Our Successes: Brainerd Grantees Making a Difference
Western Environmental Law Center recently won an appeal in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals that directly affects forests in the Big Hole watershed but has a broader impact. The ruling strengthens the ability to prevent environmentally devastating actions from going forward while a project is in court, making this precedent-setting victory on the issue of preliminary injunctions one that is being hailed far-and-wide.
The Western Environmental Law Center and Earthjustice represented conservation and fishing organizations in a successful effort to strike down a federal plan that abandoned scientific protections for federal public lands in western Oregon and would have opened these lands to clear-cut logging on 2.6 million acres of BLM forestlands. This decision means the Clinton era Northwest Forest Plan once again governs logging practices on BLM's Oregon forests.
A federal judge recently ruled that Washington State agencies have unlawfully failed to regulate climate change pollution from the five oil refineries operating in the state. This ruling compels the state to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from the five oil refineries that operate here. Furthermore, the ruling makes it clear that the agencies are required to regluate greenhouse gases under the state's implementation plan for the Clean Air Act.
The B.C. government recently gave 'Royal Assent' to Bill 2, the Flathead Watershed Area Conservation Act. This means that the B.C. government has fulfilled is promise to ban mining and energy development in the headwaters of the North Fork Flathead River. The B.C. government has now delivered certainty for the B.C. portion of the watershed that it can not and will not be mined or developed for energy or mineral resources.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Mikel Williams ruled that Atlanta Gold Corporation has violated the Clean Water Act more that 1400 times by releasing arsenic and other toxics into the Boise River watershed since 2008. The Court insisted that Atlanta Gold could not simply walk away from the pollution at its historic mining site, which discharges contaminated water into the Boise River, which provides nearly 20 percent of Boise's drinking water. Fines could exceed $60 million.
In Washington, the Environmental Priorities Coalition advocated for the recent passage of the Clean Fertilizers, Healthier Lakes and Rivers law, which will manage the sale of phosphorus in lawn fertilizers and provide a commonsense and cost-effective approach to keeping our lakes and rivers clean and healthy, a win-win for the economy and the environment.
In Washington State, the governor signed into law a bill phasing out the state's only coal-fired power plant. Conservation advocates worked for years on this historic agreement, reaching out to local residents near the plant, organized labor, and the governor.
In Oregon, unanimous passage of the "Cool Schools" bill will speed the implementation of energy efficiency upgrades in the state's schools. Conservation advocates are also cheering the expansion of the state's Bottle Bill to include a greater number of consumer products, which is expected to significantly increase recycling rates of containers and keep the state one of the nation's leaders on recycling.
In Montana, conservation advocates have successfully led a campaign to block the repeal of the state's voter-approved ban on cyanide mining. With signature flare, the governor literally branded the bill that would have repealed the ban, along with several other doomed bills.
In Alaska, conservation advocates recently celebrated a decision that gives a green light to a new wind project for Fire Island, three miles west of Anchorage. This is a huge step toward energy diversification in this part of the state. The power generated by the new facility will support 6,000 homes.
A recent court ruling made the 2001 Roadless Areas Conservation Rule the law of the land in the entire United States, except for the state of Idaho, protecting nearly 50 million acres of roadless areas on national forests. The unanimous ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit confirmed that the Forest Service has broad jurisdiction in determining the balance of uses on the lands that it manages. Earthjustice represented the conservation community in more than a dozen cases over the past 13 years to achieve this victory.
An agreement between the U.S. and Canada that was formalized in 2010 was made real in 2011 when major oil companies voluntarily retired more than 200,000 acres of oil and gas leases in the U.S. Flathead near Glacier National Park. Additionally, the Nature Conservancy and the Nature Conservancy of Canada announced a commitment to provide $9.4 million to the province of British Columbia to help offset the costs of enacting the 2010 partnership between B.C. and the state of Montana. The agreement will prevent coal mining and oil and gas development on nearly 400,000 acres in British Columbia.
The Taku River Tlingit First Nation recently signed historic agreements with the British Columbian government establishing land protection measures and shared management responsibility for their ancestral lands. The Wˇoshtin Wudidaa (Flowing Together) Land Use Plan protects more than seven million acres from commercial logging and designates over two million acres as First Nation Conservancy Parks. In addition, the Taku River Tlingit and provincial government have agreed to a joint governing process to guide future resource-related decisions. The Brainerd Foundation was an early investor in efforts to lay the groundwork for the Taku land use plan.