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 Raviya Ismail's blog posts
27 February 2013, 2:57 PM
Concern grows over methane leaks from oil and gas wells

With the fracking boom building, natural gas is touted as a clean energy source. But the hard truth is that the gas drilling sector—which includes the controversial practice of hydraulic fracturing or fracking—has worsened air quality in many areas. In some parts of the country undergoing such a boom, air quality has fallen below levels the EPA determined to be safe.

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View Daniel Hubbell's blog posts
27 February 2013, 7:42 AM
Mercury and Air Toxics Standards under industry attack
68% of African Americans live within 30 miles of coal fired power plants, our nation's worst toxic polluters.

Even in today’s divided political climate, taking a stance against mercury and arsenic in our air does not seem like it should be controversial. The gasses, along with other known toxics like chromium, cadmium and selenium are among 84 known air pollutants emitted every year by coal and oil fired power plants.

They have cost us dearly, resulting in as many as 11,000 premature deaths, 5,000 heart attacks and 130,000 asthma attacks annually. If we talk about the economy, these pollutants are responsible for 540,000 missed days of work. All this in addition to the terrible havoc these pollutants wreak on ecosystems.

It isn’t like this is a new problem, either. When the Clean Air Act was amended in 1990 it called for new Mercury Air Toxic Standards. A decade overdue, these standards have finally arrived to help us prevent such unnecessary suffering and pain. This is hardly an unprecedented step; the changes were based on protections many power plants had already enacted. All of this makes the barrage of lawsuits industry is filing to delay or dismantle these new standards more perplexing.

Against these legal assaults we are proud to stand alongside the NAACP and 16 other national and state medical, civil rights, environmental, public health and clean air groups.

View Brian Smith's blog posts
26 February 2013, 12:57 PM
U.S. excuses for climate inaction dwindling
A large majority of Americans now want action.  (Ray Wan)

Climate change deniers in the U.S. once claimed there was no proof that pumping tons of carbon into the atmosphere was changing our climate.

This worked for a while, but Midwest drought, western wildfires, and superstorm Sandy, which all hit during 2012, have changed public opinion dramatically.

A recent poll by Duke University found 50 percent of Americans are convinced the climate is changing and another 34 percent say it is probably changing—an increase from other recent polls. A large majority of Americans now want action. The Duke poll found 64 percent of Americans want strong regulations on power plants and factories and fuel-efficiency standards for cars.

So the climate change denial camp is now trying a different argument.

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View Liz Judge's blog posts
26 February 2013, 10:23 AM
Not enough change since historic disaster
The Buffalo Creek disaster destroyed 4,000 homes in 16 towns.  (WV Div. of Culture & History)

Forty-one years ago, today, a dam holding 132 million gallons of toxic liquid coal waste ruptured high up in the mountains of West Virginia, loosing a tsunami-like death wave of coal waste and chemical sludge that destroyed 4,000 homes in 16 towns, injured more than 1,000 people, and killed 125. Seven bodies were never found. This remarkable Charleston Gazette series shares the stories of the people who were affected by this horrific tragedy.

The Buffalo Creek disaster was one of the deadliest floods in American history, but unlike natural floods, it was a man-made disaster caused by corporate negligence, regulatory agency corruption and failure, and an ill-begotten idea of industrial waste disposal. Today, many of the circumstances that led to that disaster still persist, but sludge dams are several times larger. 

View John McManus's blog posts
22 February 2013, 11:24 AM
Earthjustice urges California PUC to consider storage systems
Battery systems would store surplus renewable energy when it’s produced for use later.  (LBNL)

Most people know that solar and wind energy is only generated when the sun shines or the wind blows. This leaves potential power gaps at times of no sun or wind. One of the Holy Grails of renewable energy has been storage systems (think battery here) that can store surplus energy when it’s produced for use later.

Various technologies are being explored, and widespread use should not be far off. With the current move from fossil fuel to renewables, we need to push utilities now to acquire storage. If we don’t, their tendency is to stick to business as usual, which favors burning fossil fuels.

Earthjustice is currently before the California Public Utility Commission, arguing the need for such storage. We’re careful not to tell the PUC or utilities what type of storage they must have, only that they must have it.

View Trip Van Noppen's blog posts
15 February 2013, 12:34 PM
Americans can’t wait for Congress to address climate change
President Obama delivers the State of the Union address in the House Chamber on Feb. 12, 2013.  (Chuck Kennedy / White House)

Last week, President Obama demanded that Congress take action on climate change, or else he would.

But, after years of political gridlock on the climate issue, coupled with rising seas and worsening droughts, one thing is clear: the nation simply cannot afford to wait any longer to take action. Though Congress may eventually pull together and pass a climate bill, the president must not wait on that uncertain prospect. He must act now.

After all, today the U.S. is farther from enacting a nationwide plan to reduce carbon emissions than it was four years ago. Congress has failed miserably. And though America’s greenhouse gas emissions are beginning to decline, the rate at which they’re doing so is nowhere near what we need to avoid catastrophic climate change.

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View Ted Zukoski's blog posts
13 February 2013, 3:57 PM
Obama can act on climate change by taking on a few western coal mines
Coal mining damage caused by West Elk Mine. (U.S. Forest Service)

In his State of the Union address, President Obama said some stirring things about climate change. Most dramatically, he urged Congress to take action and then said:

But if Congress won’t act soon to protect future generations, I will.

Well, if you want to act on climate change to protect future generations, Mr. President, I have a modest proposal: stop rubber-stamping coal mine expansions on federal lands in the western U.S.

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View Elijio Arreguin's blog posts
12 February 2013, 2:41 PM
Court agrees that Utah leases were granted improperly
Green River Butte.

Thanks to a recent federal court decision, visitors to Utah’s public wild lands can continue to raft the Green River in Dinosaur National Monument without seeing oil derricks around the river’s bends.

They can continue to enjoy the outlook from Canyonlands National Park’s Grand View Point without drill rigs littering the landscape.

And they won’t be forced to see the formations at Arches National Park as gateways to increased carbon emissions and environmental disruption.

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View Trip Van Noppen's blog posts
01 February 2013, 4:43 PM
Arctic nations share unique responsibility for slowing ice melt
Reducing black carbon emissions will slow climate change now.
Chukchi Sea, Alaska. (Florian Schulz / visionsofthewild.com)

As the environmental ministers of the Arctic nations, including the United States, meet in Sweden next week, they have an opportunity to show leadership on an important though less well-known climate pollutant, black carbon (soot).

While carbon dioxide remains the most important, long-lasting pollutant forcing climate change, recent studies have revealed that short-lived climate forcers like black carbon are equally damaging, especially in the Arctic.

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View John McManus's blog posts
30 January 2013, 3:08 PM
State is leading the way to a national clean energy future
Solar panel installation in Hawaiʻi.

Clean energy future—you hear the term a lot these days. Can we really get there? The answer is coming into focus in several places in the U.S. and it’s a resounding yes!

Hawaiʻi is charging ahead with rooftop solar energy systems. Just this week we are getting word that a major obstacle to more rooftop installation there has been resolved. Earthjustice attorney Isaac Moriwake emerged after months of behind-the-scenes negotiations to announce a deal whereby Hawaiʻi’s main electric utility company, known as HECO, will devote resources over the next two years to smooth the way for more rooftop solar.