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 Jared Saylor's blog posts
17 December 2009, 1:25 PM
EPA backs off coal ash plans; industry pressure a likely cause

While we still had hopes to see the first ever coal ash regulations by the end of this year, it seems the EPA might be taking a bit more time before they release their long-awaited proposal. The EPA announced today that, despite repeated claims, it won't be issuing regulations for coal ash ponds by 2010.

It hasn't been an easy road for EPA so far. The power industry has used fear mongering and misinformation to pressure EPA to hold off on regulating one of the nation's biggest wastes, coal ash. Coal ash ponds have poisoned communities and destroyed the environment for decades. It wasn't until a spill in Harriman, Tennessee last December that the agency and the nation recognized the toxic threat at nearly 600 coal ash ponds across the country.

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View Ted Zukoski's blog posts
17 December 2009, 12:27 PM
In green flip-flop, company says it will use nature friendly chemicals

One of the biggest changes in natural gas drilling in the last decade has been the use of hydraulic fracturing (or "fracking") to free gas from captured rock. The practice involves pumping huge amounts of water and a chemical cocktail downhole into rock sometimes two miles deep.

The practice is prevalent - and controversial. The key to the controversy is what's in the soup the drilling companies are pumping underground. Drilling companies generally refuse to say. That means the public has no idea what toxins are in the stuff. And those toxins could eventually migrate into aquifers used for drinking water by millions.

In Wyoming, for example, EPA is concerned that "at least three water wells contain a chemical used" in fracking. And in Durango, an emergency room nurse suffered organ failure after treating a gas field worker covered in chemicals presumed to be fracking fluid. The gas company wouldn't say what was in the goop covering the worker.

What do gas companies have to fear from disclosure of fracking fluid ingredients?

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View Sam Edmondson's blog posts
17 December 2009, 11:48 AM
Sen. Murkowski targets the EPA endangerment finding
Photo by AP

For the second time in 3 months, Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) is trying to block solutions to global warming. In September, she attempted to tack an amendment onto an appropriations bill that would have kept the Environmental Protection Agency from spending any money on reducing global warming pollution from major emissions sources, like coal-fired power plants. She failed.

But she's at it again. This go around, she's attempting to retroactively veto the EPA's recent Clean Air Act endangerment finding, which states that greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide are a threat to human health and welfare. The endangerment finding is the result of a Supreme Court ruling that found EPA has the authority and a legal obligation to use the Clean Air Act to regulate global warming pollution.

Is Murkowski suggesting that EPA ignore the High Court's ruling?

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View Terry Winckler's blog posts
17 December 2009, 7:54 AM
Highlights from the climate change conference on Dec. 16

(Editor's Note: This file presents news and information from the Copenhagen climate change conference on Dec. 17, distilled from news outlet reports. Check for updates during the day.)

<Update>: A leaked draft document at Copenhagen suggests that the political agreement being forged will allow the planet's temperature to rise so high that disastrous consequences will result.

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View Trip Van Noppen's blog posts
16 December 2009, 4:06 PM
U.S. leadership on global warming threatened by compromise in Congress
A coal-fired power plant.

Becoming a grandfather is cause for celebration, unless you're a coal-fired power plant.

Coal plants that predate the Clean Air Act have become the mules of air pollution—set in their ways and not liable to change. Exploiting their "grandfathered" status, these coal plants have refused to implement technologies that are currently available to reduce pollution.

Now, Congress seems determined to let these dinosaurs off the hook all over again.

Although the Environmental Protection Agency's recent Clean Air Act endangerment finding prescribes a strong antidote to global warming pollution—a fact President Obama will surely highlight tomorrow on the final day of climate negotiations in Copenhagen—a political compromise over coal plants threatens to bind EPA's hands just as it begins to act.

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View Erika Rosenthal's blog posts
16 December 2009, 3:27 PM
Two years' effort comes down to two words: "shall" or "should"

(Earthjustice attorney Erika Rosenthal is blogging from the Copenhagen climate conference)

4 a.m… Bella Center…December 15

I'm in a huge plenary room, waiting for the final session of the "Ad Hoc Working Group on Long-Term Cooperative Action under the Convention" to reconvene. (The AWG-LCA is responsible for one of the two negotiating tracks negotiations that are going on here to accommodate the fact that the US has not ratified the Kyoto Protocol.)

The hall has been in a state of suspended animation since midnight.

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View John McManus's blog posts
16 December 2009, 12:07 PM
Administration settles Earthjustice suit over air pollution
Photo: BLM

The tens of thousands of new oil and gas wells that have popped up in the U.S. over the last decade—especially in the Rocky Mountain states—have created lots of air pollution. Much of it comes from the engines used to pump and compress the oil and gas or from leaks around the wells and pipelines. This air pollution makes skies smoggier, hazier, more toxic to breathe and alters the climate.

In New Mexico, some gas wells produce hydrogen sulfide, which smells like rotten eggs. At low levels, hydrogen sulfide can cause difficulty breathing and headaches. At high levels, it can be lethal.

In western Wyoming and metropolitan Denver, oil and gas drilling is linked to rising smog levels, haze in wilderness areas and national parks, and to climate change.

Earthjustice filed a lawsuit against the Bush administration to force it to update the air pollution regulations with modern, state of the art technology to minimize the pollution. The Obama administration inherited this lawsuit and quickly recognized that Earthjustice was right. So they settled the case and have promised to do a fresh review with an eye towards getting newer, cleaner technology into the field.
 

View Terry Winckler's blog posts
16 December 2009, 7:45 AM
Highlights from the climate change conference on Dec. 16

(Editor's Note: This file presents news and information from the Copenhagen climate change conference on Dec. 16, distilled from news outlet reports. Check for updates during the day.)

<Update>: The next 24 hours will make or break the Copenhagen climate conference, said the U.N.'s chief climate negotiator. More than 100 world leaders will soon be on their way to the conference, but whether they have anything significant to agree on has yet to be negotiated.

<Update>: The fate of climate change legislation in the U.S. Senate hinges on what happens in Copenhagen, Sen. John Kerry said today. What has to happen, he warned, is an agreement that wrings concessions from China and India. Absent that, he predicted, U.S. legislation will founder on domestic economic fears.

<Update>: "I'm stuck between a rock and hard place," said the frustrated chief of the U.N. climate conference, as he stood before thousands of protesting people. Most were protesting the lack of action in Copenhagen. Hundreds were arrested.

In what could be the most significant achievement in Copenhagen, climate negotiators are close to agreement on the idea of paying to keep the world's forests from being cut down. Trees store vast amounts of CO2, the single biggest contributor to climate change.

It's "deal or no deal" time in Copenhagen, and the poorest, fastest-growing countries have the upper hand, says The Los Angeles Times.

In an emotional speech, Al Gore told the conference that the world should meet again next July in Mexico to try and create the binding climate change agreement that probably won't be reached in Copenhagen.

For perspectives, news and information from environmental groups at the conference, check out the The Copenhagen News Collaborative.

View Brian Smith's blog posts
15 December 2009, 4:50 PM
New poll results from AP/Stanford

Contrary to the bleating of the pollution lobby, Americans believe new jobs would be created by U.S. efforts to address the climate crisis. This according to a new study conducted by AP and Stanford University.

On jobs: 40 percent of Americans say U.S. action to slow global warming would create jobs, while only 23 percent believe such action would reduce jobs.

On the economy: 46 percent said U.S. action to slow global warming would be a boost, as opposed to 27 percent who think it would hurt the economy.

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View John McManus's blog posts
15 December 2009, 4:40 PM
What wasn't said in Copenhagen: native people fear consequences

Last week, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar told the world from the Copenhagen Climate Conference how U.S. public lands, which include the continental shelves off our coastlines, are being managed by the government to reduce climate pollution. What he didn't say was that he had recently approved oil drilling permits allowing Shell Oil to drill for oil in the Arctic Ocean, including one site 20 miles offshore of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

He didn't tell the world about the fear of some like Robert Thompson, who lives in the Arctic Ocean village of Kaktovik. Thompson worries that an oil spill in Arctic water in front of his village would be impossible to clean up, and many experts agree. Coast Guard Commandant Admiral Thad Allen noted in a recent hearing in Alaska that this lack of capacity to clean up a spill in the Arctic could spell disaster for its pristine waters.

Thompson worries because native people living along Alaska's Arctic Ocean coastline rely on the ocean for their food. They hunt whale, duck and other marine wildlife to feed their families and pass their culture from one generation to the next. An oil spill could destroy their way of life.

On behalf of Robert Thompson and others like him, as well as conservationists across the country, Earthjustice filed a legal challenge to the drilling permit.

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