Jared Saylor's Blog Posts

unEARTHED. The Earthjustice Blog

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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14 September 2009, 4:54 PM
"Toxic Waters" series examines America's worsening water pollution

Clean water is necessary for anyone who drinks water, bathes in water, uses water in their everyday life. Ultimately, it's urgent for everyone.

Today the New York Times ran an article highlighting the hazards of contaminated water that focuses on the struggles faced by residents living near coal processing ponds in Charleston, West Virginia. This region is ground zero in our fight against mountaintop removal. Mining companies dump waste directly into streams and headwaters that make their way into aquifers and wells used by residents for drinking water. The Times story reveals the human impact of toxic chemicals leaching into waters: kidney and liver damage, cancer, skin lesions.

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11 September 2009, 2:30 PM
EPA plans more scientific and legal scrutiny on 79 new mining permits
Photo: OVEC

The last year has been a roller coaster ride for mountaintop removal. Despite a loss in the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals in February (which we're now appealing to the U.S. Supreme Court), the U.S. Senate was taking up the fight with some public hearings back in March. In April, we thought the EPA was going to put the brakes on some mountaintop removal mining permits, but then in May, it was a sad day for Appalachia when the EPA approved more mining permits.

Well today, we've got some reason to cheer. The EPA announced today plans to hold 79 pending mountaintop removal mining permits for further environmental review, offering a reprieve for the coalfield residents in Appalachia living near these sites. The news comes as part of a "Memorandum of Understanding" the EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers signed earlier this year. The two agencies agreed to work together to review pending permits, and today's announcement sets the EPA and the Corps on a path towards closer scrutiny of these permits that is based on science and the law.

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04 August 2009, 8:40 AM
Warfare training facility near Florida runs through right whale territory

 Right whales are called such because years ago whale hunters thought these particular whales were simply the "right" ones to hunt. Their distinct V-shaped blow of water alerted whalers, and their habit of swimming near the surface made them easy targets.

Now, decades later, these endangered whales are swimming into danger again because of their propensity to swim near the surface.

The latest obstacle: the U.S. Navy plans to construct a massive Undersea Warfare Training Range (often referred to by its cumbersome acronym, UWTR) directly in the calving grounds of right whales in a 644-square mile plot of ocean off the coast of Florida.

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30 July 2009, 1:27 PM
They knew about the threat for 20 years, but did nothing
Tennessee coal ash spill site

It’s been seven months since a billion gallons of coal ash burst through a failed construction dike in Harriman, Tennessee, covering 300 acres, destroying homes, flooding properties and poisoning rivers and wells. According to a recently released report, it was a disaster waiting to happen.

The Inspector General for the Tennessee Valley Authority, which owns the Kingston Fossil Plant and its accompanying coal ash impoundment, reported this week that TVA “has failed for more than 20 years to heed warnings” that might have prevented this spill from happening. This revelation, revealed at the third congressional hearing since the spill, shows that TVA ignored repeated warnings from its own workers in 1985 and again in 2004 that the coal ash site was a public health hazard.

And there’s more:

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16 July 2009, 10:32 AM
Only a few boos mar debut of powerful documentary on Appalachia coal

The email came late Wednesday afternoon, just three days before the July 11 premiere that's been planned for months. The South Charleston Museum in West Virginia, which had agreed to show the documentary, "Coal Country," was backing out because of "concerns" about security at the event. Threats of protests meant the museum didn't want to take part in showing a film that offers an unbiased and frank portrait of coal and its impact and history in Appalachia.

When executive producer Mari-Lynn Evans (who produced the powerful documentary "The Appalachians" for PBS in 2005) got the bad news about the South Charleston Museum, she immediately sent an email to the local activists helping plan the premiere. By Thursday morning, a flurry of phone calls, emails, conference calls and meetings were taking place in a mad rush to find an alternate location to show the film.

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25 June 2009, 4:29 PM
 

Dr. Margaret Palmer is a world renowned water biologist who works at the university of Maryland, but has a home in West Virginia and family from the Appalachia region. "Headwater streams are exponentially more important than their size would suggest," said Dr. Palmer in testimony before the Senate. She compared headwater streams to the small capillaries in our lungs that distribute the oxygen necessary for life to our bodies. Without those capillaries (and similarly, without the headwaters) we (and the surrounding environment) would not be able to live.

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25 June 2009, 4:27 PM
 

The first witness, an EPA official, was questioned extensively about the impacts both locally and globally of destroying entire forests, flattening mountains, and increasing flooding as a result of mountaintop removal mining.

In the second witness panel are: Paul Sloan, Deputy Commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation; Randy Huffman, Cabinet Secretary of the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection; Dr. Margaret Palmer, Laboratory Director of the Chesapeake Biological Laboratory at the University of Maryland; and Maria Gunnoe, coalfield activist and winner of the prestigious 2009 Goldman Environmental Prize.

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25 June 2009, 4:16 PM
 

The hearing started promptly at 3:30 pm with Sen. Ben Cardin (D-MD), a cosponsor of the Appalachia Restoration Act, stating that mountaintop removal mining "adversely effects the economies of the region."

Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN), also a cosponsor of the Appalachia Restoration Act, offered opening remarks including, "it's not necessary to destroy our mountaintops in order to have enough coal...saving our mountaintops is important to me."

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17 June 2009, 1:25 PM
 

The saga of mountaintop removal continues, and this time it's headed to Congress. Two proposed bills—one in the Senate and one in the House of Representatives—could curtail mountaintop removal mining by banning certain activities related to this destructive mining practice.

The Appalachia Restoration Act, a bill in the U.S. Senate, would prohibit dumping "excess spoil" resulting from mountaintop removal into streams and headwaters. A similar bill in the House of Representatives—the Clean Water Protection Act—would put even tighter restrictions on dumping this pollution into Appalachian streams.

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05 June 2009, 10:39 AM
 

When the U.S. EPA proposed to cut mercury, particulate matter, sulfur dioxide, hydrochloric acid and other toxic air pollutants from cement kilns, we cheered. When they announced plans to hold public hearings in Los Angeles, Dallas and Washington DC to hear from the public about why clean air is important, we got to work.