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 Kathleen Sutcliffe's blog posts
03 November 2009, 4:13 PM
Not if we have anything to say about it
A crop duster at work spraying pesticides

Today Earthjustice lined up alongside family farmers, consumers, farmworkers, fishermen, anti-hunger groups and a host of others in opposing the administration's selection of a pesticide industry insider to serve as our country's chief agricultural trade negotiator.

Deciding to oppose a nominee is not a decision we take lightly. But in this case it was the right thing to do.

When it comes to pesticides and GMOs, Islam Siddiqui has been on the wrong side of the issues too many times. His current gig—as vice president for science and regulatory affairs at CropLife America—speaks volumes. CropLife America is the agribusiness trade association whose members include Monsanto, Syngenta, DuPont and Dow. It's also shorthand for how far we've strayed from sustainable agriculture practices. Putting Siddiqui at the helm certainly won't get us back on course.

View Brian Smith's blog posts
03 November 2009, 2:05 PM
Tough slogging this week in both cities

At this week's U.N. climate talks in Barcelona, a big showdown is brewing between the rich countries and the Global South. The dispute boils down to whether the rich countries ("Annex 1 countries" including the USA) have made strong enough commitments heading into Copenhagen.

If the Annex 1 countries, who have profited from industrial pollution for decades, have missed their Kyoto targets, how can they now demand low-income nations dramatically reduce their emissions? Here's more on that issue.

The dispute led to a brief walkout. But, African nations are now back at the table.

Meanwhile, back at home…

2 Comments   /   Read more >>
View Bill Karpowicz's blog posts
03 November 2009, 1:08 PM
After NY premiere, coal documentary screens in Chicago, LA

Amid the hoopla for such mainstream movies as "Where The Wild Things Are" last week, another film opened in New York with its own fervent following. Nearly 1,000 people packed a premiere screening of "Coal Country," a documentary exposing the brutal impacts of mountaintop removal coal mining.

Co-hosted by Earthjustice and the Sierra Club, the screening was followed by a concert featuring Kathy Mattea, The Klezmatics, Jean Ritchie, Diana Jones and a surprise appearance by Justin Townes Earle. Two more screenings are scheduled for this month: Nov. 10 in Chicago, and Nov. 12 in Los Angeles. To make reservations and to find out more about mountaintop removal, go to www.earthjustice.org/mtr.

 

View Jared Saylor's blog posts
03 November 2009, 8:59 AM
When is hazardous coal ash not considered hazardous?
The devastation of the TVA spill in Tennessee, December 2008. Photo: United Mountain Defense

When is hazardous coal ash not considered hazardous? According to the Environmental Protection Agency, when you dump it in a landfill as opposed to a pond. This approach is currently being floated by the EPA in its plans to regulate coal ash later this year. Coal ash—the waste left over after coal is burned at coal-fired power plants—is full of dangerously high levels of arsenic, lead, mercury, cadmium and other hazardous metals. Cancer rates skyrocket near coal ash dumps that have leaked into drinking water supplies.

As the one-year anniversary of the Kingston coal ash spill approaches (December 22), the EPA has been working hard to prepare the first ever federal regulations of coal ash. But newspapers are reporting that the Government Accountability Office issued a report last week that indicates EPA's plans aren’t the strongest safeguards against this toxic threat.

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View Sam Edmondson's blog posts
02 November 2009, 1:13 PM
Former VP offers up his opinion on an Obama appearance in Copenhagen

Speculation abounds as to whether President Barack Obama will travel to Copenhagen this December to personally participate in international global warming negotiations, though many have expressed doubt about the likelihood (and value) of an Obama appearance without legislation from Congress in his back pocket.

Well, today, former veep and contrarian of conventional wisdom Al Gore told the German weekly magazine, Der Spiegel that he expects President Obama will indeed be there: "He hasn't told me that he will, and no one representing him has told me that he will. But I see the calendar, I see unfolding of events and I feel certain he will go."

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View Shirley Hao's blog posts
30 October 2009, 4:50 PM
First in a series of Friday posts on the fascinating natural world around us
Gastropod meets Leucochloridium paradoxum parasite. The snail's appendages have seen better days. Photo: Thomas Hahmann

When Bugs Go Bad—Really Bad. Talk about uncomfortable relationships: Scientific American brings us up close and personal with several hair-raising tales of parasites in the animal kingdom, including a flatworm that multiplies inside snails. Once the worms are ready to trade up on a host:

"[They] push up into the snail's tentacles, making them swell and squirm, mimicking the action of bugs that birds like to eat. As the snail crawls, blindly, into the sunlight, a passing bird is likely to swoop down to snatch a tasty tentacle or two."

The worms return to terra firma to infect other unsuspecting gastropods courtesy of bird droppings.

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View Terry Winckler's blog posts
30 October 2009, 3:19 PM
Wealthy, big polluters still on sidelines as Copenhagen approaches

As the world's richest and largest polluters—the U.S. and China—remain ambigous about taking significant climate change action, the world's lowest income contributors are getting support to clean up their acts.

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View Sam Edmondson's blog posts
28 October 2009, 4:51 PM
Mountaintop removal mining begins at Coal River Mountain
Coal River Mountain as seen from nearby Kayford Mountain. Photo: Coal River Mountain Watch.

The halls of Congress are echoing this week with debate over proposed legislation to fight global warming—a fight that can't be won without addressing a primary cause of global warming: our dependence on coal. As the rumpus goes on there, a real-life battle between coal and the future of American energy has reached a pivotal moment in Appalachia.

In an effort to protect their familial homes and water resources, residents of West Virginia's Coal River Valley have long fought to prevent Coal River Mountain from being blown apart for the coal beneath it. Local groups like Coal River Mountain Watch, an Earthjustice client, have argued compellingly that the mountain is an ideal site for a wind power facility, which could make the region a model for sustainable, green economic growth.

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View Tom Turner's blog posts
28 October 2009, 10:57 AM
Nice to see solar, but not the overgrazing and dam

A heartening sight in my old Peace Corps village (in Turkey) was all the solar water heaters on top of the houses. It only makes sense, but then sensible things don't always prevail. Fritz Schumacher, coiner of the term 'appropriate technology' would be proud.

Less attractive was a trip up to the yayla—high-mountain pasture—where the villagers take their livestock to graze in the summer months. When I lived here and heard about the yayla I pictured the Sound of Music—lush green alpine meadows, leiderhosen and all that—but these pastures have been badly overgrazed and signs of erosion are everywhere. It's still wild and beautiful this time of year with most of the koyun (sheep) and inek (cattle) gone, but not the paradise I had thought.

Finally, on the way to an old abandoned monastery, we passed the site of a brand-new hydroelectric dam that will wipe out miles of trout streams, several houses, even a mosque. Think about that for a minute.

View Terry Winckler's blog posts
27 October 2009, 3:28 PM
How much is Obama doing to reverse Bush's toxic tide?

Earthjustice has begun tracking the Obama administration's progress in rolling back eight years of environmental assault by the Bush administration. We've created a chart that grades President Barack Obama on how well he's done. After reading the chart, come back to this blog post and provide your own comments. We'll be updating the report card as actions warrant.