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Brian Smith's blog

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.”

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.

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.

On a day when every resident of the Pacific Rim is grateful for advanced warning systems, we are reminded of the essential services that government agencies provide. Certainly, fishermen in California who got their boats out of the water this morning as the Japanese tsunami approached are grateful for those who work around-the-clock to protect lives and property.

But essential services now face the chopping block in Washington, DC.

The EPA today issued its final standard to protect Americans from the toxic air pollution emitted by industrial facilities like chemical plants, refineries and paper mills.

Across the country more than 200,000 industrial boilers, heaters and incinerators operated for decades nearly unregulated, though they are major contributors of toxic air pollutants like lead, arsenic, and acid gases. Today’s announcement will save thousands of lives, and prevent thousands of cases of asthma attacks, heart attacks and hospital visits.

Tom Gross, an official with the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, is frustrated with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Gross has been publicly complaining that EPA requirements to use the latest pollution-mitigating technologies are annoying. "The whole process was incredibly frustrating," Gross told the House Energy and Utilities Committee. "We told them a few words we can't repeat," reported the Lawrence-Journal World.

Finally admitting the unprofitably of turning coal into motor fuel, Chevron announced on Friday that it is getting out of the business.

Chevron will sell off three coal mines in Alabama, New Mexico and Wyoming. Together, those mines produced 10 million tons of coal in 2009.

The company sees the process as "10 to 15 years in the future" and made a strategic decision to focus on operations other than mining.

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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.