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 David Guest's blog posts
08 August 2013, 10:58 AM
EPA turns back on stopping killer goo that chokes waterways, coastline
Thousands of residents gathered in Stuart, FL to protest the government's coddling of polluters. (Justin Parsons)

Right now, in the prime-time of summer fishing, surfing, and swimming season, health officials in one of the prettiest places in southeast Florida are warning people not to touch the water because it poses a dangerous health risk.

A massive toxic algae outbreak along the Atlantic coast, north of Palm Beach, is turning the Indian River Lagoon and the St. Lucie Rivers sci-fi green. This is one of the most biologically productive parts of South Florida, and one of the most popular for water sports.

It’s also the same place where hundreds of manatees, birds, fish and dolphins have been washing up dead since last winter and spring. A New York Times article today dealt with many of these same issues. Thousands of fed-up local residents are taking to the streets in protest. On man carried a sign which said it all:

“No One Wants Sewer Front Property.”

As this crisis unfolds, what is the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency doing? Fighting us in federal court!

3 Comments   /   Read more >>
View Terry Winckler's blog posts
02 August 2013, 3:49 PM
Former EPA chiefs make stunning case to support Obama's plan
(NASA)

The Republican Party has a number of outspoken climate change deniers; so, it was a relief to open today's New York Times and read this headline: "A Republican Case for Climate Action."

I couldn't read the accompanying op-ed fast enough. Written by four former EPA administrators under Republican presidents, the article immediately said this:

We served Republican presidents, but we have a message that transcends political affiliation: the United States must move now on substantive steps to curb climate change, at home and internationally. There is no longer any credible scientific debate about the basic facts …

View Brian Smith's blog posts
02 August 2013, 1:07 PM
Earthjustice files suit to answer that question
Sea otters face many obstacles in the swim to recovery.  (Steve Lonhart / NOAA)

Should sea otters be allowed to repopulate Southern California?

Seems like a strange question, right?

When a highly imperiled species starts to recover in its native habitat, we should all be grateful and welcome them back. This has certainly been the story of the American bald eagle.

First off, let’s establish that these guys are undeniably cute. Did you know otters hold hands while they sleep so as not to be swept away from their loved ones?

And they’re not just adorable. They are also key to the health of California’s kelp forests and the many other marine critters—including shellfish and finfish—that depend on kelp forest habitat.

But being a cute keystone predator hasn’t protected the sea otter. Consider the history.

1 Comment   /   Read more >>
View Jessica Hodge's blog posts
02 August 2013, 12:28 PM
Partial victory leaves millions breathing dirty air
Overwhelming evidence shows that the current ozone standard does not protect children, the elderly and sensitive populations. (Chris Jordan-Bloch / Earthjustice)

The fight to protect communities from the increasingly disturbing effects of ozone pollution rages on. Just last week a federal appeals court gave us a partial victory when it ruled Bush’s 2008 ozone secondary, public welfare standard did not demonstrate how it would protect forests, crops and vegetation from ozone pollution. Unfortunately they also chose to defer to the EPA on the health standard, leaving millions breathing dirty air.

Mississippi and polluting industries had joined forces to claim the 2008 standard was too strict, while Earthjustice, public health groups and numerous states argued the standard was too weak. The court responded that:

[U]nlike Goldilocks, the court cannot demand that the EPA get things just right.

Well, we can.

View Raviya Ismail's blog posts
01 August 2013, 2:03 PM
Among them, specific protections to most vulnerable populations
Sen. Boxer chairs the Senate EPW Committee.

Yes, there are tons of chemicals we as Americans are exposed to on a daily basis that are dangerous and harmful to our health. Thankfully, some elected officials understand this concern.

Wednesday, after she convened a hearing in the Environment and Public Works Committee, Chairman Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) said:

Now that we have concluded our in-depth hearing, it is very clear that certain principles must be the center piece of any toxic chemical reform bill moving forward.

The hearing discussed various legislative fixes to the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), including the Chemical Safety Improvement Act of 2013, a bipartisan bill introduced by Senators David Vitter (R-LA) and the late Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ). While Earthjustice applauded the monumental introduction of the Chemical Safety Improvement Act, we also stated that we couldn’t support it unless critical clarifications and changes are adopted.

View Kathleen Sutcliffe's blog posts
01 August 2013, 11:44 AM
Whatever happened to "sticks and stones"?
Company lawyers have said they intend to enforce a lifetime gag order on a 7- and 10-year-old. (Rebecca Barray)

According to just-released transcripts in a fracking industry secrecy case, the lawyer for the gas company said the company intended to enforce a lifetime gag order on a 7- and 10-year-old, preventing them from ever talking about Marcellus Shale or fracking.

Independent legal experts interviewed by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette are shaking their heads, saying they’ve never seen a gag order like this apply to children.

The lawyer’s statement was revealed in previously sealed court transcripts, released yesterday after a lawsuit brought by the Post-Gazette. Earthjustice submitted an amicus brief in the case on behalf of doctors, scientists and researchers.

View Liz Judge's blog posts
01 August 2013, 9:20 AM
Oil giant takes out self-pitying ads, plays the victim

Recently the oil giant BP placed full-page ads* in The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal pitying itself as the real victim in the aftermath of the Gulf Spill. BP claims it is being targeted by “unscrupulous trial lawyers” representing “thousands of claimants that suffered no losses” that “smell big bucks and want a piece of the action.”

It’s no surprise that the fifth largest company in the world, which raked in $388 billion in 2012 alone, is so out of touch with Gulf residents. Here’s the people’s side of the story since they don’t have millions of dollars to buy full page ads.*

View Ben Barron's blog posts
29 July 2013, 9:49 AM
Or why environmental law depends on anthropocentrism

The idea that humans should come first when it comes to our relationship with the natural world traces back to the roots of western culture. For example, in Genesis 1:26, God orders that mankind will “have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth.” According to that train of thought, we are the stewards of the planet. The earth belongs to us. It is ours to till and to keep—and to exploit, if we wish. There is a name for this kind of thinking: it’s called anthropocentrism. Humans at the center.

As the field of environmental law has developed and expanded, anthropocentrism has remained at its core. Since the first case Earthjustice ever argued, Sierra Club v. Morton, the key issue has been whether lawyers have “standing” to represent earth’s threatened species and spaces. To have standing, Earthjustice must represent a human client that has suffered or will suffer an “injury in fact” because of pollution, species extinction, or any other threat to the planet’s wellbeing.

View Lisa Evans's blog posts
24 July 2013, 9:26 AM
McKinley's shameless coal ash bill is worse than ever
Residents of Asheville, NC have seen their waterways polluted by coal ash. (Watch video »)

This week the House will vote on the “Coal Residuals Reuse and Management Act of 2013” (HR 2218) sponsored by Rep. David McKinley (R-WV). The bill ruthlessly guts longstanding public health and environmental protections of the nation’s decades-old statute protecting communities from solid and hazardous waste disposal. This shameless industry giveaway creates a giant loophole for the toxic waste generated by coal-fired power plants.

This is the fifth time since 2011 the House will vote on a McKinley abomination that allows the nation’s second largest industrial waste stream to escape federal safeguards. Enough toxic coal ash is produced each year to fill a freight train that would stretch from the North to the South Poles—waste that is filled with toxic chemicals like arsenic, chromium, lead and mercury.

This latest iteration is the most deadly. Among other atrocities, it allows leaking coal ash impoundments to operate indefinitely—even if they are gushing toxic chemicals into aquifers; it limits EPA authority to take over state programs—even if those programs are failing to protect human health; and it potentially blocks all future EPA rules concerning coal ash—including EPA’s recently proposed Clean Water Act rule addressing toxic wastewater from coal plants.

1 Comment   /   Read more >>
View Marty Hayden's blog posts
19 July 2013, 2:59 PM
Gina McCarthy chosen to protect our air, land, water
Gina McCarthy is our nation's new EPA Administrator. (EPA)

The partisan antics of a few in the Senate finally halted to allow confirmation of a new and well-qualified Administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Gina McCarthy.

This Senate confirmation means that, finally, after months of political obstruction by the Congressional friends of big polluters, we have a new administrator to deliver the public health and environmental protections that we all deserve. And, boy, does she have her work cut out.

Thank you for the phone calls you made to push for this confirmation and the letters you wrote to back these polluter cronies down off their agenda to block any and all progress in cleaning up our nation’s energy landscape, our waters, our air, and combating climate change.

4 Comments   /   Read more >>