Andrea Delgado's Blog Posts

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Andrea Delgado's 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.

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View Andrea Delgado's blog posts
24 February 2014, 5:09 PM
When it comes to farmworker protection, EPA proposal is out of touch
Farmworkers picking strawberries in Wayne County, NY. (Photo courtesy of Alina Diaz / Alianza Nacional de Campesinas)

After more than two decades, the Environmental Protection Agency announced revisions to the Agricultural Worker Protection Standard, an outdated standard intended to protect farmworkers from pesticide exposure.

While advocates welcomed signs of life in the Obama administration’s progress to provide stronger protections from pesticides for approximately 2 million farmworkers, the proposal raises questions about the EPA’s understanding of the population the WPS is meant to serve.

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18 October 2013, 9:18 AM
Congress and the White House reach bipartisan budget compromise

On Wednesday night, with less than two hours before the country defaulted on its debts, Congress ended the standoff that shut the government down for 16 days, kept countless federal workers without work or pay, and left anyone watching disheartened by partisan antics. In the end, it amounted to Congress deciding to do its job and allowing others to do the same.

Budget compromise vote count. (Source: NYT)

Source: New York Times. See the Senate and House vote breakdown

Did the extreme right in Congress get what they wanted out of this theater and was it worth holding workers’ and families’ budgets hostage and taking us to the brink of default? The House had prepared a wish list of deeply harmful energy, environment and public health policy riders that got sidelined by its attack on Obamacare.

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26 September 2013, 9:46 AM
Hazelton coal ash and intolerance create poisonous stew
Proximity and exposure to coal ash poses many risks.

In northeast Pennsylvania, about an hour northwest of Allentown, lies Hazleton, a city with the dubious reputation of enacting ordinances that fueled ethnic tensions and anti-immigrant sentiment.

In 2008, the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF) pointed to Hazelton’s policies for fostering an environment conducive to hate after Luis Ramirez, a young father of two, was beaten to death in a town 17 miles away. The incident prompted the involvement of the U.S. Department of Justice and led to federal hate crime charges for the attackers along with indictments of extortion, misconduct and obstruction of justice for the police officers involved in the investigation.

Hazleton’s population is nearly 40-percent Latino; yet Rep. Lou Barletta, its congressman and former mayor, is notorious for championing anti-immigrant policies. Most recently, he is known for publicly dissuading the GOP from courting Latinos or providing a path to citizenship, alleging that the majority are undocumented, “low-skilled” and uneducated. Tell that to the more than 50 million Latinos in the U.S., 75 percent of whom are U.S. citizens.

Intolerance is toxic and fragmenting, undermining the integration and safety of immigrants looking to make America their home like generations before them. Community leaders and organizations such as the Hazleton Integration Project are working to foster tolerance and shed the city’s shameful past. But another toxic hazard looms over Hazleton, threatening the well-being of the burgeoning Latino population and the city as a whole.

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29 March 2013, 2:26 PM
Injustices plague farmworkers while administration turns a blind eye
Cesar E. Chavez warned about the perils of pesticides. (Joel Levine)

The agriculture industry relies heavily on the use of pesticides, which are highly toxic chemicals that farmworkers and surrounding communities are frequently exposed to through simply doing their jobs or living near agricultural sites. Pesticides enter the body through inhalation and penetration of the skin. The latest statistics indicate that in 2007, 1.1 billion pounds of pesticides were used in the United States, and 80 percent were destined for agriculture. Among these, 33 million pounds were organophosphates, a particularly pernicious class of pesticides that are the most frequent culprits of acute poisonings of farmworkers.

Our nation’s farmworkers live and work at ground zero for pesticide exposure.  In a 1989 speech before Pacific Lutheran University, Cesar E. Chavez, a beloved labor and civil rights leader and an indefatigable voice for farmworkers, warned about the perils of pesticides and called on the nation to recognize the challenges that plague farmworkers, such as fighting for higher wages and improved working conditions. We’d be ignoring a greater evil if we failed to protect them from “systematic poisoning through the reckless use of agricultural toxics.”  In raising the urgency to protect farmworkers, their families and surrounding rural communities from pesticides, he shared stories of workers collapsing and dying after entering recently sprayed fields, children with birth defects and neurological problems and cancer. Meanwhile, workers were repeatedly told that the pesticides they were frequently exposed to were merely plant “medicine” they need not fear.  

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19 March 2013, 12:34 PM
Budget resolution tees up fight against harmful amendments
The devastating Kingston Fossil Plant coal ash spill in 2008. (TVA)

Arsenic-infused drinking water, the risk of cancer, and the fear of being washed away by a flood of toxic sludge are a burden of concern for Americans living near more than 1,300 toxic coal ash dump sites.They have expressed their concerns through numerous letters to Congress, petitions, and more than 450,000 public comments to the Environmental Protection Agency. They urge federal action to stop disposal practices that trap communities in clouds of toxic ash, contaminate drinking water, and lead to massive dam collapses.

Yet, protection from toxic heavy metals and standards that will prevent another dam failure are not solutions the EPA has provided. Meanwhile, as the administration plays a waiting game with potential disaster, citizens across the U.S. live in harm’s way.

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27 September 2012, 10:33 AM
Citizens to sue AES corporation for coal ash dumping near homes
A child near an AES coal ash fill site in Guayama, Puerto Rico.

(Earthjustice attorney Lisa Evans is co-author of this blog item)

Fed up with the illegal dumping of toxic waste in their communities, a group of concerned citizens from Guayama and Salinas, Puerto Rico, Comité Dialogo Ambiental (CDA), has drawn a line in the sand. CDA announced yesterday that they will take AES Corporation—theVirginia-based energy giant—to federal court unless it meets the group’s demands and stops the dangerous dumping of toxic waste from its Guayama power plant.
 
Salinas attorney Ruth Santiago and Public Justice, a national public interest law firm, sent a Notice of Intent to Sue this week on behalf of CDA, asserting that AES’ practice of dumping toxic coal ash in residential areas poses an “imminent and substantial endangerment” to health and the environment.
  
The AES’ Guayama power plant produces 400,000 tons of coal ash a year – toxic waste that contains arsenic, radioactive isotopes, hexavalent chromium and other heavy metals. But, despite its prodigious generation of dangerous waste, AES has never built a landfill to contain the polluted byproduct since it opened the plant in 2002. Instead, AES sells the waste to local contractors for pennies a ton to build roads and housing developments.
 

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