Patti Goldman's Blog Posts

unEARTHED. The Earthjustice Blog

Patti Goldman'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.

Patti Goldman is Earthjustice's Vice President for Litigation. She works with the nine regional offices and our international program to ensure that litigation has far-reaching impact in protecting the environment and the right of all people to a healthy environment. She previously managed the Northwest office where she had phenomenal successes in protecting orca whales, old-growth forests, Pacific salmon, farmworkers exposed to toxic pesticides and Native American tribes whose way of life is threatened by poor stewardship of the environment. Based in Seattle, Patti enjoys hiking, skiing, kayaking, volleyball and spending time with her family.

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12 December 2013, 2:10 PM
Earthjustice and our clients have made the law's promise a reality
A California condor soars over the Grand Canyon. (Chris Parish / The Peregrine Fund)

Ten years ago, my family saw firsthand the power of the Endangered Species Act in action. We were backpacking in the Grand Canyon and a California condor soared overhead. The sheer size of his wingspan was awe-inspiring. As we rounded the next bend, there sat the condor at the side of the trail, a marvel to behold.

The return of condors to the Grand Canyon is a testament to our nation's commitment to protect the heritage "we hold in trust to countless future generations of our fellow citizens," as President Nixon proclaimed when he signed the Endangered Species Act 40 years ago.

But the Endangered Species Act did not miraculously save imperiled species as a matter of course. In its wisdom, Congress included citizen suits in the law to make sure the law would be followed. Earthjustice lawsuits by the dozens on behalf of hundreds of clients have made the law's promise a reality.

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19 July 2013, 11:28 AM
The song and sights of nature evoke pride for the work of Earthjustice
Paddling down the Colorado River. (Richard Kirst)

This is my first day back in the office after a week rafting and hiking in the Grand Canyon, a week spent marveling at the canyon’s majesty and trying to grasp its lessons of the earth’s history. The canyon wren serenaded us each day, and cicadas and fluttering bats each night. We floated through layers of time, eventually reaching Pre-Cambrian schist and granite, the bowels of the earth. As we climbed out and heard a cacophony of languages spoken, it gave meaning to Ken Burns’ depiction of our national parks as our Louvre, our contribution to civilization.

The vistas are awe-inspiring. Helped by the monsoon rains and Grand Canyon winds, we could see rock layers on the opposite rim. Earthjustice is working to keep it that way.

The Grand Canyon is 1 mile deep and up to 18 miles wide. (Richard Kirst)

The Grand Canyon is 1 mile deep and up to 18 miles wide. (Richard Kirst)
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27 December 2012, 11:46 AM
America was well-served by her staunch efforts
Lisa P. Jackson has announced that she will be stepping down from her position in January 2013.

Earthjustice is saddened by today's announcement that Lisa Jackson is stepping down as administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency.

America owes Lisa Jackson a debt of gratitude for her work to protect the public's health from polluters and their allies in Congress. For her efforts to clean up pollution and better protect the environment and public health, she faced a steady barrage from members of Congress and the industrial polluters who back them. Her detractors are the same people who told us taking lead out of gasoline in the 1970's would break the economy and that taking acid out of acid rain in the 1990's would ruin the country. In both cases, the environment and economy were strengthened and this is the approach Lisa Jackson took. There is a lot of unfinished business started by Jackson that the next EPA director will need to attend to. Whoever it is, they'll need the support of the President and they'll need to be ready for a non-stop barrage of attacks from the chemical, industrial and fossil fuel industries and their allies in Congress.

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03 December 2012, 5:53 PM
Supreme Court considers two citizen enforcement cases
The U.S. Supreme Court. (Mark Fischer)

The U.S. Supreme Court is considering a pair of cases that could cut back on the ability of citizens to enforce the Clean Water Act. Although different, at their core, both afford the court opportunities either to preserve or weaken the power of citizens to hold polluters accountable for harming our nation’s waters.

The Clean Water Act, enacted four decades ago, aimed to make the nation’s waters drinkable, fishable, and swimmable. To make good on this promise, it prohibits discharges of pollution into U.S. waters without a permit and holds polluters to the limits imposed in such permits. Congress gave citizens the power to enforce the Clean Water Act, for Congress recognized that the government often lacks the financial resources and political will to enforce environmental laws against violators. In this way, the Act enlists people who use treasured waters or live near facilities that expose their communities to untenable pollution to stand in the shoes of the government to enforce the law against wrongdoers.

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13 January 2012, 3:33 PM
Twenty years of Earthjustice legal work praised for its impact in Florida
The Everglades. Photo by USGS.

Twenty years after we settled our first lawsuit in Florida, one thing is crystal clear: Without litigation, the Everglades would be left with whatever protection the agencies and the Florida Legislature would be willing to provide under pressure from Big Sugar and other powerful polluters. In other words: not much.

Litigation has empowered the community to press for real restoration gains and has forced governments to deliver. These truths were reinforced earlier this month at the 27th annual meeting of the Everglades Coalition sponsored by Earthjustice this year.

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17 February 2011, 6:45 AM
Amendments target wildlife, water, air, public health, natural resources

Forty years of environmental progress is under attack today by a vote in the House of Representative on a stop-gap funding measure to keep the federal government running.

Unfortunately, that measure—called a continuing resolution—is loaded with amendments and provisions that would slash the Environmental Protection Agency’s budget, and seeks to override the rule of law at every turn.

These so-called  “riders” could not pass on their own merits, so their sponsors hope they will ride the coat-tails of this must-pass budget bill. Like fleas, they come with the dog, only these are far more than irritants. They would overturn court decisions that we have obtained to stop illegal behavior and force federal agencies to comply with the law.

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11 August 2010, 1:11 PM
Law basically ignored when Gulf oil started spilling
Dispersant being sprayed in Gulf

More than 1,8 million gallons. That's the amount of dispersant applied to the Gulf oil spill. Unfortunately, dispersants were used in the Gulf in unprecedented ways and amounts, turning the Gulf into a massive experiment largely keeping the public in the dark as to the risks these dispersants pose.

It wasn't supposed to happen this way. In the aftermath of the Exxon Valdez oil spill, Congress enacted a new law calling for advance study and approval of dispersants as part of oil spill response planning. The performance of both government regulators and the industry fell far short of the promise and dictates of this law.

During the first few weeks of the Gulf spill, the names of the ingredients in Corexit—the dispersant being used in massive amounts—were kept secret. The secret ingredients were identified only after congressional demands, media outcry and a Freedom of Information Act request filed by Earthjustice.

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16 April 2010, 10:08 AM
Attorney—and mom—sees promise in "Safe Chemicals Act"
Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ)

As mother, I try to protect my children from exposure to toxic chemicals in household products. But as an environmental attorney, I know only too well that our country's existing system of regulating chemicals is badly broken.

The same law that allowed asbestos to remain on the market long after it had been proven carcinogenic now has parents doubling as forensic chemists scrambling to keep up with the latest research on health risks posed by the items in their homes.

When it comes to protecting our kids from toxic chemicals, parents need a system that meets us halfway. We need to shift the burden from families to the companies who are manufacturing and distributing the chemicals used in these products.

This week, we are one step closer to that goal, with legislation introduced yesterday by Senator Frank Lautenberg.

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24 February 2010, 3:13 PM
Only 8 days remain to contact EPA
Adelaida Galvez and her daughter Genoveva, who has been exposed to pesticides, live across from an orange grove in Lindsay, CA.

Pesticides, by design, maim, incapacitate, or kill pests. But throughout this country, pesticides drift from the fields where they are sprayed to areas where children live, learn, and play, causing similar harm. Far too many children suffer acute nerve poisoning illnesses from pesticides and they risk debilitating long-term effects like cancer, reproductive impairments, and learning disabilities.

As its name suggests, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is charged with protecting children from pesticide-induced illnesses. In fact, in 1996, Congress unanimously passed the Food Quality Protection Act, giving EPA 10 years to ensure that children would not be harmed by their aggregate exposures to a pesticide.

To do this, EPA added up the exposures to children from a pesticide in food, drinking water, homes, and yards. Unfortunately, it failed to include what is often the biggest exposure for rural kids, kids living near fields or orchards, and farmworkers—pesticides moving through the air to envelop and permeate the homes, schools, parks, and playgrounds. This route of exposure, known as pesticide drift, occurs following pesticide application.

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05 January 2010, 12:16 PM
EPA chief's sentiments supported by Earthjustice actions

The new Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, Lisa Jackson, is on a mission to change the face of environmentalism. 

She speaks as a daughter whose mother was flooded out of the 9th Ward by Hurricane Katrina and who “can now make as compelling an argument as any wetlands expert about the need to protect and preserve wetlands.”  She speaks as a mother of a son with asthma who may not be able to go outside when ozone levels are high.

And she especially wants to broaden the conversation to make room for low-income and communities of color disproportionately burdened by pollution and to make environmental issues relevant to every-day Americans.

A main message from several of Lisa Jackson’s speeches  -- that many people care deeply about our environment, but do not call themselves environmentalists -- made me reflect on Earthjustice’s work to improve the health and quality of life of those most impacted by environmentally degrading activities.

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