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 Chris Jordan-Bloch's blog posts
10 September 2012, 12:52 PM
Even though Larry is gone, his fight lives on

Imagine for a moment that you live in a beautiful forest. Your home is on the side of a big mountain. All around it are tall trees and elegant flowers. After a long day of work you come home. You are tired. Dinner smells delicious. You smile at your family. Everyone sits down at the dinner table. You are happy.

Suddenly there is a loud noise.

“What was that,” you wonder.

The noise rings out again. The walls begin to shake—a little at first, then a big shake. You grab your family and hold them close. The shaking continues. The cabinets open. The dishes start falling from their shelves. The sound of exploding glass and ceramics is deafening. You are terrified.

Then everything goes still and quiet.

Kayford Mountain

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View Liz Judge's blog posts
10 September 2012, 9:40 AM
Larry Gibson, Keeper of the Mountains, Rests in Power
Larry Gibson, watching the sun set over decimated Kayford Mountain.

Last night we got devastating news. Larry Gibson, our close friend, partner, ally and comrade in the work to end mountaintop removal mining and secure justice for communities across Appalachia, had passed away of a heart attack. Larry was more than a friend and partner, he was our hero and our inspiration.

Like so many others, I was so inspired and humbled by Larry's tireless work to end mountaintop removal mining and protect all Appalachian people from this destructive mining practice. I wanted to share his story to inspire others and to show more people the hero so many of us saw in him.

He agreed to do this little video with Earthjustice. He asked me to make sure it got out to many people. I heard what he was saying. I felt the weight of his work and a responsibility to him. I knew he fought 30 years for his homeland and for his Appalachian brothers and sisters.

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View Lisa Evans's blog posts
05 September 2012, 2:45 PM
American taxpayers pay billions for lost fish and wildlife
Undoubtedly coal ash ponds are harmful to both our economy and ecology. (EST)

Each year millions of gallons of toxic chemicals flow into lakes, streams, rivers and bays from our nation’s “surface impoundments”—often referred to as “coal ash” ponds. The well-documented result is the death and mutation of fish and wildlife. Recently, two senior scientists examined the damage from those ponds and put a price on their immense harm.

Their article, published last month in Environmental Science and Technology, describes the devastating damage and the high economic cost that is passed onto taxpayers. This article is timely as S.3512, a new coal ash bill in the Senate, threatens to prolong the life of these toxic vats by prohibiting the EPA from finalizing a rule that would require their phase out and put an end to this harmful dumping practice. The peer-reviewed report was completed by A. Dennis Lemly, Ph.D. of the U.S. Forest Service and Joseph Skorupa, Ph.D. of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The scientists conducted a comprehensive review of environmental damage at coal ash ponds since 1967 and found:

  • $2.3 billion in past damage to fish and wildlife over the last 45 years from coal ash impoundments.
  • $3.85 billion in projected damage from coal ash ponds over the next 50 years.
  • $4.82 billion to $7.17 billion potentially saved—simply by protecting fish and wildlife—over the next five decades if coal ash ponds are phased out.
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View Lisa Evans's blog posts
28 August 2012, 3:14 PM
But disastrous Senate bill would let utilities off the hook
Kingston, TN coal ash spill.

In a stunning victory for victims of the 2008 Tennessee Valley Authority coal ash disaster, a federal judge in Knoxville, Tennessee ruled that TVA is responsible for damages caused by the massive spill.

U.S. District Judge Thomas Varlan ruled that TVA’s decisions concerning the location and design of the Kingston Fossil Plant’s enormous, six-story coal ash pond, including the practice of repeated vertical expansions and faulty maintenance, led to the failure of the dam. The dam burst Dec. 22, 2008, releasing more than 1 billion gallons of toxic sludge that destroyed or damaged dozens of homes and buried 300 acres of the surrounding area.

Nearly four years after the disaster, the finding of negligence allows the claims from 800 affected property owners to finally move ahead against TVA

View Liz Judge's blog posts
24 August 2012, 1:30 PM
Warren Haynes, My Morning Jacket oppose mountaintop removal mining
Guitarist Warren Haynes has joined the Mountain Heroes campaign.

John Denver’s “Rocky Mountain High” is one song that immediately comes to mind when you think of how music and mountains just naturally go hand in hand. Musicians are been well known for their stances on environmental issues, and artists such as Pearl Jam, The Roots, Jack Johnson, Willie Nelson, Guster, Sheryl Crow, and Moby are all outspoken advocates.

As part of Earthjustice’s Mountain Heroes campaign, two more prolific artists are joining us to stand up against mountaintop removal mining. The first is Rolling Stone’s 23rd greatest guitarist of all time: Warren Haynes. Warren has recorded with artists from every genre, and is best known for his work playing with The Grateful Dead, The Allman Brothers, Phil Lesh & Friends, and his own group, Gov’t Mule. Why has Warren joined us? “I want to save mountains because mountains are majestic!”

Mountain Heroes: Warren Hayes, My Morning Jacket.

View Trip Van Noppen's blog posts
18 August 2012, 5:44 PM
U.S. lax about chemicals used in oil and gas operations
A U.S. Air Force chemical dispersing C-130 aircraft drops an oil dispersing chemical into the Gulf of Mexico as part of the Deepwater Horizon response effort. (U.S. Air Force Photo / Tech. Sgt. Adrian Cadiz)

In April 2010, a national nightmare began with a blowout into the Gulf of Mexico. But the hundreds of millions of gallons of oil from the Deepwater Horizon spill were just the beginning of the disaster. We are still learning about the real damage, which is much more insidious than tar balls and slicked beaches.

Recently, researchers found that the millions of gallons of chemical dispersants used to break up the oil may disrupt the Gulf of Mexico’s food chain by killing off plankton, the fuel on which marine ecosystems run. At the time of the spill, little was known about the dispersants’ health and environmental effects, but oil executives and government officials justified the risk by arguing that desperate times call for desperate measures.

Welcome to the age of extreme energy, which requires us to risk the health of our bodies and our environment just to keep the lights on. From oil dispersants to fracking fluid, the chemicals used in extreme energy all have one thing in common: We know little about them, and what we do know is worrisome.

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View Liz Judge's blog posts
08 August 2012, 1:00 PM
Some love stories captured on video

She said, “Do you cheat on me?”
He said, “Sure I do.”

“Do I know her?"
“Sure you do.”

“Is she pretty?”
“Most beautiful woman I’ve ever seen.”

“What’s her name?”
He said, “Kayford Mountain, prettiest lady I ever met.”

This is the story of a man who fell in love with a mountain and his struggle to keep it and all mountains from being destroyed by coal mining.

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View Maria Beloborodova's blog posts
06 August 2012, 2:37 PM
The law and the facts are on our side

Earthjustice attorney Deborah Goldberg came out victorious in a recent Intelligence Squared debate over whether the natural gas boom in America is doing more harm than good. Arguing against the super intensive development of natural gas, she targeted the reckless, breakneck speed at which the industry is progressing.

She asked, “So, what characterizes a boom?" and answered her own question.

It's big. It's sudden. And it blows a lot of smoke. And the natural gas boom is doing all of that to an extreme. It's too much. It's too fast. And the hype is just over the top.

The boom is devastating the environment, wrecking communities and diverting the focus away from the much needed development of renewable energies, Goldberg said, adding:

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View David Lawlor's blog posts
06 August 2012, 1:32 PM
Will the eco-conscious Pacific Northwest become a coal-shipping hub?
Author Wendell Berry has examined the relationship of rural America with the nation’s urban centers.

(Editor's Note: This is the fourth blog post in an ongoing series about proposed coal export terminals in the Pacific Northwest. Upcoming blog posts will examine the potential impact coal export terminals could have on the region's health and environment.)

The television comedy program Portlandia likes to poke fun at the culture of the Pacific Northwest. According to the show, the region is home to bicycle-riding, dumpster-diving, organic-free range-grass fed-biodynamic tree-huggers. And while Portlandia promotes a well-hewn stereotype of the region, there’s something to be said for its portrayal.

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View Kelsey Oliver's blog posts
03 August 2012, 2:02 PM
Cousteau legacy aids fight against mountaintop removal mining
Alexandra Cousteau.

One of the biggest threats to water in Appalachia is mountaintop removal. Entire communities have had their water poisoned by runoff from mountaintop removal sites. Says Alexandra Cousteau:

For this reason, I unequivocally extend my support to promoting the discussion on the dangers of mountaintop removal and raising awareness of its devastating impacts not only on the environment—but also the communities downstream.

Mountaintop removal has gained notoriety for contaminating precious water resources. Mountain Hero Junior Walk has talked about how the blasting of mountains contaminated his family’s water; we also saw Amber Whittington write in her story, “I didn’t fully comprehend the effects of mountaintop removal until it got to the water in our home. I would open up the tap, and I would see the water. It would have an orange tint and a horrible smell, like rotten eggs.”

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