Posts tagged: 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 Raviya Ismail's blog posts
25 November 2013, 1:38 PM
Farmworkers are continually exposed to dangerous pesticides
Farmworkers in Wayne County, NY. (Courtesy of Alina Diaz / Alianza Nacional De Campesinas)

Today, a coalition of farmworker supporters launched a new website, protectfarmworkers.org, to generate awareness of the biggest hazards farmworkers face on the job—toxic pesticides.

As we sit down to Thanksgiving dinner this week, those of us advocating for farmworkers will say thanks for the hardworking people who harvest and handle our food. When we all tuck into that turkey, let’s reflect on those who work hard in the fields, facing many dangers and often not earning enough to put food on the table themselves. That’s why Thanksgiving week is also designated as International Food Workers Week.

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View Jared Saylor's blog posts
21 November 2013, 12:22 PM
There's no such thing as "clean coal" in Alaska
Coal ash being used to fill a mined peat bog adjacent to Creamer's Field Wildlife Refuge. Fairbanks, AK. (Photo courtesy of Russ Maddox)

Alaska—the last frontier of untamed American wilderness. Unfortunately, it’s also home to dirty coal. The second part of our ongoing series about communities dealing with coal ash problems takes us far north where in Fairbanks four coal-fired power plants generate coal ash used as fill for nearby lowlands.

Russ Maddox, a 2013 Clean Air Ambassador and member of the Sierra Club Council of Leaders Executive Committee, Resurrection Bay Conservation Alliance, and Alaska Youth for Environmental Action, lives in Seward, AK, which deals with the effects of coal exports and coal dust. In 2012, Russ wrote about the problems of coal ash in his community for unEarthed. But earlier this month, he published an opinion piece in the Alaska Dispatch on the inferiority of coal mined in Alaska and burned at Alaskan power plants.

Russ Maddox.

We’re pleased to share Russ’ opinion piece here and look forward to continue our work together with him and his community to establish federal safeguards for coal ash disposal:

View Marjorie Mulhall's blog posts
19 November 2013, 1:34 PM
Six ESA defenders honored by national environmental groups

Last week, Earthjustice and 20+ partner organizations hosted an event to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Endangered Species Act and honor some of the most important champions of this visionary law.

On Dec. 28, 1973, Democrats and Republicans in Congress came together to pass the ESA—one of the most effective environmental laws ever enacted—with near-unanimous support. The Act was then signed into law by Republican President Richard Nixon.

The crowd at our anniversary event—held at the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C.—was comprised of members of Congress and their staff, federal wildlife agency staff, and representatives from environmental and conservation groups, among others.

View Jared Saylor's blog posts
13 November 2013, 3:18 PM
Unregulated danger lurks in more than 1,400 coal ash sites
The massive coal ash spill in Tennessee in 2008. (TVA)

It was early October, but the trees were still a vibrant green. Fall had not yet arrived and winter was still a distant concern in Kingston, TN. Fishing boats and jet skis were tied to docks along the Clinch River, and even though it was a Thursday morning it was obvious that folks in this small community were already gearing up for weekend fun.

This was the scene a few weeks ago when I arrived in Kingston with a group of about 40 journalists and activists to tour the ongoing cleanup of one of the biggest environmental disasters in our nation’s history. Five years before at 1 a.m., Dec. 22, 2008, as the town slept, a coal ash dumpsite at the Tennessee Valley Authority’s Kingston power plant burst through a poorly constructed levee, releasing more than a billion gallons of toxic waste onto the sleeping town. A rumbling flood of contaminated waste rushed nearly six miles downstream. Donna Lisenby, of Waterkeeper Alliance, canoed down the rivers among giant “ashbergs,” 12-foot tall mounds of wet coal ash, as she tested waters shortly after the disaster.

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View Sean Helle's blog posts
11 November 2013, 10:26 AM
First, a shutdown. Then, threats of default. Next up: the D.C. Circuit.
Three of the D.C. Circuit Court's 11 seats have been left vacant due to congressional obstruction. (DOJ)

Update: On November 12, 2013, Senate Republicans blocked an up-or-down vote on Professor Nina Pillard’s nomination to the United States Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. Once again, Sens. Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski were the only Republicans to oppose the filibuster. Professor Pillard is the third of President Obama’s D.C. Circuit nominees to be denied a vote in the Senate. Read Earthjustice President Trip Van Noppen’s statement on the Senate Republicans’ continued obstruction.

There seemed reason to hope the fever would pass.

Six weeks ago, as October awoke, the my-way-or-your-kneecaps wing of the Grand Old Party decided it was time things got broken. The festivities began, of course, with the federal government, which was left bound and gagged by a long-dreamt shutdown. Then came the threats of global economic ruin. While those wielding bats talked principle, it soon proved pique. “We’re not going to be disrespected,” a House Republican proclaimed on the second day of the insurrection. “We have to get something out of this. And I don’t know what that even is.”

Americans weren’t amused. When the dust finally settled, 59 percent of those surveyed held an “unfavorable impression” of “the political movement known as the tea party.” Sixty-three percent declared dislike for the Republican Party. And 75 percent—three of every four Americans—expressed dissatisfaction “with the way this country’s political system is working.”

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View Sarah Saylor's blog posts
08 November 2013, 1:08 PM
Citizens give EPA an earful at carbon pollution listening sessions
Hundreds spoke during the public listening sessions on carbon pollution controls. (Photo courtesy of Moms Clean Air Force)

At the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's listening session regarding carbon pollution controls from existing power plants, I put myself in EPA’s shoes and did some real listening. It turns out the list of what may be lost and what must be protected by such a rule is not as short as we sometimes make it in the name of expediency.

Hundreds of people spoke in Washington, D.C., and thousands have spoken at the 10 other listening sessions the EPA is conducting across the country. Below are just 55 reasons*—one for every state and territory in our nation—for the EPA to take bold strides when it comes to limiting carbon pollution:

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View Lisa Evans's blog posts
06 November 2013, 3:26 PM
New report talks trash about Michigan's ash
In Michigan, no regulations prohibit dangerous dumping of coal ash. (Clean Water Fund)

Clean Water Fund’s new report, Toxic Trash Exposed: Coal Ash Pollution in Michigan, reveals widespread damage from coal ash dumping in Michigan. The report discloses dozens of waterways and aquifers already poisoned and warns of statewide harm due to failure to impose reasonable safeguards on toxic dumping.

Clean Water Action released Toxic Trash Exposed on the second anniversary of the immense coal ash spill at the We Energies power plant in Oak Creek, WI, where 25,000 tons of coal ash spilled onto the lakeshore and into Lake Michigan. No one was hurt, but large boxcars tumbled like matchbox trucks in the melee. It could have killed anyone in its path.

View Michael Freeman's blog posts
06 November 2013, 3:00 PM
Strong support across the northern Front Range for halting fracking
Colorado residents have opposed the industrialization of their communities. (DOI)

TAKE ACTION, COLORADO! This week, the citizens of Longmont, Boulder, Fort Collins, Lafayette and Broomfield told the Governor to stand up to the oil & gas industry and protect our communities. Now, as state health officials are drafting new rules to regulate oil & gas emissions state-wide, you can join the call for stronger clean air rules.

Send a message to Governor Hickenlooper and tell him oil & gas emission rules should clamp down on leaks and keep smog-forming chemicals and methane—a powerful global warming pollutant—out of our air.


Residents of large and small communities across the northern Front Range area of Colorado voted Tuesday to halt fracking in their backyards.

These defeats for the oil and gas industry came after a campaign in which the industry outspent supporters of the measures by a 30–1 margin.

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View Kari Birdseye's blog posts
01 November 2013, 2:48 PM
Moves ahead despite past failures, warnings and a wrecked rig
The conical drilling unit Kulluk sat aground 40 miles southwest of Kodiak City, AK, on the shore of Sitkalidak Island in January 2013. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Travis Marsh.)

Shell Oil told investors this week that—after an embarrassing set of failures last year—it plans to go back into the icy Arctic waters in 2014. The announcement comes as a surprise given that CEOs of other Big Oil companies have been urging caution for month about returning to the area. And in fact, Shell has abandoned efforts to drill in the Beaufort Sea next summer.

At the same time, Shell says, it is seriously considering scrapping the drill rig Kulluk, which sits in a Singapore dry dock nursing battle wounds from a grounding off the coast of Alaska last year.

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View Lisa Evans's blog posts
30 October 2013, 5:26 PM
What if EPA’s coal ash rule doesn’t close unlined lagoons?
The pollutants from these black-bottomed coal ash lagoons are real—and deadly. (Image courtesy of Universal Pictures.)

The utility industry is speaking with one voice. According to comments filed last month with the Environmental Protection Agency, the Utility Solid Waste Activities Group (USWAG) is crying out for a coal ash rule that would allow forever-dumping of toxic waste in unlined, leaking and potentially unstable coal ash impoundments.

Each year, the coal industry saves boatloads of cash by dumping millions of tons of toxic waste in more than 1,000 lagoons, and they’d like to keep it that way. Wet dumping is the cheapest way, in the short-term, to dispose of toxic ash, but it is also the most dangerous. Terminating this dumping would require plants to close, stabilize and monitor coal ash lagoons that contain millions of tons of toxic waste and which have already poisoned underlying aquifers. To the coal industry, this is a frightening financial prospect.