Sarah Burt's Blog Posts

unEARTHED. The Earthjustice Blog

Sarah Burt'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.

ABOUT EARTHJUSTICE'S BLOG

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.

View Sarah Burt's blog posts
25 October 2013, 2:53 PM
Earthjustice, AIDA target Mexico's failure to protect coastal ecosystems
Aerial view of Cabo Pulmo. (Sidartha Velázquez)

Earlier this month, the North American Commission for Environmental Cooperation (CEC) agreed to review a petition by Earthjustice and the Interamerican Association for Environmental Defense (AIDA) asserting that Mexico is failing to enforce its environmental laws to protect coastal ecosystems in the Gulf of California from rampant tourism development.

The petition, submitted on behalf of 11 local and international conservation groups, calls for an investigation into Mexico’s unlawful approval of four “mega resorts” that threaten important mangrove, coral reef, and marine ecosystems in the Gulf of California.

View Sarah Burt's blog posts
21 October 2013, 7:05 AM
Many in his classes have issues that make them vulnerable to air pollution
Jason, at the Curtis Bay neighborhood's Filbert Community Garden. (Chesapeake Climate Action Network)

(This is the final installment in a four-part series profiling communities that could be seriously impacted by increased toxic air and water pollution resulting from the federal government’s financing of the export of Appalachian coal to Asia.)

This week we hear from Jason Reed, who lives near the Port of Baltimore's CSX coal export and processing facility.

This is his story:

View Sarah Burt's blog posts
14 October 2013, 8:16 AM
"It scares me to think that more coal will be exported from this facility."
Coal dust and soot coats Fox's property inside and out. (Chesapeake Climate Action Network)

(This is the third in a four-part series profiling communities that could be seriously impacted by increased toxic air and water pollution resulting from the federal government’s financing of the export of Appalachian coal to Asia.)

This week, we meet Margaret Fox who lives near the CSX coal export and processing facility at the Port of Baltimore.

This is her story:

View Sarah Burt's blog posts
07 October 2013, 8:10 AM
Dust and soot become part of the air her family breathes
Desiree and her dog in their backyard, as a train rumbles past on tracks less than a hundred feet from her home. (Chesapeake Climate Action Network)

(This is the second in a four-part series profiling communities that could be seriously impacted by increased toxic air and water pollution resulting from the federal government’s financing of the export of Appalachian coal to Asia.)

This week we meet Desiree Bullard,  who lives in Cumberland, Maryland, along rail lines that are experiencing increased traffic from open-topped train cars full of Appalachian coal heading to the Port of Baltimore for export.

This is her story:

View Sarah Burt's blog posts
30 September 2013, 8:15 AM
"As a nurse, I see the first-hand impacts of coal dust and air pollution ..."
Lorraine Ortega lives near the Lamberts Point coal export facility in Norfolk. (Chesapeake Climate Action Network)

We're making progress in ending America's dependence on coal thanks to the work of Earthjustice and others to prevent the construction of new coal plants and hold existing coal plants to more stringent environmental standards. Now, hoping to shore up its bottom line, Big Coal is increasingly looking to ships millions of tons of U.S. coal to Asia instead.

Earthjustice is challenging this alarming trend. In July, we filed a lawsuit opposing the federal government’s financing of the export of Appalachian coal to Asia. The U.S. Export-Import Bank approved this financial support for coal exports without considering the increased toxic air and water pollution that could affect communities near the mines and ports, and along the railways that connect them.

In this first installment of a four-part series, we meet Lorraine Ortega who is a member of one such community, living near the Lamberts Point coal export facility in Norfolk, Virginia.

This is Lorraine's story:

View Sarah Burt's blog posts
24 September 2013, 10:16 AM
Judge rejects state's attempt to weaken air pollution controls
A cruiseship sails through Tracy Arm Fjord near Juneau, AK. (iStockphoto)

In a victory for cleaner air, a federal judge in Alaska threw out a lawsuit last week that the state of Alaska filed against the State Department and the EPA in an attempt to prevent the operation of new regulations to control pollution from ships.

Many communities along our coasts fail to meet federal air quality standards for sulfur oxides and particulate matter—pollutants that cause cardiovascular disease and lung cancer and are the leading cause of asthma in young children. Major contributors to this pollution are the large ocean-going ships that travel our nation’s waters and enter our ports, yet local governments are powerless to control this international source of pollution.

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10 September 2013, 3:15 PM
Report shows need to reign in the most-polluting gas guzzlers
The airline industry as a whole simply can’t be trusted to voluntarily improve its fuel efficiency. (house.gov)

A new report by the International Council on Clean Transportation ranks the major airlines according to their fuel efficiency—and for the first time reveals the major gaps that exist between airlines in their fuel use.

For a long time, green consumers have known that air travel is the biggest part of the average individual’s carbon footprint. Consumers have been told that if we want to reduce our carbon footprint and make a personal contribution to curbing climate change, we can fly less.

This may be true, but today’s report shows that we should not let the airlines off the hook. It’s not just a matter of our individual consumer decisions to fly or not to fly: there are efficiency leaders and there are gas guzzlers—and the airlines’ efforts to reduce their climate pollution matter.

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28 June 2012, 3:20 PM
Vessels must avoid dirtier fuels off state coast

Twenty seven million Californians—80 percent of the state’s population—are exposed to emissions from ocean-going vessels, resulting in serious health impacts such as cancer, respiratory illnesses like asthma, as well as increasing the risk of heart disease. California estimates that the ships’ direct particulate emissions cause 300 premature deaths across the state every single year, even after excluding cancer effects.

The Ninth Circuit’s 2011 decision in Pacific Merchant Shipping Assn. v. Goldstene involved a shipping industry challenge to the Vessel Fuel Rule. The Ninth Circuit rejected industry’s claims that the ARB regulation is preempted by the federal Submerged Lands Act and contravenes dormant Commerce Clause principles. By denying certiorari, the Supreme Court has decided to let the Ninth Circuit’s decision stand.

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05 October 2010, 9:35 AM
"Flag of convenience" helps shipping dodge pollution controls

We are all familiar with the North-South divide that prevented agreement on a new climate treaty at Copenhagen last year. Relying on the principles of "Common But Differentiated Responsibility," the developing countries led by China, Saudi Arabia, Brazil and South Africa refused to adopt any proposal that would require them to reduce carbon emissions.

Meanwhile, the developed countries, most significantly the U.S., adamantly opposed any deal that would leave out these countries' large and growing contributions to the global climate problem.

Now, one can debate the appropriateness of labeling countries like China and Saudi Arabia as "developing" when China has the second largest economy in the world and Saudi Arabia represents significant oil wealth.

The distinction between developed and developing nations is even murkier in the context of international shipping. Ship owners can register their vessels in any country they choose under a "flag of convenience" and thus avail themselves of the laws and regulations most favorable to their industry, and often least favorable to worker safety, human health and the environment.

So how does this relate to the politics of carbon?

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04 June 2009, 3:35 PM
 

Canada's vast boreal forest (named for Boreas, the Greek god of the north wind) covers more than a third of the country's total landmass and is a larger ecosystem than the Amazon. In addition to providing habitat for a diverse range of species including moose, lynx, grizzly bears and over 3 billion birds, the peat bogs and wetlands of the boreal forest are among the planet's most effective carbon sinks.

But a persistent thirst for dirty fuels threatens to irrevocably harm the boreal forest and chain us further to an unsustainable energy future.

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