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 David Guest's blog posts
06 March 2009, 5:09 PM
 

Down here in Florida, we are continuing our fight against the giant, destructive phosphate strip mines that trash our landscapes and pollute our water.

Our latest legal battle aims at some incredible strong-arm corporate tactics that Mosaic Phosphate is using to shut out local citizens and get its local land-use approvals to mine in the watersheds of the gorgeous Peace River in Southwest Florida. Read the full story.

View Raviya Ismail's blog posts
05 March 2009, 2:19 PM
 

Yesterday—10 weeks after a billion-gallon spill of coal ash in Tennessee—two U.S. senators challenged the Environmental Protection Agency to regulate disposal and storage of the toxic sludge.

Sens. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and Thomas Carper (D-DE) submitted a resolution requesting rules "as quickly as possible" and calling on the Tennessee Valley Authority to "be a national leader in technological innovation, low-cost power and environmental stewardship." On Dec. 22, about 1 billion gallons of coal ash burst through a dam at the Tennessee Valley Authority site in Harriman, flooding more than 300 acres with toxic levels of arsenic, lead, mercury, selenium and boron.

Communities have been exposed to the toxic substance, which presents a cancer risk nine times greater than smoking a pack of cigarettes a day. Yet coal ash is severely under-regulated and exempt from safeguards required of even municipal waste landfills. Earthjustice is calling on the EPA to eventually prohibit the storage of wet coal ash sludge and instead, mandate dry disposal in monitored landfills or safe recycling of the material.

View Bill Walker's blog posts
26 February 2009, 4:46 PM
 

After 21 years of studies, debate, protests and lawsuits—and $9 billion from the pockets of taxpayers—Yucca Mountain is dead.

President Obama's proposed federal budget axes funding for the Department of Energy's plan to store the waste from nuclear reactors 1,000 feet under a mountain northwest of Las Vegas. Bloomberg reports:

Obama and Energy Secretary Steven Chu "have been emphatic that nuclear waste storage at Yucca Mountain is not an option, period," said department spokeswoman Stephanie Mueller. The federal budget plan Obama released today "clearly reflects that commitment," she said. "The new administration is starting the process of finding a better solution for management of our nuclear waste."

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View Brian Smith's blog posts
24 February 2009, 5:41 PM
 

The lungs of America got two big breaks this week with court rulings that protect them from air pollution emitted by power plants, factories, and diesel trucks.

And there is a strong hint of more to come.

On Monday, the Supreme Court refused to hear a case defending an ill-conceived cap and trade system for emissions of mercury, lead, arsenic and other pollutants from the nation's coal-fired power plants. Earthjustice and our clients had argued that such a system would create toxic hot spots in regions across the nation.

View Kathleen Sutcliffe's blog posts
23 February 2009, 3:12 PM
 

The U.S. Supreme Court ended years of legal battles today by declining to hear industry's appeal of a 2008 Earthjustice victory. In that case Earthjustice, joined by more than a dozen public health and environmental groups and 14 states, challenged a plan by the Bush administration that would have created mercury "hot spots" across the country. The lower court compared the logic to that of the dangerously irrational Queen of Hearts character in Alice in Wonderland.

Two weeks ago, the Obama administration withdrew government support of the appeal, but that didn't stop utility companies from pushing forward. Today's announcement denying the polluter's appeal hopefully clears the way for meaningful regulations that limit mercury from power plants and start cleaning up this toxic metal from our air and waters.

View Kathleen Sutcliffe's blog posts
19 February 2009, 5:35 AM
 

Those oft-repeated words by Justice Louis Brandeis—referring to the importance of transparency and openness—took on a special meaning this week when Earthjustice sued Lysol-maker Reckitt-Benckiser and other household cleaners manufacturing giants for failing to disclose the chemical ingredients in their products and the health risks they pose.

The UK-based Reckitt-Benkiser is being targeted in the lawsuit (pdf) along with Proctor & Gamble (Mr. Clean and others), Colgate-Palmolive (Ajax and others), Church and Dwight (Brillo and others).

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View Trip Van Noppen's blog posts
17 February 2009, 5:10 PM
 

The Clean Water Act, despite being one of our nation's most potent environmental protection laws for three decades, has an Achilles' heel—a one-word weakness that the U.S. Supreme Court has expanded into an enormous loophole.

In decisions handed down in 2001 and 2006, the Supreme Court seized on that word—"navigable"—to make rulings that neither friend nor foe of the Act could predict, and none of us can live with. Effectively, the Supreme Court broke the Clean Water Act by saying Congress meant that the Act's protections apply only to "navigable" waters when it passed the Act to eliminate water pollution back in 1972. Therefore, only an act of Congress can mend this potentially fatal injury.

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View Trip Van Noppen's blog posts
15 February 2009, 6:06 AM
 

This column by Earthjustice President Trip Van Noppen appeared in Alternet.

Americans who love to grumble about regulations now have some they can cheer about. The New England Journal of Medicine is reporting that we now live an extra five months, thanks to regulations that have cleaned up air pollution over the last few decades.

By breathing air cleansed of particulates, the federally-funded study said, Americans in 51 cities are enjoying those extra months—and people in the most-polluted cities are getting 10 months of bonus life.

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View Terry Winckler's blog posts
06 February 2009, 4:53 PM
 

A bunch of utility operators are still trying to convince the U.S. Supreme Court to let them pour poisonous mercury into the air - but after today, they are standing alone. The Obama administration said it is withdrawing its support, and in fact, wants the court to drop the case.

Label this a victory for Earthjustice, its clients, and those thousands of citizens eating mercury-contaminated fish and forced to breathe in all the toxic fumes that the Bush administration would allow. Over eight years, that amounted to 700,000 pounds of mercury and other toxic stuff. We sued to stop this awful practice and won, but Bush's lawyers partnered up with the utilities and appealed to the Supreme Court so that it could continue.

Now, if the Court agrees, we can start breathing easier.

View Bill Walker's blog posts
30 January 2009, 1:09 PM
 

First the bad news. Over the last decade, hundreds of peer-reviewed scientific studies from all over the world have clearly established a direct link between dirty air and increased risk of death from lung disease. In 2002, for example, California state scientists estimated that microscopic particles of airborne soot from auto exhaust cause more than 9,300 deaths in the state each year. That's more Californians than die from AIDS, homicide and traffic accidents combined.

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