Posts tagged: air

unEARTHED. The Earthjustice Blog


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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.


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 Sam Edmondson's blog posts
21 December 2011, 10:31 AM
Protections to scrub coal plants' toxic emissions proposed after years of delay

To all who wondered what gift the Obama administration is giving the American public for the holidays: it's clean air.

The administration just announced the first-ever clean air protections against the nation's dirtiest polluters—coal-fired power plants. This is one of the most significant developments in the history of environmental protections and the 40-year old Clean Air Act.

Earthjustice has been a big part of this fight for more than a decade—our litigation helped cut through the politics and intense pressure from industry to scuttle these important protections. Today, we're proud that those years of work have resulted in a major victory for the health of the American public. We're also proud that nearly 50,000 Earthjustice supporters made their voices heard in a call for these protections and the right to breathe.

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View Brian Smith's blog posts
20 December 2011, 4:56 PM
The energy lobby has had a very busy, and expensive, 2011 in Washington, D.C.

Amy Poszywak at SNL Financial reports that lobbying among the largest U.S. power companies topped $11 million in the third quarter of 2011 (the latest figures available) and that expenses have been high all year.

Not surprisingly, the biggest companies attempting to sway congress and the administration include some of the biggest polluters in the nation.

View Marty Hayden's blog posts
16 December 2011, 4:31 PM
Arctic rider snuck into year-end funding legislation
(Florian Schulz /

It’s that time of year again. No, I’m not talking about the great big man in the red suit and last-minute Christmas shopping.

I’m talking about the House GOP majority trying to deliver on their year-long assault on environmental and public health protections in the last two bills that will be passed by Congress this year.

The first is the omnibus spending bill that was passed by the House and Senate today. For the past two weeks, the GOP House Leadership and Appropriations Chairs have had a priority list of anti-environmental policy riders they had to have in any final spending bill. Some of those at the top of the list included blocking measures to require the clean up of industrial boilers and incinerators, cement kilns and power plants, and attempts to railroad Clean Water Act protections for streams, rivers and lakes. Removing protections for gray wolves in Wyoming and the Midwest were also on the list.

Thanks to the efforts of the White House, and Senate and House Democrats, none of these anti-environmental riders will become law in the final spending bill. Sadly, the same cannot be said of the Arctic. A last-minute, backroom deal tacked on a measure that excludes oil companies from complying with Clean Air Act protections in the Arctic.

View Jessica Knoblauch's blog posts
16 December 2011, 12:30 PM
Environmental justice backlog, greenwashing Walmart
Popular sodas like Mountain Dew may contain flame retardants. (PaysImaginaire)

American sodas spiked with flame retardants
That mid-day caffeine boost you reach for every afternoon may contain a chemical that causes skin lesions, memory loss and nerve disorders, reports Environmental Health News. Sodas like Mountain Dew and Gatorade contain brominated vegetable oil (BVO), a synthetic chemical  that keeps a soda’s fruity flavors well-mixed inside the can or bottle. Recent studies have found that brominated flame retardants, which may have effects similar to BVOs, build up in people’s bodies and are linked to “impaired neurological development, reduced fertility, early onset of puberty and altered thyroid hormones.” BVOs are found in about 10 percent of US soda drinks. Though drinking the occasional soda is unlikely to cause any health problems, binge drinkers and young children may want to find another way to get through the day with their eyes open.

EPA turns a blind eye to environmental justice cases
Despite an EPA memo outlining environmental justice issues as a top priority, more than a dozen complaints alleging that air pollution is disproportionately harming low-income and communities of color have languished under Administrator Lisa Jackson’s EPA, reports iWatch News. Some of those complaints have sat in the EPA’s Office of Civil Rights for more than a decade, such as one woman’s case in Texas that alleges toxic emissions from a 10-mile stretch of oil refineries and industrial plants have caused her to have several miscarriages. Though the EPA insists that it has made “meaningful progress” on many of the complaints, environmental justice advocates are skeptical, like Earthjustice’s Marianne Engelman Lado, who told iWatch, “The backlog doesn’t seem greatly improved, and it’s not clear what processes they use to evaluate the complaints. Why is that progress?”

View Erika Rosenthal's blog posts
12 December 2011, 4:53 PM
Despite dire planetary consequences, America shows weak leadership

(Earthjustice attorney Erika Rosenthal represented the organization at U.N. climate talks that wrapped up Sunday in Durban, South Africa.)

The first U.N. climate talks held on African soil ended in the wee hours of Sunday with important progress in several key areas – preserving the Kyoto Protocol, launching negotiations on a new more comprehensive accord, and advancing work on transparency, finance and technology transfer – but fell gravely short on reducing emissions of greenhouse gases. Of course, bringing together nations with wildly divergent visions of the future and views on responsibility for climate change to forge a deal is an extraordinary challenge. We have only to look at our own Congress’ inability to come to agreement.

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View David Lawlor's blog posts
08 December 2011, 10:44 AM
Columbia Riverkeeper outlines risks of coal export terminals in the Northwest
Coal train spewing black dust from its open boxcars, in a new video from Columbia Riverkeeper.

Would you want to live next door to a coal export terminal?

Wait, maybe that’s too vague of a question. Instead, let me ask you this…

Would you want mile-long coal trains traveling through your community 24 hours a day, seven days a week? Would you want your children exposed to noxious coal dust as it drifts through the air? Would you want to sacrifice the health of your community so that filthy rich corporations can ship coal to China where it will be burned in poorly regulated power plants and generate filthy air pollution?

Now let me ask you again: would you want to live next door to a coal export terminal?

I sure as hell wouldn’t.

Unfortunately, for residents of Oregon and Washington, the question of living next door to a coal export terminal isn’t merely a rhetorical debate exercise.

View Sam Edmondson's blog posts
07 December 2011, 12:47 PM
The nation's worst toxic air polluters need to be better neighbors
Hatfield's Ferry coal plant. Photo: Chris Jordan / Earthjustice

Imagine you live in a neighborhood full of families. There are many nice people, but a few households are real menaces. They're loud, they burn things in the backyard, and they drive around so fast that you're worried they're going to run someone down

The neighborhood bands together and one-by-one succeeds in getting these menaces to settle down. But there's a holdout—and it's the worst of all. The noise from that place is tremendous, the fires they burn are bigger than anyone's, and they drive with their eyes closed.

Meet the power plant family, America's worst toxic air polluters.

View David Lawlor's blog posts
01 December 2011, 5:07 PM
Ambre Energy’s move points to a second round in Northwest coal export fight

“This is a good company from Australia who is well funded, well banked, and they have bought a mine in Montana and have every intention to ship it to Asia. It's a great story.”
- Montana Governor Brian Schweitzer

Yes, governor, it’s a great story. It’s a story of air pollution, global warming and ruined landscapes. It’s a story of hazardous waste, poisoned water and destroyed communities. It’s a story of a 19th century technology wearing out its welcome well into the 21st century.

It’s the story of coal.

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View Chris Jordan-Bloch's blog posts
01 December 2011, 3:29 PM
One Man's Quest for Clean Air

Tom Frantz grew up in California’s central valley. The once sparse rural area is now the source of food for millions of Americans, and throughout his life Tom has seen the bucolic pastures of his childhood transform into modern-day mega-farms.

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View Sam Edmondson's blog posts
30 November 2011, 2:56 PM
A strong call for coal plants in Chicago, and everywhere, to clean up
Ian Viteri, a community organizer with LVEJO, at the 50 States United for Healthy Air event.

What's it like to live in the shadow of a smokestack?

Ask Kim Wasserman, executive director of the Little Village Environmental Justice Organization (LVEJO) and a resident of Chicago's Little Village neighborhood—a culturally vibrant area on the city's west side that many, including Wasserman, refer to as the "Mexican capital of the Midwest."

Wasserman and her family live less than one mile from the Crawford coal-fired power plant, which is owned by Midwest Generation. The same company owns another plant in Chicago, the Fisk, which is in the Pilsen neighborhood in the northeast part of the city. Pollution from these two plants has galvanized strong calls from grassroots groups—LVEJO, PERRO and others—for the plants to clean up their dirty ways. Wasserman makes the call beautifully in an op-ed published today in the Chicago Tribune.

It begins:

I'm Peter's mom. He's that 6-year-old on those ads on the "L" trains or on billboards around town. You know, the one with the inhaler, the one he's been using since he was 3. That makes him luckier than his older brother Anthony, who developed his asthma at 3 months. When Anthony had his first asthma attack, I didn't know much about it. When he was struggling to breathe you could see his little rib cage. I learned that that was a telltale sign.

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