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The Wild

They tell Colorado that proposed regulations will cripple the local economy, but investors are told that profits will still boom.

Doom? Or boom? Is it the best of times? Or the worst? The oil and gas industry is saying it's both. But they're very careful about who receives which message. And the truth is a lot closer to one message than the other.

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.

I'm into the last stages of a book on the roadless rule—you remember, the rule that protects unroaded areas on the national forests, the one put in place toward the end of the Clinton administration and walked away from by the Bushniks. It's a long, tangled, and fascinating tale and I have two more weeks to get it all down on paper. Well, not on paper these days, but you know what I mean. That's a long way of saying that my columns for this week and next will be pretty thin, but there's much other good stuff to read in Unearthed; I encourage you to sample other columns.

I will, however, put in another of my periodic plugs for one of my favorite sites, Grist (www.grist.org). It's a fine source of information and commentary and it is relentlessly punny. Take a look.

Photos tell story of the energy boom's threat to wild Wyoming.

The natural gas industry has boomed nowhere like it has in southwest Wyoming, in the Upper Green River Valley at the south end of the Yellowstone ecosystem.  Hundreds of well pads have been scraped and an industrial web of facilities and roads have gone in to the Jonah Field and the Pinedale Anticline area.

Hundreds of angry people, urged on by a right-wing talk show host, called Earthjustice recently to ask why we are challenging plans to drill in Alaska's Arctic Ocean.

Like many Americans, the callers are suffering from gasoline price increases and other costs, like food, that have gone up with the price of oil. They had been led to believe that drilling in Alaska would bring gas prices back down and restore America's place in the world.

Aah, summer!  Time to hit the road and visit some our crown jewel national parks here in the West.  It's time to enjoy the trees, the canyons, the birds, bees, and bears, the ranger talks, the smog. 

The smog?  Yep, get ready for it.  Because if the EPA has its way, the tremendous views from Mesa Verde, Zion, and other national parks will become more obscured with haze.

As the Washington Post succinctly put it on May 16:

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