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Trip Van Noppen's blog

Across the nation, old coal-fired power plants are gasping for their last breath, having survived long past their prime because of political favors and weak government regulations. They would have died decades ago if not for a fateful policy compromise in the late 1970s that exempted existing power plants from new air quality standards in the Clean Air Act.

The Palmyra Atoll is a tropical coral reef island in the heart of the Pacific Ocean. It’s warm, tiny and far from the vast, frigid Arctic. And yet these distant, disparate places are as alike in one sense as any two places on Earth.

Each is an early victim of humankind’s addiction to fossil fuels and our constantly affirmed determination to stay addicted.

This morning, the President tried to yank the rug out from under years of work by Earthjustice and our clients to clean up deadly smog in our air. In 2008, weak national standards for ozone, or smog, were adopted by the Bush administration, standards that the EPA’s own scientists said would not protect public health. Thousands of lives and tens of thousands of cases of asthma are at stake. Led by attorney David Baron, we sued on behalf of the American Lung Association, EDF, NRDC and others.

If you've ever suspected that Congress thinks of corporate polluters first and the polluted public last, the debacle unfolding in Washington, D.C. this week should leave you with little doubt—and a bitter taste. Many of our elected leaders have hijacked the process by which we fund government agencies to sack the environment like Odysseus did Troy.

Up and down the Rockies, in Texas, across much of the northeast, and perhaps soon in your community, engaged citizens are coming together to prevent the harms of rampant gas development.

Last week,  I sat with just such a group in Gunnison County, Co., a beautiful place in the mountains that is confronting rapidly expanding  drilling and fracking for gas. People took time away from work and family to gather and talk about what to do.

Nobody gets through a day without breathing. Not executives in the coal-fired power and cement industries, which are polluting our air daily. Not the legion of lobbyists they hire to patrol the halls of Congress in defense of dirty air. And not the members of Congress who, hand-in-hand with these special interests, are marching the Clean Air Act off a cliff.

At the very same time that these women and men draw breath, they are working to derail and delay clean air protections with a vigor that suggests there isn't a set of functioning lungs between them.

As the threat of a total federal government shutdown hangs over the country, leaders in Congress and the White House continue eleventh-hour emergency negotiations to reach a compromise before time runs out on keeping our government funded and averting a costly and potentially disastrous government shutdown.

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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.