Trip Van Noppen's Blog Posts

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Trip Van Noppen'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.

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Trip Van Noppen is Earthjustice's President who leads the organization's staff, board and supporters to advance its mission of using the courts to protect our environment and people's health. Growing up near the Linville Gorge and the Great Smoky Mountains in western North Carolina, he developed both a love of the natural world and a passion for fighting economic and social injustices. He feels that doing this work at Earthjustice, with its national and international impact, is the opportunity of a lifetime. When he is not working at Earthjustice, he loves to hike, see great theatre and be with loved ones.
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22 April 2009, 10:28 AM
 

The first Earth Day, 39 years ago today, was a godsend for a country mired in war and riven by racial, political and cultural issues. Arriving suddenly—as a gift whose time had come—it offered folks something to unite around: the idea of an entire planet, our home, in peril.

It was a time when industrial pollutants made rivers burn and were killing the Great Lakes; smog and soot choked our cities; DDT—thanks to Rachel Carson—had become the national poster child for the abundant horrors of unregulated pesticide usage; old growth forests were devoured unchecked.

Images of environmental catastrophes—such as sea birds tarred by the 1969 Santa Barbara channel oil well blowout—helped drive home the point, and 20 million people rose as one on April 22, 1970 to seek change.

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03 April 2009, 9:45 AM
 

On February 17, Earthjustice called on Congress to introduce and pass legislation that would fix a glaring loophole punched in the Clean Water Act during the Bush years. The Supreme Court, with Bush administration backing, held that only "navigable" waterways could enjoy protections of this law.

Today, I am glad to report, the Clean Water Restoration Act has been introduced by Senators Russ Feingold, Barbara Boxer, Benjamin Cardin and 20 other pro-clean water senators in the 111th Congress. The new bill would protect ALL waters of the United States, regardless of whether one could paddle a dinghy down the stream or not.

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19 March 2009, 12:40 PM
 

One year ago in this column, I called on Environmental Protection Agency chief Stephen Johnson to resign for letting politics, not science, guide his agency's decisions. Nor was I alone—10,000 EPA employees were in open revolt for the same reason. Johnson was defying the Supreme Court's ruling that his agency should move forward on climate change and was refusing to approve California's forward-looking controls on climate-altering pollution.

Today, I am calling on all Earthjustice supporters to join with me in thanking his successor, Lisa Jackson, for steering the EPA back on course with a string of good decisions, especially her action last week aimed at regulating one of the most toxic side effects of burning coal for power: coal ash.

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17 February 2009, 5:10 PM
 

The Clean Water Act, despite being one of our nation's most potent environmental protection laws for three decades, has an Achilles' heel—a one-word weakness that the U.S. Supreme Court has expanded into an enormous loophole.

In decisions handed down in 2001 and 2006, the Supreme Court seized on that word—"navigable"—to make rulings that neither friend nor foe of the Act could predict, and none of us can live with. Effectively, the Supreme Court broke the Clean Water Act by saying Congress meant that the Act's protections apply only to "navigable" waters when it passed the Act to eliminate water pollution back in 1972. Therefore, only an act of Congress can mend this potentially fatal injury.

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15 February 2009, 6:06 AM
 

This column by Earthjustice President Trip Van Noppen appeared in Alternet.

Americans who love to grumble about regulations now have some they can cheer about. The New England Journal of Medicine is reporting that we now live an extra five months, thanks to regulations that have cleaned up air pollution over the last few decades.

By breathing air cleansed of particulates, the federally-funded study said, Americans in 51 cities are enjoying those extra months—and people in the most-polluted cities are getting 10 months of bonus life.

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22 January 2009, 11:21 AM
 

I joined Tuesday's huge crowd in Washington to witness the inauguration of our 44th President. The people who traveled from all over the country had worked to elect Barack Obama and create a community of hope, optimism, and readiness to tackle the challenges, and that spirit pervaded the Mall.

For me, as for so many, a big part of the amazement and deep joy that I experienced was because our nation had elected an African-American as our president. The ideals and the movement that made Barack Obama's election possible stretch back to the American Revolution, through the Civil War and the great social movements of the 20th century—steady, hard work to broaden our democracy and push it to live up to its founding ideals. Obama didn't create this movement; it created the opportunity that he and his unique talents have stepped into.

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20 January 2009, 1:06 PM
 

Earthjustice President Trip Van Noppen is blogging from the inauguration of President Barack Obama in Washington, D.C.

There is just a huge amount of joy and tears in this crowd. I am in an area jampacked with people from all around the country who had been working on the Obama campaign. They had waited since the crack of dawn in really cold weather. We all thought we wouldn't get in. But despite all that, people are totally happy and cooperative with each other.

There are millions of people here and they are all bundled up against the cold so that you can't tell who they are until someone takes off their hoods—and suddenly they are recognized. I am running into people from all over the country that I know.

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20 January 2009, 10:49 AM
 

Earthjustice President Trip Van Noppen is blogging from Washington, D.C., where he is attending the inauguration of Barack Obama and events surrounding the inauguration.

Since 1969, I've been on the Washington Mall as a citizen expressing my political beliefs—demonstrating against the wars on Vietnam and Iraq, joining the March for Women's Lives. I've been on the Mall as a citizen awed by the power of the memorials, felt the place as a temple of much that is great in this country.

I've never been here as a citizen for an outright, unabashed celebration. People all acknowledge the hard times we are in and the challenges we face, but want to celebrate right now.

The celebration is also fueled by our joy at finally coming to the end of the Bush/Cheney years; the end of an administration that has run roughshod over our rights as citizens, trampled our standing in the world, wrecked our economy, and put deregulation and fossil fuel production at the top of their "environmental" agenda.

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20 January 2009, 10:39 AM
 

Earthjustice President Trip Van Noppen is blogging from Washington, D.C., where he is attending the inauguration of Barack Obama and events surrounding the inauguration.

During the inaugural opening ceremony, among the many themes of American greatness that were touched was the American invention of preserving wilderness and majestic places for all of the people, not just for royalty or the wealthy. Lincoln's proclamation protecting Yosemite Valley, Teddy Roosevelt's monumental land and forest conservation were highlighted.

Not mentioned: the last eight years of policies to remove such protections and turn national treasures over to the oil and coal industries. How fitting and marvelous that on Saturday, as the Inaugural began to unfold, a federal judge in Washington blocked the Bush administration's last such attempt, ordering that gas leases in the red rock canyon country of Utah not be awarded and putting the issue into the hands of the new President.

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20 January 2009, 7:51 AM
 

Earthjustice President Trip Van Noppen is blogging from Washington, D.C., where he is attending the inauguration of Barack Obama and events surrounding the inauguration.

The very cold weather this morning doesn't seem to bother anyone—crowd dancing, waving, cheering, hugging. Everyone is part of something much bigger than they ever expected. The city is crackling with energy.

Friends are running into old friends and making new ones. Yesterday, store clerks and cab drivers were not hesitant to pronounce their happiness that there were only 24 hours left of this long eight years.