Every day the headlines feature ways in which the U. S. government is attacking the environment, whether it’s climate, fossil fuel extraction, endangered wildlife, or hungry people around the world. The news can be overwhelming and discouraging. However, this week I received a calendar from an environmental law group (www.earthjustice.org) in which each page features a legislative “victory” with respect to the environment. I want to share some of these with you.
VICTORY: In response to Earthjustice litigation, a federal judge rejected a massive logging plan for Prince of Wales Island in the Tongass National Forest (Alaska), preserving old-growth rain forest that is vital for wildlife and a key buffer against climate change.
VICTORY: Litigation led a court to reject a Florida water district’s request to be let out of a historic legal agreement to clean up Everglades National Park. The ruling preserves crucial water quality protections for this ecological treasure.
VICTORY: Litigation, advocacy, and farmworkers helped persuade California and New York to ban most uses of chlorpyrifos, a neurotoxic pesticide that causes brain damage in children. Now the pesticide’s largest manufacturer will stop selling it in the U. S.
VICTORY: In Illinois, community partners won passage of milestone legislation ensuring that polluters pay for required closure and clean-up of toxic coal ash ponds, which are leaking pollutants such as arsenic into groundwater, and guaranteeing meaningful public involvement.
VICTORY: In partnership with Earthjustice, Native Americans blocked a huge copper mine near Tucson that would have obliterated thousands of years of Native American heritage, depleted groundwater, and destroyed critical habitat for endangered jaguars.
VICTORY: A court win blocked construction of a water pipeline that would have drained desert springs in Mojave Trails National Monument (California), destroying the fragile ecosystem that supports wildlife such as the threatened desert tortoise.
VICTORY: In a victory for the climate and ratepayers, Indiana regulators rejected a utility company’s proposal to replace the bulk of its aging coal-burning units with an unneeded billion-dollar gas-fired plant.
VICTORY: Federal regulators must now strengthen protections against ozone (smog) pollution that crosses state lines. The protections should save hundreds of lives and prevent thousands of asthma attacks every year.
I am not necessarily advocating for the Earthjustice organization, though I do find their work worthy of support. I wanted to give you some encouraging news that is not likely to make the headlines.