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A coal-fired power plant.

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.

(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:

(UPDATE: A memorial for Phillip Berry will be held at 1 p.m., Friday, Oct. 11 at Shiloh Church, 3295 School St., Oakland, CA.)

The Earth has lost one of its greatest defenders, Phillip Berry, a founder of Earthjustice and former president of The Sierra Club. He died early Sunday.

Berry joined the club in 1950 when he was only 13 and the club had but 5,000 members. He came of age along with the environmental movement and played a guiding role as the club grew to its current membership of 2.3 million supporters.

A family of five is seeking asylum in New Zealand because, they say, climate change is making life too dangerous in their low-lying island homeland in the Kiribati islands. They are going to court later this month to argue their case as climate refugees.

New Zealand has twice refused to let the family stay because they aren’t political refugees, the usual reason people seek asylum in other countries.

(Editor's note: What does the federal government shutdown, starting today, mean to you? Tell us in the comments, and check out this news release from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.)

Because of the shutdown of the federal government caused by the lapse in appropriations, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will suspend most programs and operations, including public access to all National Wildlife Refuges and all activities on refuge lands including hunting and fishing.

Blueberries.

Finally. Yesterday—Sept. 30—was the last day that the highly toxic pesticide AZM could be used in the United States. This pesticide, originally developed as a nerve gas, has been poisoning people, particularly farmworkers, and insects for decades.

AZM disrupts the nervous system and causes a range of temporarily debilitating responses—splitting headache, nausea, vomiting, uncontrollable sweats, blurry vision, dizziness, unconsciousness—and even such grave long-term effects as paralysis, and death.

We're making progress in ending America's dependence on coal thanks to the work of Earthjustice and others to prevent the construction of new coal plants and hold existing coal plants to more stringent environmental standards. Now, hoping to shore up its bottom line, Big Coal is increasingly looking to ships millions of tons of U.S. coal to Asia instead.

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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.