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 Tom Turner's blog posts
04 April 2009, 5:51 AM
 

The blaring headline to the San Francisco Chronicle April 3 was all about our continuing drought and upcoming water rationing. This is not exactly news -- we've been warned for months.

What I wrestle with is how to spread the hardship fairly. The remedy the utility company will impose is across-the-board reductions of 15 percent or more. No hosing down your driveway. No washing your car more than so often.

But what about us noble citizens who already conserve like crazy?

View Trip Van Noppen's blog posts
03 April 2009, 9:45 AM
 

On February 17, Earthjustice called on Congress to introduce and pass legislation that would fix a glaring loophole punched in the Clean Water Act during the Bush years. The Supreme Court, with Bush administration backing, held that only "navigable" waterways could enjoy protections of this law.

Today, I am glad to report, the Clean Water Restoration Act has been introduced by Senators Russ Feingold, Barbara Boxer, Benjamin Cardin and 20 other pro-clean water senators in the 111th Congress. The new bill would protect ALL waters of the United States, regardless of whether one could paddle a dinghy down the stream or not.

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View Jared Saylor's blog posts
31 March 2009, 1:56 PM
 

In the final witness panel, Tom Kilgore, president and CEO of the Tennessee Valley Authority, said that they have posted information on their website.

But as mentioned earlier by Harriman resident Sarah McCoin, many of the residents simply don’t have ready access to the internet and to TVA’s website. Much like if a tree falls in the forest one wonders if it makes a sound, if there is information available on health impacts that doesn’t actually get to the residents who are most affected, does it really serve to protect?

View Jared Saylor's blog posts
31 March 2009, 1:23 PM
 

After a break…the hearing resumed with testimony from Renee Victoria Hoyos, executive director of the Tennessee Clean Water Network, and from Dr. Avner Vengosh, professor of earth and ocean sciences at Duke University.

During questions from members of the committee (specifically Rep. Johnson), regarding particulate matter pollution, Dr. Vengosh said: "Inhalation of ash would definitely increase the health risk. Given the climate condition, and we had a lot of rainfall in the south until now, there hasn't been formation of particulate matter as of yet...For the current situation there hasn't been formation of dust that could affect health. However this could be changing very soon."

While breathing the coal ash dust might not pose an immediate threat, as the weather warms up and the rainfall dries out, coal ash dust could be a very serious problem.

View Jared Saylor's blog posts
31 March 2009, 11:59 AM
 

Today's congressional hearing on the Tennessee Valley Authority coal ash spill from last December in Harriman, TN, started out with opening remarks from Representative Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX) who said that it’s been "nearly a decade" since this committee held oversight hearings on the Tennessee Valley Authority. She also said the committee maybe plans to continue TVA oversight now every 30 to 60 days.

Minority committee leader Rep. John Boozman from Arkansas said, "New laws will not replace homes…and family treasures," but bet they will certainly do much to make sure that others who live near these coal ash sites don't have to lose their homes or valuable family treasures and heirlooms in another preventable spill.

Rep. Lincoln Davis, whose district is where the TVA spill happened, offered strong words for the committee, saying, "My constituents and the land they live on must be made whole again."

The Republicans seem to be pushing their talking points aggressively: while this particular spill is bad, this doesn't mean coal is bad and there shouldn't be talk of stopping coal burning. It seems like they're not quite able to see the forest for the trees, and despite the nature of this hearing (to find out what went wrong and how it can be prevented) some members just can't resist a small shot at those groups fighting for a cleaner environment.

Sarah McCoin, a Harriman, TN, resident said: "Harriman is now a toxic wasteland, and we urge that guidelines and laws are in place to make sure that this never happens again... residents are scared if they are being exposed... we are a community that hunts fishes and swims in the rivers and we need to be ensured that it is safe to be in the river... Harriman is home to people who rely on the fish for their meals... too many residents are experiencing respiratory problems... we desperately need to have testing for our community to find out if our children are being poisoned…we have been neglected. There are people who have been satisfied but there are many are not."

Strong words from someone who is living in and near this tragedy. Committee is on a break now for a floor vote. More to come later.

View Jared Saylor's blog posts
31 March 2009, 9:31 AM
 

You can do a lot in 100 days. But apparently if you're the Tennessee Valley Authority and you spilled a billion gallons of coal ash into the Emory River and surrounding communities, cleaning up your mess isn't one of them.

You'll recall that just three days before Christmas in 2008, a coal ash dump broke, spilling out 1 billion gallons of toxic-laden coal ash over 300 acres, finding its way into nearby streams and creeks, damaging over a dozen homes and putting an entire community at risk.

Well, April 1 is the 100th day since that spill. And while much has been accomplished and the important issue of coal ash disposal reached the front pages of many newspapers, there's still much left to be done to control and regulate this toxic waste.

View Bill Walker's blog posts
25 March 2009, 1:45 PM
 

The Colorado Senate has passed a package of regulations on oil and gas drilling that increases protections for drinking water, wildlife and natural resources. The rules, which will be signed by Gov. Bill Ritter in the next few days, are the strongest, most comprehensive regulations in the nation.

A key provision—and the most contentious—will require oil and gas companies to disclose to the state the toxic chemicals used in drilling. Hundreds of chemicals, dozens of them harmful to human health, are routinely injected into wells to increase production.

View David Guest's blog posts
18 March 2009, 11:18 AM
 

Apparently, the sight of toxic algae blooms spreading across South Florida's public waterways last year wasn't enough to convince the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to do the right thing and toughen standards for nutrient pollution.

So on March 9, we filed suit in U.S. District Court to compel the EPA to set more protective pollution limits for Lake Okeechobee and its tributaries. Lake Okeechobee is the second-largest freshwater lake wholly within the continental United States, second only to Lake Michigan.

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View Jared Saylor's blog posts
13 March 2009, 10:11 AM
 

The New York Times reports via Greenwire that the Obama administration is making some legal maneuvers that could mean they are reconsidering health standards for smog pollution set by the Bush administration back in 2007. Earthjustice and the 60,000 of you who participated in our Adopt the Sky campaign told Bush that his approach ignored science and the law, setting a standard that fell short of what scientists recommended were safe levels to protect public health.

I know, I know, big surprise that the Bush administration let politics trump science and set a standard that did a terrible job of protecting public health and the environment, but that's why we sued them in court!

The Obama administration asked the court to "stall proceedings" on our lawsuit challenging the weak Bush standard in order to "determine whether to revise the controversial Bush-era standards," according to the Times story. Of course, we remain optimistic that the current EPA will listen to the recommendations of science and set a standard protective of public health.

View Bill Walker's blog posts
09 March 2009, 1:40 PM
 

Last week, a Colorado legislative committee approved new oil and gas drilling rules that will protect drinking water, wildlife and the state's natural resources. The state spent almost two years developing the rules, which will be the most comprehensive in the nation, to deal with the impacts of the state's unprecedented oil and gas boom.

Earthjustice has been there since the beginning as attorneys for the Colorado Environmental Coalition. Before the committee hearing, Earthjustice activists in Colorado sent more than 1,300 e-mail messages to legislators urging their support.

The oil and gas industry is making a last-ditch attempt to derail the rules with scare tactics, claiming without evidence that the new rules will drive drilling rigs to neighboring states.