On April 16, ELAW published an ELAW Spotlight that contained incorrect information.  We have removed that blog post and we post a corrected version below.

An environmental lawyer in Turkey, Yakup Okumusoglu, challenged the EIA of a coal fired power plant called Zetes.  Due to the great efforts of Mr. Okumusoglu, a judge issued an interim injunction against the plant.  ELAW was in error not mentioning his name in our earlier post and in mentioning others.

Mr. Okumusoglu informs us that this is only a small step, however, and the threats are immense since there are a total of 9 coal fired power plants planned.  Three coal fired power plants are already in operation in the region of Turkey near the city of Zonguldak along the Black Sea, which has deposits of anthracite coal.  Five more power plants are going through an environmental assessment (EIA) process, in addition to the Zetes plant which Yakup already challenged.  These plants will use even more coal than is available in the region (about 40,000 tons of coal per day production).  Therefore, these plants will lead to importing coal from elsewhere to this beautiful area of the Black Sea.

ELAW apologizes to everyone involved for its earlier mistakes and congratulates Mr. Okumusoglu and the local citizens in the Zonguldak region of Turkey for this important interim victory in their fight against these destructive projects.

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Dr. James Hansen

Dr. James Hansen

Dr. James Hansen is one of the world’s most prominent climate scientists calling for urgent action to avert catastrophic global warming. Last week, he announced that, at age 72, he is retiring from his position as Director of the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies to devote more time to activism to limit greenhouse gases.  Dr. Hansen’s decision to devote his efforts to full-time activism was cause for me to reflect on my meeting with Dr. Hansen in 2010 and ELAW’s role in averting catastrophic global warming.

I had the good fortune of meeting Dr. Hansen when introducing him at a conference here in Eugene to educate public interest lawyers in the U.S. and around the world about using legal tools, such as an extension of the Public Trust Doctrine, to induce courts to compel governments to take stronger action to avert climate change.  At the end of the conference, I asked Dr. Hansen the following question: If lawyers are successful in convincing courts that they have a duty to compel their governments to take stronger action on climate change, then what actions should the lawyers be asking for?  After thinking for a while, Dr. Hansen said two things are needed: 1) a price on carbon emissions high enough to change the way countries generate energy; and 2) a ban on new coal-fired power plants.

I’m happy that we are working hard with our partners around the world to halt the construction of ill-conceived coal-fired power plants. These plants are bad for the global climate and bad for the surrounding communities, which suffer the greatest harm from dirty coal.  Our partners have recently challenged coal-fired power plants in countries such as India, the Philippines, Mongolia, and Bangladesh. ELAW is helping  partners make the case why coal-fired  power plants should not be built, including information about the external costs of carbon dioxide emissions.  We are providing guidance on how our partners can uncover serious flaws in the Environmental Impact Assessments of proposed coal-fired power plants.

Grassroots lawyers are winning victories for communities and for the climate.   The National Green Tribunal in India has halted construction of multiple coal-fired power plants along the coast of Tamil Nadu.  

We see hope in these victories and we are eager to do all we can to protect communities and the global climate.

Mark Chernaik
Staff Scientist