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 Raviya Ismail's blog posts
11 October 2011, 10:17 AM
After rejecting ozone standards, groups challenge EPA's decision

Yes, we did it. For the past month several reporters have been asking us about our litigation plans following the EPA’s scrapping of a stronger ozone standard Sept. 2  as directed by the White House.

Today we represent the American Lung Association, Environmental Defense Fund, Natural Resources Defense Council and Appalachian Mountain Club in a petition filed against EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson and the U.S. EPA.

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View Alexandra Allred's blog posts
05 October 2011, 12:35 PM
Bill to exempt cement plants from Clean Air Act is dirty business
Cement kiln in Midlothian, where I live.

My name is Alex Allred. I live in a town that is surrounded by three cement plants. Two of our elementary schools were declared among the most toxic in the nation. Today, the House of Representatives is debating a bill—H.R. 2681—that could have a big impact on my health, my family's health, my community's health, and the health of communities all across America that are in the shadow of cement plants.

I worked with Earthjustice for many years to get the Environmental Protection Agency to issue strong air pollution standards for cement plants—the 2nd worst mercury polluters in the nation. Mercury exposure can cause birth defects and damage babies' developing brains. When the EPA finally did issue those strong standards last summer, we rejoiced. But H.R. 2681 threatens to take all of that away. It would exempt cement plants from the Clean Air Act and encourage those facilities to burn tires and other industrial garbage without controlling the toxic pollution that results.

H.R. 2681 will hurt families like mine but won't do a single thing to preserve or create jobs. Its supporters claim it is a cure for what ails us economically, but they haven't produced any evidence to support that. Meanwhile, EPA findings and independent studies consistently show that clean air is good for the economy! I know firsthand that it is good for my family.

I'd like to make an offer to the supporters of H.R. 2681: If you think that clean air isn't important, I invite ... no, I beg you to come to my home town. Please. I have been trying to sell my home for years. Please come buy my house. Allow me to leave my town that is surrounded by three cement plants, that has two elementary schools that were named as being the most toxic elementary schools in the nation! Come to my hometown and go to some of the fundraisers for children who are having unexplained seizures, see what it's like to attend funerals for 15-year-olds, and visit with a growing number of children with disabilities. Don't just read the reports or hear the pleas of concerned parents. Come. Visit. See for yourselves.

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View Sam Edmondson's blog posts
04 October 2011, 1:59 PM
Dirty burning bills up for a vote this week

Quick! Somebody tell Tipper Gore that "clean air" and "public health" are now considered dirty words. Well, at least in the U.S. House of Representatives. If the House had a swear jar, I'd bet such utterances would be as punishable as your garden variety expletives.

Here's why: The House is voting this week on two bills that will trample clean air and public health if passed. H.R. 2250 and H.R. 2681 exempt industrial boilers, incinerators and cement plants from the Clean Air Act and actually encourage many such facilities to burn industrial garbage—think tires, scrap plastics, used chemicals and other waste—without controlling, monitoring or reporting the air pollution that results.

Imagine if you came home from work one day to find your neighbor setting fire to a heap of garbage in the backyard, fumes drifting over the fence into your yard and your home. You'd be outraged, no doubt, and rightfully so. Should the reaction be any different if the neighbor just happens to be a cement plant, a chemical plant or some other big industrial facility?

View Jessica Knoblauch's blog posts
30 September 2011, 12:17 AM
Clean air haters, Yellowstone meltdown, killer cantaloupe
Photo courtesy of sk8geek

Monsanto’s new broccoli designed to fight company’s own environmental pollution
Perhaps dismayed by the public’s outcry to genetically engineered (GE) crops and their environmental effects, last October America’s favorite biotech company, Monsanto, released a non-GE product that combines two different types of broccoli to create a sort of super broccoli that’s chock-full of nutrients, reports Grist. The problem, of course, is that broccoli is already considered a super food. According to the USDA, one medium stalk provides 200 percent of the daily recommended intake of vitamin C, 16 percent of recommended dietary fiber, and 10 percent of recommended vitamin A in the form of betacarotene. Broccoli also contains folate, potassium and several other minerals, providing 6 percent of daily calcium and 4 percent of daily iron needs. Heck, it can even prevent cancer. Talk about fixing something that ain't broken.

In addition to silly redundancy, Monsanto’s desire to provide a vegetable that helps “maintain your body’s defenses against the damage of environmental pollutants and free radicals,” is just plain ironic, as Grist cleverly points out, considering that the company’s cash cow—herbicides—have been shown to cause some of the very illnesses that eating broccoli can prevent. If selling a product that causes illness and then turning around and selling another product to prevent that illness seems, well, wrong, then it won’t be much of a surprise to find out the rest of Monsanto’s seedy past.

Climate change threatens Yellowstone National Park
Within the next century, Yellowstone National Park may be as hot as the LA suburbs thanks to climate change, reports Reuters. A recent study by Rocky Mountain Climate Organization and Greater Yellowstone Coalition found that warming in Yellowstone, one of the world’s last largely intact ecosystems, is likely to increase wildfires, kill large swaths of trees and damage areas vital to grizzly bears and other threatened species. And, as a vacation hotspot for tourists, failing to reverse the warming trend could put a dent in the region $700 million annual tourism economy. Despite the dismal predictions, the good news is that there’s still time to make choices that will influence how climate change effects Yellowstone, like preserving wildlife corridors and increasing resilience to damaged habitats. Earthjustice is working hard on both of these fronts in the Crown of the Continent, a 10-million-acre expanse of land that encompasses some of the largest blocks of wilderness in the contiguous United States, including Yellowstone. See for yourself what we’re protecting
 

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View Liz Judge's blog posts
22 September 2011, 1:13 PM
Time for Congress to get off its crazy train
Rep. Eric Cantor

We all deserve to breathe clean air, but the House of Representatives today acted as if our air doesn't need to be quite so clean.

Guided by Rep. Eric Cantor's toxic dirty-air agenda and a host of political paybacks to dirty-industry campaign contributors, the House passed a bill to block the Environmental Protection Agency from enforcing certain clean air standards.The bill is called the TRAIN Act, H.R. 2401, and it is a train wreck. If it becomes law, it could cause 139,500 deaths due to air pollution. One of the most anti-public health bills ever considered by Congress, the TRAIN Act passed the House by a vote of 249 to 168. Read this punch-packing reaction to the bill's passage by Earthjustice's Marty Hayden.

This TRAIN Act was the first item in Cantor's death package of bills designed to overturn eight life-saving clean air and hazardous waste rules by the Obama administration. While it's terrible that it passed the House, President Barack Obama has promised to veto this bill if it gets by the Senate.

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View Jessica Knoblauch's blog posts
19 September 2011, 2:10 PM
EJ90 brings you the latest news in Earthjustice litigation
Photo courtesy of derrickkwa

Hello, unEarthed readers! I’d like to introduce you to a new Earthjustice production designed to keep you up-to-date on the latest Earthjustice litigation news. It’s a podcast called EJ90. And the best part is that it’s only 90 seconds, so you can quickly get updates on wildlife protection, natural resource conservation, and environmental health and safety news, all before you start your day. You can also subscribe to EJ90 on iTunes and make it part of your daily podcast listening routine. 

So far, EJ90 has covered everything from Arctic drilling to Obama’s decision to undermine the EPA’s ozone standards.  Here’s a roundup of the latest EJ90 podcasts:

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View Jessica Knoblauch's blog posts
12 September 2011, 12:21 PM
Weekly highlights of Earthjustice featured in local and national news
Photo courtesy of laffy4k

Welcome to the first edition of Earthjustice in the News, a weekly blog that highlights Earthjustice press hits in local and national media outlets. We hope this blog will provide you with a window into the world of Earthjustice and the hard-working efforts of our attorneys, policy and legislation counsel, and communications team. Please email me at jknoblauch@earthjustice if you have any comments, questions or suggestions about this new venture. Thank you!

Earthjustice news clips for the week of September 5, 2011
Associated Press – “Govt. Audit: Stimulus Funds for Energy Go Unspent
Sept. 7, 2011 – A new report by the Energy Department’s inspector general finds that one-third of the stimulus money authorized for an energy efficiency program has not been spent in the two years since the economic stimulus law was passed.
 
Despite the unspent funds, Earthjustice attorney Tim Ballo said that the program is an important way to improve efficiency of older buildings and reduce waste. He also pointed out that though the report rightly focused on problems that occur when stimulus money is left unspent, problems also arise when money is spent too quickly. The AP story was picked up by approximately 150 publications.
 

View Raviya Ismail's blog posts
02 September 2011, 9:23 AM
Obama administration pushes ozone health protection reconsideration to 2013
Weak Bush-era ozone health standards will be maintained by the Obama administration.

In July, we were mighty disappointed when the Obama administration announced a fourth delay of the ozone rule. That disappointment is tenfold today after the Obama administration announced that it would not strengthen weak Bush-era ozone health standards. Instead the administration is going to maintain the status quo until at least 2013, which means thousands of Americans who suffer from lung and breathing diseases are at risk.

What a shame.

In his statement, President Obama mentioned the Environmental Protection Agency’s actions on the environment this year: reducing mercury from power plants and improving the fuel efficiency of our cars and trucks, as well as cutting pollution that travels interstate. While all of these environmental measures are needed, much more needs to be done. And the Obama administration knows this. The administration knows full well what a stronger ozone standard means: cutting ozone from the current 2008 standard of 75 parts per billion (ppb) to the new 70 (ppb) standard was estimated to save up to 12,000 lives, prevent tens of thousands of asthma attacks and hospital visits, and prevent hundreds of thousands of lost school and work days.

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View Brian Smith's blog posts
29 August 2011, 12:05 PM
American people reject agenda by large majorities

Today, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor declared war on regulations that he and his Tea Party backers do not like. Of the ten proposed rollbacks, seven are environmental. Regulations declared “harmful” by Cantor include rules to reduce pollution from power plants, industrial boilers, cement plants, coal ash, ozone, particulate matter and greenhouse gases.

Delaying or cancelling these new pollution standards will seriously impact public health and shorten the lives of thousands, if not millions, of Americans due to pollution related illness.

Luckily, the American people soundly reject Cantor’s attacks on the Environmental Protection Agency. In February, a poll found that 77 percent of Americans (including 61 percent of Republicans) support the notion that "Congress should let the EPA do its job."

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View Emily Enderle's blog posts
29 July 2011, 7:07 AM
H.R. 2584 compromises public health, esp. in environmental justice communities
Millions of Americans are already suffering from asthma. (Chris Jordan / Earthjustice)

The Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, FY 2012 (H.R. 2584) is chock-full of riders that protect polluters, not people. This bill makes excessive budget cuts and policy decisions that compromise public health, especially the health of environmental justice communities already disproportionately impacted by pollution. The outrageous cuts have brought together more than 70 groups on a letter to outright oppose H.R.

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