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 Abigail Dillen's blog posts
14 October 2013, 2:18 PM
Strong power plant carbon limits are critical for tackling climate change
EPA is now taking the next step to control pollution from new power plants. (Calin Tatu / Shutterstock)

This op-ed originally ran on October 11, 2013, on LiveScience's Expert Voices: Op-Ed & Insights.

The latest report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change cements the urgency for U.S. leaders to move boldly and quickly on climate change, and the most logical place to start is the nation's fleet of power plants.

Recently, when the Environmental Protection Agency announced a proposal to limit carbon pollution from new power plants, groups involved with climate change cheered the announcement. Cleaning up power plants is an essential first step to addressing climate change and its effects, from superstorms to catastrophic fire seasons. Power plants are by far the biggest carbon polluters in the country, accounting for 40 percent of U.S. carbon dioxide emissions. There is no excuse for building any new, dirty plants without carbon pollution controls.

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View Sarah Burt's blog posts
14 October 2013, 8:16 AM
"It scares me to think that more coal will be exported from this facility."
Coal dust and soot coats Fox's property inside and out. (Chesapeake Climate Action Network)

(This is the third 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 meet Margaret Fox who lives near the CSX coal export and processing facility at the Port of Baltimore.

This is her story:

View Sarah Burt's blog posts
07 October 2013, 8:10 AM
Dust and soot become part of the air her family breathes
Desiree and her dog in their backyard, as a train rumbles past on tracks less than a hundred feet from her home. (Chesapeake Climate Action Network)

(This is the second 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 meet Desiree Bullard,  who lives in Cumberland, Maryland, along rail lines that are experiencing increased traffic from open-topped train cars full of Appalachian coal heading to the Port of Baltimore for export.

This is her story:

View Kristen Boyles's blog posts
01 October 2013, 7:13 AM
More than 10 years of court fights rids fields of deadly pesticide
Blueberries were among the crops that saw the last remaining uses of the pesticide AZM. (Braker / Flickr)

Finally. Yesterday—Sept. 30—was the last day that the highly toxic pesticide AZM could be used in the United States. This pesticide, originally developed as a nerve gas, has been poisoning people, particularly farmworkers, and insects for decades.

AZM disrupts the nervous system and causes a range of temporarily debilitating responses—splitting headache, nausea, vomiting, uncontrollable sweats, blurry vision, dizziness, unconsciousness—and even such grave long-term effects as paralysis, and death.

It took more than 10 years of farmworker activism and legal proceedings to rid our country of this neurotoxic insecticide. AZM was last legally used on apples, cherries, pears, blueberries and parsley, with the highest uses occurring in Washington, Oregon, California, Michigan, and New York.

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View Sarah Burt's blog posts
30 September 2013, 8:15 AM
"As a nurse, I see the first-hand impacts of coal dust and air pollution ..."
Lorraine Ortega lives near the Lamberts Point coal export facility in Norfolk. (Chesapeake Climate Action Network)

We're making progress in ending America's dependence on coal thanks to the work of Earthjustice and others to prevent the construction of new coal plants and hold existing coal plants to more stringent environmental standards. Now, hoping to shore up its bottom line, Big Coal is increasingly looking to ships millions of tons of U.S. coal to Asia instead.

Earthjustice is challenging this alarming trend. In July, we filed a lawsuit opposing the federal government’s financing of the export of Appalachian coal to Asia. The U.S. Export-Import Bank approved this financial support for coal exports without considering the increased toxic air and water pollution that could affect communities near the mines and ports, and along the railways that connect them.

In this first installment of a four-part series, we meet Lorraine Ortega who is a member of one such community, living near the Lamberts Point coal export facility in Norfolk, Virginia.

This is Lorraine's story:

View Andrea Delgado's blog posts
26 September 2013, 9:46 AM
Hazelton coal ash and intolerance create poisonous stew
Proximity and exposure to coal ash poses many risks.

In northeast Pennsylvania, about an hour northwest of Allentown, lies Hazleton, a city with the dubious reputation of enacting ordinances that fueled ethnic tensions and anti-immigrant sentiment.

In 2008, the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF) pointed to Hazelton’s policies for fostering an environment conducive to hate after Luis Ramirez, a young father of two, was beaten to death in a town 17 miles away. The incident prompted the involvement of the U.S. Department of Justice and led to federal hate crime charges for the attackers along with indictments of extortion, misconduct and obstruction of justice for the police officers involved in the investigation.

Hazleton’s population is nearly 40-percent Latino; yet Rep. Lou Barletta, its congressman and former mayor, is notorious for championing anti-immigrant policies. Most recently, he is known for publicly dissuading the GOP from courting Latinos or providing a path to citizenship, alleging that the majority are undocumented, “low-skilled” and uneducated. Tell that to the more than 50 million Latinos in the U.S., 75 percent of whom are U.S. citizens.

Intolerance is toxic and fragmenting, undermining the integration and safety of immigrants looking to make America their home like generations before them. Community leaders and organizations such as the Hazleton Integration Project are working to foster tolerance and shed the city’s shameful past. But another toxic hazard looms over Hazleton, threatening the well-being of the burgeoning Latino population and the city as a whole.

View Kari Birdseye's blog posts
24 September 2013, 11:58 AM
IPCC report to address the latest physical science of sooty pollutant

Black carbon is the sooty, particulate pollution that reaches deep into your lungs and causes asthma and other respiratory and heart diseases.

Black carbon also plays a major role in global warming—second to only carbon dioxide.

Here’s a great introduction to black carbon that may spur you to action, and even make you smile.

Termed a “short-lived climate pollutant” because it only stays in the atmosphere for days or weeks (unlike CO2 which sticks around for 100 years or more) reducing soot is one of the most effective ways of addressing global warming. That’s why this noxious air pollutant will be receiving some attention this week.

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View Sarah Burt's blog posts
24 September 2013, 10:16 AM
Judge rejects state's attempt to weaken air pollution controls
A cruiseship sails through Tracy Arm Fjord near Juneau, AK. (iStockphoto)

In a victory for cleaner air, a federal judge in Alaska threw out a lawsuit last week that the state of Alaska filed against the State Department and the EPA in an attempt to prevent the operation of new regulations to control pollution from ships.

Many communities along our coasts fail to meet federal air quality standards for sulfur oxides and particulate matter—pollutants that cause cardiovascular disease and lung cancer and are the leading cause of asthma in young children. Major contributors to this pollution are the large ocean-going ships that travel our nation’s waters and enter our ports, yet local governments are powerless to control this international source of pollution.

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View Jessica Lawrence's blog posts
23 September 2013, 3:18 PM
Recommendations from UN human rights expert
James Anaya is the United Nation's Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples. (UN Photo / Jean-Marc Ferré)

A longstanding goal of Earthjustice and the Interamerican Association for Environmental Defense (AIDA) has been to sound alarms at the United Nations, in national courtrooms and in international fora such as the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights about environmental and human rights violations associated with mines and dams. Indigenous peoples are particularly vulnerable to the harmful effects of such extractive and energy industries in their territories.

Last April, Earthjustice and AIDA provided evidence of these harms, as well as recommendations about how to avoid them, to U.N. indigenous rights expert James Anaya, who recently issued a report on extractive and energy industries and indigenous peoples.

View Raviya Ismail's blog posts
18 September 2013, 11:51 AM
EPA and DOE officials point to science as House officials stay in denial
The Capitol Building, observer of many a false debate. (Architect of the Capitol)

They say denial is not just a river in Egypt. Such is true for many House leaders at a House Energy and Commerce subcommittee today on the Obama administration’s climate change agenda. EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy and DOE Secretary Ernest Moniz had to endure the political grandstanding of the House's climate deniers, most of whom have accepted huge political donations from the oil and gas industry.

Here is how EPA Administrator McCarthy opened up her testimony:

Climate change is one of the greatest challenges of our time. Based on the evidence, more than 97 percent of climate scientists are convinced that human caused climate change is occurring. If our changing climate goes unchecked, it will have devastating impacts on the United States and the planet. Reducing carbon pollution is critically important to the protection of Americans’ health and the environment upon which our economy depends.

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