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.

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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View Jessica Knoblauch's blog posts
03 January 2013, 5:35 PM
Plus: Oregano immunity, recycling for couples, NorCal coastal protections
Photo courtesy of Scott Beale (flickr)

Climate change could flood Facebook, Google by 2050
Facebook can't be brought down by angry fans irritated with its privacy policy and data mining tendencies, but it could be swept away by climate change- induced sea level rise, reports Climate Wire. Though much of the California coastline is at risk, Silicon Valley is especially vulnerable since the land it sits on is between 3 and 10 feet below sea level. According to a draft study from the Army Corps of Engineers, an extreme storm coupled with higher seas could put the valley, along with nearby homes and businesses, under water. Despite the dire predictions, for now Silicon Valley inhabitants seem content with delaying any climate change action, a sentiment that world leaders are mimicking. Unfortunately, a recent study has found that delaying carbon cuts until 2020 will make dealing with climate change far more expensive than tackling it now, reports Reuters. And, delaying action also significantly reduces the chance of meeting an U.N. agreed-upon limit of 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial times, which is the limit many scientists agree we must adhere to in order to avoid the most damaging effects of catastrophic climate change. So far, temperatures have risen by 0.8 degrees Celsius since we first started emitting carbon in massive quantities. While governments and industries dawdle, find out how Earthjustice is taking action to stop climate change, before it’s too late.

View Neil Gormley's blog posts
03 January 2013, 3:26 PM
Why this destructive practice is holding Appalachia back
Satellite imagery of the massive Hobet mine. September 20, 2012. (NASA's Earth Observatory)

Last month, Earthjustice Associate Attorney Neil Gormley took a trip to West Virginia to visit partners and clients and to see the effects of mountaintop removal mining first-hand. As he explains in this unEarthed entry, his visit prompted questions about the relationship between this destructive practice and regional poverty.

The Hobet mining complex is one of the largest mountaintop removal surface mines in the country. It was my destination last month when I took off from Charleston’s Yeager Airport in a four-seater Cessna, courtesy of Earthjustice’s partners at SouthWings.

Neil Gromley.Neil, on board the SouthWings plane.

Hobet is huge. Between current and past mining, it spans more than 15 square miles. At the time of my visit, miners were operating a dragline, an earth-moving machine so enormous it dwarfed the 240-ton dump trucks. The destruction is impossible to miss from above. Yet the mine is barely visible from the state highway that runs along its eastern perimeter. It’s shielded from view by a tall ridgeline, sparing most passers-by the eyesore.

Hobet mine.

Aerial view of the Hobet mine.  (Neil Gormley / Earthjustice via Southwings)
View Lisa Evans's blog posts
30 December 2012, 9:20 PM
But EPA must not leave the job half done
Outgoing EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson.  (The National Academy of Sciences)

During her four-year tenure as administrator of the EPA, Lisa Jackson was a true champion for public health and environmental justice.

One of her greatest legacies is the Mercury and Air Toxics Standard, a rule that will help Americans breathe a little easier since it sharply limits the amount of mercury and other toxic metals that can be emitted by coal-fired power plants. The rule finally requires the capture of mercury, arsenic, hexavalent chromium, nickel, selenium and other heavy metals at the plant smokestacks.

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View Patti Goldman's blog posts
27 December 2012, 11:46 AM
America was well-served by her staunch efforts
Lisa P. Jackson has announced that she will be stepping down from her position in January 2013.

Earthjustice is saddened by today's announcement that Lisa Jackson is stepping down as administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency.

America owes Lisa Jackson a debt of gratitude for her work to protect the public's health from polluters and their allies in Congress. For her efforts to clean up pollution and better protect the environment and public health, she faced a steady barrage from members of Congress and the industrial polluters who back them. Her detractors are the same people who told us taking lead out of gasoline in the 1970's would break the economy and that taking acid out of acid rain in the 1990's would ruin the country. In both cases, the environment and economy were strengthened and this is the approach Lisa Jackson took. There is a lot of unfinished business started by Jackson that the next EPA director will need to attend to. Whoever it is, they'll need the support of the President and they'll need to be ready for a non-stop barrage of attacks from the chemical, industrial and fossil fuel industries and their allies in Congress.

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View Maria Beloborodova's blog posts
27 December 2012, 10:00 AM
Readers were most inspired by stories of the wild
Two of the first five calves born at Ft. Peck Indian reservation this year. (Bill Campbell)

Blog posts about Earth's magnificent places and creatures were the most popular themes for unEarthed readers in 2012. By far the most-read post concerned Arctic drilling, followed by reports of bison being restored and wolves losing protection. Not shown in our top 10 blog posts, below, are the delightful tales of curious critters painted in words by our own Shirley Hao. Posts written years ago by Shirley are still being discovered and read by thousands of people every year.

And, now, for your enjoyment, we present our most-read posts of 2012:

View Maria Beloborodova's blog posts
20 December 2012, 2:55 PM
Move depicts phtographer's quest for disappearing "insanely ridiculous" ice

Last month, a movie premiered with a graphic visual of climate change—enough to disconcert viewers across the country. Jeff Orlowski’s "Chasing Ice" depicts a photographer’s brave and relentless journey through the vast Arctic in the face of treacherous weather, technological failure and a bad leg injury. The photographer was documenting rapidly vanishing glaciers over years using time-lapse photography.

The visionary behind the documentary is James Balog who is known for over 25 years of internationally acclaimed nature photography work published by the National Geographic and other major magazines. He takes the viewer to some of the world’s glaciers, including Greenland, Alaska and Montana, where he tries to set up a photographic experiment that he named the Extreme Ice Survey (EIS).

The project, described as “Art Meets Science” on the film’s official website, aims to unite scientists and photographers in their efforts to educate the public about the effects of global warming.

View Lisa Evans's blog posts
18 December 2012, 9:39 AM
S.3512 fails to ensure protection of public health, safety
CRS found that S.3512's and H.R.2273's weaknesses are “unprecedented” in environmental law.

The Congressional Research Service, dubbed the U.S. Congress’ 'think tank', recently released an authoritative analysis of S.3512 and—to the dismay of the bill’s stalwart sponsors—it’s a bust. CRS, a department of the Library of Congress and nonpartisan research tool for the House and Senate, recently weighed in definitively on the Senate and House coal ash bills, S.3512 and H.R. 2273, and concluded that the bills’ weaknesses are “unprecedented” in environmental law.

CRS found that the bills lack a clear purpose and would not ensure state standards “necessary to protect human health and the environment.” These bills—one passed by the House in October 2011 and the other now pending in the Senate—would prevent the EPA from ever setting federally enforceable safeguards for the disposal of toxic coal ash.

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View Trip Van Noppen's blog posts
14 December 2012, 5:39 PM
Earthjustice set to make 2013 the year to powerfully engage climate change

Earthjustice has just won two major victories over fossil fuels that strengthen our resolve to make 2013 the year America turns from these dirtiest of energy sources and moves towards a clean energy future—the only real solution to climate change.

On Friday, the Environmental Protection Agency reacted to Earthjustice legal action by adopting drastic limits on the amount of soot poured out from coal-fired power plants and tailpipes. This powerful achievement will save thousands of lives a year and slow climate change by reducing pollution that accelerates sea ice melt.

And, a few weeks ago, we learned that the Danskammer coal-fired power plant, one of New York’s dirtiest polluters, will be retired and torn down. Recent Earthjustice legal action helped bring about this happy outcome, aided by flooding from superstorm Sandy, a storm made fiercer by the climate-changing emissions from coal power plants like this one.

But we aren’t basing our climate change plan on more poetic justice. Our plan for tackling climate change is based on the kind of justice we had great success in achieving this year through the courts and the political system.

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View Daniel Hubbell's blog posts
13 December 2012, 10:39 AM
Moapa Band of Paiutes blaze a trail to clean energy and better health
Vickie Simmons, a tribal member, stands in front of Reid Gardner Power Station.  (Chris Jordan-Bloch / Earthjustice)

In his address at the Tribal Nations Conference, President Obama spoke with his usual eloquence about invigorating growth on tribal lands, and the perfect example of this new growth is the Moapa solar project on the Moapa River Indian Reservation. Situated just 30 miles north of Las Vegas, the site will generate up to 350 megawatts of clean, renewable energy. It highlights in many ways the future of the nation’s energy supply, and unfortunately the Paiute Indians themselves know the industry’s cloudy past.

Just next to the reservation is the Reid Gardner Power Station. This coal-fired power plant generates more than just electricity; it produces more than 4,000 tons of toxic, arsenic-laden coal ash every year. This waste is stored in landfills near the power station, but often it does not stay there. On bad days, the wind sends the ash sweeping into the reservation, a condition some tribal members compare to a sandstorm. Locking the doors and staying inside is the only recourse on these bad days, and even that has not protected the Moapa Band of Paiutes. The locals have plenty to say about their health, ranging from headaches and dizziness to asthma and even serious heart conditions. The almost-50-year-old belching coal plant has plenty to answer for.

Still, the Moapa Paiutes are determined to show the world that there is a better way forward.

View Jonathan Wiener's blog posts
03 December 2012, 2:21 PM
DOE brings hammer down on Chinese manufacturer
The Kenmore chest freezer model 19502 is among the products in violation.

The Department of Energy on Thursday levied the biggest penalty in the 37-year history of the appliance energy efficiency standards program. It fined China-based Midea Corp. $4.5 million because of hundreds of thousands of inefficient compact freezers the company made.

Most of the violations are for products sold under Sears’ Kenmore brand, including chest freezers with model numbers 19502 and 19702. Testing by the Department revealed that those two models use 28 and 55 percent more energy, respectively, than the federal standards for their designs. Compliant compact refrigerators and freezers already use more energy per cubic foot than their full-grown relatives, and their lifetime energy costs often exceed the purchase price of the product.

In this case, consumers could buy a Midea-made freezer for less than $160, and wind up paying around a third of that each year just to leave it plugged in.

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