unEARTHED, the Earthjustice Blog

unEARTHED. The Earthjustice Blog

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Everyone has The Right To Breathe clean air. Watch a video featuring Earthjustice Attorney Jim Pew and two Pennsylvanians—Marti Blake and Martin Garrigan—who know firsthand what it means to live in the shadow of a coal plant's smokestack, breathing in daily lungfuls of toxic air for more than two decades.

Coal Ash Contaminates Our Lives. Coal ash is the hazardous waste that remains after coal is burned. Dumped into unlined ponds or mines, the toxins readily leach into drinking water supplies. Watch the video above and take action to support federally enforceable safeguards for coal ash disposal.

ABOUT EARTHJUSTICE'S BLOG

unEARTHED is a forum for the voices and stories of the people behind Earthjustice's work. The views and opinions expressed in this blog do not necessarily represent the opinion or position of Earthjustice or its board, clients, or funders.

Learn more about Earthjustice.

View Doug Pflugh's blog posts
18 October 2013, 1:37 PM
Action prevents development leases in Utah's red rock country
Delicate Arch in Arches National Park, Utah. The park is known for its impressive geological wonders. (Darren J. Bradley / Shutterstock)

It is rewarding to successfully wrap-up a case. This can be especially true when our work protects special places, preserving them for future generations. It is a pleasure to be able to point at a map and say, “Those are the places that were saved.”

149 Comments   /   Read more >>
View Terry Winckler's blog posts
18 October 2013, 1:14 PM
Industry falls short in challenges over health and car/truck emissions
The Supreme Court building. (Architect of the Capitol)

This week the U.S. Supreme Court rebuffed industry by refusing to hear challenges to the Environmental Protection Agency’s finding that carbon dioxide and other climate change pollutants endanger our health. The court also rejected attacks on carbon pollution limits for cars and trucks – limits that respond to the court’s 2007 ruling in Massachusetts v. EPA, and are important parts of the agency’s efforts to curb such pollution under the Clean Air Act.

The court’s action also provides a solid footing for future EPA action to set standards for other major sources of climate change pollution like power plants, refineries, and oil and gas operations. A 2011 Supreme Court ruling confirmed EPA's authority to set such standards.

12 Comments   /   Read more >>
View Andrea Delgado's blog posts
18 October 2013, 9:18 AM
Congress and the White House reach bipartisan budget compromise

On Wednesday night, with less than two hours before the country defaulted on its debts, Congress ended the standoff that shut the government down for 16 days, kept countless federal workers without work or pay, and left anyone watching disheartened by partisan antics. In the end, it amounted to Congress deciding to do its job and allowing others to do the same.

Budget compromise vote count. (Source: NYT)

Source: New York Times. See the Senate and House vote breakdown

Did the extreme right in Congress get what they wanted out of this theater and was it worth holding workers’ and families’ budgets hostage and taking us to the brink of default? The House had prepared a wish list of deeply harmful energy, environment and public health policy riders that got sidelined by its attack on Obamacare.

2 Comments   /   Read more >>
View Kari Birdseye's blog posts
16 October 2013, 3:38 PM
As wild bison return to the plains, ranchers target them as livestock
Newborn wild bison at Ft. Peck in the spring of 2012. (Bill Campbell)

Now that the court battles have been won and the wild bison are back on tribal reservations, the anti-bison interests are at it again.

The latest tactic is to get a Montana court to declare that the transplanted bison are “livestock” instead of “wildlife” under state law if they leave the reservations and roam on to public or private lands. Not only would this require treating roaming wild bison just the same as stray cattle, but it would likely put up a major roadblock to additional bison restorations in the future, as wildlife managers would have no authority to transplant animals classified as “livestock” under the law.

Earthjustice filed a brief today in response to this new effort to prevent bison restoration.

9 Comments   /   Read more >>
View Brian Smith's blog posts
14 October 2013, 3:11 PM
Court decision helps keep Caribbean coral reefs alive
Parrotfish are being fished to dangerously low levels. (NPS)

If you tried to invent the perfect caretaker for the Caribbean’s fragile coral reefs, it would be hard to top what nature already has created—the parrotfish.

And thanks to a court victory this week, these strikingly colored butlers of the sea will get help in carrying out their mission of removing remove algae that can smother and kill coral reefs.

1 Comment   /   Read more >>
View Abigail Dillen's blog posts
14 October 2013, 2:18 PM
Strong power plant carbon limits are critical for tackling climate change
EPA is now taking the next step to control pollution from new power plants. (Calin Tatu / Shutterstock)

This op-ed originally ran on October 11, 2013, on LiveScience's Expert Voices: Op-Ed & Insights.

The latest report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change cements the urgency for U.S. leaders to move boldly and quickly on climate change, and the most logical place to start is the nation's fleet of power plants.

Recently, when the Environmental Protection Agency announced a proposal to limit carbon pollution from new power plants, groups involved with climate change cheered the announcement. Cleaning up power plants is an essential first step to addressing climate change and its effects, from superstorms to catastrophic fire seasons. Power plants are by far the biggest carbon polluters in the country, accounting for 40 percent of U.S. carbon dioxide emissions. There is no excuse for building any new, dirty plants without carbon pollution controls.

1 Comment   /   Read more >>
View Sarah Burt's blog posts
14 October 2013, 8:16 AM
"It scares me to think that more coal will be exported from this facility."
Coal dust and soot coats Fox's property inside and out. (Chesapeake Climate Action Network)

(This is the third in a four-part series profiling communities that could be seriously impacted by increased toxic air and water pollution resulting from the federal government’s financing of the export of Appalachian coal to Asia.)

This week, we meet Margaret Fox who lives near the CSX coal export and processing facility at the Port of Baltimore.

This is her story:

View Trip Van Noppen's blog posts
10 October 2013, 11:42 AM
For our economy and communities, we must live by the budget
Mountaintop removal mining is devastating communities in Appalachia. The drive to drill and mine anywhere, by whatever extreme means, is a disastrous substitute for a coherent American energy policy. (Chris Jordan-Bloch)

The following blog post by Trip Van Noppen originally ran on the Huffington Post on October 8, 2013.

The most damning and decisive report yet on humankind's contribution to climate change was delivered by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change little more than a week ago. The report, the most precise yet thanks to advances in scientific monitoring, confirms that climate change impacts are outpacing previous projections for ocean warming, the rate of glacial ice melt in the arctic, and sea level rise. But the biggest takeaway of the report is the unprecedented step it takes in setting a carbon budget.

20 Comments   /   Read more >>
View Raviya Ismail's blog posts
10 October 2013, 11:32 AM
Health issues growing as wood furnaces become more commonplace
Outdoor wood furnaces for sale in Delaware. (Samuel Houchins)

Many Americans are looking to escape high heating bills and have found what seems to be the perfect solution: outdoor wood boilers. Commonplace now along rural roads, they look like sheds with chimneys on top, and circulate water into homes for heating systems or hot water.

But they aren't as innocuous as they may look. Which is why Earthjustice, on behalf of several health and environmental groups, filed a lawsuit Wednesday over the EPA’s failure to update standards for these units. But we aren't the only ones crying foul. Filing a similar complaint were the states of New York, Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts, Oregon, Rhode Island, and Vermont and the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency.

The issue in a nutshell: these units emit high volumes of particulate matter (which can lodge deep within the lungs causing serious cardiovascular and respiratory harm) carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides, volatile organic compounds, hazardous air pollutants and carcinogens. We know all these chemicals are toxic soup for our lungs and health. And EPA’s failure to update the standards means that homeowners install thousands of new wood-burning boilers, furnaces and stoves each year that produce far more dangerous air pollution than cleaner units would.

View Sarah Burt's blog posts
07 October 2013, 8:10 AM
Dust and soot become part of the air her family breathes
Desiree and her dog in their backyard, as a train rumbles past on tracks less than a hundred feet from her home. (Chesapeake Climate Action Network)

(This is the second in a four-part series profiling communities that could be seriously impacted by increased toxic air and water pollution resulting from the federal government’s financing of the export of Appalachian coal to Asia.)

This week we meet Desiree Bullard,  who lives in Cumberland, Maryland, along rail lines that are experiencing increased traffic from open-topped train cars full of Appalachian coal heading to the Port of Baltimore for export.

This is her story: