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Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer is known for firing on all cylinders—described by those who know him as having the stamina of the Energizer Bunny. Lately, he's turned his attention to the fact that the gas drilling industry is at New York's doorstep, clamoring for access to underground reserves and demanding the right to blast millions of gallons of chemically-treated water into the earth to extract the gas. We caught up with Borough President Stringer and asked him a few questions about his round-the-clock work on this pressing environmental concern.

Bill McKibben, founder of the 350.org campaign, took to the pages of the latest Mother Jones to offer a great primer on the Copenhagen climate conference. McKibben's article is clear: the world needs to stabilize carbon dioxide in the atmosphere at 350 parts-per-million—the threshold of life on planet earth as we know it, according to scientists like James Hansen.

Folks living in the Gulf Coast—and near stinky PVC plants—rejoice! Earthjustice has reached a settlement agreement to have the EPA begin regulating toxins coming from these plants, which are responsible for pumping approximately 500,000 pounds of vinyl chloride—a known human carcinogen—and other toxins into the air. In spite of the documented effects of these cancer-causing chemicals, the PVC industry's air emissions have remained largely unregulated for decades.

How much sense does it make for your tax dollars to underwrite home loans for new homes in a place with inadequate water supplies, say like out in a desert? The realtors love it, but when the new homes drill another well for water, nearby rivers disappear undergound.

At least that's what's happened to the San Pedro River in south central Arizona. The San Pedro is one of the last free-flowing rivers in the desert southwest. The river is a lush ribbon attracting all manner of southwest wildlife, and is a major overwintering spot for migratory birds, but all this is threatened by a real estate boom. Earthjustice sued to stop government lending that was pushing ever more home construction—until builders come up with a water source that won't kill the river. So far, the builders have failed, which is why Earthjustice attorney McCrystie Adams will be back in federal court this week, arguing to protect the unique ecosystem and wildlife of the San Pedro River.

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.

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.

 

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.

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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.