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 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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View Jessica Knoblauch's blog posts
18 September 2013, 11:29 AM
Cleaner air starts with a button and ends with stronger pollution laws
Photo courtesy of epSos.de (Flickr)

Tired of breathing dirty air during your daily commute? Just turn on your car vent’s recirculation button, advises researchers from the University of Southern California. Their study found that pushing this little-used button—which typically shows an arrow with a car around it—can cut pollution levels by 80 percent as compared to pollution levels found out on the road.
 

View Adrian Martinez's blog posts
17 September 2013, 10:55 AM
Reports says 40% of state residents live near high-travel roads

A paper published last night in the Journal of Transportation Research Part D: Transport and the Environment identifies how many people are impacted by highway pollution in the United States. The paper finds that 19.3 percent of the U.S. population lives within 500 meters of a high volume road.

The findings are important for public health because regulators have been slow to remedy the ample scientific evidence demonstrating high levels of air pollutants near major roadways.

The research is all the more important in a place like California where the study found that 40 percent of the state’s population lives near high volume roads—the biggest percentage of any state. Yet, air regulators in California have been slow to take initial steps to place air monitors near heavily trafficked roadways.

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View David Guest's blog posts
17 September 2013, 9:45 AM
Toxic algae, caused by runoff, spreads widely into communities
Toxic algae outbreak at St. Johns River four years ago—the situation has not improved. (Florida Water Coalition)

This fall, as fluorescent green toxic algae continues to break out in front of pricey waterfront homes along South Florida’s Treasure Coast (north of Palm Beach), and around the southwest tourist meccas of Sanibel and Captiva Islands, there’s an explosion of citizen protest and lot of talk about moving the polluted water somewhere else, please.

What we need to talk about is cleaning the water up, not just moving it around. Our government has the power to do this, but instead, all that leaders suggest is more engineering to move the polluted swill from one place to another. It’s wrong-headed, and it needs to stop. They need to hold polluters accountable.

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View Trip Van Noppen's blog posts
11 September 2013, 12:19 PM
High above this great nation, you can see the struggles we face
An airplane passes over Desolation Canyon, UT. (Ecoflight)

“If you want to see the places we’ve helped protect, ask for a window seat.”

So reads my favorite Earthjustice message, decorating airports across the country. It’s true: 35,000 feet is a great vantage to see the forests, mountains and river canyons that are intact, unroaded and resilient thanks to our legal work with many allies.

But on a recent flight, I also saw a different, far more disturbing picture: the ravages of fossil fuel extraction and burning. I took off from San Francisco bound for D.C. As we climbed over California, one of my favorite sights, the majestic Sierra Nevada mountains, was obscured by thick smoke—the result of massive fires brought on by drought and rising temperatures, increasingly common as fossil-fueled global warming settles in.

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View Chrissy Pepino's blog posts
10 September 2013, 4:14 PM
Haze from coal-fired power plants obscures our greatest national treasures
How much of Yosemite Valley will you be able to see on your next visit? (Chrissy Pepino / Earthjustice)

Drops of sunscreen-infused sweat sting your eyes as you climb towards the summit; a small price to pay for the panoramic views that lie ahead.

But after finally conquering every switchback, your view of far-stretching vistas is obscured, not by sweat, but by haze created by coal-fired power plants – a polluting problem that afflicts many of America’s 400 national parks.

Each year these parks attract more than 275 million visitors who, like you, expect awesome visual experiences, whether standing cliff-side at Angels Landing in Zion National Park, conquering the Grand Tetons in Wyoming, or gaping from the valley floor in Yosemite at Half Dome.

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View Marianne Engelman Lado's blog posts
10 September 2013, 1:57 PM
Rules would have increased information about dangerous chemicals
Recent moves by the EPA could keep important scientific information about chemicals hidden from the public. (Matej Kastelic / Shutterstock)

To say we at Earthjustice are disappointed regarding the recent news that the Environmental Protection Agency has withdrawn two chemical rules would be an understatement.

EPA’s decision to pull these rules is truly a shame because the proposed regulations would have increased transparency of health and safety information related to potentially dangerous chemicals. We already have detailed the many reasons why our existing chemicals law, the Toxic Substances Control Act, is woefully deficient and outdated – and now this. The two rules are years-old initiatives to compile a federal "chemicals of concern" list and to reform confidentiality rules for health and safety studies related to new chemicals.

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View Debra Mayfield's blog posts
05 September 2013, 6:07 PM
Teen tornado takes on those who pollute her hometown
Members of the Black Belt Citizen's Fighting for Health and Justice. Durden is third from right. Photo by Avery Locklear, via Treehugger.

Just when you think our younger generation is distracted by Instagram, “Pretty Little Liars” and Miley Cyrus, the world turns itself upside down, shakes itself around and out comes Cece Durden.

Cece is a 17-year-old powerhouse who refuses to sit back and let her community in Alabama’s Black Belt risk be poisoned by toxic coal ash pollution. Until recently, Cece knew nothing of the coal ash being stored at the Arrowhead Landfill, threatening the health and welfare of her neighbors, herself and her classmates in the tiny hamlet of Uniontown. But her fighting spirit took over once she discovered that coal ash waste from the massive spill in 2008 at the Tennessee Valley Authority power plant in Kingston, TN—the second largest environmental disaster in U.S. history—was being dumped in her backyard.

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View Adrian Martinez's blog posts
28 August 2013, 3:32 PM
Plans for urban growth must address community impacts
The Port of Oakland, the fifth busiest container port in the country, is adjacent to community neighborhoods.  (Esther Dyson)

Last week, my colleagues in San Francisco filed a lawsuit against Plan Bay Area on behalf of Sierra Club along with Communities for a Better Environment. Plan Bay Area is the master transportation plan for the San Francisco Bay region. It’s an important plan because of its far-reaching scope covering transportation planning through 2040.

In another part of California last week, Jamie Holter, a transportation analyst, wrote an L.A. Times op-ed calling on people in Los Angeles to treat every day like “Carmageddon.” Holter made the point that the data he crunches shows that when there is a will, there is a way to change the way we move throughout our cities.

It is no coincidence that transportation issues receive so much attention in the nation’s first- and third-most congested cities, Los Angeles and San Francisco respectively. We are at a critical crossroads for the health of the planet and the health of our communities. There are no better metropolitan regions to lead a transformation than Los Angeles and San Francisco. California’s strong efforts to combat harmful climate pollution make these two large urban centers the perfect places to advance a modern vision for transportation.

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