Raviya Ismail's Blog Posts

unEARTHED. The Earthjustice Blog

Raviya Ismail'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.

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22 January 2013, 2:34 PM
Supreme Court refuses to review case that upheld limits to SO2 emissions
The U.S. Supreme Court has kept the life-saving sulfur dioxide standard intact. (Mark Fischer)

We were thrilled in July when the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ruled to uphold a clean air standard that limits dangerous intense bursts of sulfur dioxide pollution from power plants, factories and other sources. Sulfur dioxide is a pretty nasty agent that causes a variety of adverse health impacts including breathing difficulties, aggravation of asthma and increased hospital and emergency room visits for respiratory illnesses.

Today our lungs have an even better reason to rejoice: the Supreme Court has refused to review the appeals court decision, keeping the standard intact.

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17 December 2012, 12:45 PM
Need for cleanup dire as residents continually consume toxic fish
The Pepco Benning Road Power Plant towers over the river. PCB waste allegedly comes from the plant and has ended up in the river.

We have spent more than 15 years championing the need for cleaning up the Anacostia River (as well as the Potomac River and Rock Creek). And what better reason than the fact that several District and Prince George County residents depend on the river for sustenance. This disturbing (you’ll know why in a moment) Washington Post article details the hundreds of anglers who fish the river, pulling out catfish, rockfish and carp, according to a study released by several groups, including the Anacostia Watershed Society. AWS is one of several environmental groups we’ve represented in numerous legal challenges.

According to the Post, nearly 75 percent of anglers consume part of their catch, despite a strong advisory to catch and release. Here are the facts: catfish bottom-feed in the Anacostia, where their food is mixed in with a cancer-causing stew of toxic metals and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs).

This is not good. What is particularly bad about this scenario, is that of the nearly 75 percent who catch these contaminated fish, most share it with people back home, dispersing these fish sometimes to pregnant women and children.

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04 December 2012, 3:36 PM
Disproportionate burden of coal plant emissions placed on such communities

The results of a comprehensive study investigating the impacts of living near 378 coal plants in the United States have found that people of color and low-income communities are disproportionately more burdened by this pollution than any other segment of the population. Coal Blooded was pulled together by the NAACP, Little Village Environmental Justice Organization (LVEJO) and the Indigenous Environmental Network.

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29 November 2012, 11:22 AM
Nearly two-thirds of those surveyed support standards
The microscopic size of soot allows it to lodge deep within the lung. (Chris Jordan-Bloch / Earthjustice.)

They have spoken! Nearly two-thirds of American voters are demanding stronger protections against one of the most dangerous and pervasive pollutants around: soot.

Today, the American Lung Association released results from a national survey of 942 registered voters, finding that support for these clean air protections is broad and deep, with strong majority backing even after hearing balanced messages on both aisles of the debate.

Now it’s time for the EPA and the White House to listen: on Dec. 14, 2012, the EPA will release final updated standards for PM 2.5 (soot). Earlier this year the EPA proposed updated clean air safeguards that will prevent thousands of premature deaths and take steps toward clearing hazy air in national parks.

The proposal came in response to legal action filed by Earthjustice on behalf of the Lung Association and the National Parks Conservation Association.

The polling specifically finds that 62 percent of voters favor the proposal, compared to 30 percent who oppose it. Nearly 40 percent of voters strongly favor the standards, while only 20 percent express strong opposition.

ALA poll results.

A survey by ALA found broad and deep support for stronger soot standards.
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19 November 2012, 10:51 AM
Clean air champions go to court on "fracking" and other drilling air rules
Heavy smoke caused by flaring operations at natural gas well located on state land near Pinedale, WY.  (William Belveal)

Last Wednesday, a group of clean air advocates intervened to protect crucial air safeguards that will curb pollution emitted during oil and gas drilling. Unfortunately the state of Texas and their allies with the American Petroleum Institute and a variety of other state alliances of oil and gas companies are pushing back against these necessary protections.

But here are the facts: industry and their allies are hyping natural gas as a miracle fuel, yet the gas drilling sector—which includes the controversial practice of hydraulic fracturing or “fracking”—has worsened air quality around the country. In some parts of the country undergoing a gas drilling boom, air quality has fallen below levels the EPA determined to be safe. This is a growing problem that is wreaking havoc on our lungs.

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15 October 2012, 11:51 AM
Article features communities living near coal ash ponds
Curt and Debbie Haven may have to sell their family home in Chester, W. Va. due to coal ash waste run-off seeping onto their land.  (Chris Jordan-Bloch / Earthjustice)

In our effort to raise awareness on the hazards of coal ash, we have written blog post after blog post, sent press releases, submitted editorials and letters to the editor.

So we are mighty pleased that the Washington Post featured this important issue in a story today written by Juliet Eilperin. The story illustrates the politics obstructing the coal ash rule from moving forward.

But what I am most pleased about, is the voice that this story gives to folks on the ground who are enduring the hazards of living near coal ash ponds. More on that later…

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27 September 2012, 9:48 AM
Pollution is hurting their businesses and quality of life

In June, Earthjustice was dismayed when the Maryland Department of the Environment put out a proposal that failed to adequately reduce pollution from Baltimore Harbor. Tina Meyers of the Baltimore Harbor Waterkeeper, who we work with on this issue, said:

The Baltimore City stormwater pollution permit is meant to regulate the pollution that is discharging directly from Baltimore City’s stormwater pipes into our rivers, streams and Harbor. Unfortunately, this permit lacks limits on the amount of pollution that is allowed to go into our waterways and also lacks enforceable deadlines by which these limits must be reached.

Well, it turns out we aren’t the only ones who are upset.

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01 August 2012, 6:19 AM
Environmental, health groups support two health protections
Newborns are especially vulnerable to the toxic flame retardant chemical PBDE. (Image of child via Shutterstock)

Last week we spoke about the weaknesses in the current law protecting Americans from toxic chemicals. Today we submitted comments to EPA urging the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to move forward with health protections that would regulate polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) which are a group of toxic flame retardants. The health-protective actions we are urging EPA to take would impose some of the most stringent restrictions permitted under the Toxic Substances Control Act, the flawed and obsolete statute that ties EPA’s hands in trying to ensure the safety of the chemicals that are produced and used in this country. The comments were prepared with Environmental Defense Fund on behalf of 33 other groups

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24 July 2012, 1:11 PM
Chemicals aren't dangerous unless proven so
Firefighters are often exposed to a “chemical cocktail” of emissions from flame retardant chemicals. (BLS)

At a Senate hearing, today, about the EPA's authority to control exposures to toxic chemicals, Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Cali.) wondered aloud: what would Americans say if asked whether they thought products containing poisonous chemicals are tested before being sold.

Most probably think there is a system in place to protect them from such products before they make their way into homes and bodies, Boxer guessed. “That a chemical has to be proven safe before it is used."

But that is not the case, she said. “In actuality, the EPA has to prove that it is unsafe.”

At an oversight hearing of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, discussion focused on chemical flame retardants as a prime example of what is wrong with the federal law that regulates chemicals. The committee heard from an EPA official, a mother and legislator, scientist, San Francisco firefighter and talking heads for industry.

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26 June 2012, 11:09 AM
Federal appeals court sides with clean air

Today has turned into a better day for our planet—and our lungs. In a landmark decision, the D.C. federal appeals court upheld every single one of the EPA’s carbon pollution limits. These EPA protections are in response to the Supreme Court’s 2007 ruling in Massachusetts v. EPA, and are important parts of the agency’s efforts to curb such pollution under the Clean Air Act.

The rules went to oral argument in February after more than 60 lawsuits by companies including Massey Energy Co.; business groups such as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce; and states such as Texas and Virginia pushed the court to overthrow the “arbitrary” and “capricious” standards.

However, today the three-judge panel of the D.C. court of appeals ruled that the EPA’s interpretation of the Clean Air Act was “unambiguously correct.” The court also concluded that opponents don’t have the legal right to challenge the timing and tailoring rules.

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