Jared Saylor's Blog Posts

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Jared Saylor'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.

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.

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28 January 2010, 8:40 AM
Day of Action nets 100+ groups to call, email, fax the White House
TVA coal ash spill, Dec. 2008. Photo: http://jerrygreerphotography.com

Coal ash currently stored in ponds across the U.S. could flow continuosly over Niagara Falls for three days straight. The new Dallas Cowboys stadium couldn't hold all the coal ash in those ponds; in fact, you'd need 263 Dallas Cowboys stadiums to hold it all. We'd need to build 738 Empire State buildings to contain it all. It would take Michael Phelps 8,823,000 seconds, or 16.78 years to swim the Butterfly stroke across the number of Olympic-sized swimming pools needed to contain coal ash: nearly 310,000.

These numbers don't even reflect the amount of coal ash stored in unlined landfills and underground mines. The EPA guesses that amount could be even greater than what's being stored in ponds!

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22 January 2010, 4:09 PM
RFK Jr.'s passion for environmental protection carries the day
Photo: Lawrence Pierce, West Virginia Gazette

People began filing into the University of Charleston's auditorium nearly two hours before the debate began. Charleston police, county sheriffs, state troopers and UC police lined the hallways and entrances. There were rumors of activists chaining themselves to trees and coal miners planning a huge rally. Television cameras were stationed along the walls and in nearly every corner of the auditorium.

It was the hottest ticket in town. All 950 seats in the main auditorium sold out in a few days, and an overflow room holding 2,000 more was expected to be fill. The biggest debate of the century was happening: Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship against Waterkeeper founder Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.

The UC dean, Dr. Edwin H. Welch, moderated. He walked onstage 15 minutes before the debate began, telling the audience that "it does not happen very often in our society to have people who disagree so much come to speak together…we're going to try and recapture the art of argument tonight."

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20 January 2010, 10:41 AM
Head to head this Thursday over mountaintop removal mining

The tension has been building since the date was set last November. Ever since it was announced, skeptics clamored, "There's no way this is actually going to take place. Someone is going to back down." But they underestimated the raw emotion and high-voltage electricty surrounding this epic event.

I'm not talking about the next big boxing match, I'm talking about Thursday's (Jan. 21) debate between environmentalist Bobby Kennedy Jr. and Massey Coal Company chief Don Blankenship!

Blankenship will be on his home court as the two meet at the University of Charleston in West Virginia for a 90-minute public debate being broadcast on television stations throughout the state (unfortunately, despite plenty of interest from national media, the debate will be broadcast live only in West Virginia. But yours truly will be there in person, sending live Twitter and post-debate analysis via the unEarthed blog, so stay tuned!).

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07 January 2010, 1:55 PM
Leading stream, health scientists agree mountaintop removal does no good
West Virginia coal fields in winter. Notice the lack of tops on the mountains.

While it may seem obvious, especially with coal companies completely burying streams and routinely poisoning drinking water supplies, an article in the scientific journal Science shows clear scientific evidence that mountaintop removal mining destroys streams and poisons communities. <Update> The Los Angeles Times today reported on the magazine article, picking up on the urgent conclusion by scientists to halt this mining practice immediately.

This is no surprise to anyone who's heard of mountaintop removal, but what is exciting about it is that some of the nation's leading stream and health scientists are making a strong stand in the article for stronger federal oversight of this devastating practice.

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21 December 2009, 1:31 PM
Dec. 22 will be a day residents in Harriman will never forget

I remember my first thought when I read the papers on Dec. 23, the day after one of the biggest environmental disasters in our nation's history: "This is only the beginning."

The stories about the spill came out like the spill itself: slow at first, then in a huge, sudden avalanche of sad details. 5.4 million cubic yards of coal ash from the Tennessee Valley Authority's Kingston Power Plant burst through a dam near Harriman and spread over 300 acres of pristine shoreline along the Emory and Clinch Rivers.

The spill damaged 23 homes and completely destroyed three.  This was enough coal ash to fill up nearly four Empire State Buildings; this much coal ash would flow over Niagara Falls for 24 minutes straight. Luckily, no one was physcially injured, but the emotional toll was immense.

Just 19 days later, 10,000 gallons were released from a pond at TVA's Widows Creek Power Plant in northeastern Alabama. A month after the Tennessee spill, Congress got involved with hearings and rhetoric about how we needed to clean up this mess and make sure it never happens again. But then on March 9, 2009, another spill occurred.

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17 December 2009, 1:25 PM
EPA backs off coal ash plans; industry pressure a likely cause

While we still had hopes to see the first ever coal ash regulations by the end of this year, it seems the EPA might be taking a bit more time before they release their long-awaited proposal. The EPA announced today that, despite repeated claims, it won't be issuing regulations for coal ash ponds by 2010.

It hasn't been an easy road for EPA so far. The power industry has used fear mongering and misinformation to pressure EPA to hold off on regulating one of the nation's biggest wastes, coal ash. Coal ash ponds have poisoned communities and destroyed the environment for decades. It wasn't until a spill in Harriman, Tennessee last December that the agency and the nation recognized the toxic threat at nearly 600 coal ash ponds across the country.

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03 December 2009, 9:14 AM
EPA dumps Bush-era rule that allowed unfettered hazardous waste burning

The Bush Years: Sounds like an afternoon special, right? Unfortunately it was a reality we remember all too well.

As President Bush prepared to leave office, his cronies at EPA pushed for a slew of bad rulemakings that favored polluters at the cost of public health and the environment. This came as no surprise back then, and Earthjustice and others did a wonderful job of fighting back and defeating many of these "midnight rulemakings," as they were often called.

One particularly egregious rule, known as the Emissions Comparable Fuels rule, allowed industries to burn up to 100,000 tons of hazardous waste without any federal hazardous waste protections.

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13 November 2009, 1:00 AM
The world television premiere of "Coal Country" is at 8 p.m. eastern!

If you’re wondering what you should be doing on Saturday night, well, here it is: watch some television! At 8 p.m. eastern, the world television premiere of "Coal Country" will be on the Reel Impact series on Planet Green.

Now, about the film. Earthjustice is a proud sponsor of "Coal Country," and we’ve been hosting events in San Francisco, New York, Washington DC, Los Angeles and Chicago to show people this powerful film and educate them on the tragedy that is mountaintop removal mining.

There’s been a lot discussed in these pages about the destruction, pollution and impacts of mountaintop removal mining, but never before has there been such an insightful and moving depiction. "Coal Country" interviews miners, activists, politicians and coalfield residents to present the true impacts of coal in Appalachia. Phylis Geller—who wrote, produced and directed the film—and executive producer Mari-Lynn Evans weave a story that really gets at the true costs of our dependence on coal.

Take the time to watch "Coal Country" on Planet Green this Saturday night. If you don’t have Planet Green in your cable package, you can purchase a copy of the DVD here. And for those not in the eastern time zone, the film is being replayed at 11 p.m. eastern, so you can watch it during prime time.

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03 November 2009, 8:59 AM
When is hazardous coal ash not considered hazardous?
The devastation of the TVA spill in Tennessee, December 2008. Photo: United Mountain Defense

When is hazardous coal ash not considered hazardous? According to the Environmental Protection Agency, when you dump it in a landfill as opposed to a pond. This approach is currently being floated by the EPA in its plans to regulate coal ash later this year. Coal ash—the waste left over after coal is burned at coal-fired power plants—is full of dangerously high levels of arsenic, lead, mercury, cadmium and other hazardous metals. Cancer rates skyrocket near coal ash dumps that have leaked into drinking water supplies.

As the one-year anniversary of the Kingston coal ash spill approaches (December 22), the EPA has been working hard to prepare the first ever federal regulations of coal ash. But newspapers are reporting that the Government Accountability Office issued a report last week that indicates EPA's plans aren’t the strongest safeguards against this toxic threat.

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02 October 2009, 1:50 PM
Tune in this Sunday, October 4th

When venerable television news show 60 Minutes takes notice of a story, it's got to be an important issue. On this Sunday, October 4, 60 Minutes is going to look at one of the biggest waste problems in our country: coal ash. From the preview on their website:

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