Posts tagged: Health and Toxics

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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.


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
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, 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."

2 Comments   /  
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.

11 Comments   /  
View Sam Edmondson's blog posts
02 June 2010, 11:36 AM
Residents of Mossville, La. speak out in debut of a new CNN investigation
Aerial view of a chemical plant in Louisiana.

Breathing isn't a choice. Everyone does it, no matter where they live. But for many Americans, where they live has a tremendous impact on the quality of the air they breathe.

Take a look at Mossville, Louisiana for instance, which is home to 14 chemical plants. The town's residents are plagued by severe health problems like cancer and kidney disease attributed to pollution from these local facilities.

Tonight at 8 PM ET/PT, CNN will profile the toxic plight of Mossville and its residents in "Toxic Towns USA," which is part of a two-night special investigation called "Toxic America" that culminates a "year-long, stunning look into toxic chemicals, health and the environment," according to the network. The investigation will continue tomorrow night with "Toxic Childhood" at 8PM ET/PT.

8 Comments   /  
View Liz Judge's blog posts
01 June 2010, 3:45 PM
What in the world is going on?

While the federal government launches a criminal investigation into the cause of the Deepwater Horizon explosion and oil spill, some in the Senate are still making designs for a big polluter bailout.

On Friday, 13 leading environmental officials joined the ranks of the many who have protested this effort in Senate, which was put forth in a proposal by Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) months ago and will come to a Senate vote on June 10.

Her proposed legislation would keep us hooked on dirty and dangerous fossil fuels, and protect the oil and coal industries from having to clean up their pollution, by removing the Environmental Protection Agency's ability to regulate global warming-causing greenhouse gases. The EPA has this authority by way of the Clean Air Act, one of our nation's most effective and successful environmental laws, and the Supreme Court's 2007 Massachusetts v. EPA ruling.

In a letter to Senate leaders, the bipartisan group of state environmental agency heads and leaders from both coasts and parts in between defends the 40-year-old Clean Air Act, and argues that any reversal or delay of the EPA's science-based findings on the threat of global warming would be unacceptable.

3 Comments   /  
View Terry Winckler's blog posts
28 May 2010, 12:26 PM
Earthjustice files action to discover what's in chemical dispersant
Dispersant sprayed in Gulf of Mexico

Today, the maker of a controversial dispersant used in the Gulf of Mexico oil spill declared, "We have nothing to hide." In fact, that's the headline of a New York Times story on the dispersant.

If that were true, we at Earthjustice and our clients wouldn't have to take formal action to find out what's in the dispersant. British Petroleum, which has used more than 800,000 gallons of "Corexit" to combat its oil spill, won't reveal what is in the compound. Thus, we have been forced to send a formal Freedom of Information Act request to the Environmental Protection Agency, asking for the information.

<Update: Earthjustice Vice President of Litigation Patti Goldman notes that "Nalco put out a release trying to allay concerns about the ingredients in its dispersants, but its statement raises more concerns than it answers. First, it asserts that all of the ingredients "have been determined safe and effective by the EPA." While the Food and Drug Administration makes such determinations for drugs, the Toxics Substances Control Act is so weak that it does not require that EPA make such safety findings before chemicals are allowed on the market. That is why a diverse health, environmental, and labor coalition (including Earthjustice) are calling for an overhaul of that law. Given that EPA is not in the business of declaring chemicals safe and effective, I doubt EPA would back up Nalco's claim. Second, Nalco tries to prove that Corexit ingredients are safe by pointing to their presence in cosmetics, lotions, and stain blockers. That gives me little comfort. Cosmetics and lotions often contain phthalates, which have been associated with reproductive impacts and endocrine disruption. And some stain blockers contain ingredients classified as cancer-causing or neurotoxins."> 

11 Comments   /  
View Kathleen Sutcliffe's blog posts
19 May 2010, 10:42 AM
Everybody’s doing it. You can, too! Learn at 'Green Parties'

If you're like me, you haven't quite gotten around to your spring cleaning. But this year, I'm actually excited to get started. Why? Because I'm detoxing my spring cleaning. And you can, too!

This spring, Earthjustice members are hosting 'Green Cleaning' parties around the country (and around the world—we just got a note from someone in Shanghai!). Our partners at Women's Voices for the Earth have been organizing these parties for years—where people gather with friends and family to learn how to mix their own safe and effective surface cleaners, laundry detergent and more.

We've got parties happening in Danbury, CT; Denver, CO; Dallas, TX; Flint, MI; Portland, ME, among other places. Sign up here to learn more about hosting one in your town!

1 Comment   /  
View Trip Van Noppen's blog posts
18 May 2010, 3:27 PM
Life-saving Clean Air Act protections are not bargaining chips

Last week, Senators John Kerry (D-MA) and Joe Lieberman (I-CT) released a long-awaited discussion draft of their climate and energy bill, the American Power Act. Among the bill's big giveaways to polluters was a surprise invitation to exempt dirty old power plants from clean-up requirements for soot, smog, and toxics such as mercury.

To be clear, this attack on the Clean Air Act goes well beyond controversial waivers of EPA authority to regulate greenhouse gases. It undercuts safeguards that are slated to save tens of thousands of lives every year. This sweetener for coal plants is poisonous for Americans.

Every year, soot from coal plants kills an estimated 24,000 people and causes hundreds of thousands of cases of asthma and other serious illnesses, especially in children. The vast majority of this suffering, including 90 percent of premature deaths, is preventable with the installation of available, cost-effective pollution controls. However, power companies have managed, often illegally, to keep running dirty coal plants for maximum profit.

Finally, after years of court battles to enforce the Clean Air Act, we are on the verge of a solution. The Environmental Protection Agency is poised to set protective standards that would force long overdue clean-ups. By 2020, EPA estimates that emission reductions from effective implementation of the Clean Air Act will save us $1.2 trillion per year in mortality costs alone.

13 Comments   /  
View Jared Saylor's blog posts
18 May 2010, 2:36 PM
Why the hold up? We're drowning in this toxic mess
Coal ash floods Tennessee neighborhood

Coal-fired power plants generate enough coal ash every year to fill a train stretching from the North Pole all the way to the South Pole. There is enough coal ash being stored in ponds and landfills to fill 738 Empire State Buildings, or flow continuously over Niagara Falls for three days straight. It's no mystery that we create staggering amounts of coal ash, the dangerous byproduct of burning coal to fuel our energy demands.

But what remains a mystery is why the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency still hasn't made a clear commitment to federal safeguards that ensure protections for our health and environment against this hazardous waste.

3 Comments   /  
View Brian Smith's blog posts
18 May 2010, 10:04 AM
Otter Creek Mine may serve growing economies of Asia
Coal mining operation in the Powder River Basin. Photo: BLM

Late last week, Earthjustice filed a lawsuit against the State of Montana over the state's decision to lease 572 million tons of coal for strip mining at Otter Creek without examining the environmental impacts of the decision. The decision was supported by Democratic Governor Brian Schweitzer, who has been dubbed the "Coal Cowboy" by the national media.

The lease was awarded to St. Louis-based Arch Coal, the nation's second largest coal producer. Including the coal it acquired from the state, Arch Coal has amassed leases for at least 1.3 billion tons of coal in the area, which will make the proposed Otter Creek mine one of the largest strip mines in North America.

Even while our nation's leaders are claiming the need to achieve "energy independence," Arch Coal says that Otter Creek coal would be mined to serve the growing demand in Asian countries.

2 Comments   /  
View Jared Saylor's blog posts
04 May 2010, 1:38 PM
Agency offers two plans: one good, one bad
Cleaning up after the TVA coal ash spill in Tennessee, December 2008. Photo:

It's been a long time coming, but they're finally here: the EPA announced today plans to set the first ever federal safeguards for coal ash, one of America's most dangerous wastes. But what they really did was announce two plans: one good and one bad. The agency will accept public comment on both plans and then decide which to pursue.

The good plan classifies coal ash as hazardous waste, a move we've been pushing the EPA to make for some time. The agency also proposed, however, to classify coal ash as non-hazardous (the bad plan), a move that will not yield strong protections for communities and won't get at the problems associated with coal ash ponds and landfills.

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