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Yesterday, Erika wrote about negotiations to reduce global warming from deforestation and related activities, which contribute 20% of all human-emitted greenhouse gases. Tomorrow is the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the foundational document for modern-day protection of fundamental human rights around the world. Today, the two issues came together in a shameful fashion and, unfortunately, the United States played a major role.

Smack in the middle of a groundwater shortage that had Southwest Florida officials begging people to use as little water as possible, agricultural operations opened their pumps wide and flooded millions of gallons of water wastefully over their fields.

They had legal permits to do this, permits issued by the Southwest Florida Water Management District, a taxpayer-funded water authority. We sued the water management district two years ago. On October 30, a Florida Appeals Court finally ruled in our favor.

With the election of Barack Obama, our nation's long, dark environmental night appears to be ending. By all early indications an era of opportunity will replace eight years of opposition in which Earthjustice was forced to play a mostly defensive role.

This is the moment we've been waiting for, and with your continued support, we are set to pursue ambitious goals on behalf of the environment.

We won a significant victory in our phosphate case on Oct. 6. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers suspended a permit that gave Mosaic Phosphate the go-ahead to destroy 480 acres of high-quality wetlands within Southwest Florida's Peace River watershed.

Our court case is ongoing, but the Corps decision to suspend the permit shows that the permit didn't comply with the law and should never have been granted.

In its letter, the Corps said: "The Corps has determined that it is in the public interest to revisit the analysis in support of the permit decision."

The phosphate mines in Florida are so damaging that their ugly scars on the planet can be clearly seen from space. Florida's public rivers, lakes, streams, and coastal waters pay the price for these corporate strip mines, year after year.

Attorney Monica Reimer in Earthjustice's Florida office has filed an important lawsuit that challenges federal approval for one of these mines near the beautiful Peace River outside Bradenton.

By this time, most everyone has heard about the historic deal in the Florida Everglades: U.S. Sugar will sell the state of Florida 187,000 acres that sit between giant Lake Okeechobee and Everglades National Park.

That's 187,000 acres that will no longer be drenched with poison pesticides and fertilizers. It is industrial farmland that blocks the Everglades' natural water flow—now it can hold and filter water as it moves south toward Florida Bay.

To say we're ecstatic down here is a massive understatement. This is the largest conservation deal in Florida history.

At the very end of the current term of the Supreme Court, the justices announced that they will review a Ninth Circuit decision that forbids Coeur Alaska, a mining company, from dumping mine tailings into Lower Slate Lake north of Juneau, Alaska.

This is not the best news of the week.

The company admits that the tailings will essentially kill all life in the lake but that restoration can be undertaken later. The Army Corps of Engineers, which issued permits for the mine, agreed with Coeur.

Earthjustice's Florida team has saved the state's seagrasses and fishing grounds from a legislative poison pill. David Guest, managing attorney of the Florida office, tells this tale of midnight chicanery...

The bill in the Florida Legislature seemed like a good thing: For the first time, Florida would impose fines on boaters who carelessly trashed seagrass beds in the state's protected aquatic preserves. The underwater marine nursery grounds can get chewed up by boat propellers, and the damage can last for decades.

This is for people who are just in too good a mood and need to be brought down a little.

Or a lot.

We speak of a new report from the Heinz center, available here. John Heinz, for those who don't remember, was a Republican senator from Pennsylvania, who died rich and young, heir to a ketchup fortune and a thoroughly admirable fellow.

His widow, Theresa Heinz Kerry, nearly became first lady in 2004. The foundation does good works in the senator's memory.

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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.