Posts tagged: 50 States

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50 States


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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 Alexandra Allred's blog posts
05 October 2011, 12:35 PM
Bill to exempt cement plants from Clean Air Act is dirty business
Cement kiln in Midlothian, where I live.

My name is Alex Allred. I live in a town that is surrounded by three cement plants. Two of our elementary schools were declared among the most toxic in the nation. Today, the House of Representatives is debating a bill—H.R. 2681—that could have a big impact on my health, my family's health, my community's health, and the health of communities all across America that are in the shadow of cement plants.

I worked with Earthjustice for many years to get the Environmental Protection Agency to issue strong air pollution standards for cement plants—the 2nd worst mercury polluters in the nation. Mercury exposure can cause birth defects and damage babies' developing brains. When the EPA finally did issue those strong standards last summer, we rejoiced. But H.R. 2681 threatens to take all of that away. It would exempt cement plants from the Clean Air Act and encourage those facilities to burn tires and other industrial garbage without controlling the toxic pollution that results.

H.R. 2681 will hurt families like mine but won't do a single thing to preserve or create jobs. Its supporters claim it is a cure for what ails us economically, but they haven't produced any evidence to support that. Meanwhile, EPA findings and independent studies consistently show that clean air is good for the economy! I know firsthand that it is good for my family.

I'd like to make an offer to the supporters of H.R. 2681: If you think that clean air isn't important, I invite ... no, I beg you to come to my home town. Please. I have been trying to sell my home for years. Please come buy my house. Allow me to leave my town that is surrounded by three cement plants, that has two elementary schools that were named as being the most toxic elementary schools in the nation! Come to my hometown and go to some of the fundraisers for children who are having unexplained seizures, see what it's like to attend funerals for 15-year-olds, and visit with a growing number of children with disabilities. Don't just read the reports or hear the pleas of concerned parents. Come. Visit. See for yourselves.

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View Sam Edmondson's blog posts
14 July 2011, 10:28 AM
Cherise Udell, inspiring mom for clean air, defends right to breathe in Utah
Cherise Udell of Utah Moms for Clean Air. Photo: Chris Jordan / Earthjustice

I love my mother with all of my heart. But if for some strange reason I had to choose another, I'd probably go with Cherise Udell.

Cherise is the founder of Utah Moms for Clean Air—a group of hundreds of mothers who "use the power of moms to clean up Utah's dirty air." I had the pleasure of meeting Cherise when she participated in the 50 States United for Healthy Air project, which Earthjustice helped to coordinate. She is a tour de force and a great defender of the right to breathe, but don't take my word for it. Check out this inspiring piece she wrote for the Moms Clean Air Force, cross-posted at Joe Romm's great blog, Climate Progress.

A preview to whet your appetite:

Breathing Salt Lake City's dirty air during a winter inversion is like smoking cigarettes. Utah Physicians for a Healthy Environment explained that air pollution acted much like involuntary smoking because it had virtually all of the same health consequences of smoking about a quarter pack a day…

The image of my baby with a cigarette dangling from her toothless mouth was enough to move me to action. Utah Moms for Clean Air was born that day.

View Alexandra Allred's blog posts
27 May 2011, 12:19 PM
Obama administration publishes plea for strong air pollution standards

Editor's Note: The following blog item, written by Earthjustice "Clean Air Ambassador" Alexandra Allred, first appeared on The White House blog. Allred's 11-year old sonTommy suffers from chronic asthma. Allred journeyed to Washington, D.C. earlier this month to advocate, for keeping and strengthening clean air protections, in the halls of Congress and to the Obama administration.

Early in his term, President Obama's Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) finalized an important health-protective standard that cleans up the smokestacks of cement plants, among other things, to better protect my son! This is very important to us as we live in Midlothian, Texas, the "Cement Capital of Texas," where three cement plants spew dangerous pollutants that can trigger asthma attacks, cause neurological damage, destroy organs, damage the nervous system and much more. 

If you read my son Tommy's book, How I Met the President, you will learn that he developed chronic asthma from breathing toxins in the air from our local cement plants, and as a result, met the President. While our experiences did not unfold that simply, as Tommy likes to say, "That was how we met President Obama!"

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View Sam Edmondson's blog posts
24 May 2011, 12:31 PM
Community members in Philly and Chicago speak out for health protections

Environmental Protection Agency hearings today in Philadelphia and Chicago drew crowds of clean air advocates—including a man who described the "smell of death" from a coal-fired power plant in his town.

The hearings are focused on a proposal to clean up mercury and other toxic pollution from coal-fired power plants, our nation's worst polluters. While these citizens are on hand delivering messages to the EPA in person, you can add your voice by sending a public comment via email.

Earthjustice staff are at the Philadelphia hearing to testify and hear citizens who want cleaner air and healthier communities. One such citizen is Sarah Bucic of the Delaware Nurses Association, who was also a Clean Air Ambassador at the 50 States United for Healthy Air event held in Washington, D.C. this month. Sarah expressed concern about the impact of toxic air pollution on children's health: "Mothers should not have to worry if their air and water is safe or if their own breast milk contains toxicants," she said.

Ed, a fisherman from St. College, PA, told the EPA staff on hand that his favorite stream in the state is the Susquehanna, but he can't eat the fish he catches because mercury levels are too high. It pains him to explain this to his young nephew when they go fishing.

View Trip Van Noppen's blog posts
19 May 2011, 10:31 AM
Community representatives make the case for clean air

Nobody gets through a day without breathing. Not executives in the coal-fired power and cement industries, which are polluting our air daily. Not the legion of lobbyists they hire to patrol the halls of Congress in defense of dirty air. And not the members of Congress who, hand-in-hand with these special interests, are marching the Clean Air Act off a cliff.

At the very same time that these women and men draw breath, they are working to derail and delay clean air protections with a vigor that suggests there isn't a set of functioning lungs between them.

To confront this audacity, Earthjustice helped to bring a diverse group of doctors, nurses, faith and tribal leaders, and environmental justice advocates to Washington, D.C. earlier this month for an event dubbed 50 States United for Healthy Air. These 80 Clean Air Ambassadors, who came from all 50 states, Washington, D.C. and Puerto Rico, met with members of Congress, the Obama administration and the Environmental Protection Agency to defend our right to breathe. Rev. Dr. Michael Stinson, one of the ambassadors, stated their purpose clearly: "We are people from all 50 states with a passion for one issue—clean air."

As part of an online storytelling project, Earthjustice staff asked the ambassadors to express in a sentence what clean air is to them. Their sentences read like axioms, as they elucidate core realities and challenges of this issue.

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View Jared Saylor's blog posts
04 May 2011, 8:12 AM
One in 10 children, one in 12 adults suffer from asthma.
Courtesy Univ. of Maryland

Asthma Awareness Month kicked off with grim news. The New York Times reports today that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released a report that finds almost one in 12 Americans and one in 10 children are suffering the effects of asthma. The report showed that African-American children are most acutely affected, with nearly one in five afflicted, a significant increase from just 10 years ago when one in nine African-American children were diagnosed with asthma.

This sharp increase baffles researchers, but the numbers do not lie: more Americans are suffering from asthma than ever before. It’s likely that many reading this blog either suffer from asthma  or know a friend or family member who does. There are many triggers for an asthma attack, such as second-hand smoke, mold or dust. But, big polluters like cement kilns and power plants play a prominent role as well. These facilities pump tons of fine particulate pollution and smog into our air, worsening air quality, triggering asthma attacks and causing asthma to develop in the most vulnerable populations: our children.

The CDC reported that Midwest and Northeast states are suffering the highest incidences of asthma rates in the country.

View Sam Edmondson's blog posts
02 May 2011, 12:05 PM
Air pollution is a national problem that needs fixing

More than half of U.S. residents—154 million people—suffer from polluted air that is often too dirty to breathe. This troubling statistic comes by way of the American Lung Association’s most recent State of the Air report. In 366 counties across the country, residents are inhaling dangerous levels of ozone pollution and fine particles, which are a major cause of premature death.

At the same time that these 154 million Americans are breathing dirty air, many of their representatives in Washington, D.C. are busy trying to dismantle the Clean Air Act. These allies of dirty industry think that limits on air pollution are unreasonable. They think cement kilns, power plants and other major sources of air pollution should be able to pollute without making any efforts to control toxic chemicals and metals that impact our health.

Well, I bet those 154 million Americans disagree. Our lives depend on clean air. Thankfully, more than 80 doctors, nurses, faith and tribal leaders, and community advocates from all 50 states are arriving in Washington, D.C. today to tell decision makers that we all have a right to breathe clean air.

Read the stories of these inspiring Clean Air Ambassadors and leave your own story and message of support for their efforts.

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