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
11 February 2010, 4:35 PM
Politicians succeed where scientists fail

This is just too delicious. The Utah House of Representatives has just passed a resolution (by 56 to 17), which declares that global warming science is a conspiracy and urges the Environmental Protection Agency to halt any and all carbon-reduction activities it may have underway and withdraw its recent “endangerment finding,” which declares that carbon dioxide is harmful to humans.

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View Sam Edmondson's blog posts
02 February 2010, 1:31 PM
Budget proposal sparks fresh attacks

Yesterday, a new political theater opened in the battle over whether the Clean Air Act should be used to reduce global warming pollution. At issue is a request contained in the Obama administration's 2011 budget proposal that $56 million—$43 million of it new—be directed to the EPA for use in efforts to cut global warming pollution from mobile sources like cars and stationary sources like coal-fired power plants.

The allocation is less than one percent of the total proposed budget for EPA (which hovers just above $10 billion) and less than 0.01 percent of the total federal budget proposal of $3.69 trillion. Which is to say that the request is less significant than the ideological divide illustrated by the Congressional proponents and opponents of the allocation's mere existence. Since Congress ultimately cuts the checks, the skirmishes that happen in those hallowed halls are critical.

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View Trip Van Noppen's blog posts
29 January 2010, 2:31 PM
Congress must seize the historic opportunity lest others reap the rewards
Photo: Pete Souza

In his State of the Union address, President Barack Obama made it clear—when it comes to the environment, we are at a crossroads. There is historic opportunity for us to lead the clean energy revolution that will transform our societies or watch as others claim the technologies, jobs and environmental benefits that will be its rewards.

President Obama said: "We have gone from a bystander to a leader in the fight against climate change." But, it's up to Congress to claim that leadership position by passing strong legislation to reduce global warming pollution. No longer can our representatives in Congress subsidize and cater to the fossil fuel industries that force us all to be contributors to this planetary crisis. A strong new law can greatly stimulate the burgeoning renewable energy industry, while preserving and creating tools to clean up polluting industries.

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View Molly Woodward's blog posts
29 January 2010, 11:16 AM
Coal industry and park preservation
Bighorn sheep headbutting in Glacier National Park. Photo: USGS

Some top stories from the past week at Earthjustice…

One result of burning coal is lots and lots of toxic coal ash. It's stored in hundreds of ponds across the U.S., and it can flood and devastate entire communities. Yesterday, Earthjustice joined more than 100 environmental groups in a Day of Action, urging the White House to finally call coal ash what it is: hazardous waste.

A heated debate over mountaintop removal coal mining last week drew huge crowds. The competitors: Don Blankenship, CEO of coal giant Massey Energy, and Waterkeeper founder Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. The reporter: Earthjustice Campaigns Director, Jared Saylor. The victor: Decide for yourself!

The same Massey Energy is one of several industry groups asking a federal appeals court to review (aka do away with) the EPA Clean Air Act endangerment finding. In defense of the finding, 16 states and New York City filed a motion last week to intervene in the case.

Glacier National Park is nearly 100 years old, and Monday Reads introduces us to a truly incredible photography project in celebration of its centennial birthday. Right next door on the U.S.-Canadian border lives the Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park, now threatened by mining plans in the nearby Flathead Valley. But there was hopeful news last week: Earthjustice encouraged an investigation that has resulted in a recommendation of a moratorium on mining and a conservation plan for this essential region.

View Sam Edmondson's blog posts
26 January 2010, 3:08 PM
Indian city will serve consumers natural gas instead
Air pollution in Delhi. Photo: Dave Morris

City officials in Delhi, India plan to replace the three coal-fired plants providing (artificially) cheap power to the city with natural gas facilities. The transition, which the officials hope to accomplish in four years, is projected to dramatically reduce air pollution in a city notorious for it.

The switch won't be painless. Power bills are projected to increase and detractors are certain to vocalize their opposition. But city officials anticipate that concomitant improvements in public health will mollify consumers. Delhi's chief secretary, Rakesh Mehta, thinks "consumers would be willing to pay more for a cleaner atmosphere."

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View Sam Edmondson's blog posts
25 January 2010, 2:03 PM
Legal attack aimed at EPA's power to regulate GW emissions
Massey Energy CEO, Don Blankenship.

The EPA Clean Air Act endangerment finding, under attack in the U.S. Senate by Lisa Murkowski and her lobbyist allies, is also facing opposition in the courts. Last month, a band of industry interests asked a federal appeals court to review the EPA's finding, which is a prerequisite for using the Clean Air Act to reduce global warming pollution in the U.S.

Among the companies and business associations crusading against the endangerment finding is the coal giant Massey Energy—whose CEO Don Blankenship is a fervid denier of global warming, a position he championed without compunction in a recent debate with Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. over mountaintop removal mining.

His line of argument was skillfully captured in a tweet by Earthjustice Campaign Director Jared Saylor, who attended the debate. Others, however, realize that our national addiction to fossil fuels must be overcome, and the endangerment finding is a step towards sobriety.

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View Jared Saylor's blog posts
22 January 2010, 4:09 PM
RFK Jr.'s passion for environmental protection carries the day
Photo: Lawrence Pierce, West Virginia Gazette

People began filing into the University of Charleston's auditorium nearly two hours before the debate began. Charleston police, county sheriffs, state troopers and UC police lined the hallways and entrances. There were rumors of activists chaining themselves to trees and coal miners planning a huge rally. Television cameras were stationed along the walls and in nearly every corner of the auditorium.

It was the hottest ticket in town. All 950 seats in the main auditorium sold out in a few days, and an overflow room holding 2,000 more was expected to be fill. The biggest debate of the century was happening: Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship against Waterkeeper founder Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.

The UC dean, Dr. Edwin H. Welch, moderated. He walked onstage 15 minutes before the debate began, telling the audience that "it does not happen very often in our society to have people who disagree so much come to speak together…we're going to try and recapture the art of argument tonight."

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View Tom Turner's blog posts
21 January 2010, 4:21 PM
As the number of undernourished tops a billion for the first time

I'm not going to bother rewriting or interpreting this time, but simply quote at some length from a harrowing release from the Earth Policy Institute, an extremely valuable organization. 

The 107 million tons of grain that went to U.S. ethanol distilleries in 2009 was enough to feed 330 million people for one year at average world consumption levels. More than a quarter of the total U.S. grain crop was turned into ethanol to fuel cars last year. With 200 ethanol distilleries in the country set up to transform food into fuel, the amount of grain processed has tripled since 2004.

The United States looms large in the world food economy: it is far and away the world’s leading grain exporter, exporting more than Argentina, Australia, Canada, and Russia combined. In a globalized food economy, increased demand for food to fuel American vehicles puts additional pressure on world food supplies.

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View Trip Van Noppen's blog posts
21 January 2010, 12:25 PM
Focus is on clean energy, natural heritage, and health

Last year, the U.S. government started taking environmental protection seriously again, but as 2010 dawns, we continue to see political and economic interests preventing or stalling critical environmental solutions.

In the face of this opposition, this year Earthjustice is targeting key issues with our legal and advocacy work. Our focus is on three core priorities: building a clean energy future, protecting our natural heritage, and safeguarding our health.

To avoid global warming's worst impacts, we must build a clean energy future. Reducing demand through efficiency and increasing supply from renewable sources of power are cornerstones of the foundation. But these steps are obstructed by the political stranglehold of the fossil fuel industry. Earthjustice is using the law to help break our national reliance on fossil fuels, which we continue to extract, burn, and subsidize heavily with taxpayer money, despite the destructive impact on people and the planet.

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View Brian Smith's blog posts
20 January 2010, 5:07 PM
Solar and wind options ignored
The current coal-fired plant in Holcomb, Kansas. Photo: DOE

Proponents of an 895-megawatt coal-fired power plant expansion project in Holcomb, Kansas have resubmitted an application for an air permit. The first application was rejected by the state environmental agency in 2007 due to concerns over air and global warming pollution. This was the first coal plant air permit rejected on those grounds in the United States.

With the new filing, Sunflower Electric Power Corporation will try again, with the backing of climate change denialists in the state legislature.

But the project still faces a number of obstacles.

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