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The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has fallen far behind in one of its most important responsibilities: to protect the American public from toxic air pollutants. The New York Times recently reported on a new study from the agency's Inspector General which found that the EPA is currently violating federal law by failing to put these protections in place.

Under the federal Toxics Substances Control Act, chemical manufacturers are required to submit health and safety studies to the EPA. Other federal law requires manufacturers of the oil dispersants being used by BP to submit data on the toxicity and effectiveness of the dispersants.

Earthjustice went to court today representing the Gulf Restoration Network and the Florida Wildlife Federation to get that information.

I used to love the taste of Filet ‘O Fish sandwiches. That scrumptious tartar sauce and the delectable white fish flakiness coupled with deep fried crunchiness—and let's not forget the chewy bun. Oh so yum.

But then I noticed that the fish started tasting a little differently. Turns out McDonald’s used to only use North Atlantic cod for its sandwiches but had to change to a different supplier in the late 1980’s after cod-fishing grounds became so overfished. Now the sandwiches are made from a motley mix of five different whitefish species.

I wondered what was up when this press release popped up in my in box. It's head reads "Bottled Water Companies Applaud Virginia Governor for Reversing Ban on Commonwealth’s Purchase of Bottled Water for Official Functions," and goes on to outline how many people are employed in the bottled water industry in the commonwealth.

Many studies recently have indicated convincingly that tap water in most places is as safe as and tastes every bit as good as bottled water, and the number of plastic water bottles thrown away each year is simply staggering—upwards of thirty billion bottles a year in the U.S. alone. My guru on all things water is Peter Gleick of the Pacific Institute. His recent book, Bottled and Sold, lays it all out in simple and compelling terms. Putting water in plastic bottles creates jobs, sure, and enriches the people behind the International Bottled Water Association. But mining and burning coal creates jobs, as does cleaning up oil spills. Job creation is important, but the kind of jobs created is pretty important as well.

Four mothers from the Seattle area will Climb Against Coal this weekend.

Their voyage up Washington's iconic Mt. Rainier will be a protest of sorts to call for the closing of the TransAlta coal plant by 2015.

TransAlta is the state's largest single source carbon dioxide emissions. Besides global warming pollution, the plant also emits toxic mercury that fall directly on Rainier's snowfields which feed the entire Puget Sound watershed.

If you live in the Seattle area, please join us in send off celebration on Wednesday, July 14 from 5:00-7:00pm at Ella Bailey Park, 2601 W Smith St, Seattle (Magnolia neighborhood).

Click here for a YouTube introduction to the moms who are climbing for a greener future, or meet Genevieve below:

Earthjustice wishes these brave souls a safe and inspiring climb.

The Obama administration, having been thwarted in its attempts to declare a six-month moratorium on new deepwater wells in the Gulf of Mexico yesterday issued a new moratorium order, citing new information on the causes of the recent well blowout and other matters. According to a question-and-answer news release from the department:

"What are the differences between the May 28 deepwater drilling moratorium and the new deepwater drilling suspension?

Wes Jackson, a plain-spoken Kansan, has been preaching agriculture reform for at least 30 years—and not only preaching but also doing ground-breaking (pardon) research at his Land Institute near Salina. Wes's basic observation is that a system such as ours, heavily reliant on wheat and corn and other grains, which requires plowing and starting from seed every year, needs fixing. It requires heavy doses of pesticides, which contaminate water and sicken field workers. It squanders topsoil, losing it to erosion and the wind.

New Spill Total Estimate
Government estimates released today now put the total oil leaked into the Gulf of Mexico at somewhere between 89 million and 176 million gallons. Seems like a pretty large range to us. For comparison, and to give you perspective on how big this environmental disaster has become, the Exxon Valdez spilled just 11 million gallons into Prince William Sound in Alaska.

New Cap Being Lowered into Place
Over the weekend, a team of robots removed the old cap, cleaned up the site, and prepared for the installation of a new 150,000-pound metal cap over the leaking well. The well may still leak with this new cap, but BP claims they will be able to funnel more oil to ships on the surface.

A permanent fix may still be more than a month off when the relief wells can reach the original well and hopefully plug the hole from the inside with drilling mud and cement.

Most people have heard of Facebook and Twitter, but what about Foursquare? I'm not talking about the playground game that involves bouncing a big ball from one square to the next. Foursquare is a new social networking tool that allows users to check in at specific locations using their mobile phones and broadcast their whereabouts to friends via Facebook or Twitter. Earthjustice is using this tool to engage the public and enlist their help in protecting our environment.

Most uses of Foursquare have centered around its gaming aspect—users compete for the title of "mayor" for the most check-ins at a location and earn little virtual badges of honor—but Earthjustice is turning heads by using Foursquare to help raise money for our legal work.

Every time a user checks in at a designated Earthjustice ad in one of San Francisco's BART train stations, a major donor will donate $10 to help our attorneys protect the environment. It's a simple way to engage with the public using social networking tools, while allowing them to do their part to help our environment.

So far, we've gotten great traction from social media sites and blogs, including several articles on the popular social media site Mashable. See what the buzz is all about by taking a look at our ads!

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About the Earthjustice 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.