Posts tagged: Health and Toxics

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Health and Toxics


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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 David Guest's blog posts
09 April 2014, 7:18 AM
Big-Ag backpumping allows pollutant-laden waters into drinking water sources
Backpumping into Lake Okeechobee has polluted drinking water supplies. (Photo courtesy of Ronald Woan)

For more than 30 years, the big lake that looks like a hole on the Florida map at the top of the Everglades—714-square-mile Lake Okeechobee—has been wrecked by government-sanctioned pollution.

But we won a decision in federal court March 28 that, we hope, will put a stop to it. Florida’s biggest newspaper, The Tampa Bay Times, called the ruling “long-awaited clarity and common sense” and “a victory for public health and the environment.”

We agree.

View Jessica Knoblauch's blog posts
28 March 2014, 11:41 AM
Concerned communities fight back
Vice Mayor Linda Maio, joined by Mayor Tom Bates and Council member Darryl Moore, speaks out in support of resident opposition to a proposed crude by rail project. (Mauricio Castillo / Earthjustice)

Is volatile crude oil coming by rail to a town near me? For weeks, I’ve been asking myself that question as I kept hearing about the skyrocketing number of trains that are transporting potentially explosive types of crude throughout the U.S. to East and West Coast export facilities.

And I’m not alone.

Recently, I attended a protest by my fellow neighbors in Berkeley, California, to stop crude-by-rail shipments coming through our town. The crude-oil boom is brought on by fracking in North Dakota and drilling in Canada’s Alberta tar sands. Both forms of crude are hazardous—Bakken shale crude from North Dakota is highly flammable and tar sands oil is extremely corrosive and also difficult to clean up.

Not surprisingly, once people hear how explosive and dangerous this crude can be when spilled, they really don’t want it traveling through their main streets…or anywhere else. But travel it does. Hundreds of miles, in fact, through rural towns and along main streets, along densely populated areas like Chicago and Albany, and even inside windswept and vulnerable wild lands like Montana’s Glacier National Park.

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View Paul Cort's blog posts
25 March 2014, 11:00 AM
Calif. agency seeks to relax existing regulations on diesel trucks, buses
(iStockphoto)

For as long as I have been working on air pollution issues in California, I can still be left speechless by agency decision-making—such as the recent proposal by the California Air Resources Board to relax regulations requiring the cleanup of diesel trucks and buses.

First let me say that CARB is to be commended for adopting these groundbreaking regulations in the first place. The rules, first adopted in 2008, will require owners and operators over the next 10 years to upgrade their old, dirty diesel trucks and buses operating in California. This rule is a central piece of the strategies to meet soot and smog standards in the San Joaquin Valley and Los Angeles.

View Adrian Martinez's blog posts
20 March 2014, 2:20 PM
Lancaster citizens fear air pollutants will harm children's health
Ozone pollution causes premature death, asthma attacks and other breathing problems. (Chris Jordan-Bloch / Earthjustice)

A proposal for a large—570-megawatt—gas-fired power plant is pitting two Southern California cities against each other, and has aroused citizens worried about air quality and their children's health. Members of Desert Citizens Against Pollution are suing to challenge the plant’s approval.

The plant would be sited in Palmdale on the border of Lancaster.

Lancaster has generally opposed this project because of health concerns related to significant emissions that would go into its neighborhoods. The city also questions the need for this power plant, which it claims could thwart efforts to promote renewable energy like solar and wind developments. On the flip side, Palmdale has been really supportive of this project.

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View Jessica Knoblauch's blog posts
13 March 2014, 1:53 PM
Communities nationwide are rejecting fossil fuel export facilities
A crowd protesting the proposed Dominion Cove Point liquefied natural gas export terminal on the Chesapeake Bay.Photo courtesy of chesapeakeclimate (Flickr)

Last month, the people of Oakland, California, defeated a coal industry scheme to use export facilities to transport its dirty product to other countries. Public pressure and Earthjustice advocacy convinced port authorities to reject bids to construct a coal-and-fossil fuel export facility that could potentially transport more than five million tons of coal and petroleum coke per year. 
 
Oaklanders are not alone in their rejection of these export beasts. With the help of Earthjustice, communities across the U.S.—in places like New York, Washington and Maryland—are rejecting these facilities, which are being used not only by the coal industry, but also the oil and gas industry to sell as much of their product as possible. 

View David Guest's blog posts
13 March 2014, 9:40 AM
Grassroots movement demands an end to slimy, toxic waterways
A toxic algae outbreak pollutes the Santa Fe River during the Memorial Day holiday in 2012. (John Moran)

Hundreds of citizens came from all over Florida to the state Capitol in Tallahassee on Feb. 18 with a strong message for the state’s leaders: we have a fundamental right to clean water, and we want our leaders to preserve that right.

The Clean Water Tally Rally also drew some forward-thinking legislators who stood with the demonstrators and said they are concerned about the water quality decline in the Sunshine State. All the leaders signed our grassroots movement’s Clean Water Declaration, which says:

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View Jessica Hodge's blog posts
05 March 2014, 12:26 PM
Louisianans take action to find out what's happening with their dirty neighbors
Flaring at the Shell's refinery in Norco, Louisiana. (Photo courtesy of iWitness Pollution Map)

This guest blog post was written by Molly Brackin, with the Louisiana Bucket Brigade which works with communities overburdened by pollution.

Since 2000, the Louisiana Bucket Brigade has worked with communities throughout Louisiana that neighbor oil refineries and chemical plants.

Their mission is to support communities’ use of grassroots action to create informed, sustainable neighborhoods free from industrial pollution. The Bucket Brigade model is to equip communities most impacted by pollution with easy-to-use tools to monitor their environment and hold industry accountable.

Molly Brackin.

Molly Brackin is an AmeriCorps VISTA with the Louisiana Bucket Brigade, where she serves as the Monitoring & Evaluation Associate. She holds a Master’s Degree in Urban and Regional Planning from the University of New Orleans, where she specialized in hazard mitigation and disaster.

View Trip Van Noppen's blog posts
25 February 2014, 12:50 PM
Years of activism resulted in historic Clinton executive directive
President Clinton signs Executive Order 12898 in 1994. (EPA Photo)

In 1982, when I was a young lawyer in North Carolina, the state had to clean up miles of roadsides where toxic PCBs had been illegally dumped. The state decided to dispose of the toxic waste in a landfill which it proposed to place in a predominantly low-income African-American community in Warren County, far from where the clean-up was occurring. The decision sparked protests from the community, and activists from the broader civil rights world joined the fight.

That fight in Warren County crystallized for many in the environmental and civil rights communities a recognition of the pattern of subjecting communities of color and low-income communities with the environmental and public health burdens of our industrial society. From this seed and others like it, the environmental justice movement was born.

View Andrea Delgado's blog posts
24 February 2014, 5:09 PM
When it comes to farmworker protection, EPA proposal is out of touch
Farmworkers picking strawberries in Wayne County, NY. (Photo courtesy of Alina Diaz / Alianza Nacional de Campesinas)

After more than two decades, the Environmental Protection Agency announced revisions to the Agricultural Worker Protection Standard, an outdated standard intended to protect farmworkers from pesticide exposure.

While advocates welcomed signs of life in the Obama administration’s progress to provide stronger protections from pesticides for approximately 2 million farmworkers, the proposal raises questions about the EPA’s understanding of the population the WPS is meant to serve.

View Raviya Ismail's blog posts
20 February 2014, 11:00 AM
EPA announces rulemaking for Worker Protection Standard
Letitia Vargas, Mario Vargas and Myra Vargas (from left) walk to a meeting in the Hart Senate Office Building in July of 2013. Myra Vargas is speaking to Alexis Guild, Farmworker Justice's Migrant Health Policy Analyst. (Photo by Matt Roth / Earthjustice)

When Mario Vargas showed up at the Washington, D.C., offices of representatives from his home state of Ohio in July, he shared stories from farmworkers who are getting sick from pesticides. Joined by his daughter and girlfriend, they made the rounds talking about how it feels to inhale pesticides while pregnant, how farmworkers don’t know what their basic rights are, and how many workers are afraid to tell the truth about what is really going on in the fields.

Today Vargas, 44, and other farmworker advocates cheered the news that the weak and outdated Worker Protection Standard, which sets agricultural worker safety standards for pesticide use, will finally be updated. The Environmental Protection Agency announced that the new proposal will enter the Federal Register in early March, which is when public comment officially begins.

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