Posts tagged: Health and Toxics

unEARTHED. The Earthjustice Blog

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 Marjorie Mulhall's blog posts
19 November 2013, 1:34 PM
Six ESA defenders honored by national environmental groups

Last week, Earthjustice and 20+ partner organizations hosted an event to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Endangered Species Act and honor some of the most important champions of this visionary law.

On Dec. 28, 1973, Democrats and Republicans in Congress came together to pass the ESA—one of the most effective environmental laws ever enacted—with near-unanimous support. The Act was then signed into law by Republican President Richard Nixon.

The crowd at our anniversary event—held at the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C.—was comprised of members of Congress and their staff, federal wildlife agency staff, and representatives from environmental and conservation groups, among others.

View Raviya Ismail's blog posts
18 November 2013, 2:38 PM
Regulation law helps to protect Kaua'i citizens’ health and environment
Large crowds had gathered at the County Building in September, in support of the ordinance. (Photo courtesy of Pesticides on Kauai)

We were disappointed earlier this month when Kauaʻi Mayor Bernard Carvalho, Jr. voted in line with corporate interests and vetoed a crucial pesticides regulation bill. But Kaua'i residents can rest assured that someone has their interests in mind; on Saturday, the Kauaʻi County Council voted 5–2 to override Mayor Carvalho’s veto of the bill. This is a huge victory for Kauaʻi, and breaks new ground in Hawaiʻi by curtailing the use of toxic chemicals to protect the health and well-being of the people.

The law will take effect in August. It will require users of large amounts of restricted-use pesticides—on Kauaʻi most of those users are the big producers of genetically engineered crops like BASF, Syngenta and DuPont Pioneer, which spray their fields far more frequently than do conventional farmers—to disclose the chemicals they spray. The measure also puts in place pesticide buffer zones around sensitive areas like waterways, nursing homes, residences and parks, and requires disclosure of where genetically modified crops are being grown.

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View Jared Saylor's blog posts
13 November 2013, 3:18 PM
Unregulated danger lurks in more than 1,400 coal ash sites
The massive coal ash spill in Tennessee in 2008. (TVA)

It was early October, but the trees were still a vibrant green. Fall had not yet arrived and winter was still a distant concern in Kingston, TN. Fishing boats and jet skis were tied to docks along the Clinch River, and even though it was a Thursday morning it was obvious that folks in this small community were already gearing up for weekend fun.

This was the scene a few weeks ago when I arrived in Kingston with a group of about 40 journalists and activists to tour the ongoing cleanup of one of the biggest environmental disasters in our nation’s history. Five years before at 1 a.m., Dec. 22, 2008, as the town slept, a coal ash dumpsite at the Tennessee Valley Authority’s Kingston power plant burst through a poorly constructed levee, releasing more than a billion gallons of toxic waste onto the sleeping town. A rumbling flood of contaminated waste rushed nearly six miles downstream. Donna Lisenby, of Waterkeeper Alliance, canoed down the rivers among giant “ashbergs,” 12-foot tall mounds of wet coal ash, as she tested waters shortly after the disaster.

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View Jessica Hodge's blog posts
12 November 2013, 4:07 PM
November is Oil Industry Accident Awareness Month in Louisiana
Over 6,000 people live within two miles of the Valero Refinery, in Meraux, LA. (Photo courtesy of Louisiana Bucket Brigade)

Six accidents a week and more than two-million pounds of air pollution are what Louisiana residents lived with in 2012—and they can expect more accidents and more pollution. Louisiana’s 17 refineries reported 327 accidents in 2012. The evidence is mounting that many refinery accidents are not being reported, and some of those reported are only due to community member’s forcing industry into the light.

That is why the Louisiana Bucket Brigade teamed up with the United Steelworkers and others to release the report Mission: Zero Accidents that draws attention to the dangerous conditions residents and workers are exposed to near Louisiana oil refineries. Refineries underreporting and providing little to know information on the majority of reported accidents leave workers and communities vulnerable.

View Sarah Saylor's blog posts
08 November 2013, 1:08 PM
Citizens give EPA an earful at carbon pollution listening sessions
Hundreds spoke during the public listening sessions on carbon pollution controls. (Photo courtesy of Moms Clean Air Force)

At the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's listening session regarding carbon pollution controls from existing power plants, I put myself in EPA’s shoes and did some real listening. It turns out the list of what may be lost and what must be protected by such a rule is not as short as we sometimes make it in the name of expediency.

Hundreds of people spoke in Washington, D.C., and thousands have spoken at the 10 other listening sessions the EPA is conducting across the country. Below are just 55 reasons*—one for every state and territory in our nation—for the EPA to take bold strides when it comes to limiting carbon pollution:

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View Raviya Ismail's blog posts
01 November 2013, 2:55 PM
Ordinance would provide safeguards against pesticide exposure
Large crowds had gathered at the County Building, in support of the ordinance. (Photo courtesy of Pesticides on Kauai)

Well, this is just a crying shame. After thousands of Kauaʻi residents came to show support for a popular and much-needed ordinance the County Council passed that would regulate pesticide spraying, including on the GMO crops so prevalent on Kauaʻi, you would think Mayor Bernard Carvalho, Jr. would vote in line with his constituents. Not so. In a blow to Kauaʻi citizens concerned about exposure to dangerous pesticides and dust, yesterday Mayor Carvalho vetoed the crucial ordinance.

In a letter he states: "I do not make this decision lightly, and I know that it will be controversial. However, I believe it is the right thing to do given the circumstances before me.”

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View Lisa Evans's blog posts
24 October 2013, 1:53 PM
Toxic ash disposal at Kingston still dangerous and poorly regulated
The Kingston Fossil Plant coal ash spill, in 2008. (TVA)

It’s been almost five years since the TVA Kingston coal ash disaster blanketed an idyllic riverfront community in toxic waste.

I revisited the site earlier this month, and the progress of the ongoing Superfund mega-cleanup is evident. One can once again see what brought generations to settle in this scenic valley, amid the broad rivers, quiet bays and gentle green mountains.

In Harriman, Tennessee, families enjoyed vibrant waterfront recreation off sandy beaches along the calm sloughs. Before 2008, every riverfront home had a dock, and the neighborhoods were tight, sharing a common love of the beauty and bounty of the water and mountains. In December 2008, all this was destroyed by the dam’s collapse.

House nearly buried by TVA Kingston Disaster, December 2008.

House nearly buried by TVA Kingston Disaster, December 2008.
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View Raviya Ismail's blog posts
21 October 2013, 5:44 PM
Joins in encouraging mayor to allow ordinance to become law
Earthjustice and the Center for Food Safety are prepared to defend the bill if any companies challenge it in court.  (Toa55 / Shutterstock)

It took the Kauaʻi County Council 19 hours to decide to pass, by a vote of 6–1, a controversial ordinance that would restrict the use of pesticides near sensitive areas by companies developing GMO crops, and require them to disclose the chemicals they use and the engineered crops they are growing.

And while Kauaʻi Mayor Bernard Carvalho, Jr. must approve the ordinance for it to become law, Earthjustice Attorney Paul Achitoff and George Kimbrell, senior attorney with the Center for Food Safety, sent a letter to the mayor urging him to approve the legislation. The letter states that both lawyers are prepared to intervene on behalf of community groups to defend the bill if any companies challenge the bill in court.

View Sarah Burt's blog posts
21 October 2013, 7:05 AM
Many in his classes have issues that make them vulnerable to air pollution
Jason, at the Curtis Bay neighborhood's Filbert Community Garden. (Chesapeake Climate Action Network)

(This is the final installment in a four-part series profiling communities that could be seriously impacted by increased toxic air and water pollution resulting from the federal government’s financing of the export of Appalachian coal to Asia.)

This week we hear from Jason Reed, who lives near the Port of Baltimore's CSX coal export and processing facility.

This is his story:

View Andrea Delgado's blog posts
18 October 2013, 9:18 AM
Congress and the White House reach bipartisan budget compromise

On Wednesday night, with less than two hours before the country defaulted on its debts, Congress ended the standoff that shut the government down for 16 days, kept countless federal workers without work or pay, and left anyone watching disheartened by partisan antics. In the end, it amounted to Congress deciding to do its job and allowing others to do the same.

Budget compromise vote count. (Source: NYT)

Source: New York Times. See the Senate and House vote breakdown

Did the extreme right in Congress get what they wanted out of this theater and was it worth holding workers’ and families’ budgets hostage and taking us to the brink of default? The House had prepared a wish list of deeply harmful energy, environment and public health policy riders that got sidelined by its attack on Obamacare.

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