty good shape, having avoided the fate of other Pacific Coast streams, that have been badly damaged by logging.

A remnant population of salmon survived to spawn in the four miles of river between the downstream dam and Strait of Juan de Fuca. People hoped this would be a sufficient number—on the order of 4,000 fish—to recolonize the river above the dams, once the dams were gone, the result of the largest dam-removal operation ever undertaken in the U.S. Fish biologists predicted that runs on the Elwha should eventually reach nearly 400,000 fish annually, and this year it’s beginning to look as if they might be right. A veritable flood of all five species of Pacific salmon, plus seagoing steelhead trout, have found their way up the Elwha and its tributaries and found suitable spawning grounds—gravel beds where they lay and fertilize their eggs in depressions called redds. More salmon have returned over the past two months than at any time in at least 20 years.

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View Terry Winckler's blog posts
23 August 2013, 1:54 PM
Corporate giants lose court battle over Klamath/Trinity rivers water
A chinook salmon. (Spappy Jones / Creative Commons)

There are few victories sweeter and more dramatic than the one just wrested by Earthjustice attorney Jan Hasselman and his tribal allies in a Fresno, California courtroom this week. They prevented a corporate grab of water needed by an entire run of chinook salmon for their spawning run up the Klamath/Trinity rivers system.

The drama—and believe me, it was a mix of theater, unexpected turnarounds and life-or-death arguments—climaxed late yesterday when a judge agreed that these salmon need the water more than the mega-farms that sought it as a hedge against next year's bottom line.

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View Brian Smith's blog posts
16 August 2013, 12:05 PM
Court hearings this week may decide fate of Klamath/Trinity River salmon
Local fishing communities depend on healthy salmon runs. (Chris Jordan-Bloch / Earthjustice)

This is the time of year when Chinook salmon head back up the Klamath/Trinity River system to spawn—if they have abundant, cold water.

But this year—this week—powerful business interests are in court trying to seize that water, putting tens of thousands of salmon, and an entire generation of their offspring, in peril.

Here’s why:

Because California faces drought this year, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation (BuRec) has developed a plan to release extra water from dams along the Trinity River (a tributary of the Klamath) to prevent another disaster like the ‘Fish Kill of 2002.’ Also a drought year, 2002 saw the Klamath running low, slow and with high temperatures. The Bush administration prevented water from being released, leading to a massive die-off of adult Chinook salmon, one of the worst fish kills in U.S. history. Coastal communities dependent on those salmon suffered $200 million losses.

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View Trip Van Noppen's blog posts
16 August 2013, 7:46 AM
Mega-farms would exterminate Puget Sound whales' main food: salmon
Orca L87 breaches at sunset with Whidbey Island and Mt. Baker in the background, Oct. 15, 2010. (Susan Berta / Orca Network)

Something special is swimming in Puget Sound—84 unique whales found nowhere else on earth, who might have disappeared altogether if not for Earthjustice’s work to protect them from a far-distant threat.

Early this month, the government rejected a misguided proposal to strip protections from this dwindling species: Southern Resident orca whales. Visitors to the Pacific Northwest likely know these orcas well; they attract wildlife enthusiasts from around the world with their intelligence and playful displays of agility. They also attract curious scientists—this pod of fish-eating coastal orcas is genetically distinct and isolated from its mammal-eating and offshore cousins, diverging more than 700,000 years ago.

The ill-conceived attempt to push these few animals closer to extinction was made on behalf of California industrial-scale farms by the Pacific Legal Foundation—a big-industry bosom buddy that receives funds from the infamous Koch Brothers. PLF and its clients refuse to accept that the orcas deserve the protection of the Endangered Species Act. Fortunately, science indicates otherwise.

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View John McManus's blog posts
11 December 2012, 4:10 PM
Earthjustice seeks better labeling of seafood to protect consumers
Consumers should have easy access to information about fish species with elevated mercury content. (NIH)

A new report has some not-so-great news for those who love to eat fish. Mercury is turning up in fish from all over the world—and coal is one of the main culprits.

Coal burned in power plants releases mercury, basically dissolved in smoke, that later settles out over the land. It typically falls out of the atmosphere within 30 miles or so of where it was burned and then finds its way into soil and runoff that eventually end in the oceans.

In July of 2011, Earthjustice filed a petition on behalf of Dr. Jane Hightower, the Mercury Policy Project and the Center for Science in the Public Interest, asking the Food and Drug Administration to post signs near market seafood counters and on seafood labels to warn consumers about mercury in fish.