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Southwest Detroit's Marathon Oil Refinery.

On April 27, 2013, thick, black smoke rose high above southwest Detroit from the flames at a nearby industrial facility. Three thousand residents were then ordered to leave their homes and evacuate the area. These residents are no stranger to poor air quality as their neighbors include a coal-fired power plant, a car factory, a water waste management plant, and the Marathon Ashland Petroleum oil refinery, one of 150 oil refineries in the country.

Chrisangel Nieto, 3, rides his tricycle in Hartman Park, the Manchester neighborhood of Houston, Texas.

The EPA held a second public hearing Tuesday in Houston, regarding its proposed rule on oil refinery emissions—and the testimony was dramatic from people living near the refineries who suffer from exposure to those emissions. Testimony ranged from bipartisan congressmen and industry representatives to environmental organizations and fenceline community members from Texas, Michigan, California, Pennsylvania and Louisiana.

A flock of birds fly past a smokestack of a coal-fired power plant.

The Environmental Protection Agency recently held hearings in four cities on its proposed carbon pollution standards for the nation's existing power plants. Hundreds of Americans from all walks of life showed up at each hearing to express their support for the EPA’s safeguards.

Here are remarks from the Pittsburgh hearing delivered by Earthjustice attorney Shannon Fisk.

A child receiving treatment for asthma.

Ozone is considered the most widespread of air pollutants. As a result, it is increasingly linked to a host of awful symptoms like asthma attacks, coughing, wheezing, low birth weight in newborns, cardiovascular episodes, short-term memory loss, and increased visits to emergency rooms and hospitals as a result. It is our children, teenagers, seniors and those with lung diseases like asthma that are especially at risk.

A zero emissions truck at the Port of Long Beach, California.

For decades, environmental and community groups have pushed back against harmful pollution from the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, California. The neighborhoods near these ports contain some of the most toxic air in the region, with port emissions a primary culprit. Ports are also one of the leading producers of smog-forming pollution in the most ozone-polluted region in the nation. 

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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. Learn more about Earthjustice.