Brian Smith's Blog Posts

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Brian Smith'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.

Learn more about Earthjustice.

Brian Smith is a Campaign Manager who learned the importance of protecting healthy soil, clean water and the climate while growing up on a farm in the Central Valley. When Brian's not busy helping people to understand the interconnectedness between the planet and people, he enjoys exploring California's endless state parks, hunting for old punk rock records or pampering his cat, Angie. He's lived car-free for more than a decade and hopes to return to that lifestyle once his new knees are up (and running). Brian's wife Susan is a hospital chaplain and when they say goodbye in the morning, she says, "Save the planet." He replies, "Save the people."

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29 August 2011, 12:05 PM
American people reject agenda by large majorities

Today, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor declared war on regulations that he and his Tea Party backers do not like. Of the ten proposed rollbacks, seven are environmental. Regulations declared “harmful” by Cantor include rules to reduce pollution from power plants, industrial boilers, cement plants, coal ash, ozone, particulate matter and greenhouse gases.

Delaying or cancelling these new pollution standards will seriously impact public health and shorten the lives of thousands, if not millions, of Americans due to pollution related illness.

Luckily, the American people soundly reject Cantor’s attacks on the Environmental Protection Agency. In February, a poll found that 77 percent of Americans (including 61 percent of Republicans) support the notion that "Congress should let the EPA do its job."

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28 July 2011, 10:20 AM
Did you hear what they are up to?

Did you hear about the secret attacks being planned on public health and the environment of the United States?

Probably not. The news from Washington these days is focused on the fight over raising the debt ceiling.

Meanwhile, the 2012 House Interior/EPA Appropriations (H.R.2584) bill is being considered, and it is larded with riders that will increase pollution, destroy protected wilderness, and harm the health of American families.

It’s frankly difficult to explain how bad some of these proposals are. They are so outrageous they seem almost surreal. But here are just a few that should give every American heartburn:

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23 June 2011, 1:04 PM
Decision delayed three times for periods now totaling almost a year
A smoggy day in Los Angeles.

When Lisa Jackson took the reins as administration of the Environmental Protection Agency, she issued a memo to staff stating that:

"Science must be the compass guiding our environmental protection decisions. We cannot make the best decisions unless we have confidence in the integrity of the science on which we rely. Therefore, it is my promise that scientific integrity will be the backbone of my leadership of the Agency."

While she does seem serious about this commitment, and has made some great decisions, the question now is whether the White House will let her do her job. A big test is coming with the adoption of new health standards on ground level-ozone (smog).

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21 June 2011, 1:52 PM
"This is not how government is supposed to work"

Americans are worried about their government. We imagine backroom deals are cut, fates are foretold and the little guy always gets shafted because powerful interests own the cops.

Recent events in Kansas prove these fears can be spot-on.

The Kansas City Star has unearthed emails showing the Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE), the agency responsible for enforcing the federal Clean Air Act, had an “improper relationship” with an air permit applicant.

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14 June 2011, 11:38 AM
Two camps now forming
Mitt Romney's a climate change believer

According to the National Journal, “virtually all of the serious 2010 GOP challengers have moved beyond opposing cap-and-trade to dismissing the scientific evidence that global warming is even occurring.”

Like that old gag from Seth Myers and Amy Poehler on Saturday Night Live, it is understandable if the American people are starting to ask the Republican Party, “Really?”

While many Republicans running for president in 2012 have adopted a stance of certitude on the subject, others are sheepishly running away from prior statements on the subject.

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13 May 2011, 12:33 AM
IPPC report offers hopeful vision of one possible future

What can be done about our dismal energy future?

Every day, headlines scream about the price of oil, the climate disruption caused by coal, the dangers of natural gas “fracking,” and uncontrollable nuclear accidents.

Is another future even possible, or are we stuck in a permanent crisis?

On May 9, 2011, the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released its Special Report on Renewable Energy Sources and Climate Change Mitigation authored by more than 120 scientists, technologists, and economists who dug deeply into this question.

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06 May 2011, 11:15 AM
Environmental protections have nothing to do with it
Photo courtesy worldwide hippies.

As gas prices approach $4 a gallon this summer, American families who depend on cars to get to work, school, groceries, etc. are feeling a bit bent. These higher fuel prices were not in the budget, but now they must be.

Even Big Box stores are feeling the pinch. Wal-Mart’s Michael T. Duke told an audience in New York last week, “There’s no doubt that rising fuel prices are having an impact on our customers.”

But relief may be on the way. A major “correction” in oil prices began this week, and consumers should see the results at the pump soon.

How did it happen? Did the White House release thousands of new offshore oil permits on Thursday? Did Congress lift environmental protections, allowing Big Oil free reign, as some in Congress are demanding?

No.

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29 April 2011, 2:59 PM
Deal signed by governor today

At a formal ceremony in Centralia, Washington, today, Gov. Chris Gregoire signed legislation which will phase-out the massive 1,400 megawatt TransAlta plant between 2020 and 2025.

Under the agreement, Canadian-based TransAlta, will provide $30 million to be invested in direct economic development and energy efficiency in the Centralia community, and an additional $25 million to be invested in clean energy technology development in Washington.

TransAlta has also agreed to install additional controls at the plant to reduce haze pollution in regional national parks and wilderness areas while it is working toward shutting down the coal-burning units.

Earthjustice’s Clean Air Act and Clean Water Act legal work was an integral part of the campaign to help bring TransAlta to the negotiating table.

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28 March 2011, 4:16 PM
Human rights commission hears testimony on human impacts

When glaciers no longer provide drinking water to the communities that depend on them, what happens to those communities? For the indigenous people in the highlands of Bolivia, this is no longer a theoretical question.

Alivio Aruquipa, a farmer from Khapi, Bolivia explains:

My community and I rely on the Illimani glacier. Its waters irrigate our crops; we use it for drinking, cooking and bathing as our ancestors did. Every year the glacier melts more, so we are worried for our children-- they will no longer have water to drink, to irrigate our lands, or to sustain the animals that help us prepare our fields.

At the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights in Washington, D.C. this week, Earthjustice International Program managing attorney Martin Wagner joined Aruquipa and climate expert Kevin Trenberth to describe the impacts of freshwater loss caused by climate change.

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16 March 2011, 11:23 AM
Great news on many fronts

Today, the Environmental Protection Agency proposed a new air standard that will finally reduce mercury, arsenic and other toxic air pollutants from power plants.

This is great news for every American who breathes, and I’ve yet to meet one who doesn’t.

This new standard came under a court-ordered deadline thanks to Earthjustice litigation after a Bush administration proposal to deal with the problem failed to meet legal muster.

A part of this story you may not have heard about is how many jobs will be produced in cleaning up mostly older power plants.

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