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 Terry Winckler's blog posts
29 April 2010, 1:31 PM
California court stops refinery expansion over illegal EIR

<Update: This month, Chevron quietly let pass its final opportunity to appeal a California Court of Appeal decision that rejected the Environmental Impact Report for its expansion project at the Richmond Refinery.>

Most of us know what it's like to have a bad neighbor—but imagine one so bad that you're forced to regularly hide indoors from it.

Such a bully has long stalked the communities of Richmond, CA, but this week they got help—from the California State Court of Appeals. The court sided with residents against their nightmare neighbor, a Chevron Corporation oil refinery that's been pouring toxic pollution upon them for years, that would like to make things even worse by refining thicker, dirtier oil.

The court stopped Chevron dead in its tracks because its expansion plan relied on an Environmental Impact Report so deficient that the court ruled it illegal. It's not likely the end of this fight, but for Earthjustice and the folks it's standing up for, this is the best news they've had in years of struggle with Chevron.

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View Liz Judge's blog posts
22 April 2010, 9:41 AM
Thanks for all you've done

“The battle to restore a proper relationship between man and his environment, and between man and other living creatures, will require a long sustained political, moral, ethical, and financial commitment far beyond any commitment ever made by any society in the history of man. Are we able? Yes. Are we willing? That’s the unanswered question.” – Gaylord Nelson, founder of Earth Day.

When Earth Day was born 40 years ago, there were “spumes of pollution pouring out of smokestacks, people spraying children in parking lots and at picnics with DDT, air pollution in major cities that was basically unbreathable, rivers catching on fire, lakes dying,” says one of Earth Day’s original organizers, Denis Hayes, in this Washington Post video. “It was just deteriorating very rapidly, but what addressed those problems was a wave of legislation immediately after Earth Day.” (For more on Earth Day’s storied history, read this.)

As we celebrate 40 years of Earth Day, we’re also celebrating 40 years of Earthjustice victories – check out 40 of our favorite victories along with stunning photos in this new slideshow made for Earth Day 2010.

We're also celebrating our army of supporters, activist members, and concerned citizens. We have you to thank for each of these major victories, and the many victories and wins in between.

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View Kathleen Sutcliffe's blog posts
19 April 2010, 2:39 PM
Long after officials went to prison, their dirty work remains
by Tom Flannagan

A sad chapter in New York City history may finally be drawing to a close as city officials got to work this month cleaning up an abandoned toxic waste dump that for years had plagued the neighboring community on Staten Island.

The dump is one of five city landfills involved in a 1982 federal investigation into illegal dumping which sent a city Department of Sanitation official (dubbed Johnny Cash by the tabloids) and a hauling operator to prison. Decades passed and those convicted served their time, but the sludge pits at the Brookfield landfill dump remained, leaching 95,000 gallons a day into groundwater and the nearby Richmond Creek.

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View Patti Goldman's blog posts
16 April 2010, 10:08 AM
Attorney—and mom—sees promise in "Safe Chemicals Act"
Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ)

As mother, I try to protect my children from exposure to toxic chemicals in household products. But as an environmental attorney, I know only too well that our country's existing system of regulating chemicals is badly broken.

The same law that allowed asbestos to remain on the market long after it had been proven carcinogenic now has parents doubling as forensic chemists scrambling to keep up with the latest research on health risks posed by the items in their homes.

When it comes to protecting our kids from toxic chemicals, parents need a system that meets us halfway. We need to shift the burden from families to the companies who are manufacturing and distributing the chemicals used in these products.

This week, we are one step closer to that goal, with legislation introduced yesterday by Senator Frank Lautenberg.

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View Jared Saylor's blog posts
15 April 2010, 1:13 PM
239 public interest groups urge Pres. Obama to regulate coal ash

When the EPA said on its website that April was going to be the month when we'd see the first ever federal coal ash regulations, environmental groups were in support. Sure, it would be four months later than what the EPA originally promised when a billion gallons of coal ash spilled across 300 acres in Tennessee, but we remained optimistic.

Now the month is half over and still no coal ash regulations. So, we're taking our fight up the ladder.

Today, 239 public interest groups representing all 50 states signed a letter to President Obama, asking him to make coal ash regulations public. This unprecedented display of unified support for strong federal safeguards against coal ash is needed to counter the mistruths and fearmongering spread by the coal and power industries.

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View Jessica Knoblauch's blog posts
29 March 2010, 12:01 PM
Like farm crops, pets get poisoned

While the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency mulls over the 42,000 letters sent from Earthjustice supporters and others who expressed support for safety standards protecting rural kids from pesticides, it's important to remember that pesticides aren't just limited to the fields.

Every spring, pet owners slick the backs of their dogs and cats with over-the-counter treatments designed to keep fleas and ticks at bay. The problem is that these treatments, which are also found stocked on shelves of pet stores nationwide in the spray, collar and shampoo form, contain toxic pesticides. Think of it as your very own bottle-o-poison.

The EPA has been keeping a watchdog's eye on these so-called spot-on treatments due to an increase in incident reports where pets have experienced adverse reactions that range from mild to downright serious.

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View Liz Judge's blog posts
22 March 2010, 1:08 PM
Urge EPA to adopt strong ozone pollution standards today

As sure as April brings showers and May brings flowers, June brings ozone pollution warnings. These alerts come to us by way of air quality reports in our local weather forecasts, and they let us know when ground-level ozone pollution, the primary component of smog, reaches a dangerous level in the air we breathe. We see the alerts almost exclusively in the summer because sunlight and hot weather spur chemical reactions between air pollutants, thereby forming ground-level ozone and, in turn, smog.

Smog, then, fills the air until it's hard for some of us to breathe, especially babies and children, whose lungs are more delicate and less developed. Babies, children, senior citizens, and people who suffer from asthma, allergies, breathing problems, and lung disease bear the brunt of the suffering from smog, but scientific research shows us that no matter how healthy, we all are vulnerable to this dangerous pollutant.

Anyone who spends time outdoors in the summer may be affected, and millions of Americans live in areas where the national ozone health standards are exceeded. (Conversely, ozone in the upper atmosphere -- the good kind of ozone -- forms a layer that protects life on earth from the sun's harmful rays.)

Today until midnight, March 22, is final day of the EPA's public comment period for this ozone pollution standard. Please join tens of thousands of others and take a moment to send EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson a message, urging her to adopt the strongest possible standards for ozone pollution.

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View Kathleen Sutcliffe's blog posts
16 March 2010, 9:43 AM
They all want EPA to protect rural kids from pesticides

As I write, officials at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency are wading through the tens of thousands of letters Earthjustice supporters and their counterparts at MomsRising, Pesticide Action Network and United Farmworkers sent asking the agency to protect rural kids from pesticides.

These 42,000 people—along with 51 groups in 18 states—are publicly supporting our petition for safety standards to protect children who grow up near farms from the harmful effects of pesticide 'drift'—the toxic spray or vapor that travels from treated fields—and for immediate no-spray buffer zones around homes, schools, parks and daycare centers for the most dangerous and drift-prone pesticides.

As EPA officials complete their tally, I hope they're paying particular attention to the personal stories people shared in their letters. People like Cynthia Piper, of Lakewood, OH, who after seeing children exposed to pesticides suffer from deformities, fought for a right-to-know pesticide spray ordinance in her town. Or JeanAnn Hurst of Chowchilla, CA, whose son was exposed to the nerve-gas pesticide chlorpyrifos while on school grounds. You can find Cynthia and JeanAnn's stories on our interactive map. And if you've had a close encounter with pesticides yourself, please consider submitting your story as well.

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View Brian Smith's blog posts
10 March 2010, 12:36 PM
With $2.8 billion budget shortfall, state needs a break, not TransAlta

Facing a $2.8 billion budget shortfall, there is a movement afoot in Olympia, Washington to repeal a generous tax break enjoyed by the state's largest polluter, the TransAlta coal plant in Centralia.

The tax break was given to the company in the 1990s provided they kept coal mining jobs in the state. In 2006, TransAlta closed the local mine, laid off 600 workers, and began purchasing coal from the Powder River Basin in Montana.

Despite the tough economic times, TransAlta still pockets $4 million every year.

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View Raviya Ismail's blog posts
08 March 2010, 12:37 PM
A victory for Earthjustice and those who live near refineries, other plants
Tesoro Refinery fire. Photo by Jesse Marquez

You know when you're hiking up a mountain and you think you've reached the summit, only to turn the corner with the realization that you have further to climb? Well, Earthjustice and other clean air advocates have finally reached the summit, putting an end to litigation involving a loophole that gave industrial facilities a free pass to ignore pollution limits whenever plants start up, shut down or malfunction.

Today, the U.S. Supreme Court denied the American Chemistry Council (and others) a request to review the case, which Earthjustice won in December 2008.

The Supreme Court's decision is huge for us, but it's folks on the ground (the ones that live near these plants and their skyrocketing emissions) that are cheering the loudest -- people like Jesse Marquez: who lives three miles from a Wilmington, California Tesoro Energy Corp's refinery which caught fire last September because of a malfunction. Jesse was at the scene, taking pictures and recalling the terrible mixture of crude oil and diesel fuel filling the air for 6 hours.

That same month, Tesoro CEO Bruce Smith traveled to DC to lobby Congress to protest emissions reductions.

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