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.

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27 September 2010, 12:45 PM
Sulfur dioxide causes asthma and other respiratory ailments

So, imagine breathing in a substance that not only exacerbates but causes known breathing problems such as asthma. You'd want the Environmental Protection Agency to do something about it, right?

Well, they did: in June the EPA reined in emissions of sulfur dioxide—a nasty chemical—from power plants and other sources. These new standards are expected to prevent thousands of asthma attacks and hundreds of emergency room visits every year.

Great, right? Industry doesn't think so.

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15 September 2010, 1:09 PM
Residents from downwind states also in danger

I spent a few days in Houston attending an (insert irony here) air pollution hearing in June. After only a few days, I felt run-down, my eyes burning and my breathing labored. I believe my symptoms were caused by breathing in Houston's heavily polluted air.

That's not the only area of Texas exposed to dirty air. Current and proposed power plants will produce nearly one million tons of criteria pollutants annually. With its 21 operating coal plants and seven proposed coal plants, Texas has the largest number of any state in the nation. Which is why it's no surprise that states outside of Texas are being contaminated, too.

We filed suit on behalf of Sierra Club to urge the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to intervene, and establish and reinforce federal air standards in Texas to reign in the estimated 400,000 tons per year of ozone-forming pollution, more than 227 million tons per year of carbon dioxide, huge quantities of soot and other fine particle pollution, and almost 14,000 pounds per year of mercury.

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30 August 2010, 2:24 PM
Hundreds testify as EPA hearings begin on regulating coal ash
Coal ash spill

One grandmother from Virginia called on the EPA to "do the right thing... step up."

Gefen Kabik, 14, of Potomoc, Maryland asked, "Since when has money become more important than people?"

And Eric Schaeffer, director of the Environmental Integrity Project, said, "There are a lot of people who can't afford to be in the room today who are depending on you to make the right choice."

Today, at the first of seven EPA public hearings on coal ash, the agency had to work through lunch to accommodate the swell of people giving testimony—an estimated 200 people. The hearing was to discuss one of two options the EPA is considering on coal ash. One option would regulate coal ash as a toxic substance, while the other—supported by power companies and other polluters—would do nothing to monitor and regulate the threats from coal ash.

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10 August 2010, 2:19 PM
Noisy gas and oil drilling surveys upset fragile marine ecosystems
Narwahls can't fight noise with their fearsome tooth

All of you have had that errant neighbor who decides to throw a party at 2 a.m., and the next day you are groggy and temperamental—not your best self.

Now imagine having to contend with that loud noise 24 hours a day—as marine animals in the Gulf of Mexico must because of oil and gas drilling surveys.

Earthjustice joined a lawsuit against the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation, and Enforcement (formerly the Minerals Management Service) to challenge its approval of these surveys.

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03 August 2010, 12:08 PM
Port Clyde Fishermen Use Sustainable Methods, Cut out the Middlemen
Glen Libby

In a small, nondescript building, local Port Clyde, Maine fishermen are bringing back a way of life that disappeared when overfishing depleted groundfish stocks. Now, by using more sustainable fishing methods and cutting out the middlemen -- local fishermen are once more supplying fish to their own community.

"We've created a lot of jobs and there's potential to create more," said fisherman and co-op president Glen Libby. "There's a lot of demand for seafood."

With competition from bigger fisheries and stricter federal regulations monitoring the amount of fish that are caught, Libby said he and other fishermen talked about the idea of forging their own fish co-op using sustainable fishing methods—ensuring that fishermen never exceed fish quota but also attracting customers.

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21 July 2010, 2:05 PM
Earthjustice actions improve odds against fish slaughter

If you Google an image of a herring midwater trawler, you see a well-equipped large fishing ship. What you may not see are the massive nets that drag behind such ships - meant to capture anything in their path. No wonder local fishermen in Massachusetts are having a hard time competing. Most of their catch is being scooped up by these nets.

Well, today (7/21) Earthjustice scored big—three times over—in the struggle to keep trawling ships from continuing to deplete fisheries of groundfish (including cod, haddock, flounder and sole).

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14 July 2010, 10:57 AM
Companies embrace sustainable fish practices as overfishing affects business

I used to love the taste of Filet ‘O Fish sandwiches. That scrumptious tartar sauce and the delectable white fish flakiness coupled with deep fried crunchiness—and let's not forget the chewy bun. Oh so yum.

But then I noticed that the fish started tasting a little differently. Turns out McDonald’s used to only use North Atlantic cod for its sandwiches but had to change to a different supplier in the late 1980’s after cod-fishing grounds became so overfished. Now the sandwiches are made from a motley mix of five different whitefish species.

The depletion of fish from our oceans is the result of an increased appetite for fish—as well as advances in technology to catch seafood. The result has been detrimental to our ecosystem. The Wall Street Journal writes that restaurants are now galvanizing and moving toward more sustainable fishing practices due to the effects of overfishing on business. These measures are way overdue: according to a recent United Nations study, nearly all commercial fisheries will produce less than 10 percent of their potential by mid-century—unless something changes. And since the article states that the annual seafood demand will rise to at least 150 million metric tons in two decades—something’s got to change fast.

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06 July 2010, 2:21 PM
DC/East Coast residents will finally be able to take their breathing outside

Anyone who lives in Washington, D.C. and other smog-laden eastern regions may have kept their breathing indoors for the last few days as a result of the high pollution levels. Recent announcements by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency signal the agency is doing something about that.

In two moves toward cleaner air, the EPA first agreed to review hazardous air pollution rules for 28 industries—from pesticide production operations to pharmaceutical plants—and also proposed limits for interstate air pollution in 31 eastern states and Washington, D.C. The interstate rule is aimed to slash sulfur dioxide (linked to a number of adverse effects on the respiratory system) and nitrogen oxides (also very harmful to human health). EPA estimates that this rule would avoid annually an estimated 14,000 to 36,000 premature deaths, 21,000 cases of acute bronchitis, 240,000 cases of aggravated asthma and 1.9 million days of missed school and work as a result of reactions to ozone and other air pollutants.

In other words, this is a big deal.

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28 June 2010, 12:33 PM
Port Arthur, TX residents continually exposed to toxic emissions
Hilton Kelley of Port Arthur, TX.

When Hilton Kelley of Port Arthur, Texas moved back to his hometown more than a decade ago, he didn't realize that he'd spend the ensuing years battling for clean air. And on a muggy Tuesday afternoon, he drove 90 miles west toward Houston to attend yet another EPA hearing to comment on air pollution rules.

Kelley, 49, lives in an area where there are 20 facilities, small and large, continuously pumping chemicals into the air.

"We have become the dumping ground for America's toxic waste," said Kelley. The Port Arthur community is comprised of residents that often times need two or three jobs to make ends meet, he said. "It's an area of least resistance."

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24 June 2010, 9:19 AM
Industry complains of economic woes, Houstonians fear polluted air

Concerned Houston citizen Rosalie Guerrero recently visited a young mother who lives near a facility pumping chemicals in the air. The mother had given birth to a baby with half a brain. The baby suffered for 6 months before dying.

“I’d like to see how much that life costs,” said Rosalie, testifying at a U.S. EPA hearing in Houston on the detrimental effects of living near facilities that emit lead, mercury and cadmium in the air. “There is a cost associated with that.”

Advocates for clean air testified alongside industry representatives at hearings in Houston and Los Angeles Tuesday regarding recent EPA proposals to cut emissions of hazardous air pollutants like mercury and other toxic metals at nearly 100,000 facilities nationwide.