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.


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 Terry Winckler's blog posts
02 August 2013, 3:49 PM
Former EPA chiefs make stunning case to support Obama's plan

The Republican Party has a number of outspoken climate change deniers; so, it was a relief to open today's New York Times and read this headline: "A Republican Case for Climate Action."

I couldn't read the accompanying op-ed fast enough. Written by four former EPA administrators under Republican presidents, the article immediately said this:

We served Republican presidents, but we have a message that transcends political affiliation: the United States must move now on substantive steps to curb climate change, at home and internationally. There is no longer any credible scientific debate about the basic facts …

View Kathleen Sutcliffe's blog posts
01 August 2013, 11:44 AM
Whatever happened to "sticks and stones"?
Company lawyers have said they intend to enforce a lifetime gag order on a 7- and 10-year-old. (Rebecca Barray)

According to just-released transcripts in a fracking industry secrecy case, the lawyer for the gas company said the company intended to enforce a lifetime gag order on a 7- and 10-year-old, preventing them from ever talking about Marcellus Shale or fracking.

Independent legal experts interviewed by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette are shaking their heads, saying they’ve never seen a gag order like this apply to children.

The lawyer’s statement was revealed in previously sealed court transcripts, released yesterday after a lawsuit brought by the Post-Gazette. Earthjustice submitted an amicus brief in the case on behalf of doctors, scientists and researchers.

View Liz Judge's blog posts
01 August 2013, 9:20 AM
Oil giant takes out self-pitying ads, plays the victim

Recently the oil giant BP placed full-page ads* in The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal pitying itself as the real victim in the aftermath of the Gulf Spill. BP claims it is being targeted by “unscrupulous trial lawyers” representing “thousands of claimants that suffered no losses” that “smell big bucks and want a piece of the action.”

It’s no surprise that the fifth largest company in the world, which raked in $388 billion in 2012 alone, is so out of touch with Gulf residents. Here’s the people’s side of the story since they don’t have millions of dollars to buy full page ads.*

View Ben Barron's blog posts
29 July 2013, 9:49 AM
Or why environmental law depends on anthropocentrism

The idea that humans should come first when it comes to our relationship with the natural world traces back to the roots of western culture. For example, in Genesis 1:26, God orders that mankind will “have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth.” According to that train of thought, we are the stewards of the planet. The earth belongs to us. It is ours to till and to keep—and to exploit, if we wish. There is a name for this kind of thinking: it’s called anthropocentrism. Humans at the center.

As the field of environmental law has developed and expanded, anthropocentrism has remained at its core. Since the first case Earthjustice ever argued, Sierra Club v. Morton, the key issue has been whether lawyers have “standing” to represent earth’s threatened species and spaces. To have standing, Earthjustice must represent a human client that has suffered or will suffer an “injury in fact” because of pollution, species extinction, or any other threat to the planet’s wellbeing.

View Trip Van Noppen's blog posts
19 July 2013, 11:54 AM
Only a great leap forward can succeed against this critical issue
Last year was the warmest year on record for the continental United States. (Boris Ryaposov / Shutterstock)

It took a super-storm, record-breaking heat, rampant wildfires and increasingly dire predictions for the planet, but four-and-a-half years into his tenure, President Obama issued a plan to combat climate change. It’s an important step forward – but, frankly, we need a leap.

Announced on June 25, the president’s Climate Action Plan (CAP) has three aims: cut domestic carbon pollution; prepare the country to face the now-unavoidable impacts of climate change; and enhance U.S. leadership in international negotiations to reduce global carbon pollution. Broadly, these are the right aims, but the details, which have not been disclosed yet, will determine the extent of CAP’s positive impact.

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View Raviya Ismail's blog posts
15 July 2013, 5:40 AM
Daughter worries about parents' health because of pesticides in farmfields
Miguel Zelaya, Reina Lemus de Zelaya and their daughter Selena Zelaya. Miguel and Reina are farmworkers in Florida. (Alex Saunders / Farmworker Association of Florida)

This is the second in a two part series on protections for farmworkers from pesticides.

Read part one, Pesticides Taking Toll on Farmworkers, and the accompanying special feature, Pesticides: The Workplace Hazard The EPA Is Ignoring.


Nobody told Reina Lemus de Zelaya that her job as a farmworker was hazardous not only to her health, but to her unborn child.

So when Lemus de Zelaya was pregnant with one of her daughters, she continued working in the agricultural fields in Florida. Not only was she continually exposed to pesticides while pregnant, when her daughter was born she even brought her baby to the fields in a stroller. No one warned her to do otherwise.

“When I was pregnant with my first child, there was a strong pesticide used in the fields but I had no idea it was going to affect my baby,” said Lemus de Zelaya.

Her daughter was born with asthma, and struggled with it in school. She was diagnosed with learning disabilities. Lemus de Zelaya’s other children didn’t have any of these problems. The family doctor said these problems were caused by pesticide exposure, but he suggested she change jobs rather than speak out.

1 Comment   /  
View Chrissy Pepino's blog posts
10 July 2013, 11:21 AM
Chemicals used in fracking are linked to hormone disruption and cancer
A sign hangs by the Inglewood Oil Field in Los Angeles, CA, warning of hazardous fumes. (Chris Jordan-Bloch / Earthjustice)

Avoiding alcohol and caffeine are standard recommendations for a pregnant women. No surprise there! The simple and effective way of keeping infants safe is stripping the environment toxins that cause low birth weight, birth defects, respiratory problems, cancer and fertility problems. Yet the most common substances used to frack for natural gas are cancer-causing agents.

The statistics are startling; according to a new report by the Center for Environmental Health, 25 percent of chemicals used in fracking have been linked to cancer, and 35 percent of chemicals used in fracking disrupt the normal functioning of our hormones. As a result, the fracking chemicals have significantly higher impacts on pregnant women and children. Communities in geographic proximity to the industry boom are exposed to many of the 600+ chemicals used in natural gas fracking fluids.

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View Abigail Dillen's blog posts
25 June 2013, 3:05 PM
It's long past time for coal fleet to clean up
Coal-fired power plants are our nation's biggest carbon polluters.  (iStockphoto)

President Obama’s Climate Action Plan promises, at last, a meaningful step toward controlling our carbon pollution. Today’s announcement comes as wildfires rage in Colorado, as emergency drought conditions continue in Texas for a third straight year, and as children and parents around the country contend with spiking asthma rates that are linked with rising temperatures and increased ozone smog. Last year alone, Hurricane Sandy and ten other climate disasters caused an estimated $110 billion in damage in the United States. We can’t afford to ignore the climate threat any longer, which the President has recognized along with a majority of Americans.

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View Tim Ballo's blog posts
25 June 2013, 12:31 PM
First step towards giving Earth a break is in president's hands
(NASA Goddard Space Flight Center Image by Reto Stöckli)

Tucked into the climate plan that President Obama unveiled today is an incomprehensibly large number that deserves some attention.

The president has set a goal that energy efficiency standards for appliances and federal buildings set in his first and second terms combined will reduce carbon pollution by at least 3 billion metric tons cumulatively by 2030. Three billion metric tons is equivalent to the entire world’s carbon emissions over 35 days (at humanity’s current rate of generating 1 million metric tons of carbon pollution about every 17 minutes). The president’s plan would effectively give the planet a month’s vacation from all carbon pollution.

1 Comment   /  
View Allie Eisen's blog posts
24 June 2013, 2:20 PM
Bill could dramatically worsen already contaminated waters
The Progress Energy power plant, viewed across Lake Julian. (zen Sutherland)

There is a running joke in my hometown about the glowing green fish and three-headed salamanders in Lake Julian. Nestled in the center of Arden, North Carolina, and surrounded by the Blue Ridge Mountains, this lake was once the picturesque centerpiece of the quaint Southern town. But thanks to the pollution from Progress Energy’s nearby coal ash pond, these jokes aren’t far from the truth.

Unfortunately, the North Carolina Legislature is debating a bill to make this type of coal ash contamination increasingly prevalent throughout local waterways. NC Senate Bill 612, sponsored by Republican leaders in both the House and Senate, seeks to “provide regulatory relief to the citizens of North Carolina” by creating a fast-track process to obtain environmental permits. The bill, which has already passed in the Senate and is currently moving through the House, would allow coal-fired power plants to contaminate groundwater up to and past their property lines—eliminating all current boundaries.

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