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 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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View Trip Van Noppen's blog posts
27 August 2013, 1:39 PM
Save Appalachia's streams from mountaintop removal mining
Activists march by the White House in September 2012. (Chris Jordan-Bloch)

We are sorry to hear that the Department of Interior’s Office of Surface Mining lost 18,000 Earthjustice supporter letters. Our supporters wrote these letters during the Bush administration to urge OSM not to eliminate critical stream protections, especially the “stream buffer zone rule,” from mountaintop removal mining—which it did anyway.

We appreciate the Department of Interior’s apology and explanation for the unfortunate loss of these documents, which were misplaced possibly years ago in an agency move. We want to give reassurance that though the agency may have lost these letters, the Earthjustice supporters who wrote them have not gone anywhere. In fact, they have multiplied and are growing stronger in their commitment to this cause.

Earthjustice is proud to represent some of the most dedicated citizens and community members in the country, and we will not stop until justice and a safe, healthy environment for all is achieved. That’s why, when President Obama took office, more than 20,000 Earthjustice supporters immediately took action again to urge the administration and new leadership at the Office of Surface Mining to bring back these protections and restore the stream buffer zone rule.

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View Liz Judge's blog posts
09 August 2013, 4:42 PM
Spoiler: It's not a world anyone wants to live in

TIME Magazine's cover this week depicts a single bee, its wings flapping in frenzied motion on a stark black background. It forebodingly reads, "A WORLD WITHOUT BEES: THE PRICE WE'LL PAY IF WE DON'T FIGURE OUT WHAT'S KILLING THE HONEYBEE".

The article by Bryan Walsh addresses a disastrous phenomenon that could tumble the basis of our food system: the widespread collapse of honeybee colonies nationwide known as "colony collapse disorder." Honeybees across the nation have been dying at rates unseen in history. To say that the bees are dropping like flies, well, it's an affront to the necessity of bees in our food systems and economy. It's hard to talk about colony collapse disorder and not sound Doomsday-ish. And that's because, as Walsh reveals, one-third of the food on our tables is there because of honeybees, which polinate a wide array of the foods we love and need, and their survival is required to fuel our both our bodies and our economy. Forget about berries, fruits, many vegetables if we fail to address this honeybee crisis.

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