Posts tagged: The Right to Breathe

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The Right to Breathe


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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.

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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.

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View Sam Edmondson's blog posts
21 March 2011, 2:46 PM
Recent editorial supports reductions in power plants' toxic air emissions

Over the weekend, the editorial page of the New York Times once again defended the right to breathe clean air. This time, the paper focused on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s recently proposed health standards for power plants’ toxic air emissions, which are expected to save as many as 17,000 lives every year by reducing dangerous pollution.

The editorial concludes that the EPA’s health standard “is something industry can afford and the nation needs.” It’s good to see this influential paper argue forcefully for reductions in power plants’ toxic emissions.

View Sam Edmondson's blog posts
18 March 2011, 12:01 PM
New York Times blog highlights the costs of uncontrolled air pollution

The New York Times Green blog has a good post today that spells out in no uncertain terms the cost of delaying health standards for coal plants’ toxic air pollution: thousands of preventable deaths.

Earlier this week, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency took the historic action of proposing these long-overdue health standards, which are expected to save as many as 17,000 lives every year. In the Times post, John Bachmann, a former director for science and policy in the EPA’s air quality division is quoted thus: “This could have been done 20 years ago. These delays, as they’ve mounted up, have had a cost in people dying sooner. And it’s not trivial.”

The Times post provides some interesting history, including the failed attempt by the Bush administration to remove coal plants from the list of hazardous air polluters and institute an industry-favored mercury trading program. Coal plants are the nation’s worst emitters of toxic air pollutants such as mercury, acid gases, and arsenic. That they will finally be subject to health protections afforded by the Clean Air Act is a very good thing indeed.

View Jared Saylor's blog posts
16 March 2011, 12:38 PM
Cleaning up the air might actually be good for business

Today’s major announcement from the EPA to cut mercury and other toxic air pollution from hundreds of coal-fired power plants across the country was welcome news here at Earthjustice. For nearly 15 years, we’ve been fighting in the courts for cuts like these so that our communities and our children can breathe a little easier.

Turns out we’re not alone in celebrating. Major power providers Calpine Corporation, Constellation Energy, Exelon Corporation, PG&E Corporation, Public Service Enterprise Group, Inc., and Seattle City Light praised the EPA for it’s decision to regulate toxic pollutants like mercury, lead and arsenic.

“We support the EPA’s efforts to finalize the rule in order to reap the significant public health benefits as indicated by the Agency’s analysis,” the companies wrote in their joint statement. “There ought to be no further delay.”

View Brian Smith's blog posts
16 March 2011, 11:23 AM
Great news on many fronts

Today, the Environmental Protection Agency proposed a new air standard that will finally reduce mercury, arsenic and other toxic air pollutants from power plants.

This is great news for every American who breathes, and I’ve yet to meet one who doesn’t.

This new standard came under a court-ordered deadline thanks to Earthjustice litigation after a Bush administration proposal to deal with the problem failed to meet legal muster.

A part of this story you may not have heard about is how many jobs will be produced in cleaning up mostly older power plants.

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View Sam Edmondson's blog posts
16 March 2011, 10:52 AM
Protections will save 17,000 lives every year, protect children's health
Administrator Lisa Jackson and students this morning. Photo: EPA.gov

Two decades ago, Congress promised the American public major reductions of the most dangerous air pollutants—toxics such as mercury, arsenic and lead that cause major health problems and can lead even to premature death. Today, after a long struggle in which Earthjustice proudly participated, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency took historic action to clean up the worst of all toxic air offenders: coal-fired power plants.

These unrivaled sources of toxic air pollution—which damage our lungs and hearts, threaten the health and well-being of children across the U.S., and contribute to the toxic burden shouldered by low-income and communities of color—have never been required to limit their emissions of toxic air. Until now.

At a press conference this morning, EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson announced her agency’s new health protections against these dangerous pollution sources and signed the proposal flanked by kids from a local elementary school in S.W. Washington, D.C. Cleaning up coal-fired power plants will create a better, cleaner future for these and other kids across the country. One particularly notable example: when the health protections take effect in 2016, the EPA estimates that as many as 17,000 lives will be saved… every year.

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View Brian Smith's blog posts
03 March 2011, 5:56 PM
The latest cluck from clean air "Chicken Littles"
The sky is falling again

The National Petrochemical & Refiners Association put out a press statement today. As they have for the last 40 years, the pollution lobby warns that stronger standards will cause massive disruption.

"It [new ozone standards] will have a great, and again potentially very negative, impact on the prospects for job creation and retention over the next decade. And its impact on American citizens – the motorists, truckers, farmers and families that drive our great nation – will be felt for years to come."

The NPRA advises the EPA to do nothing. Keep the old standard. They promise to develop cleaner fuels without new regulations.

Just a few problems with this line of argument.

View Raviya Ismail's blog posts
01 March 2011, 1:33 PM
Lifesaving total will increase to 230,000 in 2020

Despite the House GOP majority attempting to quash our clean air, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is serious about our right to breathe. Today, the agency released a report that champions the Clean Air Act as a lifesaver, health protector – and economic bolster. The report analyzed effects of the Clean Air Act on the economy, public health and the environment between 1990 and 2020.

The analysis finds that the benefits of the Clean Air Act will reach an estimated $2 trillion in 2020. In that year alone, 230,000 lives will be saved. The analysis concludes that the direct benefits of this important law significantly exceed costs to industry from installing air pollution controls.

View Raviya Ismail's blog posts
25 February 2011, 12:18 PM
North Carolina resident thanks Rep. Mike McIntyre in a letter
Rep. Mike McIntyre

<Correction: This item has been amended to show that Rep. McIntyre did not participate in the specific vote on the cement kiln rule.>

 

This week has been a welcome reprieve from the madness in the House of Representatives last week. Among the many environmental amendments passed in the House budget plan is one that blocks regulations of mercury and other air pollution emanating from cement plants. Despite the calm after the storm, we’ve got continued movement from folks on the ground to push against these ludicrous proposals.

Allie Sheffield of Topsail, North Carolina (among her many efforts has been a trip to Washington, DC recently to lobby her state congressional representatives) had another letter placed in a North Carolina newspaper. In her letter, she thanks Rep. Mike McIntyre (D-NC) for not voting on an amendment that would undo important cement kiln rules. He also voted against the entire House budget (one of 189 congressmen to do so).

View Brian Smith's blog posts
23 February 2011, 5:52 PM
Increased protections for our right to breathe
Earthjustice attorney Jim Pew has fought for these protections for over a decade.

The EPA today issued its final standard to protect Americans from the toxic air pollution emitted by industrial facilities like chemical plants, refineries and paper mills.

Across the country more than 200,000 industrial boilers, heaters and incinerators operated for decades nearly unregulated, though they are major contributors of toxic air pollutants like lead, arsenic, and acid gases. Today’s announcement will save thousands of lives, and prevent thousands of cases of asthma attacks, heart attacks and hospital visits.

View Marty Hayden's blog posts
19 February 2011, 9:40 AM
House leaders give industry handouts and cut public health protections

 It’s a shame that it took the House days and many late night and early morning hours to come up with a budget plan like this. And during the wee hours of 4:35 a.m. the final roll call counted a vote of 235 to 189. And just like that our elected leaders eliminated safeguards for our air, water and wildlife.

The House voted to turn Florida’s once-clear waters into poisonous blooms of green slime. It also gave polluters the green light to continue choking our air with mercury pollution from cement kilns, to dump toxic coal ash in communities nationwide, to blow up the mountains of Appalachia and to endanger salmon and slaughter our wolves. Our elected leaders also took aim at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, limiting them from curbing the carbon dioxide pollution of the nation's biggest polluters, which they are lawfully required to do.

 In more detail, some of the most harmful amendments adopted: