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Time to Applaud the "New" EPA

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View Trip Van Noppen's blog posts
19 March 2009, 12:40 PM

One year ago in this column, I called on Environmental Protection Agency chief Stephen Johnson to resign for letting politics, not science, guide his agency's decisions. Nor was I alone—10,000 EPA employees were in open revolt for the same reason. Johnson was defying the Supreme Court's ruling that his agency should move forward on climate change and was refusing to approve California's forward-looking controls on climate-altering pollution.

Today, I am calling on all Earthjustice supporters to join with me in thanking his successor, Lisa Jackson, for steering the EPA back on course with a string of good decisions, especially her action last week aimed at regulating one of the most toxic side effects of burning coal for power: coal ash.

Coal ash, as you'll recall, became a national story just before Christmas when 1.1 billion gallons of it burst out of a holding pond in Tennessee, flooding more than 300 acres up to 25 feet deep with toxic levels of arsenic, lead, mercury, selenium, and boron. Earthjustice has been working for years to prevent this from happening, but not even this Exxon Valdez-scale disaster moved the Bush EPA to act.

Fortunately, Jackson sees things differently. Only days after getting a letter signed by Earthjustice and 108 other green groups, she has promised to issue proposed coal ash regulations. She will be assisted by draft regulations we wrote and submitted to the EPA about two years ago.

Getting the federal government to take coal ash seriously is a major victory as we push forward with our goal of ending coal's toxic life cycle from how it is mined to how it is used. And we are optimistic about our coal work despite last months disappointing decision by federal judges, allowing the most destructive form of coal mining—mountaintop removal—to continue without regards for its devastating effects on communities and mountain streams. Across the land, there are numerous signs that King Coal is in retreat.

We successfully blunted coal's expansion in Kansas and in Florida, and we are challenging plants proposed in New Mexico, Wyoming and elsewhere. Our legal, policy and public education work has helped fuel a national trend away from coal as evidenced by the 100 or so permits for plants nationwide held up because of growing opposition.

Moreover, public resistance to new coal plants and the promise of tighter federal regulation has led investors to back away from new coal plants, just as the federal government's Rural Utilities Service has.

Now it's time for the new EPA and Congress to make dramatic investments in renewables, conservation and efficiency ... and it's our job to make sure that the coal industry's considerable money and influence and the false hope of "clean coal" don't sidetrack government action.

Amid the vigilance, however, let's not forget to be grateful. Join me in dropping Lisa Jackson a note, thanking her for the good work on coal ash, and encouraging her to keep mending an agency that for the last eight years abandoned its mission and the people and resources it was established to protect.

Thank you for "right action". It is high time!

Thank you, Lisa Jackson for putting things right in the agency I retired from long before the Bush administration came to power. You are off and running in the right direction.
We expected no less. Thank you.

Thank the Good Lord that the EPA is finally doing what it was supposed to do all along -- protecting our natural resources so that all of America's citizens, human and creature alike, will ultimately live healthier and longer lives. May the GOP policies of destruction become a sad memory, never to be resurrected. Thank you EPA!!!

Thank you Lisa,
The State legislators need to be more aggressive with the distribution of coal ash to replace mined limestone. No doubt economics for the strip miners enters into the decisions to use the coal ash vs. mined stone. However "cinder blocks" and road fill have been around a very long time and can economically replace natural stone. The trains are already bringing in coal so let them take ca. 10% back to the distributors of road and concrete building products. Probably only the States can impose better use and regulation. This helps on both sides of the pollution issues, less gravel pits and less stored ash. It also saves the States money.
Darell Engelhaupt

Dear Ms. Jackson,
thank you so much for your work. We most urgently needed new regulations to protect our environment. Keep up the good work.
Jutta Vogelbacher

Thank you so much for your stand on coal ash. It is just one of many things that need action. It is good to see you digging right in.

Good. Dittoes!

Thank you Ms. Lisa Jackson for beginning the task of showing how one person can help undo all the failures of another administration. It's such a relief to see good things happening after 8 years of death and destruction.

You are a breath of fresh air, Ms. Jackson. And we need more clean air around here! Thank you.

thank you so much Ms Lisa Jackson! (:

We have needed you for a very long time. Someone in your position with a brain, a heart a soul & wisdom. Thank you for all you have done & continue to do.

Thanks for working to clean up the mess left by the oil mafia. At last, we have someone to head the EPA who is trying to protect the health of our citizens and the resources of this beautful country. Anita

A heartfelt thank you.

THANK YOU!!!!!!!!!!!

Thank you so much for all your hard work, Lisa Jackson! Keep up the good fight. Don't ever give up for what's right for our Mother Earth! :)

Thank God Bush is gone! Now we can get things done. Thank You, for caring and taking the time to set things right with our planet.

I thank you, my mother thanks you, the whales thank you.

It's high time we have real leadership in the EPA! Thank you for beginning to address the fallout from 8 years of idiotic ideology and utter ignorance of science. We, and future generations will, thank you for your work. Thank you for doing the responsible work that our country deserves from its public officials.


Thank You, Lisa Jackson, for making the EPA accountable again.

What a sigh of relief when Bush left. But there are signs that we still have a lot of work ahead of us. Thanks for caring, preserving, protecting our precious planet!

Thank you, thank you Lisa Jackson for your decision on coal ash. I am 77 years old and have lived in appalachia for 7 years and travelled throughout Kentucky and the upper south. You are our land savior as far as I am concerned. We must not continue to let industry lead us to wound our Mother earth.

Thank you for doing the responsible work that our country deserves from its public officials.

Brava Ms. Lisa Jackson! We, and future generations will, thank you for your work.

Dear Ms. Jackson,
Good work. Now see if anyone in the agency can tell you about some illegal going's on in the previous administration. let's expose bush from every angle!
Joe Benham


I am a resident of Wyoming, a state that has become very addicted to coal mining. We have plenty of wind and sunshine, and I believe these energy sources should replace our dependency on coal and other environmentally destructive methods of mineral extraction, and especially open pit and mountaintop removal (though not so much known in this state, still a major concern).
Thank you for your efforts to truly protect the environment, and please continue to work to appropriately protect the environment, as the title of the agency you head purports to do.
Jeffrey Charles Archer

Thanks for begining to restore confidence in an agency I'd come to think of as a front for the status quo.

Appalachia is being blown, blasted and bulldozed right into 3rd world America, we can't stand anymore of the progress and prosperity thanks to greed.
Wise County Issues

I want to thank you for your efforts to bring the EPA back on course with several good decisions, especially those that were aimed at regulating coal ash. I strongly suggest that we develop industries that can mine the minerals from it and finish with a harmless material. Another hope would be finding ways to make the material become permanently locked into cement used in building highways.


Dear Ms. Jackson:
It's high time we have real leadership in the EPA! Thank you for beginning to address the fallout from 8 years of idiotic ideology and utter ignorance of science. We can only hope that we still have time to address the myriad environmental problems created or exacerbated by 8 years of unelected leadership--he sure wasnt' MY president.
Thank You again!
david j. lafond

Thank you for your efforts to put restrictions on the use of coal.

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