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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.


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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28 July 2010, 11:14 AM
Human health and climate threatened by soot

Black carbon, also known as soot, comes from diesel engines, coal-fired power plants, and wood burning and is a significant contributor to global warming. Perhaps more significant than we realized, according to a new report.

Here's an introduction to the problem.


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21 July 2010, 2:14 PM
Glacier demands “No Coal”
Mt. Rainier asks us to save the snow

On Saturday, July 17 at 7:30 a.m., four moms reached the peak of Washington's iconic Mt. Rainier in a healthy political statement about coal power and the future of children of the Northwest.

The four moms, all parents of children between the ages of 3-6 years old, climbed Rainier to call for the closing or conversion of the TransAlta coal plant near Centrailia by 2015. They are asking state leaders to get serious about converting the state to green energy to protect our National Parks, wildlife, and our global climate.

The TransAlta plant is already the target of a campaign to bring its pollution down to levels that comply with emerging federal standards.

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16 July 2010, 12:42 PM
Climb delivers strong message to governor

Four Washington moms have begun their attempt to summit Mount Rainier this weekend to deliver a strong message to their governor about coal.

The Climb Against Coal challenges Governor Gregoire to close or convert the TransAlta coal plant by 2015, 10 years earlier than the governor wants to. The TransAlta plant is Washington's largest toxic polluter and largest stationary source of global warming pollution.

Read the letter the moms sent to Governor Gregoire. Here, an excerpt:

As mothers, we are concerned about the magnitude of greenhouse gases that come directly from the coal plant, creating climate chaos for future generations. We want our children to be able to stand in awe of the magnificent glaciers on Mount Rainier, as we do today.

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14 July 2010, 4:12 PM
Public has the right to know

Under the federal Toxics Substances Control Act, chemical manufacturers are required to submit health and safety studies to the EPA. Other federal law requires manufacturers of the oil dispersants being used by BP to submit data on the toxicity and effectiveness of the dispersants.

Earthjustice went to court today representing the Gulf Restoration Network and the Florida Wildlife Federation to get that information.

While the EPA has disclosed the secret ingredients of the two chemical dispersants, the agency has not released the health and safety studies. The lawsuit also seeks to uncover what's in other chemical dispersants approved for use by the EPA on oil spills.

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13 July 2010, 1:21 PM
Call to Shut Down Washington State's Biggest Climate Polluter

Four mothers from the Seattle area will Climb Against Coal this weekend.

Their voyage up Washington's iconic Mt. Rainier will be a protest of sorts to call for the closing of the TransAlta coal plant by 2015.

TransAlta is the state's largest single source carbon dioxide emissions. Besides global warming pollution, the plant also emits toxic mercury that fall directly on Rainier's snowfields which feed the entire Puget Sound watershed.

If you live in the Seattle area, please join us in send off celebration on Wednesday, July 14 from 5:00-7:00pm at Ella Bailey Park, 2601 W Smith St, Seattle (Magnolia neighborhood).

Click here for a YouTube introduction to the moms who are climbing for a greener future, or meet Genevieve below:

Earthjustice wishes these brave souls a safe and inspiring climb.

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12 July 2010, 2:01 PM
New cap and new estimate of total spill

New Spill Total Estimate
Government estimates released today now put the total oil leaked into the Gulf of Mexico at somewhere between 89 million and 176 million gallons. Seems like a pretty large range to us. For comparison, and to give you perspective on how big this environmental disaster has become, the Exxon Valdez spilled just 11 million gallons into Prince William Sound in Alaska.

New Cap Being Lowered into Place
Over the weekend, a team of robots removed the old cap, cleaned up the site, and prepared for the installation of a new 150,000-pound metal cap over the leaking well. The well may still leak with this new cap, but BP claims they will be able to funnel more oil to ships on the surface.

A permanent fix may still be more than a month off when the relief wells can reach the original well and hopefully plug the hole from the inside with drilling mud and cement.

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24 June 2010, 12:03 PM
Coalition takes the fight to court

The state of Washington announced a deal with Canadian-based TransAlta Corp. last week to "clean up" pollution from mercury and oxides of nitrogen. But the plan is sorely lacking.

A coalition of faith, environmental and public health groups are working to see the TransAlta coal plant, the state's largest single pollution source, converted to cleaner fuels or shut down by 2015. Coalition members were not impressed by this sweetheart deal and have already taken their case to the courts.

TransAlta is by far Washington's largest emitter of neurotoxic mercury, and of the NOx pollution that contributes to haze over numerous national parks and wilderness areas in the Pacific Northwest.

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16 June 2010, 11:54 AM
Fall hunting season looms in northern Rockies

Federal District Court Judge Donald Molloy heard arguments yesterday on whether the federal government's decision to delist wolves in the northern Rockies was illegal. On the line is the ability of Montana and Idaho to allow wolf hunting, which is not permitted when a species is listed as endangered.

Both states allowed hunting of wolves last year. Montana's hunt killed 72 wolves. In Idaho, 188 wolves were killed. Both states intend to set higher wolf hunting quotas this fall in an effort to reduce the size of the wolf population.

In 1974, gray wolves were listed as endangered species. Federal protections for wolves were removed in Montana and Idaho in May 2009, but federal protections were kept in place in Wyoming, a state with laws hostile to wolves.

Earthjustice attorney Doug Honnold argued that the entire northern Rockies wolf population—including Montana, Idaho, and Wyoming—must remain protected under the Endangered Species Act.

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09 June 2010, 10:16 AM
States signing on
Offshore wind farm in Denmark. Photo: NOAA

While the Obama administration continues to search for a productive response to the disaster in the Gulf of Mexico, this tidbit of news crossed our desks.

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar today announced a memorandum of understanding which will establish the Atlantic Offshore Wind Energy Consortium.

While still in the development stage, the agreement includes Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New York, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia and North Carolina. The newly created Bureau of Ocean Energy Management will oversee offshore renewable energy development and be based in Virginia.

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18 May 2010, 10:04 AM
Otter Creek Mine may serve growing economies of Asia
Coal mining operation in the Powder River Basin. Photo: BLM

Late last week, Earthjustice filed a lawsuit against the State of Montana over the state's decision to lease 572 million tons of coal for strip mining at Otter Creek without examining the environmental impacts of the decision. The decision was supported by Democratic Governor Brian Schweitzer, who has been dubbed the "Coal Cowboy" by the national media.

The lease was awarded to St. Louis-based Arch Coal, the nation's second largest coal producer. Including the coal it acquired from the state, Arch Coal has amassed leases for at least 1.3 billion tons of coal in the area, which will make the proposed Otter Creek mine one of the largest strip mines in North America.

Even while our nation's leaders are claiming the need to achieve "energy independence," Arch Coal says that Otter Creek coal would be mined to serve the growing demand in Asian countries.

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