Posts tagged: Climate and Energy

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Climate and Energy


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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 Tom Turner's blog posts
06 March 2014, 11:30 AM
Science be damned! Senator Session relies on opinion
(Meryll / Shutterstock)

Recently, John Holdren, science advisor to President Obama, said that the punishing droughts underway in California and the Colorado River basin are consistent with the mainstream understanding of the long-term effects of climate change.

Not surprisingly he was attacked by Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL), who quoted a Colorado political scientist as follows: "Drought has 'for the most part, become shorter, less frequent, and cover a smaller portion of the U.S. over the last century.' Globally, 'there has been little change in drought over the past 60 years.' ”

View Lisa Evans's blog posts
24 February 2014, 1:16 PM
Spills happen when there’s no incentive to comply with environmental rules
The toxic coal ash turned the Dan River gray for 20 miles east of the North Carolina border. (Photo courtesy of Waterkeeper Alliance)

Although the North Carolina Department of Natural Resources found Duke Energy in gross violation of the federal Clean Water Act, the state agency placed so little value on public health that they were willing to settle for a pittance—a penny per ton of toxic coal ash stored at Duke’s two illegally polluting plants. To rub ash into the wound, the agency didn’t even require Duke to stop the flow of arsenic, cadmium, chromium and other toxic metals from the millions of tons of coal ash at the plants, much less clean up the pollution. The state was willing to accept $99,000 in settlement with the utility giant.

Duke Energy can spare this chump change. The utility just announced a 50 percent increase in corporate profits in 2013, amounting to $2.6 billion per year for a company already valued at $50 billion. Duke’s $99,000 penalty was nothing—it’s like one of us, earning $50,000 a year, getting fined $1.90. Barely amounting to a library fine, this is no deterrent for the likes of Duke.

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View Tom Turner's blog posts
14 February 2014, 1:15 PM
Volatile rail traffic greatly increases explosion, toxic pollution risks
The fireball that followed the derailment and explosion of two trains, one carrying Bakken crude oil, on December 30, 2013, outside Casselton, ND. (Photo courtesy of U.S. Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration)

Maybe you've seen the riveting photographs of fireballs and burning houses and oiled and blackened streams and marshes. Train cars carrying crude oil have been derailing and exploding with frightening frequency lately, in Canada and North Dakota and Alabama and Philadelphia.

There are fears that Albany, capital of the great state of New York, may be next in line.

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View Doug Pflugh's blog posts
12 February 2014, 5:35 PM
This week, the public gets to speak out on their state's air quality
A hydraulic fracturing, or "fracking," site in Colorado. (Ecoflight)

Colorado has emerged as a western ground zero in the fracking boom, with more than 50,000 active wells in the state and 3,000 wells permitted annually on average in recent years. The state is struggling to deal with this staggering growth as well as the changing nature of the industry as operations have moved into communities along the Front Range.

This week, Colorado is poised to take a big step forward on protecting public health as the state considers significant revisions to the rules controlling the air quality impacts of oil and gas industry operations. Earthjustice and our partners will be there, urging the state to stand strong against an industry campaign to water down the rules.

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View Trip Van Noppen's blog posts
11 February 2014, 1:15 PM
Fossil fuel industry seeks to protect bottom line by quashing solar growth
Workers install solar PV panels on top of a building. (NREL / Craig Miller Productions and DOE)

(Clarification: This column references a letter by California Public Utilities Commissioner Mark Ferron, who said public utilities would likely “strangle” rooftop solar if they could. In a separate part of the letter, he blamed the fossil fuel industry for preventing a national policy on climate change and energy, which as the column points out, is evidenced by the industry’s national attack on distributed energy sources like rooftop solar.)

Last month, departing California Public Utilities Commissioner Mark Ferron sounded the alarm on an anti-clean energy trend gathering momentum across the U.S.

In a sharply worded letter to the commission, which regulates all of the state’s privately owned electric and gas utilities, he warned that The fossil fuel industry public utilities would likely "strangle" the growth of rooftop solar energy if they could. Ferron advised his colleagues to avoid putting the interests of utilities over those of the public. He was referring to a growing war on solar being waged by utilities across the nation fearful of the threat to their basic business model.

From California to Colorado to North Carolina and other states, many generators of centralized fossil fuel energy are trying to prevent individual Americans from producing clean, renewable solar energy on their own roof tops. They would deny us the opportunity to participate in the greater goal of shifting away from polluting, climate-altering fossil fuels.

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View Lisa Evans's blog posts
10 February 2014, 3:03 PM
Hellish coal ash mess in North Carolina is Virginia’s problem, too
Coal ash-contaminated water in the Dan River. (Photo courtesy of Waterkeeper Alliance)

The Feb. 2 coal ash spill at Duke Energy’s Dan River Steam Plant in Eden, NC is now a big problem for the Commonwealth of Virginia. The public drinking water intake for Danville, VA is only six miles downstream of the spill in the Dan River, where the plant released 82,000 tons of toxic coal ash and 27 million gallons of tainted water.

Duke’s coal ash turned the river gray for 20 miles east of the North Carolina border. About 7,200 pounds of arsenic entered the river, as well as other deadly metals. Virginia’s Attorney General Mark Herring promised that he would hold Duke responsible for the cleanup.

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View Adenike Adeyeye's blog posts
07 February 2014, 1:17 PM
Ships, trucks and trains to clean up their act under new plan
A meaningful transformation of the freight system would benefit everyone in California. (iStockphoto)

At Earthjustice, we are resolved to clean up the air in California. This, of course, is no small feat. A 2012 analysis by the California Air Resources Board found that the state will have to transform its transportation sector away from fossil fuels and toward zero-emission vehicles, among other steps, to meet federal clean air standards.

While identifying the need was an important step, the state has been slow to act. That is where we come in. Thanks to the collaborative efforts of Earthjustice and its partners in the California Cleaner Freight Coalition and the Central Valley Air Quality Coalition, CARB made a significant, though belated, New Year’s Resolution: it committed to developing a strategy to reduce emissions from freight by the end of this year.

View Adrian Martinez's blog posts
07 February 2014, 7:45 AM
At issue, investing in long range fossil fuel infrastructure
There has been a growing realization that in order to meet clean air standards, the South Coast Air Basin needs to transform how it powers the region. (EPA)

Today, the South Coast Air Quality Management District is having an important discussion about energy in the Los Angeles region at its Governing Board meeting. The vote centers around whether to initiate a process to expedite natural gas power infrastructure in one of the most polluted air basins in the nation.

This decision is exceptionally important because it will serve as a litmus test for whether this agency responsible for clean air is invested in advancing a clean power generation in the South Coast Air Basin.

View Lisa Evans's blog posts
06 February 2014, 11:20 AM
Duke Energy dumps 8,000 pounds of arsenic into the Dan River
Aerial view of contamination of the Dan River. (Photo courtesy of Catawba Riverkeeper Sam Perkins)

The EPA doesn’t need yet another reason to require the safe closure of the nation’s 1,070 coal ash ponds. But the massive leak of 82,000 tons of toxic coal ash from Duke Energy’s Dan River Power Station this week should set off a siren to wake our sleeping regulators.

Duke closed this North Carolina power plant in 2012, leaving its 58-year old, unlined coal ash pond containing about 100 million gallons of toxic ash open to the elements. The catastrophic spill should have been no surprise. The news comes just days after the EPA settled a lawsuit brought by Earthjustice and 11 other groups to finalize the first-ever federal protections from coal ash.

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View Jessica Knoblauch's blog posts
31 January 2014, 2:13 PM
Climate change threatens grapes, salmon and other dining favorites
Photo by Udo Schröter (Flickr)

While much of the country digs itself out from piles of snow, wine growers in Napa Valley are losing sleep over the state’s current drought, brought on by a lack of rain and freakishly warm weather.

California’s drought could spell disaster for wine growers in the region, who rely on rain stored in rivers and reservoirs to water their vineyards. But the damage isn’t just limited to the state’s wine connoisseurs. According to the Wine Institute, an industry trade group, California wines accounted for 63 percent of the total 703 million gallons—both foreign and domestic—consumed in the U.S. in 2005, or roughly two out of every three bottles sold in the country. As climate change continues to heat up the southwest, wine aficionados across the nationmay have a harder time finding their favorite pinot or syrah.
 
Of course, wine is hardly the only item on the menu that will be affected by a lack of water. Lack of rain can also stress out salmon, which require plenty of water to survive their migration from the ocean to inland waterways. Dams and diversions on rivers have already badly damaged important salmon runs along the west coast and scientists have confirmed that increasingly dry conditions will only magnify that damage.