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 Lisa Evans's blog posts
30 January 2014, 9:02 AM
The long wait is over: EPA agrees to finalize waste rule this year
A rally in Asheville, NC, calling for strong protections against coal ash contamination of waterways.

Late yesterday, the Department of Justice on behalf of the EPA lodged a consent decree with the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia that requires the EPA to publish a final rule addressing the disposal of coal ash by Dec. 19, 2014. The settlement came as a result of a lawsuit brought by 10 public interest groups and the Moapa Band of Paiutes against the EPA for its failure to review and revise its regulations pertaining to coal ash. The settlement does not dictate the content of the final regulation, but it confirms that the agency will finalize a rule by a date certain after years of delay.

If there has ever been a time to celebrate a victory on coal ash over the last three decades, today is the day.

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View Trip Van Noppen's blog posts
28 January 2014, 8:45 PM
President can't rely on fossil fuels to achieve climate change goals
President Obama delivers the 2014 State of the Union Address. (White House Photo)

(The following is a statement from Earthjustice President Trip Van Noppen in response to President Obama’s State of the Union Address.)

We are encouraged that President Obama made climate change a centerpiece of his speech tonight. We applaud his commitment to facing this challenge, for the benefit of our children and grandchildren.

President Obama has taken courageous actions so far to back this commitment. His leadership in achieving strong clean car standards has been a huge accomplishment, and we are thrilled with his leadership in tackling carbon pollution from power plants, the nation’s largest source of climate change pollution. And tonight, the President went further and affirmed that we can’t allow destructive energy development on our pristine public lands.

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View Chrissy Pepino's blog posts
24 January 2014, 3:38 PM
California's driest year on record isn't stopping the oil industry
An oil rig in Shafter, CA. The state is facing sudden growth in oil drilling. (Chris Jordan-Bloch / Earthjustice)

With severe drought conditions predicted for winter, California's Gov. Brown is demanding that state agencies immediately scale back water consumption, while urging Californians to reduce water use by 20 percent. Yet, contrary to enforcing water conservation, Brown recently gave the ‘green light’ to fracking California’s Monterey Shale—a process that consumes vast quantities of water.

Oil tycoons see bags of money lying within the Monterey Shale, a geologic formation storing two-thirds of the nation’s shale oil reserves. As federal fracking regulations and environmental reviews stagger and fall in Congress, the oil industry is seizing the unregulated opportunity and breaking ground.

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View Doug Pflugh's blog posts
24 January 2014, 11:17 AM
Drought, diversions threaten Colorado, San Pedro and other rivers
The now-dry Colorado River delta branches into the Baja / Sonoran Desert, only 5 miles north of the Sea of Cortez, Mexico. (Pete McBride / USGS)

We’re less than a month in, but 2014 is already shaping up to be a tough year for rivers. Across the nation, from West Virginia to California, the headlines have been bleak. In the Rocky Mountain region, we’re gearing up for a long year defending the Colorado and San Pedro rivers.

Following recognition as America’s most endangered river in 2013, the Colorado River has become known nationwide for the unsustainable balance that exists between increasing diversions and declining flows. Much of the West has been built on a foundation of Colorado River water and millions of people in communities throughout the region depend on it on a daily basis. On-going regional drought and continued growth are now finally forcing water supply managers to accept that business as usual is no longer tenable and changes are coming to the basin.

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View Neil Gormley's blog posts
24 January 2014, 9:36 AM
Appeals court rejects company's request for premature mining
A West Virginia creek polluted by mining runoff. The Army Corps doesn’t dispute that mountaintop removal coal mining could be causing cancer, birth defects, and other serious diseases across Appalachia. (Mark Schmerling)

Earthjustice and its partners—Kentuckians for the Commonwealth, Sierra Club, Appalachian Mountain Advocates, and the Appalachian Citizens Law Center—just won a small victory with potentially big implications.

The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld an injunction we won in September that saved miles of mountain streams from destruction at the proposed Stacy Branch mountaintop removal coal mine near Vicco, Kentucky. The corporation behind the mine, Leeco, Inc., asked the Sixth Circuit to let it start mining in the streams before the court issues a final decision on whether the mining is legal. That could have rendered the whole lawsuit moot. Yesterday, the court sided with us and said no.

View Trip Van Noppen's blog posts
16 January 2014, 4:52 PM
A letter to President Obama
The president signs a letter to congressional leaders after signing a bill into law. (Official White House photo by Pete Souza)

President Obama has said we need “an all-of-the-above strategy for the 21st century that develops every source of American-made energy.” However, a zealous pursuit of an “all of the above strategy” seriously undermines the president’s ability to achieve a far more important goal that he has set: to lead this country and the world toward smart policies that combat climate change.

On one hand, the president has courageously laid out a critical climate action plan to tackle the paramount issue of our times and has made important strides in reducing our carbon pollution. “We will respond to the threat of climate change, knowing that the failure to do so would betray our children and future generations,” he said in January 2013. His response has laudably included the first carbon standards for power plants, historic clean car standards that save Americans money at the pump, and a plan to reduce other carbon pollution sources. “The path towards sustainable energy sources will be long and sometimes difficult,” he said. “But America cannot resist this transition, we must lead it.” We all should support and encourage this leadership by the president and do whatever we can to help achieve those goals.

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View Tom Turner's blog posts
16 January 2014, 12:17 PM
Pennsylvania Supreme Court latest to uphold municipal rights
A sign indicates the growing tension between agricultural communities and gas companies. (Chris Jordan-Bloch / Earthjustice)

In mid-December the Pennsylvania Supreme Court found Act 13 is unconstitutional. This is a law that allowed state government to override local communities’ zoning decisions to limit hydraulic fracturing or fracking. The decision stems from a lawsuit by seven Pennsylvania municipalities, a doctor and the Delaware Riverkeeper Network. Earthjustice submitted a friend-of-the-court brief in the case, representing 22 organizations, including Marcellus Protest, Lehigh Valley Gas Truth and Berks Gas Truth.

Other state courts are facing this issue, too. Earlier in 2013, two New York state courts ruled in favor of towns that have limited industrial gas development through local zoning. Earthjustice is representing the Town of Dryden, one of the New York towns. The Ohio Supreme Court is considering a similar case, in which Earthjustice submitted a friend-of-the-court brief on behalf of health professionals.

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View Ted Zukoski's blog posts
14 January 2014, 4:07 PM
Add the Elk River chemical spill to coal's hidden costs
The true price of coal is paid through hospital bills and devastated communities. (Alexan2008 / iStock)

Did we really need another reason not to like coal as an energy source? Ready or not, we have one.

The standard list is already pretty long: Climate change from burning coal in power plants... Coal ash spills... Mountaintop removal and valley fills... Air pollution damaging lungs and polluting lakes... Roadless areas and rangeland bulldozed or blown up.

Now add to the list: chemical spills that make water undrinkable.

View Jennifer Chavez's blog posts
13 January 2014, 12:45 PM
"Freedom Zones" act could assure more W. Virginia water spills
The lives of hundreds of thousands of people have been severely disrupted by the spill. (iStockphoto)

Those who push an extreme anti-environmental agenda often use the concept of freedom to promote their ideas. They are not concerned with your freedom to breathe clean air or to drink clean water. Instead they want to give corporations the freedom to exploit natural resources without regard for the adverse impacts, and they want to ensure that polluters have freedom from accountability for the potentially deadly impacts of their actions.

In December, Kentucky politicians proposed to “free” unemployed residents from environmental laws that protect their health and well-being.

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View Lisa Evans's blog posts
13 January 2014, 9:46 AM
Overdue rules would ensure polluters pay and prevent the next big spill
The state capitol building in Charleston, WV. (Henryk Sadura / Shutterstock)

In 1980, when Love Canal and Times Beach still dominated headlines, Congress passed Superfund, a bipartisan bill requiring polluters to pay for the cleanup of their toxic messes. Over the last 30 years, Superfund has been responsible for the investigation and cleanup of thousands of toxic sites.

Yet EPA’s 30-year failure to comply with one important provision of Superfund imperils our health and pocketbooks. Superfund contained a mandate that the nation’s most dangerous industries maintain financial assurance (insurance or bonding) to guarantee that polluters would have adequate funds to clean up their spills. The mandate would also provide industries with a financial incentive for safe management of dangerous chemicals. The Act required EPA to begin establishing such requirements no later than 1985.

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