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After years of waiting, the EPA has announced it will update regulations of chemicals used in response to oil spills. This update couldn’t come soon enough. After all, as the world’s largest oil producer, it’s unlikely that the United States has seen the end of oil spill accidents.

An adult delta smelt.

The delta smelt is a fish that grows to no more than three inches in length, but over the years this threatened species has made big headlines in California’s dusty, water-rights battleground. One congressional representative, Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA), is even on record as calling the smelt a “stupid little fish” that doesn’t deserve water (see video below). Recently, the Supreme Court dismissed such narrow-minded claims by denying a Big Ag-led attack against the smelt.

Everglades National Park

The most popular thing on the entire statewide ballot in 2014 – more popular than any candidate or issue – was the Land Acquisition Amendment to our state Constitution. We know all too well that Floridians are perennially divided on so many votes, but this one was a landslide, approved by a whopping 75 percent majority.

Now that we've got the Land Acquisition Amendment on the books, we citizens need to watch closely to make sure that special interests and their politician friends don't try to make an end-run around the voters' will.

A sign indicating water restrictions in California.

Northern California received a blessing of rain this past December. The storms may have knocked the lights out in half of San Francisco and taken down trees and flooded streets, but the state has needed this deluge like never before.

The rain is a welcome but only temporary respite from the serious water problems the Golden State faces. Even the downpours early in the month are just drops in the bucket as more than 90% of the state remains in severe drought.

An industrial hog farm

In early December, environmentalists and community members celebrated a rare win against industrial agriculture and federal malfeasance in Arkansas. In a court case brought by Earthjustice, U.S. District Judge Price Marshall issued a decision finding that federal agencies illegally guaranteed loans to C&H Hog Farms, a factory farm near the Buffalo National River, without first effectively evaluating the potential environmental impacts of this swine operation.

Diamantina River in Channel Country

In a remote part of Australia, in the state of Queensland, lies a vast area called Channel Country. Winding rivers with large water holes and multiple channels braid across wide floodplains in a remarkable arid landscape. But every now and then huge floods cause the rivers to overflow, transforming the landscape into verdant wetlands that provide vital habitat for waterbirds, fish, reptiles and mammals. 

The devastating coal ash spill at Kingston, TN in December 2008.

Last night on 60 Minutes, journalist Leslie Stahl made Lynn Good, the CEO of Duke Energy, look bad during an episode about coal ash—a byproduct of coal burning that’s dumped into mostly unlined and unmonitored ponds across the country.  

As Good tried to smile and defend the decades of delay in cleaning up coal ash sites by arguing that more study is needed, the veteran newswoman blew right through her smokescreen.

“Studying is code for stalling,” said Stahl.

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About the Earthjustice 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. Learn more about Earthjustice.