Liz Judge's Blog Posts

unEARTHED. The Earthjustice Blog

Liz Judge'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.

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
02 June 2011, 2:49 PM
"The Last Mountain" opens this weekend in DC and NYC
"The Last Mountain" movie poster

The buzz is heightening. The Sundance official selection documentary The Last Mountain is arriving at theaters across America beginning this weekend in Washington, DC, and New York City. Throughout June, it will open in 18 other cities, bringing this film -- on the frightening effects of destructive mountaintop removal mining-- to the biggest metropolitan markets in the nation.

The film is a powerful glimpse into the bombing and razing of mountains in West Virginia for coal, the corrupt politics that enable that destruction, and the people and communities at the foot of the exploded mountains who are paying the real price, and suffering the real costs, of one of America's greatest and most enduring environmental tragedies.

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06 May 2011, 2:40 PM
Congress should be listening to these real people, not special interests
Sharman Chapman-Crane

Last Thursday, the House Subcommittee on Water Resources and Environment held an absurdly one-sided hearing entitled "EPA Mining Policies: Assault on Appalachian Jobs – Part I." I've never heard so much agreement in Congress -- but that was, of course, because the only people allowed to speak were chosen to speak because they were already in agreement.

The hearing proceedings amounted to a two-hour verbal back-patting session between a tiny group of House representatives who conducted the hearing and their industry pals whom they asked to testify.

The topic was Environmental Protection Agency policies on mountaintop removal mining, a coal mining practice that involves blowing up mountains and dumping the waste in the streams below. This practice has already buried more than 2,000 miles of streams in Appalachia and has dangerously contaminated drinking water supplies for communities near mining sites.

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04 May 2011, 1:27 PM
House subcommittee on water sets stage, but does America buy the act?
Rep. Bob Gibbs

On Thursday morning, the House of Representatives Subcommittee on Water Resources and Environment, will begin a two-part hearing on the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) policies on mountaintop removal mining. The committee, chaired by Rep. Bob Gibbs (R-OH) is calling the hearings “EPA Mining Policies: Assault on Appalachian Jobs – Part I and Part II.

Judging from the name, do you think this hearing by the representative body of our democratic government will be fair and balanced? Reasoned and informed? Democratic?

Just in case you think a fair and informed hearing is an outside possibility, I present to you:

Exhibit A: The Witness List:

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29 April 2011, 11:38 AM
Movement to stop mountaintop removal and protect Appalachians is building
A billboard of Mountain Hero Karen Woodrum at a busy intersection in Washington, D.C.

The faces of Earthjustice's Mountain Heroes, those courageous people from the coalfields whose lives are afflicted by mountaintop removal mining and who are standing up against it, are now staring down politicians in Congress and their staffs, as well as White House and agency staff, reminding them that they are allowing this abuse to continue. 

For several months, billboards of these Mountain Heroes—Sid, James, Karen, Ken and Donetta—have been positioned in all three D.C.-area airports to face elected officials, policy makers and the general public as they arrive and depart on their travels. They have also appeared on the pages of INC., Fast Company and Mother Jones magazines.

And now the Mountain Heroes have officially come to the streets of D.C. The billboards pictured here are all over the nation's capitol, especially in high-traffic areas and all around federal government buildings.

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25 April 2011, 3:17 PM
A cartoon, a jammin' new tune and some fine-art photography tell the story
A screen shot of Mark Fiori's site and mountaintop removal cartoon animation

Well, it's true that here on a blog, the currency is words. We're supposed to tell stories through our prose. But today I'm going to go easy on the blog and yield the storytelling to a small collection of witty, beautiful, foot-stomping and surreal art by people who are mastering other mediums to talk about mountaintop removal mining:

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14 April 2011, 1:10 PM
A ghost town's last inhabitants live with mountaintop removal's toll
A valley fill from a mountaintop removal mining operation

Yesterday The New York Times featured a sublimely written story by Dan Barry on the effects of mountaintop removal mining on a small town in West Virginia called Lindytown. The story, called "As the Mountaintops Fall, a Coal Town Vanishes," traces the plummeting fall of an entire mountain and the town below it to the draglines and machinery of the coal industry.

Over the course of just a few years, Lindytown has been transformed into an eerie ghost town, with just one family, the Richmonds, holding out and staying home, refusing to be made refugees of mountaintop removal mining. Life sticking around, though, isn't easy. Barry writes about the troubling dust that blows in from the barren mountaintop above and coats everything in town, making life near the site hard to tolerate.

This artfully written story's one shortcoming is that it just barely touches on the irreversible water contamination caused by this destructive form of mining and the grave health impacts that people nearby face as a result. It's not only tremendously hard to live near mountaintop removal mining, it's downright dangerous.

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12 April 2011, 3:02 PM
"Once you love something, you are willing to fight for it," says Earthjustice's Preso
Earthjustice attorney Tim Preso

(This is the fourth in a series of Q & As with Earthjustice staff who work to protect our nation's forests and their critical natural resources and wildlife. Protecting our national forests, in particular, is essential for the future of our nation. The Obama administration recently proposed new planning rules that may leave our national forests in peril. National forests are the single largest source of clean drinking water in the United States, serving 124 million Americans. Visit our Forests For Our Future campaign site to learn more. Tim Preso is attorney based in Earthjustice's Northern Rockies office in Bozeman, Montana.)

EJ: How did your fight to protect our forests begin, Tim?

TP: I walked into the Earthjustice office in Bozeman, Montana for my first day of work in March of 2000 and immediately became involved in a controversy over the federal regulation protecting our last national forest roadless lands. That marked the beginning of an 11-year campaign during which I have worked as part of a team of Earthjustice lawyers to defend the Roadless Rule against a variety of challenges. But outside the legal context, protecting our national forest lands has been close to my heart since I developed a love for wild places and wild creatures amid the rugged mountains and canyons of northeast Oregon's Wallowa-Whitman National Forest, near where I was raised. I had the now-all-too-uncommon privilege of growing up near big, open wild country filled with impressive wildlife. I want to make sure that opportunity remains for future generations instead of becoming something that kids can only read about in history books.

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08 April 2011, 3:03 PM
Earthjustice legislative counsel explains why she's dedicated to the fight
Rebecca Judd and her beloved greyhound Shooter

(This is the third in a series of Q & As with Earthjustice staff who work to protect our nation's forests and their critical natural resources and wildlife. Protecting our national forests, in particular, is essential for the future of our nation. The Obama administration recently proposed new planning rules that may leave our national forests in peril. National forests are the single largest source of clean drinking water in the United States, serving 124 million Americans. Visit our Forests For Our Future campaign site to learn more. Rebecca Judd is legislative counsel for Earthjustice, based in Washington, D.C.)

EJ: Were there any formative moments in national forests that set you about this path to fight for them?

RJ: In the summer of 2003, I clerked for Sierra Club after my first year of law school and assisted with a case challenging the logging and burning of over 5,000 acres of the Eldorado National Forest in California. A group of us was able to hike in an area slated for timber removal, and it was eerily disturbing to witness firsthand how many trees were marked for destruction. That experience motivated me to continue my work to advocate for the protection of our environment, our cherished landscapes and natural habitat, and the species that depend upon them. 

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08 April 2011, 1:22 PM
Tell Mr. Boehner and his House majority: "Hell No You Can't!"
House Speaker John Boehner

[Update: Amid hurried negotiations late Friday to avoid a government shutdown, House sources indicated that a possible deal has been reached to prevent weakening the government's regulation of mountaintop removal mining and climate change emissions. The uncertainty of this deal makes it all the more important for citizens to contact the White House and their congressional representatives to demand hands off of the Environmental Protection Agency.]

We've all seen the reports that say what is carrying our federal government quickly toward a total shutdown is not a difference over spending cuts but rather some costly ugly ideological demands by House leadership. First, we heard they were demanding blocks on clean air protections, and now we are hearing that a rider making mountaintop removal mining easier may be at the center of this political bargain.

If this is true, House leadership has managed to sink to an even lower level, by trying to use the innocent people, mountains and waters of Appalachia as their political bargaining chip -- just so the leadership can tell an extreme faction of the party that they secured a political "win."

Using this budget negotiations process as a way to help coal companies blow up mountains and dump their toxic waste into Appalachian streams and water supplies is an abomination. The White House and the Senate must not even consider sacrificing the people of Appalachia and their mountains and waterways for this political deal.

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06 April 2011, 3:14 PM
Squashes attempts to favor big corporate polluters over American citizens
Sen. James Inhofe

The Senate just voted to reject four—count 'em 1-2-3-4—bad amendments that would strangle and block the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency from being able to limit dangerous carbon dioxide pollution from the nation's biggest polluters.

These Dirty Air Acts went down in the upper chamber today because enough of the Senate still obviously believes that the well-being, future and health of Americans are more important than corporate special interests.

The amendments were offered on an unrelated small business innovation bill (S.493) by Sens. Rockefeller (S.AMDT.215), McConnell and Inhofe (S.AMDT.183), Baucus (S.AMDT.236), and Stabenow (S.AMDT.265).

Read Earthjustice's statement on today's Senate win for Americans, our health, and our future.

Now that the Senate has secured a victory for all Americans who breathe and whose businesses, families, and livelihood depend on a secure future for this country, eyes turn to the House, which is debating a Dirty Air Act of its own at this very moment.