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Raviya Ismail's blog

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.

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.

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."

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.

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."

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).

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.

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.

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.”

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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.