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.


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.

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26 January 2011, 10:44 AM
But is our idea of "clean energy" the same?

Last night in his State of the Union address, President Barack Obama rightly spoke about the importance of growing a clean energy economy. Dedicating a chunk of his speech to the promise of the clean energy sector of the economy and the necessity for us as a nation to invest in this sector, the president issued a promise to America's scientists and engineers: If they innovate and come up with clean energy solutions, our government will invest in them and scale them up.

The president called this the "Sputnik moment" of our time. With that analogy, he hit it out of the ballpark. Our ability to invest in and dedicate ourselves to the clean energy economy of the future will guarantee our nation the global edge. It will make us world leaders, and it will guarantee Americans jobs and job security for decades to come. The president tackled this potential in his speech with inspiration and wisdom.

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21 January 2011, 12:48 PM
Movement to stop the destruction picks up after historic EPA action on MTR
A photo mosaic of the late Judy Bonds, a crusader to stop MTR, made up of 650 Earthjustice photo submissions.

Yesterday, The New York Times published an excellent editorial on mountaintop removal mining in support of the EPA's decision to veto the water pollution permit for the largest proposed mine in West Virginia, Arch Coal's Spruce No. 1 mine.

It issues a strong reproach of the antics of certain friends of coal in Congress:

The mine received a final permit from the Army Corps of Engineers in 2007. The E.P.A. has long had the power to veto such permits but has used it only once before. This decision provoked predictably outraged responses from industry and its political friends, including West Virginia’s two Democratic senators, John Rockefeller IV and Joe Manchin III, a former governor ...

Arch Coal has vowed a court fight, which Mr. Manchin says he will support. A far better use of their energies would be to find a less destructive way to mine coal.

This moral reinforcement comes after a monumental and whirlwind week in the movement to stop mountaintop removal mining.

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13 January 2011, 12:07 PM
Coal mine finally stopped as EPA rejects Spruce No. 1 Mine
Site of the proposed Spruce mine (green valley to right). Photo by Vivian Stockman of OVEC, Flyover courtesy SouthWings.

Today, after a generation of blasting its way virtually unhindered across Appalachia, the coal industry has been defused. The EPA announced its veto of what would have been the largest mountaintop removal operation in West Virginia -- Arch Coal's Spruce No. 1 Mine.

The EPA's unprecedented action spares the land, protects those in the area of the proposed mine, and must be seen as a huge victory for communities across Appalachia. They have hope at last that this most destructive form of coal mining is finally being reined in. It is a huge victory for them and for all Americans joined in the struggle to protect our air and water from industrial pollution.

The impacts of this decision are profound:

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06 January 2011, 4:42 PM
Some in Congress care more about special interests than the public interest
Fred Upton (R-MI) is leading the charge against EPA's public health protections.

Only three days after Republicans took over the House of Representatives, Americans are at risk of losing critical, life-saving pollution protections. Since they took their seats in the 112th Congress, some elected representatives have made shooting down or slowing down these protective pollution controls their top priority.

Today, House Republicans announced a resolution that seeks to undo U.S. Environmental Protection Agency rules to control toxic emissions from cement plants. EPA scientists have estimated the rules would prevent up to 2,500 premature deaths and thousands of heart and respiratory incidents, and save billions of dollars in health costs each year. Read more about this deadly proposal in Congress.

Also today, Rep. Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) and Rep. Ted Poe (R-TX) introduced two separate bills to delay and block EPA action on global warming pollution, scientifically found to endanger human health and welfare.

And, yesterday, a group of House members, all Republicans with one exception, introduced a bill that also would block the EPA from being able to follow through on its global warming pollution controls, which were required by the Supreme Court in 2007.

It's shocking and bewildering to see members of Congress take their seats and immediately come out swinging at pollution protections that SAVE OUR LIVES and keep us safe and healthy.

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05 January 2011, 3:33 PM
The fuss over bulbs and the bright and dim ideas of Congress and pundits

Energy efficient light bulbs have come to symbolize the promise of smarter, greener, cost-saving technologies. The image of the coiled CFL (compact fluorescent lamp) reminds us that we can save money while saving energy. And for good reason: The federal government's Energy Star program found that if every American home replaced just one light with a CFL that's earned the Energy Star rating, we could save enough energy to light 3 million homes for a year, or reduce our electric bills by $600 million annually while preventing 9 billion pounds of greenhouse gas emissions per year, equivalent to the annual emissions from about 800,000 cars.

An energy-efficient CFL can save more than $40 in electricity costs over its lifetime compared to the old incandescent bulbs. It uses about 75 percent less energy and lasts 10 times longer.

The free money from these kinds of commonsense energy efficiency gains is why Congress passed the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007, a landmark bill that mandated a host of efficiency standards for cars, lighting, and appliances. Now Congress doesn't always use logic and foresight, but this bill was smartly based on a few very logical premises that employed some solid forward thinking.

Among them, two major premises:

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04 January 2011, 10:44 AM
Rest in peace Judy Bonds, godmother of fight to stop mountaintop removal mining

Last night we lost a true hero, Judy Bonds of Marfork, West Virginia. Judy—the executive director of Coal River Mountain Watch, Goldman Prize recipient, and friend and partner of Earthjustice—was a courageous leader in the fight to protect Americans and future generations from the poisonous pollution and destruction of mountaintop removal mining.

She was an inspiration to many in this movement, a fearless voice for her fellow West Virginians, and a righteous fighter. She fought for the health of her neighbors and all Americans, she stood up against toxic pollution, for justice, and against the greed and destruction of rich and powerful corporations. Through her persistent fight, she opened many people's eyes to the environmental injustices of mountaintop removal mining. "I don't mind being poor, and I don't mind being made fun of, but I draw the line at being blasted and poisoned," she said. She had a way with words and was a powerful orator and organizer.

"Fight harder" was often her advice to others, and despite meeting obstacles, challenges and even threats, she kept up the fight and managed to fight yet harder. She inspired so many of us to join in the fight, and even more of a gift, she made us believe that if we join together, if we really try, we can make a difference and we can win.

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16 December 2010, 1:53 PM
What would a winter wonderland be without treetops glistening?
Photo: BLM

What do Dasher, Dancer, Prancer and Vixen, turtle doves, geese a-laying, calling birds, partridges in pear trees, and holly trees all have in common? They all make their home in the forest, of course.

This holiday season a coalition of environmental groups including Earthjustice is asking President Obama to give America a gift that stands the test of time: a forestry plan that safeguards our nation's woodlands for the future and protects forest creatures great and small. Join us by sending President Obama this holiday wish for our forests!

As we venture over the river and through the woods this holiday season—or along I-90, I-70, I-95, I-5, and other crowded highways we must travel—many of us will pass by some of the 200 million acres of magnificent forests that constitute our National Forest system.

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10 December 2010, 4:09 PM
Court clears the way for EPA to stay the course on global warming pollution

This afternoon. the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals swatted down big polluters' attempts to block this nation's most important progress on cutting climate change pollution. This court decision is a huge victory for clean air in America and for progress on climate change.

A coalition of Texas polluters are responsible, yet again, for this unsuccessful effort to prevent the Environmental Protection Agency from curbing global warming pollution from moving vehicles and the biggest industry polluters.

Earthjustice and others represented Environmental Defense Fund as a court intervenor in opposing the polluters' motions for a court stay on the endangerment finding and the EPA's action on carbon pollution, which has been scientifically found to harm and endanger human health and welfare.

Reacting to today's court decision,Earthjustice attorney David Baron said:

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17 November 2010, 10:24 AM
Stories from the frontlines of the fight to end mountaintop removal

Inspiration abounds in America. Despite the problems and troubles of this expansive land, we have heroes, champions and everyday people who, day in and day out, rise above their circumstances to the inspire those around them and lead their communities toward change.

After all, that's the story of America, isn't it? At the heart of every great triumph in our nation's history is the story of everyday people who stood up and demanded better for themselves, for their neighbors, for their brothers and sisters, and for their fellow Americans.

Since I began working on Earthjustice's campaign to stop mountaintop removal mining, I've met teenagers who feel driven by the dream of saving the mountains of Appalachia for future generations. I've met husbands and wives who want to fight for clean water for their unborn children, grandparents who dedicate their retired days to preserve what's left of the rare wild places on earth, and former Marines who have found a new purpose—to ensure that their fellow Americans have access to clean water.

I've met mothers made ill from toxic waters, and who won't be held down—fathers and daughters who sacrifice to fight for what's right, and folks at the end of their lives who get out of bed every morning, despite the odds, to keep the fight alive. I've heard poets who have found the words others were seeking, singers who give voice to whole communities that struggle to be heard, and so many, many more.

It has never been more clear that this work to stop the destruction of mountaintop removal mining -- though it is a fight to save the environment—was never just about the environment. It has always been about the people. It has always been about the right to clean water. It has always been about the preservation of a way of life for people who live among the oldest, most biodiverse mountains on this continent. And it remains, still, about the health and future of our fellow Americans in Appalachia.

Today we launch a new campaign that aims to tell just a few of these mountain heroes' stories, the true and very real stories of five people who are living among the destruction of mountaintop removal and among the Appalachian mountains and waters that we need to save.

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03 November 2010, 3:04 PM
Americans want jobs AND clean energy, clean air, clean water, green economy

There's been so much talk about the dirty words of "cap 'n trade" the last few weeks that one could really start to believe the spin. That is, the argument put forward by a few candidates and pundits, and some misguided reporters even (see this incorrect Politico report, which was refuted by this sensible TIME report), is that votes for the climate bill cost some House members their seats.

First of all, Americans cast their votes on the economy, jobs and government spending. Climate change, while a spicy talking point for some, was not on most voters' priority lists, according to a milieu of exit polls and surveys.

One survey found that when voters who chose the Republican candidate were asked in an open-ended question to name their biggest concern about the Democrat, only 1 percent cited something related to energy or cap and trade.

Bottom line: People who wanted change in '08 were upset that that change didn't come fast enough, or that the economy is still in rough shape.

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