Liz Judge's Blog Posts

unEARTHED. The Earthjustice Blog

Liz Judge'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.

Liz Judge is the Media Director. She is also creator of our Mountain Heroes campaign, which chronicles the stories of courageous and inspirational people who are standing up against the most extreme and destructive form of mining. Though she lives in California, Liz is a Cleveland native and will always feel a kinship to Midwesterners (and their indulgent casseroles). When not fighting for justice and a healthier, safer environment, she spends her down time running, biking, and swimming (and doing triathlons), listening to soul and motown, and catching live music wherever she can.

View Liz Judge's blog posts
26 October 2011, 3:09 PM
Office of Surface Mining merged into Bureau of Land Management
OSMRE's accomplishment to date

Today Interior Secretary Ken Salazar announced a major agency reshuffling that will affect how the government enforces laws on mountaintop removal and surface coal mining.  He will fold the Office of Surface Mining, Reclamation and Enforcement (OSMRE) into another Department of Interior subdivision, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM).

OSMRE is the agency that oversees the enforcement of the nation's surface coal mining laws, and BLM is the agency that oversees the federal government's management of public lands. Most mountaintop removal mining happens on private lands, not public lands, in Appalachia.

Press coverage of the agency reshuffle managed to ask an important question: Will this make a difference in the enforcement of coal mining laws? Will this change the landscape at all? 

2 Comments   /   Read more >>
View Liz Judge's blog posts
21 October 2011, 2:09 PM
A picture is worth a thousand words

Before and After

The Appalachian Mountains as they should be, against a glimpse of what mountaintop removal mining is doing to them.

Recently, thanks to a nonprofit flight operation called SouthWings, I had the opportunity to fly in a small airplane over a mountaintop removal coal mining site in West Virginia.

We flew over the Hobet mountaintop removal mining site, which measures to more than 20 square miles of demolition, and though I will try to put what I saw into words, it can only really be understood through the eyes. So I'm sharing a few photos that illustrate a scale of destruction that words cannot convey.

 

4 Comments   /   Read more >>
View Liz Judge's blog posts
30 September 2011, 8:46 AM
Here are the videos and statements they don't want you to see
Maria Gunnoe: "When the coal industry destroys Appalachia’s water it’s said to be in the best interest of our homeland security."

“They are blowing up my homeland,” said West Virginia coalfield resident Maria Gunnoe on Monday morning, in her sworn testimony on the impacts of mountaintop removal mining before the House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources.

I feel the vibrations of the core driller in the floors of my home; and the impacts of the blasting near my home are horrendous. This is absolutely against everything that America stands for.

When someone destroys water in a foreign country it is called an act of war. When the coal industry destroys Appalachia’s water it’s said to be in the best interest of our homeland security.

My nephew reminds me of what surface mining looks like from a child’s eyes. As we were driving through our community, he looks up and says, ‘Aunt Sissy, what is wrong with these people? Don’t they know we live down here?’ I had to be honest with him and say, ‘Yes, they know. They just simply don’t care.’

Maria’s powerful and moving testimony was a part of the House Subcommittee’s field hearing in West Virginia entitled “Jobs at Risk: Community Impacts of the Obama Administration’s Effort to Rewrite the Stream Buffer Zone Rule.”

3 Comments   /   Read more >>
View Liz Judge's blog posts
22 September 2011, 1:13 PM
Time for Congress to get off its crazy train
Rep. Eric Cantor

We all deserve to breathe clean air, but the House of Representatives today acted as if our air doesn't need to be quite so clean.

Guided by Rep. Eric Cantor's toxic dirty-air agenda and a host of political paybacks to dirty-industry campaign contributors, the House passed a bill to block the Environmental Protection Agency from enforcing certain clean air standards.The bill is called the TRAIN Act, H.R. 2401, and it is a train wreck. If it becomes law, it could cause 139,500 deaths due to air pollution. One of the most anti-public health bills ever considered by Congress, the TRAIN Act passed the House by a vote of 249 to 168. Read this punch-packing reaction to the bill's passage by Earthjustice's Marty Hayden.

This TRAIN Act was the first item in Cantor's death package of bills designed to overturn eight life-saving clean air and hazardous waste rules by the Obama administration. While it's terrible that it passed the House, President Barack Obama has promised to veto this bill if it gets by the Senate.

8 Comments   /   Read more >>
View Liz Judge's blog posts
14 July 2011, 9:18 AM
Legislation goes against the fiber of the Clean Water Act
Clean Water Champion: Rep. Mike Capuano (D-MA)

Yesterday evening, July 13, the full House of Representatives passed the Toxic-and-Dirty Water Bill that I warned about a couple weeks ago -- HR 2018, along with a number of amendments.

The House passed this legislation 239-184, despite a vow from the White House promising a veto if the bill makes it through the Senate.

This legislation is the most offensive in a fresh spate of clean water attacks waged by the majority of the 112th House. The bill undoes the basis of the Clean Water Act, the 40-year-old cornerstone of all drinkable, swimmable and fishable waters in this country. Without this landmark law, and the system it set up for federal oversight of waters across all states, we wouldn't have the clean waters that we have today.

View Liz Judge's blog posts
12 July 2011, 3:52 PM
Study links birth defects to MTR, but coal industry lawyers blame inbreeding

A major new scientific study shows significantly higher rates of birth defects in areas of heavy mountaintop removal mining, even after controlling for a range of other contributing factors. The study found that living near a mountaintop removal site poses a much greater risk to unborn babies than smoking during pregnancy. More than double the risk!

Says the study: "For babies born specifically with defects of the circulatory or respiratory system, smoking increased risk by 17 percent, and living in a mountaintop mining area increased risk by 181 percent. Living in a mountaintop mining area was a bigger risk for birth defects than smoking."

At this point, there have been numerous scientific studies on the environmental destruction caused by mountaintop removal mining. Mountains are torn down and destroyed, biodiverse forests are cut down and cleared out, streams are obliterated, waters across Appalachia are contaminated, and drinking water supplies are poisoned. But even more upsetting than the barren moonscapes is the fact that the people are being poisoned.

View Liz Judge's blog posts
06 July 2011, 9:03 AM
House comes out swinging in its newly revealed 2012 spending bill

The 112th Session of the House of Representatives is at it again, doing what they do best: writing legislation to strike and block the clean air and clean water laws that keep us alive and healthy.

This morning, the House majority released its spending bill for the year 2012, and not to disappoint those who wish to live in a world with big corporations enjoying full freedom to foul our air and water without restriction, penalty or accountability, the bill manages to take direct aim at a handful of landmark environmental safeguards and a slew of major public health protections.

Legislating through appropriations is a back-door, manipulative move in its own right. It essentially means that instead of having to muster the votes required to pass new laws or take our current environmental and health safeguards off the books, House leadership is using a spending bill to simply stop and block all funding for these protections. The laws still stand as they are, they just can't be enforced. The way this House sees it, if the agencies can't get the money to enforce our current laws, there's no need to worry about what the laws actually mandate.

1 Comment   /   Read more >>
View Liz Judge's blog posts
22 June 2011, 3:02 PM
Many House reps put up a good fight to save their water, but lose
Rep. Nick Rahall (D-WV)

It was a dark day in the House of Representatives, today, as the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure passed a bill that would flush away decades of water safeguards and protections, along with our powerful federal system for ensuring that any waters in this country are safe to drink, fish, and swim in.

The legislation, HR 2018, takes one of our country's most important laws -- the 40-year-old Clean Water Act -- turns it on its head, shakes out its whole intent and purpose, and leaves it powerless to protect the people of this nation. Instead, the bill gives that power to the states, who proved long ago that they were unfit for the job. Without federal oversight, states let their rivers burn, lakes die, and streams become toxic industrial dumping grounds, while their citizens paid the price with their health. State protection sometimes amounted to just a warning: don't go near or swim in the water.

5 Comments   /   Read more >>
View Liz Judge's blog posts
20 June 2011, 4:55 PM
High court affirms EPA authority

Today, a U.S. Supreme Court ruling once again affirmed the Environmental Protection Agency as the most rightful and authorized regulator of climate change pollution in the land.

While some in Congress have been trying to take this power away from the EPA, and have been attempting to block EPA controls on climate change pollution, the Supreme Court today ruled that the EPA -- not the Supreme Court, not states and not Congress -- is "best suited to serve as primary regulator of greenhouse gas emissions."

1 Comment   /   Read more >>
View Liz Judge's blog posts
04 June 2011, 8:20 AM
Mass Mobilization in WV, March on Blair Mountain Kicks Off Tomorrow
Appalachia is rising for justice, protection of the law, and an end to mountaintop removal mining.

This week more than 600 concerned citizens will participate in the largest mass mobilization against mountaintop removal mining that this country has ever seen, Appalachia Rising: The March on Blair Mountain.

Led by many of our dedicated friends and partners in Appalachia, hundreds of people from all across the country, from all stripes and walks of life and backgrounds -- students, scholars, artists, scientists, labor leaders, union workers, historians, environmentalists, and concerned citizens -- will walk shoulder to shoulder in a peaceful and permitted demonstration for 50 miles across the rugged Appalachian Mountain terrain, all joined by this conviction: The people of Appalachia deserve protection of the law and a prosperous and just future that does not include the devastation and destruction of mountaintop removal mining. Mountaintop removal mining must end, and justice must be brought to the people and communities of this region.

1 Comment   /   Read more >>