Chuitna Coal Mine Shelved

Chuitna Coal Mine Shelved

After nearly a decade of dedicated advocacy by thousands of Alaskans in support of healthy fisheries, cultural preservation, and community sustainability, the company behind what would have been the largest strip mine in Alaska has suspended its pursuit of permitting. Thousands of Alaskans have spoken out against this project that would have traded wild salmon for low-grade coal. The Brainerd Foundation supported the work of Cook Inletkeeper and the Alaska Center on this issue.

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Court orders more water for endangered salmon

Court orders more water for endangered salmon

A federal court has ruled that operators at 8 federal dams on the Columbia and Snake rivers must increase water releases over spillways to improve survival rates for juvenile salmon migrating to the ocean starting in 2018. The judge found that current operation is causing continued irreparable harm to imperiled salmon and steelhead and that increased spill indisputably provides safer passage for juvenile salmon navigating the heavily dammed Columbia-Snake River Basin. The Brainerd Foundation supports the work of Earthjustice on this issue.

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Gateway abandons Cherry Point coal plans

Gateway abandons Cherry Point coal plans

Backers of the Gateway Pacific Terminal withdrew their applications to build a 48-million-ton-per-year coal export terminal at Cherry Point, Washington. This conclusive victory comes after the Army Corps of Engineers acknowledged that the coal terminal would violate the Lummi Nation's treaty-protected fishing rights. The Brainerd Foundation has supported the work of Climate Solutions and Washington Environmental Council on this issue.

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Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument Expanded

Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument Expanded

President Obama announced the expansion of the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument in southern Oregon. The expansion adds 48,000 acres to the current 65,000 acres. The area is an extremely biologically rich region where the Cascade, Great Basin, and Coast Range-Klamath ecosystems come together. Brainerd grantee Soda Mountain Wilderness Council has worked tirelessly for decades to protect this unique place.

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Interior Dept. protects globally-unique SW Oregon wildlands from mining.

Interior Dept. protects globally-unique SW Oregon wildlands from mining.

Two Southwest Oregon watersheds known for their wild salmon and steelhead, clean waters, natural and recreational resources, have received 20 years of protection from new hard rock mining projects. The protected area is a part of a vast, wild, largely roadless and globally unique environment bordered by the Pacific Ocean that is home to one of the highest concentrations of Wild and Scenic Rivers outside Alaska. The Brainerd Foundation supported American Rivers advocacy on this issue.

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Plans for Washington Coast crude oil export terminal derailed

Plans for Washington Coast crude oil export terminal derailed

The Supreme Court of Washington State has unanimously ruled that plans to locate a rail-fed crude oil export terminal at Hoquiam in Grays Harbor fall under the state's Ocean Resources Management Act. The decision will lead to a full environmental review and will temporarily, if not permanently, halt the project. Brainerd grantees Climate Solutions and Washington Environmental Council have worked hard with the Stand Up to Oil coalition on this issue.

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Washington State rejects proposed coal export terminal

Washington State rejects proposed coal export terminal

The people of Washington have convinced one of the state's most powerful agencies, the Department of Natural Resources, to deny a key approval for the last, largest remaining coal terminal proposal in Longview. The DNR rejected a request to use state-owned land in the Columbia River to build new docks to export coal. Brainerd grantees Climate Solutions, Sightline, and Washington Environmental Council joined the Power Past Coal Coalition to fight for this ruling.

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Obama bans drilling in parts of the Arctic Ocean

Obama bans drilling in parts of the Arctic Ocean

President Barack Obama announced that he is withdrawing most of the Arctic Ocean from future oil and gas leasing under the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act to protect critical habitat from oil spills, to aid the transition to a clean energy future, and to help the United States meet the carbon reduction goals necessary to avert the worst effects of global climate change. Brainerd grantees Earthjustice, the Alaska Wilderness League, and Trustees for Alaska deserve much credit for this win.

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Victory for Standing Rock: easement not granted

Victory for Standing Rock: easement not granted

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announced that it would not be granting an easement under Lake Oahe for the Dakota Access pipeline to cross the Missouri River a half mile upstream of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe reservation. The decision is major victory for the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and all who stood in solidarity over the last few months, including Brainerd grantee Earthjustice.

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Oil and Gas Leases canceled on Blackfeet sacred lands

Oil and Gas Leases canceled on Blackfeet sacred lands

The US Department of the Interior and Devon Energy announced retirement of more than 32,000 acres of oil and gas leases from the Badger-Two Medicine roadless area. The move comes on the heels of a previous lease cancelation by the Department of the Interior, and echoes the call by many that the Badger-Two Medicine region – a vital wildland link connecting the Bob Marshall Wilderness with Glacier National Park, and an indispensable stronghold of Blackfeet culture – should not be industrialized by roads, bridges and drill rigs. Brainerd grantee Earthjustice has worked hard on this issue.

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Gold mining moratorium near Yellowstone National Park

Gold mining moratorium near Yellowstone National Park

The two-year pause on more than 30,000 acres of public land occurred through a proposed mineral withdrawal, which will provide longer-term protection (up to 20 years) if finalized. Although roll-backs of many of the Obama Administration’s conservation achievements are expected under the Trump administration, local advocates for the mineral withdrawal expect it to proceed because of its bi-partisan support and importance to the local economy. Brainerd grantees Earthjustice and National Parks Conservation Association worked hard on this issue.

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Shell Anacortes drops plans for new crude oil-by-rail

Shell Anacortes drops plans for new crude oil-by-rail

In another sign that crude-by-rail is a losing proposition, Shell Puget Sound Refinery in Anacortes today announced that it is dropping its plans to construct a crude-by-rail facility. Originally proposed in 2014, community opposition and legal challenges forced Shell and Skagit County to undertake a full environmental and public health review under the State Environmental Policy Act. That delay, growing local and regional opposition, and uncertain economics contributed to Shell’s decision.

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A precedent-setting ruling for the Bitterroot River

A precedent-setting ruling for the Bitterroot River

In a win for Montana taxpayers, a district court judge has ruled that a rural wastewater discharge permit awarded to a developer was issued illegally. The permit would have set a precedent allowing lower water quality standards for on-site wastewater disposal systems in rural subdivisions not on a municipal wastewater system. This would have created an economic incentive for rural sprawl development and would leave taxpayers to pay for clean-up.

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High Divide stakeholders recognized for groundbreaking work

High Divide stakeholders recognized for groundbreaking work

A recent article in Western Confluence magazine shines the spotlight on several Brainerd grantees, including the Wildlife Conservation Society, the Ruby Valley Conservation District, Headwaters Economics, the Blackfoot Challenge, and People and Carnivores. The author offers an excellent analysis of the absolute necessity of factoring in working lands in wildlife conservation and demonstrates the solutions-based work of ranchers in the High Divide, one of the Brainerd Foundation's place-based focus areas.

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Judge to EPA: protect people from weak water pollution standards

Judge to EPA: protect people from weak water pollution standards

In a win for clean water, a federal judge recently imposed a tight deadline on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to finalize new anti-pollution water quality rules that must ensure fish caught and eaten from Washington State waters are safe for the most vulnerable and exposed populations. Brainerd grantee Earthjustice represented the Washington groups who brought the case.

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Idaho Wilderness safe from mining threat

Idaho Wilderness safe from mining threat

A U.S. District Court has ruled that a USFS decision approving a mining company’s plan to deploy heavy equipment inside the Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness violates the Wilderness Act, the National Forest Management Act, and the National Environmental Policy Act. The case was won by Brainerd Foundation grantee Earthjustice on behalf several groups, including another grantee, the Idaho Conservation League.

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Coal-burning plant to shut down 2 units and clean up pollution

Coal-burning plant to shut down 2 units and clean up pollution

Decades after water contamination problems first started at the Colstrip coal-fired power plant, a court agreement between conservation groups and the facility’s owners will result in far safer disposal of millions of tons of toxic coal ash waste generated by burning coal at the plant. The waste byproduct of burning coal, coal ash contains several known carcinogens and neurotoxins.

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Court rules Alaska coal mining permit terminated

Court rules Alaska coal mining permit terminated

The U.S. District Court has issued a decision protecting the Matanuska Valley from unpermitted coal mining. The Court rejected the Office of Surface Mining’s (OSM) conclusion that a permit for Usibelli’s Wishbone Hill coal mine was valid. This is the final decision in a lawsuit that Brainerd grantee Trustees for Alaska filed last year to protect the Matanuska Valley and its communities from the harmful impacts of coal strip mining.

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Northern Gateway oil pipeline project rejected by court

Northern Gateway oil pipeline project rejected by court

The Canadian Federal Court of Appeal has overturned approval of Enbridge's controversial Northern Gateway project after finding that Ottawa failed to properly consult the First Nations affected by the pipeline. This is considered by many to be the final nail in the coffin for Northern Gateway, as it faces increasing on-the-ground opposition and a federal government promise to keep B.C.'s North Coast tanker free.

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Alaska's Susitna River to remain wild and free-flowing

Alaska's Susitna River to remain wild and free-flowing

Alaska's governor has announced that the state will abandon efforts to put a mega hydroelectric dam on the wild Susitna River. Years of tireless advocacy from the Susitna River Coalition, Trout Unlimited, the Alaska Center, and others, led the overwhelming public opposition campaign. The Susitna, the nation's fourth longest undammed river, is also home to Alaska's fourth largest king salmon run.

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EPA ordered to make polluters pay for Superfund cleanup

EPA ordered to make polluters pay for Superfund cleanup

Hardrock mining, oil, coal, and other industries will finally be required to show they have adequate funds to clean up their hazardous waste, thanks to a U.S. Court of Appeals ruling that forces the EPA to implement a long-standing provision of CERCLA (the "Superfund" law of 1980). Although initiated by Earthjustice on behalf of the Idaho Conservation League and other groups, the effects of this lawsuit will be felt nationwide and help incentivize industry to prevent hazardous waste spills.

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U.S. Army Corps rejects coal export permit to protect tribal fishing rights

U.S. Army Corps rejects coal export permit to protect tribal fishing rights

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has denied permits for the biggest proposed coal export terminal in North America, recognizing that the project would impact the treaty-protected fishing rights of the Lummi Nation. This comes after a five-year struggle by the Lummi Nation, the Power Past Coal coalition, and other allies. Photo courtesy of Alex Garland and the Backbone Campaign.

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Stakeholders agree to remove 4 dams on Klamath River

Stakeholders agree to remove 4 dams on Klamath River

A breakthrough was reached when PacificCorp, a utility that owns four hydroelectric dams on the Klamath River, reached an agreement with the states of Oregon and California, and the U.S. Department of the Interior to remove the four dams by 2020. This is the by-product of an agreement to resolve water-use conflicts between a diverse set of stakeholders including tribal interests, farmers, fishermen, environmental groups, and governments. In its early history, the Brainerd Foundation funded work in the Klamath basin.

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Oregon chooses a coal-free future

Oregon chooses a coal-free future

Oregon recently became the first state to pass legislation to transition off of coal-fired power, which currently makes up 30 percent of the state's energy mix. Thanks to the Clean Electricity and Coal Transition bill, Oregon will transition off of coal-fired power completely by 2030. Growth in clean, renewable energy, such as wind and solar, will replace the coal that will be phased out, effectively doubling Oregon's renewable energy use by 2040 and making it one of the cleanest powered states.

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Idaho hosts nation's first pollution trading project

Idaho hosts nation's first pollution trading project

Brainerd grantee Idaho Conservation League worked for more than a decade to address the issue of phosphorus in the Boise River and was credited by policy leaders at the christening of the Dixie Dam, the nation's first phosphorus pollution trading project, which is demonstrating a new path to cleaner water. ICL worked with the City, EPA, DEQ and others to make what is now an operational river clean up facility a reality.

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Ruling protects Greater Sage-Grouse in Southeastern Oregon

Ruling protects Greater Sage-Grouse in Southeastern Oregon

The U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled that an environmental review by the Bureau of Land Management failed to adequately assess the winter population of Greater Sage-Grouse at a proposed wind power facility that would have been located in dwindling sagebrush habitat on Steens Mountain in southeastern Oregon. The proposal was called "the right idea in the wrong place," as Greater Sage-Grouse need sagebrush year-round for mating, rearing, and food. The Brainerd Foundation supports the work of the Oregon Natural Desert Association to protect the high desert landscapes of Oregon.

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Proposed Montana coal mine plans abandoned

Proposed Montana coal mine plans abandoned

A big coal company has suspended its permit application with the state of Montana for a $600 million coal mine in southeastern Montana. Otter Creek Coal Mine was proposed in 2012 and would have produced about 20 million tons of coal annually over 20 years, according to the state Department of Environmental Quality. The coal company, Arch Coal, filed for bankruptcy in January of 2016.

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Washington community says no to 2 fossil fuel terminals

Washington community says no to 2 fossil fuel terminals

In Washington, the community of Longview and the Stand Up to Oil campaign defeated not one, but two, dangerous and dirty fossil fuel terminal proposals on the Columbia River on the same day. In a unanimous vote, Port of Longview commissioners rejected a proposal by Waterside Energy to build the first oil refinery on the west coast in 25 years. The commissioners also rejected Waterside’s plan for a propane export terminal. (Photo courtesy of Sightline.)

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Drilling leases cancelled in sacred Badger-Two Medicine region

Drilling leases cancelled in sacred Badger-Two Medicine region

Brainerd grantee Earthjustice helped secure the U.S. Department of Interior's cancellation of oil and gas leases in the sacred Badger-Two Medicine region, much to the relief of the Blackfeet Tribe and Montana sportsmen. The site of the Blackfeet creation story, the 130,000-acre area borders Glacier National Park, the Bob Marshall Wilderness Complex and the Blackfeet Indian Reservation. (Photo courtesy of Gene Sentz.)

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New Boulder-White Clouds Wilderness created in Idaho

New Boulder-White Clouds Wilderness created in Idaho

In 2015, more than 270,000 acres of the Boulder-White Clouds Mountains of Idaho were protected as Wilderness, demonstrating the importance of long-term, unrelenting strategies and broad community-based coalitions in such campaigns. The Wilderness bill had the support of Idaho lawmakers, environmentalists, and even motorized groups. (Photo by Roy Luck.)

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Tongass National Forest Roadless Rule exemption overturned for good

Tongass National Forest Roadless Rule exemption overturned for good

The Tongass National Forest, a vast rainforest covering much of southeastern Alaska, will remain wild thanks to a 2015 ruling by the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals and to the tireless work of Brainerd grantee Earthjustice.

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Tyler family in Lemhi Valley protects ranch's salmon habitat

Tyler family in Lemhi Valley protects ranch's salmon habitat

The largest conservation easement that Bonneville Power Administration has ever funded was completed on the Tyler Ranch in the Lemhi Valley of Idaho. The easement includes about 10 miles of the meandering Lemhi River and half a dozen tributaries. This conservation easement has been a top priority for state and federal authorities for years because this stretch of the Lemhi contributes about 60 percent of the river's spawning habitat for threatened salmon and steelhead. The agreement wouldn't have been possible without the hard work of the Tyler family and Brainerd grantee Lemhi Regional Land Trust, which helped broker the deal.

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Legislative wins in Oregon for clean air and healthy kids

Legislative wins in Oregon for clean air and healthy kids

In 2015, Oregon governor Kate Brown signed into law the renewal of the state's Clean Fuels Program, which will guarantee 7 million metric tons of carbon pollution reduction (equivalent to 37,500 railcars of coal), and the Toxic-Free Kids Act, which allows the tracking of hazardous ingredients in children’s products and requires the worst offenders be replaced with safer alternatives. (Photo courtesy of Oregon DEQ.)

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Jumbo Glacier Resort in sensitive habitat hits game-changing setback

Jumbo Glacier Resort in sensitive habitat hits game-changing setback

In the Crown of the Continent, after a 24-year struggle, Glacier Resorts' certificate to build a 6,300-bed ski resort in the heart of the Purcells at Jumbo Creek Valley was deemed expired. Longtime Brainerd grantee Wildsight, supported by Ecojustice, worked tirelessly to protect this critical landscape from irresponsible development. (Photo courtesy of Wildsight.)

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British Columbia's Sacred Headwaters protected from unwise coal development

British Columbia's Sacred Headwaters protected from unwise coal development

Conservation groups in B.C. successfully advocated for the provincial government to remove the near-term threat of coal development in the Sacred Headwaters by buying out privately held licenses there. The area is important to the Tahltan Nation because it is home to the headwaters of three important salmon rivers – the Stikine, Skeena, and Nass. Brainerd funded Organizing for Change to work on this issue.

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North Fork Watershed Protection Act signed into law

In December 2014, the North Fork Watershed Protection Act was approved by the U.S. Senate and sent to President Obama for his signature. The legislation designates 245,000 new acres of Wilderness and shields 430,000 acres along the North Fork of the Flathead River near Glacier National Park in Montana from future mining and drilling. This legislation complements actions taken by the B.C. provincial government to protect lands in the Canadian portion of the Flathead River from energy development. Brainerd grantees supporting this legislation included Headwaters Montana, National Parks Conservation Association, and Trout Unlimited.

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Rocky Mountain Front Heritage Act creates first new Wilderness in Montana in 31 years

In December 2014, the Rocky Mountain Front Heritage Act passed Congress, adding 67,000 acres of new Wilderness to the Bob Marshall Wilderness Complex, creating a 208,000-acre Conservation Management Area where current uses can continue, and directing federal agencies to prioritize noxious weed management on the Front. The Brainerd Foundation supported the work of Montana Wilderness Association, National Parks Conservation Association, and the Wilderness Society in this effort.

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Montana coal-burning power plant closes

Conservationists recently celebrated the closure of the Corette coal burning power plant in Montana, after legal battles that spanned three decades. The 2015 decision to close the plant was ultimately due in part to the 47-year-old plant's inability to meet new mercury pollution standards. Coal power now accounts for just 26 percent of the operating utility's energy supply, down from 48 percent.

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First Nations rights upheld, Peel River Watershed protected

In December 2014, the Yukon Supreme Court ruled in favor of First Nations and the conservation community, overturning a Yukon government decision that would have opened up the 17 million acre Peel River Watershed to mining and resource development. The court decision reiterates the government's responsibility to consult with First Nations on land management plans affecting aboriginal lands and rights. The Brainerd Foundation supported the work of CPAWS and the Yukon Conservation Society in their strong endorsement of First Nations rights and conservation in the Peel Watershed.

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Montana court closes loophole, preventing unrestrained development

In October 2014, a Montana district judge closed a Montana regulatory loophole that allowed developers to drill as many wells as they wanted to provide water to subdivisions, encouraging ill-planned developments and growth in rural areas. The judge's decision will help keep development in check on landscapes that are valuable for wildlife habitat and connectivity. The Brainerd Foundation supported Western Environmental Law Center on this challenge to state water well permit rules.

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B.C. leaders approve a new water sustainability act

A coalition of conservation organizations in B.C. succeeded in securing passage of a new Water Sustainability Act. Described by the Environment Minister as a "historic achievement for British Columbia," the new act replaces its predecessor, enacted 104 years ago when the population of the province was only 350,000. Since then, the population has swelled to 4.6 million.

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