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 Paul Achitoff's blog posts
16 January 2014, 6:41 AM
Consumers fight for protections and labeling
Clouds over a soy field. New GE corn and soy varieties have been engineered to resist the effects of 2,4-D, a component of Agent Orange. (Photo courtesy of Jerry Worster)

This month, Maine became the second state in the nation to require labels on food that contains genetically engineered (GE) ingredients. The state’s decision is part of a growing, nationwide effort to assert the right of consumers to know what they’re eating. Currently, more than 26 states are considering proposals to require labeling of altered foods, including Hawaiʻi, where Earthjustice is pushing for laws requiring labeling of GE products.

Despite support from 9 out of 10 Americans for labeling, the USDA recently made it even more likely that the next generation of GE corn and soy will soon be on the market—unlabeled and without any restriction or oversight whatsoever.

149 Comments   /   Read more >>
View Ted Zukoski's blog posts
14 January 2014, 4:07 PM
Add the Elk River chemical spill to coal's hidden costs
The true price of coal is paid through hospital bills and devastated communities. (Alexan2008 / iStock)

Did we really need another reason not to like coal as an energy source? Ready or not, we have one.

The standard list is already pretty long: Climate change from burning coal in power plants... Coal ash spills... Mountaintop removal and valley fills... Air pollution damaging lungs and polluting lakes... Roadless areas and rangeland bulldozed or blown up.

Now add to the list: chemical spills that make water undrinkable.

View Jennifer Chavez's blog posts
13 January 2014, 12:45 PM
"Freedom Zones" act could assure more W. Virginia water spills
The lives of hundreds of thousands of people have been severely disrupted by the spill. (iStockphoto)

Those who push an extreme anti-environmental agenda often use the concept of freedom to promote their ideas. They are not concerned with your freedom to breathe clean air or to drink clean water. Instead they want to give corporations the freedom to exploit natural resources without regard for the adverse impacts, and they want to ensure that polluters have freedom from accountability for the potentially deadly impacts of their actions.

In December, Kentucky politicians proposed to “free” unemployed residents from environmental laws that protect their health and well-being.

30 Comments   /   Read more >>
View Lisa Evans's blog posts
13 January 2014, 9:46 AM
Overdue rules would ensure polluters pay and prevent the next big spill
The state capitol building in Charleston, WV. (Henryk Sadura / Shutterstock)

In 1980, when Love Canal and Times Beach still dominated headlines, Congress passed Superfund, a bipartisan bill requiring polluters to pay for the cleanup of their toxic messes. Over the last 30 years, Superfund has been responsible for the investigation and cleanup of thousands of toxic sites.

Yet EPA’s 30-year failure to comply with one important provision of Superfund imperils our health and pocketbooks. Superfund contained a mandate that the nation’s most dangerous industries maintain financial assurance (insurance or bonding) to guarantee that polluters would have adequate funds to clean up their spills. The mandate would also provide industries with a financial incentive for safe management of dangerous chemicals. The Act required EPA to begin establishing such requirements no later than 1985.

2 Comments   /   Read more >>
View Trip Van Noppen's blog posts
10 January 2014, 5:47 PM
Remembering a great man of passion and integrity
Fred Meyer 1931-2013

The Board of Trustees and staff of Earthjustice express our profound sorrow and deepest sympathies to the family for the loss of our great friend and longtime trustee, Fred Meyer. Fred was a rock and source of great wisdom, fidelity, clarity and constancy of vision, accountability, perception, humor, compassion and worldly acumen and knowledge.

2 Comments   /   Read more >>
View Lisa Evans's blog posts
09 January 2014, 8:51 AM
House Bill eviscerates landmark law, threatening public safety
Why does House leadership want to eviscerate Superfund? (USDA Photo)

It’s a hustle of grand proportions and deadly consequences. The House of Representatives will vote today on H.R. 2279, a bill that guts Superfund—the law that requires industries to handle their hazardous waste safely and clean up their toxic spills.

The bill strikes at the heart of the Superfund, which over the past three decades has allowed the EPA and other federal agencies to identify and clean up thousands of polluted sites across the country. The bill is so radically dangerous that the White House issued a statement asserting that H.R. 2279 could cause “significant site cleanup delays, endangering public health and the environment," and recommended the President veto the bill. More than120 public interest groups have also called for its defeat in a letter to Congress.

9 Comments   /   Read more >>
View Raviya Ismail's blog posts
06 January 2014, 10:47 AM
Taking time away from college and work, Selena Zelaya returns to D.C.
Selena with her father Miguel. (Photo by Matt Roth)

Last week, I interviewed 18-year-old Selena Zelaya of Mount Dora, Florida. Selena was one of about a dozen farmworker advocates who traveled to D.C. in July to lobby for farmworker protections against harmful pesticides. Selena’s mother and father are farmworkers and from a young age she began advocating on behalf of them and others. She returns to D.C. this week with representatives of Florida and North Carolina to meet with congressional representatives.

In the interview, Selena shared why she is so committed to the fight for farmworker protections:

Q. Why do you come to D.C. to lobby on this issue of farmworker rights?
A: I think it’s an important issue. My parents suffer from pesticide exposure and I think it’s important that everyone is aware of this issue—and I think it’s important for young people to get involved because this issue affects their future.

View Suma Peesapati's blog posts
31 December 2013, 10:03 AM
The journey towards a clean energy future in New Mexico
The Four Corners Power Plant has been operating without modern pollution controls for the past fifty years. (Photo courtesy of Ecoflight)

Arizona Public Service Company officially announced yesterday that it will retire Units 1, 2, and 3 of the Four Corners Power Plant by January 1, 2014 and install long-overdue pollution controls on the plant’s remaining two units by July 31, 2018.

Built before the Clean Air Act was enacted, this coal plant has been operating without modern pollution controls for the past fifty years. Uncontrolled pollution from this plant threatens the health of its Navajo neighbors and mars visibility in surrounding national parks, including the iconic Grand Canyon. Retirement of three of the plant’s units is an important step forward for environmental justice, protection of public lands, and our ongoing struggle against climate change.

2 Comments   /   Read more >>
View Brian Smith's blog posts
24 December 2013, 1:05 PM
Sharks and oil and honeybees, oh my!
How much of Yosemite Valley will you be able to see on your next visit? Read more in the #10 unEARTHED blog post of the year. (Chrissy Pepino / Earthjustice)

Looking back at the most popular blog posts from 2013 we find a wide variety of subjects generated substantial readership.

unEARTHED readers were all over the map this year. Your concerns are wide and varied.

And that should give us all hope.

So, counting down (just in case you missed one) here are the Top Ten Most Read unEARTHED blog posts of 2013.

View Shannon Fisk's blog posts
24 December 2013, 7:25 AM
Coal plants need to retire for the benefit of public health
The costliness of coal becomes more evident once you factor in the significant damage that it does to public health. (Photo by TVA)

This piece was originally published in EarthShare’s blog, one of Earthjustice’s partner groups working toward connecting people and workplaces with effective ways to support critical environmental causes. This featured Q&A reveals the answers about our reliance on coal.

Q: Why is coal such a dangerous source of energy?

A: For more than a century, coal has been used as a primary source of energy for electricity generation, steel production and cement manufacturing. But each step associated with energy generation from coal threatens our environment and our health.

Mining coal destroys entire ecosystems. In Appalachia, the practice of mountaintop removal mining is common, and entire mountaintops are blown apart to get at thin seams of coal. The rubble is dumped into nearby valleys, poisoning headwaters that provide drinking water for millions of Americans. As coal is burned in power plants, it produces mercury and arsenic as well as other chemicals that combine to form smog, soot, and acid rain, causing 13,200 premature deaths every year. This toxic air pollution can also impair development in children and cause cancer and other health problems.