Liz Judge's Blog Posts

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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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29 June 2010, 2:55 PM
A sad state of affairs or a rallying call for the Senate?

This morning, the president met with a bipartisan group of 23 key Senate leaders on the state of climate change and energy legislation in the Senate.

The meeting, originally scheduled for last Thursday, was delayed because of the Rolling Stone drama surrounding Gen. Stanley McChrystal last week and the resulting political fallout. To many of us who have watched our national climate and energy policy take a back seat for weeks, months, years, administrations and decades, the delay may have hit a sore spot. Maybe it seemed like the umpteenth delay in a process that is so sorely delayed already.

So when the White House announced that meeting would take place today, many of us watched with bated breath. We know the sands are falling through the hour glass on this opportunity to guarantee a clean-energy future for our nation. We feel the pressure; we see the midterm elections approaching. We see Republican senators who used to be champions of clean energy and climate change legislation (McCain and Graham, anyone?) turn their backs on this issue for political positioning. And we see an oil crisis in the Gulf every day that oh-so-painfully highlights our need for a new, clean energy policy.

All of this indicates the need for even stronger leadership from the Obama Administration and Senate leaders to get us where we need to be as a nation.

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18 June 2010, 9:41 AM
Fast-track approach to mountain destruction is suspended
Kayford Mountain in West Virginia - photo by Vivian Stockman, courtesy of Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition

Yesterday the Army Corps of Engineers announced that it is suspending the use of nationwide permits for mountaintop removal coal mining.

Under U.S. law, companies who wish to engage in mountaintop removal mining—this is, to use explosives to blow off the top of mountains to get to the coal underneath, and then dispose of the rubble in streams and waterways—need to get a permit from the Army Corps of Engineers to do so. This permit is actually a Clean Water Act permit, and the granting of it holds that a company is abiding by the Clean Water Act, the cornerstone of water protection in the United States, and is following its requirements when it dumps its mining waste in the valley streams and waterways.

In 1982, the Army Corps of engineers established a nationwide permit (NWA Permit 21) for mountaintop removal mining operations, most of which are in Appalachia. This was a generalized, fast-track process that waived the Clean Water Act permit application for companies and automatically granted them permits. Instead of applying and going through a normal permitting process that assesses each company's impact on the waterways and streams, this Corps permit acted as a blind rubber stamp, outright allowing companies to engage in mountaintop-removal mining without proving that Clean Water Act requirements will indeed be met.

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01 June 2010, 3:45 PM
What in the world is going on?

While the federal government launches a criminal investigation into the cause of the Deepwater Horizon explosion and oil spill, some in the Senate are still making designs for a big polluter bailout.

On Friday, 13 leading environmental officials joined the ranks of the many who have protested this effort in Senate, which was put forth in a proposal by Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) months ago and will come to a Senate vote on June 10.

Her proposed legislation would keep us hooked on dirty and dangerous fossil fuels, and protect the oil and coal industries from having to clean up their pollution, by removing the Environmental Protection Agency's ability to regulate global warming-causing greenhouse gases. The EPA has this authority by way of the Clean Air Act, one of our nation's most effective and successful environmental laws, and the Supreme Court's 2007 Massachusetts v. EPA ruling.

In a letter to Senate leaders, the bipartisan group of state environmental agency heads and leaders from both coasts and parts in between defends the 40-year-old Clean Air Act, and argues that any reversal or delay of the EPA's science-based findings on the threat of global warming would be unacceptable.

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28 May 2010, 1:14 PM
Proposal out for new and renovated federal government buildings to be green

The Department of Energy today released a proposal to require that all new and renovated federal buildings across America meet a host of sustainable design, siting, and construction requirements. These standards will ensure that when a new post office goes up in your town, or when your local courthouse gets a building makeover, or when your military base builds a new facility, it will be green. And this green government building will stand as an example for the rest of the town, state and country.

We're obviously glad to see DOE finally start to take important action, even though today's standards are just a first step of what is needed, because of the impact that a full energy efficiency upgrade will make nationally once DOE addresses all of the current requirements.

Just to give it some perspective, in a typical year, federal buildings consume nearly 40 percent of all energy used by the government and represent 5 percent of all commerical buildings' energy consumption in the country. Greening our federal buildings will dramatically reduce our nation's overall carbon emissions and save us, the taxpayers, tens of millions of dollars in the process. In 2008, for example, the federal government spent $7 billion to purchase energy for its buildings. Reducing these buildings' energy use will save us dramatically.

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13 May 2010, 3:14 PM
Argues for billion-dollar oil company spill bailout amid ongoing Gulf spill

Here are some facts that should provide sufficient context for the *wildly outrageous* move Sen. Murkowski pulled on the floor of the Senate today. My colleagues' blogs on unEARTHED within the last few weeks provide much, much more background and context—definitely check those out if you haven't already (you can start here and here).

But for expediency's sake right now, thought I'd share just a few among a dizzying array of scary truths about the damage this oil spill is doing to our ecosystems, wildlife, fisheries, national economy—just to bring it home before getting to Murkowski's latest:

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12 May 2010, 11:22 AM
Long-awaited climate and energy bill makes its introduction today

<Update: Earthjustice supporters are starting to weigh in on the legislation on our Facebook page. Feel free to join in.>

Yesterday’s Senate hearings on the Gulf oil spill appropriately set the stage for today’s introduction of the American Power Act, the climate and energy bill draft produced by Senators John Kerry, Joe Lieberman, and Lindsey Graham, who ultimately pulled his support of the draft in a dramatic turn of events in late April.

After months of negotiations with industry and oil company execs, rumors, leaks, press statements, news reports, and general media hoopla surrounding this bill and its drafting process, Senators Kerry and Lieberman finally unveiled the bill sans Graham.

Just minutes ago, the entire bill hit the internet, along with a handful of summaries and section-by-section synopses of the bill.

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29 April 2010, 12:24 PM
And more evidence of climate change, & learning things the hard way

Einstein defined insanity as doing the same thing over again and expecting different results. Einstein, who had a particular knack for coming up with enduring and timeless ideas, may find application in our country's energy landscape today.

Looking out yonder, we see a devastating oil spill and possibly one of the worst and most costly ecological disasters in our country's history, mountains being destroyed by explosives and the resulting toxic sludge getting dumped into our waterways, communities and people being poisoned by coal ash and coal waste, and carbon pollution exacerbating heat waves, warming our oceans, and increasing ocean acidity until building blocks of our underwater life are killed off—and these are just some of the things we are seeing here in the U.S.

Looking beyond the U.S., we see unfriendly regimes getting stronger and richer from our reliance on foreign oil, we see China boosting its share of the renewables market in its quest for global economic leadership and to meet its growing thirst for energy.

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28 April 2010, 10:25 AM
Oil rig spill moving toward Louisiana coast, leaving a wake of loss
NASA image of the oil slick as it approaches Louisiana's ecologically fragile coast

As a crude oil spill bigger than West Virginia wreaks havoc on the Gulf of Mexico’s underwater ecosystems and makes its way to the U.S. shore, a rescue task force continues unsuccessfully to contain the pipes and seal off the leak caused by a giant oil rig explosion last week which took 11 lives.

News reports say that officials—who are about to set the slick on fire in an effort to contain it before it hits shore and devastates the fragile ecosystems there—fear that this could become one of the worst oil spills in U.S. history.

“If this oil reaches the coast, there will be some pretty severe impacts to these habitats,” said Tom Minello, a Galveston-based ecologist for the National Marine Fisheries Service, in a Houston Chronicle report on the spill’s impact on endangered species and prized fisheries yesterday.

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22 April 2010, 9:41 AM
Thanks for all you've done

“The battle to restore a proper relationship between man and his environment, and between man and other living creatures, will require a long sustained political, moral, ethical, and financial commitment far beyond any commitment ever made by any society in the history of man. Are we able? Yes. Are we willing? That’s the unanswered question.” – Gaylord Nelson, founder of Earth Day.

When Earth Day was born 40 years ago, there were “spumes of pollution pouring out of smokestacks, people spraying children in parking lots and at picnics with DDT, air pollution in major cities that was basically unbreathable, rivers catching on fire, lakes dying,” says one of Earth Day’s original organizers, Denis Hayes, in this Washington Post video. “It was just deteriorating very rapidly, but what addressed those problems was a wave of legislation immediately after Earth Day.” (For more on Earth Day’s storied history, read this.)

As we celebrate 40 years of Earth Day, we’re also celebrating 40 years of Earthjustice victories – check out 40 of our favorite victories along with stunning photos in this new slideshow made for Earth Day 2010.

We're also celebrating our army of supporters, activist members, and concerned citizens. We have you to thank for each of these major victories, and the many victories and wins in between.

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20 April 2010, 12:47 PM
Energy efficiency positions itself to take a lead role in 2010

We’ve been calling it our nation’s dark horse energy source for a while now. We’ve been saying it has the potential to wean us off our dependence on dirty foreign and fossil fuels, provide jobs, and fight climate change. And we’ve been saying that if you embrace it, you will save lots of money in the process. So, just in time for Earth Day, we’re delighted to see some strong signs that energy efficiency will be propelling ahead in 2010.

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