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The Wild

Motorists heading to Colorado ski resorts are being confronted with images of the state not found in tourist brochures: Pollution-spewing oil and gas rigs looming over wildlife habitat, ranchland and neighborhoods.

The billboards are part of a campaign by the Colorado Environmental Coalition to tell Coloradans and out-of-state visitors that there's a dark side to the state's vast petroleum industry.

Yes, one knows that the economy and the climate are jobs one through ten, but I can't help but be a tiny bit concerned that the new Obama administration still lacks a Secretary of the Interior, a Secretary of Agriculture, a Secretary of Energy, an Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, and a Chairman of the President's Council on Environmental Quality. Plus and all the under secretaries and assistant secretaries and directors and assistant administrators who will eventually be nominated and confirmed to carry out extremely sensitive and important tasks. I have no reason to think that these nominations will not be up to the standard of the nominations we've seen so far, but I hope this doesn't signal a back-burner approach to wildlife and public lands and national parks and national forests, and so forth. A large fraction of our oil and gas, for example, come from the public lands and a smaller but important fraction of our lumber and pulp too. One thing we're going to have to be vigilant about over the next months and years is to ensure that environmental regulations are not sacrificed in the name of economic recovery—and you can be sure that such suggestions will be made. We need strong, bright people to run the environmental agencies, people who have the full support of the president.

As faithful readers will recall, we’ve been reporting on the saga of the Roadless Area Conservation Rule for a very long time. Put in place at the end of the Clinton administration and immediately hamstrung by Bush operatives, the rule, which bans most roadbuilding and logging on roadless areas of the national forests, has bounced around a dozen courthouses, with Earthjustice lawyers defending the measure from attacks by states and the timber industry as the new government talked out of four sides of its mouth.

One of the good things about the Web is that it increases accountability.  Those questioning the so-called "mainstream media" (MSM) don't have to hope that a stingy editor will find a few column inches to publish an op-ed to have their views heard.

So while I'm a regular reader of The New York Times, I was happy to see this article at grist.org  panning the Times' story on the beetle epidemic which is killing off hundreds of thousands of acres of pine forest in the Rocky Mountains.  The "Newspaper of Record" omitted the key fact that global warming is playing a key role in the beetle epidemic.  That's because beetles are typically killed off when subzero temperatures last for days in the forest, something that hasn't happened for years.

It's a key aspect of the beetle story.  And kudos to grist.org for telling it.

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.

Have they no shame? (Hint: No.)

We speak of the current band of varlets and scoundrels just ending their eight-year reign of terror in our nation's capital. With both presidential candidates lambasting Mr. Bush and his henchmen daily, the lame ducks are hell-bent on wreaking as much havoc as they can in these last not-quite-three-months of their joyride.

So the fate of the Roadless Rule is now in the hands of three judges of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, at least its immediate fate, following a hearing this week in San Francisco.

The Forest Service, represented by the Justice Department, wants the three judges to overturn a Sept. 2006 decision that found the rule the Bush administration cooked up to replace the original rule illegal.

Most environmentalists believe that nature has a right to exist for its own sake, but that's not how the law works in our country.

In the United States, nature is defensible only if a human will miss the forest, species, or clean water when it is gone. To use the law, a human must first prove harm to their person.

If that proverbial tree falls in the woods and no human cares, no laws were broken. But if a tree falls and the hiker who depended on its shade is harmed, the U.S. legal system may provide some relief.

Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne didn't like the law that required him to promptly protect public lands around the Grand Canyon from uranium mining.  So he's getting rid of it. Citizens have only a few days to express their opposition.

With less than 100 days left in its life, the current administration has its hands full.  The economy is on its scariest roller-coaster ride in generations. And we're still fighting two wars.  You'd think the administration would be too busy to do anything else.

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