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 Raviya Ismail's blog posts
28 June 2010, 12:33 PM
Port Arthur, TX residents continually exposed to toxic emissions
Hilton Kelley of Port Arthur, TX.

When Hilton Kelley of Port Arthur, Texas moved back to his hometown more than a decade ago, he didn't realize that he'd spend the ensuing years battling for clean air. And on a muggy Tuesday afternoon, he drove 90 miles west toward Houston to attend yet another EPA hearing to comment on air pollution rules.

Kelley, 49, lives in an area where there are 20 facilities, small and large, continuously pumping chemicals into the air.

"We have become the dumping ground for America's toxic waste," said Kelley. The Port Arthur community is comprised of residents that often times need two or three jobs to make ends meet, he said. "It's an area of least resistance."

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View Brian Smith's blog posts
24 June 2010, 12:03 PM
Coalition takes the fight to court

The state of Washington announced a deal with Canadian-based TransAlta Corp. last week to "clean up" pollution from mercury and oxides of nitrogen. But the plan is sorely lacking.

A coalition of faith, environmental and public health groups are working to see the TransAlta coal plant, the state's largest single pollution source, converted to cleaner fuels or shut down by 2015. Coalition members were not impressed by this sweetheart deal and have already taken their case to the courts.

TransAlta is by far Washington's largest emitter of neurotoxic mercury, and of the NOx pollution that contributes to haze over numerous national parks and wilderness areas in the Pacific Northwest.

View Raviya Ismail's blog posts
24 June 2010, 9:19 AM
Industry complains of economic woes, Houstonians fear polluted air

Concerned Houston citizen Rosalie Guerrero recently visited a young mother who lives near a facility pumping chemicals in the air. The mother had given birth to a baby with half a brain. The baby suffered for 6 months before dying.

“I’d like to see how much that life costs,” said Rosalie, testifying at a U.S. EPA hearing in Houston on the detrimental effects of living near facilities that emit lead, mercury and cadmium in the air. “There is a cost associated with that.”

Advocates for clean air testified alongside industry representatives at hearings in Houston and Los Angeles Tuesday regarding recent EPA proposals to cut emissions of hazardous air pollutants like mercury and other toxic metals at nearly 100,000 facilities nationwide.

View Sam Edmondson's blog posts
23 June 2010, 3:02 PM
Clean air advocates tell EPA at public hearings to cut toxic emissions

Clean air advocates, many sporting "Don't Trash Our Lungs" t-shirts, spoke out yesterday at public hearings in Los Angeles and Houston for much-needed reductions in toxic air pollution. Held by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the hearings focused on recent EPA proposals to cut emissions of hazardous air pollutants like mercury and other toxic metals at nearly 100,000 facilities nationwide.

While aspects of the EPA's proposals will result in significant benefits to public health if finalized, the agency also made an irresponsible and dangerous offering to industry in the form of a loophole that would allow many facilities to burn industrial wastes without any meaningful oversight or pollution controls.

I attended the L.A. hearing to ask that EPA issue final standards that are maximally strong and protective of public health and ditch the loophole that endangers communities across the country. Hundreds of Earthjustice supporters in the L.A. area, which is notorious for its poor air quality, also submitted comments asking for the same, and I was able to read excerpts from many of these during my testimony.

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View Jared Saylor's blog posts
21 June 2010, 9:06 AM
Agency offers two options for coal ash: one good, one very, very bad

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency started the 90-day clock for public comments on its plans to set federal safeguards for millions of tons of dangerous coal ash wastee currently being stored in dry dumps and waste ponds. This means we've got three months to set the EPA on a straight course towards the first ever strong, federally enforceable safeguards for coal ash. And judging from the current proposal, it seems like the EPA can use our help.

The EPA has set two separate options for regulating coal ash. The first option classifies the nasty byproduct of coal-fired power plants as a "special waste," with strong, federally enforceable requirements for water monitoring and cleanup of the hundreds of dry dumps and wet waste ponds across the country. The second option, which is the favored approach by the polluters and companies responsible for the coal ash, offerws only guidelines that leave many communitites at risk of exposure to the toxic pollutants found in coal ash.

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View Kathleen Sutcliffe's blog posts
16 June 2010, 2:55 PM
Still waiting to see what’s in their products besides baking soda

Do you buy Arm & Hammer cleaning products? I used to.

I have to admit, there's something strangely comforting about that old-fashioned image on the side of their baking soda box. I associated it with, I don't know, something wholesome, like making pancakes with my Dad on Sunday morning. And when I got old enough to buy products to clean my own home, those happy memories buried deep in my brain propelled me to the Arm & Hammer section of the cleaning product aisle, silently commanding me to hoist that yellow bottle of laundry detergent into my cart.

At some slightly more conscious level, I was thinking 'If they make cooking ingredients, their cleaning products have to be safe, right?'

Well maybe. But here's the thing: We asked Arm & Hammer to disclose the chemical ingredients in their cleaning products as required by a New York State law.

They refused.

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View Jessica Knoblauch's blog posts
11 June 2010, 4:32 PM
Hazardous waste exemption, oil dispersants, BP goes Orwellian

Some top stories from the past week at Earthjustice…

This week, Earthjustice scored a big victory for our lungs with the announcement that the EPA is finally abandoning a dangerous rule—granted by the Bush administration—that would permit the unregulated burning of hazardous waste.

BP's latest effort to clean up its soiled image took it into even murkier waters after the oil giant recently began buying search terms like "oil spill" on Google and Yahoo search engines so that the company's official web site would be the first link to appear on a search page.

Amidst a vote on Sen. Murkowski's (R-AK) resolution to bail out big polluters, Earthjustice President Trip Van Noppen called on the Senate to put aside partisan politics and protect the American people by voting against this bill. Thankfully, the Senate has voted 53-47 against the bill.

Campaign manager Brian Smith reported on Interior Secretary Ken Salazar's recent announcement of a memorandum of understanding to establish the Atlantic Offshore Wind Energy Consortium, which has the goal of tapping into the estimated 1 million megawatts of potential wind power that exists off the east coast.

Earthjustice was curious to know just what's in all of those chemical dispersants that we're dropping into the Gulf of Mexico by the millions of gallons, so we filed a Freedom of Information Act request to get more information. Here's what we found (hint: it's not good).

View Sam Edmondson's blog posts
09 June 2010, 10:43 AM
EPA abandons a rule permitting unregulated burning of hazardous waste
The star-crossed lovers, Romeo and Juliet.

Juliet once said to Romeo: "What's in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet." Were Juliet as concerned by toxic air pollution as love, the fair Capulet might have instead philosophized: "That which we call hazardous waste by any other name would pollute as much when burned."

I have a good reason for butchering Shakespeare's poetry. Yesterday, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency finally abandoned a dangerous exemption that allowed industrial polluters to store, transport, and burn hazardous waste without meeting crucial requirements to protect public health and the environment.

View Raviya Ismail's blog posts
04 June 2010, 12:56 PM
While Florida meets oil sheen, protestors push for BP accountability
Photo: Friends of the Earth

Nearly 200 journalists, environmental activists and representatives of public interest organizations (Greenpeace, Friends of the Earth, Public Citizen, 350.org and others) gathered in front of BP's headquarters downtown today to stage a citizen's arrest of the oil giant for the Gulf of Mexico gusher that has been fouling coastlines, killing marine life and devastating Gulf coast communities.

The assembled crowd called for a clean energy future and one that doesn't put profits over people.

Rev. Lennox Yearwood, Jr., a resident of Shreveport, Louisiana who works with the Hip Hop Caucus said of BP, "Your greed is killing my people," and urged President Obama that "this is not the time to play politics."

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View Kathleen Sutcliffe's blog posts
03 June 2010, 1:57 PM
Toxic America series continues tonight at 8 pm ET/PT

Did you tune into CNN's special series "Toxic Towns USA" last night? I sure did. I wanted to root on our friends and allies in the town of Mossville, LA who were featured in the special one-hour program hosted by Dr. Sanjay Gupta.

Among the local heroes profiled in the piece was Dorothy Felix, who has spent much of the past decade fighting to protect her community from the cancer-causing chemicals raining down upon her hometown of Mossville, a historically African-American community in southwestern Louisiana ringed by chemical plants.

This is a community where University of Texas researchers found that 99 percent of residents suffered from at least one disease or illness related to toxic chemical exposure. Further studies found blood levels of dioxin in Mossville residents rivaling those seen in workers involved in industrial accidents. The toxicologists studying these results called them some of the highest levels ever reported in the United States from an environmental exposure.

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