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 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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View Jared Saylor's blog posts
20 January 2010, 10:41 AM
Head to head this Thursday over mountaintop removal mining

The tension has been building since the date was set last November. Ever since it was announced, skeptics clamored, "There's no way this is actually going to take place. Someone is going to back down." But they underestimated the raw emotion and high-voltage electricty surrounding this epic event.

I'm not talking about the next big boxing match, I'm talking about Thursday's (Jan. 21) debate between environmentalist Bobby Kennedy Jr. and Massey Coal Company chief Don Blankenship!

Blankenship will be on his home court as the two meet at the University of Charleston in West Virginia for a 90-minute public debate being broadcast on television stations throughout the state (unfortunately, despite plenty of interest from national media, the debate will be broadcast live only in West Virginia. But yours truly will be there in person, sending live Twitter and post-debate analysis via the unEarthed blog, so stay tuned!).

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View Ted Zukoski's blog posts
20 January 2010, 10:22 AM
Oil shale boosters' claims still don't hold water
Wyoming badlands on the block for oil shale. (c) Erik Molvar. Used with permission.

Why should we develop oil shale? Or, more precisely, what are the best arguments for scraping tens of thousands of acres of public land and using billions of gallons of scarce water and uncounted gigawatts of electricity to bake oil from rocks? 

Jeremy Boak, of the Colorado School of Mines, has two answers. Both are wrong. 

Some background on Mr. Boak. He's director of Mines' Center for Oil Shale Technology and Research, cutely known as "COSTAR." As the school proudly announced when COSTAR was born, the center "is funded by three major oil companies, Total Exploration and Production, Shell Exploration and Production, and ExxonMobil Upstream Research Company." So you see who he has to please.

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View Brian Smith's blog posts
19 January 2010, 4:44 PM
Conservation and efficiency evaluations tip the scale

Updating a story from a few weeks ago, proposals for big new transmission lines that would bring coal plant energy from the Appalachia to the Eastern Seaboard are not standing up well when put under the microscope.

The largest of these projects, the Potomac-Appalachian Transmission Highline (PATH), was recently put on ice when the proponents (two coal companies) were challenged to prove they were actually needed.

Earthjustice attorney Abigail Dillen challenged the PATH proposal in Virginia on behalf of the Sierra Club. She argued that reduced demand and increased efficiency must be considered when weighing the need for the project.

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View Tom Turner's blog posts
15 January 2010, 4:28 PM
Many people are asking the wrong questions, proposing false solutions

Just got wind of a very sobering booklet, very sobering indeed. It's called Searching for Miracles, a joint publication of the International Forum on Globalization and the Post Carbon Institute, written by Richard Heinberg with a foreword by Jerry Mander.

The proposition Heinberg set out to explore is this: If society somehow managed to build all the solar installations possible—rooftop, central station, the works—plus all the wind farms and every other kind of good, clean, sustainable energy supply operation, would it be enough to serve current demand world-wide as fossil fuels run out and plants that rely on them are phased out or converted to other fuels?

The answer is a resounding no.

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View Molly Woodward's blog posts
15 January 2010, 10:54 AM
Clean Air Act, public lands drilling, efficiency standards, Pacific fisher

Some top stories from the last week at Earthjustice...

Sen. Lisa Murkowski seems determined to undermine the Clean Air Act, and has enlisted industry lobbyists in her quest. Earthjustice President Trip Van Noppen discussed why it's critical to take action now to protect this important environmental law.

The days of rampant, indiscriminant oil and gas drilling on public lands are over, according to an announcement from Interior Secretary Ken Salazar. The BLM will develop and extend the environmental review processes for public lands drilling plans, something Earthjustice attorneys have advocated for years. 

The DOE just released new efficiency standards for Laundromat washing machines, but unfortunately they won't do enough to weed the least efficient from the market. Next time you take a trip to the Laundromat, try to find a front-loading machine, as these tend to waste less water and energy than top-loaders.

If you haven't heard much about the rare Pacific fisher, it might be its rarity after centuries of fur-trapping and logging in the Pacific northwest. Now, an Earthjustice lawsuit has helped make sure it's still eligible for protection under the Endangered Species Act. Find out more about this mighty porcupine hunter in Monday Reads.

View Trip Van Noppen's blog posts
13 January 2010, 11:36 AM
Arm in arm with lobbyists, senator aims to gut landmark law

<Update, Jan. 21>: Sen. Murkowski today declared her plan to exempt polluters from the Clean Air Act. She intends to use a little-known legislative maneuver to nullify the EPA's recent determination that greenhouse gases threaten public health. This move would restrict the Clean Air Act, a powerful and effective law, from being used to hold polluters accountable for their global warming emissions. Earthjustice's Sarah Saylor condemned Murkowski's gambit.

Sen. Lisa Murkowski is on a mission, legislative guns blazing, to shoot holes through the Clean Air Act—one of our nation's strongest and most successful environmental laws. If she prevails, we may lose one of the best tools we have to reduce global warming pollution. Senators may have to decide as soon as Jan. 20 whether to join her.

Industry lobbyists already have. In her scheme to bring down the Clean Air Act, Murkowski's script has been written by a pair of well-connected industry lobbyists whose clients include major coal-burning utilities like Duke Energy and the Southern Company. The Washington Post reports that both lobbyists, who were high-level officials at EPA under George W. Bush, even participated in a closed-door meeting last September to explain details of Murkowski's plan to the staffers of some centrist Democrats.

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View Raviya Ismail's blog posts
08 January 2010, 2:33 PM
Two types of Laundromat washing machines get separate standards

We had hoped and encouraged the Obama administration to streamline the standards for Laundromat clothes washers, advocating a single category standard for both front and top-loading washers. Not so. 

Today the Department of Energy released the latest standard, dividing these coin laundry machines into separate categories. Two separate standards leads to weak guidelines for top-loading machines—which typically use far more energy and water than front-loading washers. A single standard would have weeded the most inefficient top-loading machines from the market.

Manufacturers are already making top-loading residential washing machines that are as efficient as front-loading washers, and a uniform standard would have spurred manufacturers to sell these more efficient machines in the commercial market.

 

 
 
 
View John McManus's blog posts
07 January 2010, 4:41 PM
Promises to emphasize science over 'categorical exemptions'

Interior Sec. Ken Salazar stepped up to the microphone this week and told the nation the days of drilling oil and gas everywhere on public lands are over. This is welcome news to Earthjustice attorneys who opposed many of the public lands oil and gas leases ramrodded through by the Bush/Cheney administration.

Salazar made clear that he, unlike his predecessors in the prior administration, understands some public lands, especially in the west, are special and should not be drilled.

Many of the new policies result from an Interior Department review of a 77-parcel Utah lease sale in December 2008. The review came after Earthjustice litigation stopped the sale and forced the cancellation of these leases. Salazar said the department will start requiring more detailed environmental reviews, provide increased opportunities for public input, and reduce a drilling fast track known as categorical exclusions.

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