Jared Saylor's Blog Posts

unEARTHED. The Earthjustice Blog

Jared Saylor's blog


    SIGN-UP for our latest news and action alerts:
   Please leave this field empty

Facebook Fans

Earthjustice on Twitter

Featured Campaigns

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.

Jared Saylor is Earthjustice’s Campaign Director who, as head coach of an all-star campaign team, goes beyond traditional media to fight for cleaner air and water. His environmental activism was inspired by his grandmothers—an asthmatic and a community organizer—who taught him that bad air means asthma, but it also means an opportunity to clean it up if enough people start yelling. Born in the SF Bay Area but now based in DC, Jared hopes one day that Fed-Ex offers same-day shipping for SF burritos. When he's not drumming in an accordion-based tuba rock band, he's teaching his daughter her Ps and Qs or relaxing with his wife, Sarah, a fellow Earthjustice employee.

View Jared Saylor's blog posts
17 December 2013, 8:03 AM
Days before TVA spill 5-year anniversary, fight for clean water continues
The Missouri river floodplain adjacent to the Ameren power plant. (Photo courtesy of LEO)

Even though Patricia Schuba and I live nearly a thousand miles apart, we’ve been seeing a lot of each other lately. Patricia is the president of the Labadie Environmental Organization and the director of the coal ash program for Citizens Coal Council.

In May, she traveled to Washington, D.C. as a Clean Air Ambassador, representing her home state of Missouri. In July, she returned to Washington to testify at an Environmental Protection Agency public hearing on power plant water pollution, and in October, she and I spoke on a panel about the impacts of coal ash at an environmental conference.

Patricia Schuba.

Patricia represents her community in the fight to clean up coal ash pollution. In the fifth part of our ongoing series leading up to the 5th anniversary of the coal ash spill in Kingston, TN, Patricia tells us about the Ameren power plant in Labadie, MO.

3 Comments   /   Read more >>
View Jared Saylor's blog posts
05 December 2013, 11:59 AM
Many of Michigan's waters are poisoned by coal ash. Clean Water Action is spreading the word.
DTE River Rouge Plant in Michigan. (Photo courtesy of Clean Water Action)

“Pure Michigan.”

That’s the ad campaign Michigan is using to entice travelers to visit the Great Lakes state. Whether it’s fishing, swimming, boating or just lounging on the beach. Michigan wants us to know that it’s a great vacation spot.

But what our friends at Clean Water Action in Michigan are showing us is that many of Michigan’s waters aren’t as “pure” as we thought. Coal ash has contaminated many Michigan waters, a silent threat to Michiganders health.

Nic Clark.

In the fourth part of our series leading up to the anniversary of the TVA spill in Kingston, TN, we hear from Nic Clark, state director of Clean Water Action, Michigan. Nic is a native of Michigan and is committed to protecting his home state from toxic coal ash and other pollution.

3 Comments   /   Read more >>
View Jared Saylor's blog posts
27 November 2013, 8:25 AM
How is coal ash dumped at one site hazardous, but beneficial at another?
A portion of the Little Blue Run coal ash impoundment. October 2011.
(© Bob Donnan)

One of the nation’s largest coal ash dumps spans two states (West Virginia and Pennsylvania) and borders a third (Ohio). It is 30 times larger than the Tennessee Valley Authority coal ash pond at the Kingston Fossil Plant which burst in 2008.

The Little Blue Run coal ash impoundment has poisoned nearby waters with arsenic, selenium, boron and more. Residents tell of murky sludge oozing from the ground around their homes.

Russ Maddox.

In the third installment of our series leading up to the 5-year anniversary of the coal ash spill in Kingston, TN, we travel to Pennsylvania to hear from Lisa Graves-Marcucci, a community outreach coordinator with the Environmental Integrity Project, and the work being done to clean up the pollution at Little Blue.

View Jared Saylor's blog posts
21 November 2013, 12:22 PM
There's no such thing as "clean coal" in Alaska
Coal ash being used to fill a mined peat bog adjacent to Creamer's Field Wildlife Refuge. Fairbanks, AK. (Photo courtesy of Russ Maddox)

Alaska—the last frontier of untamed American wilderness. Unfortunately, it’s also home to dirty coal. The second part of our ongoing series about communities dealing with coal ash problems takes us far north where in Fairbanks four coal-fired power plants generate coal ash used as fill for nearby lowlands.

Russ Maddox, a 2013 Clean Air Ambassador and member of the Sierra Club Council of Leaders Executive Committee, Resurrection Bay Conservation Alliance, and Alaska Youth for Environmental Action, lives in Seward, AK, which deals with the effects of coal exports and coal dust. In 2012, Russ wrote about the problems of coal ash in his community for unEarthed. But earlier this month, he published an opinion piece in the Alaska Dispatch on the inferiority of coal mined in Alaska and burned at Alaskan power plants.

Russ Maddox.

We’re pleased to share Russ’ opinion piece here and look forward to continue our work together with him and his community to establish federal safeguards for coal ash disposal:

View Jared Saylor's blog posts
13 November 2013, 3:18 PM
Unregulated danger lurks in more than 1,400 coal ash sites
The massive coal ash spill in Tennessee in 2008. (TVA)

It was early October, but the trees were still a vibrant green. Fall had not yet arrived and winter was still a distant concern in Kingston, TN. Fishing boats and jet skis were tied to docks along the Clinch River, and even though it was a Thursday morning it was obvious that folks in this small community were already gearing up for weekend fun.

This was the scene a few weeks ago when I arrived in Kingston with a group of about 40 journalists and activists to tour the ongoing cleanup of one of the biggest environmental disasters in our nation’s history. Five years before at 1 a.m., Dec. 22, 2008, as the town slept, a coal ash dumpsite at the Tennessee Valley Authority’s Kingston power plant burst through a poorly constructed levee, releasing more than a billion gallons of toxic waste onto the sleeping town. A rumbling flood of contaminated waste rushed nearly six miles downstream. Donna Lisenby, of Waterkeeper Alliance, canoed down the rivers among giant “ashbergs,” 12-foot tall mounds of wet coal ash, as she tested waters shortly after the disaster.

2 Comments   /   Read more >>
View Jared Saylor's blog posts
11 September 2013, 11:52 AM
Power plants dump pollution into our water, but that could soon change
Patricia Schuba of Missouri. (Matt Roth)

Earlier this summer, I was talking to a colleague and friend in Missouri, Patricia Schuba. She lives only a few miles from the Show Me State’s biggest coal-fired power plant, Ameren Corporation’s Labadie Power Station.

She was preparing to come to Washington to testify before the EPA on a proposal to clean up toxic water pollution from power plants. But before she got on the plane, she had a meeting to attend in St. Louis where Ameren was proposing to build another 1,100-acre coal ash pond directly in the floodplain of the Missouri River.

“It never ends here in Missouri,” she said. “If they try and build another coal ash dump, we’re going to fight back. That’s something they don’t seem to understand. We’re never going to give up.”

Nearly 50,000 of you aren’t giving up either.

4 Comments   /   Read more >>
View Jared Saylor's blog posts
23 April 2013, 7:56 AM
One option protects waters from toxic pollution; other options fall far short
Power plant water discharges are filled with toxic pollution.  (EPA)

Coal-fired power plant pollution is contaminating our water, not just our air. Here’s how: when plants install scrubbers and other emission control devices onto smokestacks to capture air pollution, the chemical waste they pull from the air is then discharged into our waterways.

Not good.

This discharge contains mercury, arsenic, selenium and other toxic chemicals that can cause neurological and developmental damage, harm unborn fetuses in utero, damage internal organs, and cause cancer. Coal plants are the number one toxic discharger into our country’s waterways, yet the Environmental Protection Agrency has not reviewed clean water regulations for this industry in more than 30 years.

Until now.

View Jared Saylor's blog posts
01 March 2013, 12:41 PM
Lawsuits by local and national groups clean up toxic coal ash sites
Pennsylvania residents Sabrina Mislevy and Barbara Reed stand near the Little Blue Run coal ash dump site. Litigation has led to the state phasing out the dump by 2016.

It’s been over four years since a billion gallons of toxic coal ash flooded a small town in Tennessee. We’ve been fighting ever since for the EPA to set federally enforceable safeguards to protect the thousands of communities across the country threatened by coal ash, but the agency has yet to act.

But just because the EPA isn’t doing anything doesn’t mean nothing is being done. While the agency twiddles its regulatory thumbs on much-needed protections from the arsenic, lead, mercury, selenium and other pollutants commonly found in coal ash, many local and national environmental groups are taking coal ash pond owners to court to get them to clean up the coal ash mess. The Center for Public Integrity published a story today outlining some of the dozens of legal actions happening from Montana to North Carolina where groups are challenging coal ash disposal using a variety of environmental laws.

3 Comments   /   Read more >>
View Jared Saylor's blog posts
30 November 2012, 12:14 PM
Defends DoD Bill against unrelated Hoeven Coal Ash Amendment
Sen. Boxer takes a stand against false rider tactics.

Some members of the Senate believe it’s acceptable to write up legislation to prevent the EPA from regulating toxic coal ash—and then attach it to a completely unrelated bill.

They tried unsuccessfully earlier this summer to put it into must-pass legislation that would help maintain and improve our nation’s highway infrastructure. They’re considering including it as a “rider” on the pending “fiscal cliff” bill. They even talked about putting it on a spending bill for the Department of Defense.

It seems some senators know no bounds on allowing polluters to continue dumping this waste—filled with arsenic, lead, mercury and more—into unlined and unmonitored ponds and landfills next to coal-fired power plants. Already, coal ash has polluted lakes, rivers, streams and aquifers at nearly 200 sites across the country.

But yesterday, one senator made clear that she’s not willing to allow dangerous environmental riders onto unrelated legislation.

2 Comments   /   Read more >>
View Jared Saylor's blog posts
16 November 2012, 1:09 PM
4 years after the Tennessee coal ash spill, problems continue to grow
Aerial view of the devastating 2008 coal ash disaster in Tennessee. (TVA)

Four years ago, a small Tennessee town woke up to a nightmare. A nearby coal ash pond that held back more than a billion gallons of toxic waste collapsed, sending a flood of ash and dirt right through their doors. In the weeks and months that followed, an entire nation began to see the magnitude of the coal ash threat.

Cleaning up the Clinch River near Kingston, TN, continues. Just last week, the Tennessee Valley Authority—the owners of the coal ash dam that burst—announced plans to let nature take its course in removing the remaining half a million tons of ash.  Coal ash activist, Watauga Riverkeeper and Earthjustice client Donna Lisenby summed it up best: "Five hundred cubic yards is enough coal ash to fill a football field almost 94 feet high from end zone to end zone. Coal ash contains arsenic, lead, chromium and many other toxic pollutants. Leaving that much ash in the river system to combine with all the other legacy pollutants just increases the total pollutant load."

2 Comments   /   Read more >>