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
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.

3 Comments   /  
View Brian Smith's blog posts
29 April 2011, 2:59 PM
Deal signed by governor today

At a formal ceremony in Centralia, Washington, today, Gov. Chris Gregoire signed legislation which will phase-out the massive 1,400 megawatt TransAlta plant between 2020 and 2025.

Under the agreement, Canadian-based TransAlta, will provide $30 million to be invested in direct economic development and energy efficiency in the Centralia community, and an additional $25 million to be invested in clean energy technology development in Washington.

TransAlta has also agreed to install additional controls at the plant to reduce haze pollution in regional national parks and wilderness areas while it is working toward shutting down the coal-burning units.

Earthjustice’s Clean Air Act and Clean Water Act legal work was an integral part of the campaign to help bring TransAlta to the negotiating table.

View Liz Judge's blog posts
29 April 2011, 11:38 AM
Movement to stop mountaintop removal and protect Appalachians is building
A billboard of Mountain Hero Karen Woodrum at a busy intersection in Washington, D.C.

The faces of Earthjustice's Mountain Heroes, those courageous people from the coalfields whose lives are afflicted by mountaintop removal mining and who are standing up against it, are now staring down politicians in Congress and their staffs, as well as White House and agency staff, reminding them that they are allowing this abuse to continue. 

For several months, billboards of these Mountain Heroes—Sid, James, Karen, Ken and Donetta—have been positioned in all three D.C.-area airports to face elected officials, policy makers and the general public as they arrive and depart on their travels. They have also appeared on the pages of INC., Fast Company and Mother Jones magazines.

And now the Mountain Heroes have officially come to the streets of D.C. The billboards pictured here are all over the nation's capitol, especially in high-traffic areas and all around federal government buildings.

7 Comments   /  
View Jessica Knoblauch's blog posts
28 April 2011, 3:41 PM
filthy biomass, Googling the environment, MIA oil
More than one million barrels of spilled oil is still unaccounted for in the Gulf.

Drilling more won’t make summer vacation cheaper
Summer is near, which means that trips to the beach and to baseball games, and a fresh round of “drill, baby, drill” are all just around the corner, but that last item won’t make the first two any cheaper to get to, reports CNN Money. That’s because even if we ramped up oil production, the amount would pale in comparison to worldwide consumption. In addition, OPEC would just cut production to offset the extra oil. As oil analyst Tom Kloza told CNN, “It's a simplistic way of looking for a solution that doesn't exist,” adding, “This drill drill drill thing is tired.” We agree.

One million barrels of BP oil still MIA
One year after the BP oil spill occurred in the Gulf of Mexico, more than a million barrels of oil remain lost at sea, reports Scientific American. Burning, dispersing, microbe-eating and evaporating have taken care of much of the oil, but it’s anyone’s guess where the rest of it is. Sadly though, one million barrels is just a drop in the bucket for the Gulf coast region, which experiences spills on a monthly, if not daily, basis. Find out how Earthjustice is working to hold these repeat offenders accountable.

View Liz Judge's blog posts
25 April 2011, 3:17 PM
A cartoon, a jammin' new tune and some fine-art photography tell the story
A screen shot of Mark Fiori's site and mountaintop removal cartoon animation

Well, it's true that here on a blog, the currency is words. We're supposed to tell stories through our prose. But today I'm going to go easy on the blog and yield the storytelling to a small collection of witty, beautiful, foot-stomping and surreal art by people who are mastering other mediums to talk about mountaintop removal mining:

View Chris Jordan-Bloch's blog posts
22 April 2011, 5:58 AM
A couple's fight to save the place they love

A few months ago, Earthjustice campaign manager Kathleen Sutcliffe came to me with an interesting request—she wanted to tell an uplifting story about fracking. Hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, is a drilling technique that involves blasting chemically treated water into the earth to release oil and gas trapped in underground rock formations. Most of the stories about fracking involve stuff like gas well explosions, chemical spills, tap water catching on fire, rivers being polluted, and air quality being degraded. So needless to say, it's not the most obvious place to find a positive story.

For the most part, oil and gas companies are fracking as they please and raking in huge profits at the expense of small communities and their local environments. But maybe, just maybe, we thought, there are some people out there who have stood up and used their voices to battle the bank accounts of the gas industry.

So we started reading and researching. And what we found surprised us.

1 Comment   /  
View Jessica Knoblauch's blog posts
22 April 2011, 3:51 AM
Hint: It’s everywhere! Plus, meaty bugs and fresh air in Times Square
A recent study found that roughly one out of four packages of meat and poultry in the U.S. contained multidrug resistant staph. Photo courtesy of comprock (flickr).

Bacteria-resistant meat leaves beef lovers nauseated
A recent study found that nearly half of all beef, chicken, pork and turkey purchased at grocery stores across the country contained drug-resistant bacteria, reports Wired. Even worse, 52 percent of the meat contaminated with the common pathogen Staphylococcus aureus was resistant to at least three antibiotics commonly used by both doctors and vets, which means that “roughly one out of every four packages of meat and poultry across the United States contained multidrug resistant staph.” The researchers believe that the pathogens came from the livestock, which are routinely fed antibiotics to promote growth, but have the major downside of creating antibiotic resistant bacteria. This latest study is just one of many that have shed light on government’s flawed food safety system, which critics believe is in need of a major overhaul.  

Ditching cars in Times Square improves air quality
Back in the 1980s, Times Square was known for crime and prostitution. By the 1990s, after city officials cleaned up the place, it became a magnet for tourists and theatergoers enthralled with the bright lights of the big city. Now, thanks to NYC Mayor Bloomberg’s PlaNYC, Times Square may soon be known for its green attributes, like cleaner air and more public spaces. Grist reports that the city’s new pedestrian plazas—traffic-free areas throughout the square—are unsurprisingly, improving air quality. So far, nitrogen oxide and nitrogen dioxide levels have gone down 63 and 41 percent, respectively. This latest measure makes it clear that New Yorkers feel they have a right to breathe. Do you?


View Sam Edmondson's blog posts
14 April 2011, 12:15 PM
Some House Republicans want to delay life-saving health protections
Congressman Ed Whitfield (R-KY)

Today, another indication comes that some members of Congress don't breathe the same air as their constituents. Politico is reporting (subs. req'd) that House Republicans will soon introduce legislation to delay the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's efforts to reduce the amount of cancer-causing, asthma-inducing, premature death-dealing pollutants in the air we all breathe—some congresspersons excepted, apparently.

Rep. Ed Whitfield (R-KY), who serves on the Energy and Commerce Committee, was crystal clear about motives: "The objective is to delay the implementation of these regulations."

The health protections that House Republicans are trying to delay, which would finally clean up some of the nation's biggest toxic polluters—coal plants, industrial boilers and cement kilns—are already more than a decade late. In that time, unregulated pollution from these facilities has damaged our environment and made people sick. And what Whitfield didn't mention to reporters is that delaying these health protections further will lead to as many as 25,000 premature deaths… every year.

Here's a local yardstick: 25,000 people is nearly the number of students currently attending the University of Kentucky, Rep. Whitfield's alma mater.

View Sam Edmondson's blog posts
12 April 2011, 4:21 PM
Former Republican senator defends the Clean Air Act

Clean air isn't a partisan issue, although that's admittedly easy to forget if you're following the ongoing congressional clash over clean air protections (which sometimes seems as wide as the gap between the Grand Canyon's north and south rims). The American public certainly isn't so divided. A large majority—which includes citizens who identify as Republican, Democrat and independent voters—wants clean air health protections.

A recent op-ed in the Minneapolis Star-Tribune serves as a good reminder that clean air is important no matter which side of the political divide you happen to walk on. In the Star-Tribune piece, David Durenberger, a former Republican U.S. Senator who voted in 1990 along with 88 of his colleagues to pass strong amendments to the Clean Air Act, refers to the Act as "one of the great public-health achievements of American history—especially for kids."

Indeed, President Nixon signed the Clean Air Act into law in 1970 with strong bipartisan support. And the amendments to which Durenberger lent his support in 1990 were similarly popular. These cooperative efforts between our elected Democratic and Republican leaders exemplify good governing and an accomplishment that has made the lives of all Americans better.

View Liz Judge's blog posts
12 April 2011, 3:02 PM
"Once you love something, you are willing to fight for it," says Earthjustice's Preso
Earthjustice attorney Tim Preso

(This is the fourth in a series of Q & As with Earthjustice staff who work to protect our nation's forests and their critical natural resources and wildlife. Protecting our national forests, in particular, is essential for the future of our nation. The Obama administration recently proposed new planning rules that may leave our national forests in peril. National forests are the single largest source of clean drinking water in the United States, serving 124 million Americans. Visit our Forests For Our Future campaign site to learn more. Tim Preso is attorney based in Earthjustice's Northern Rockies office in Bozeman, Montana.)

EJ: How did your fight to protect our forests begin, Tim?

TP: I walked into the Earthjustice office in Bozeman, Montana for my first day of work in March of 2000 and immediately became involved in a controversy over the federal regulation protecting our last national forest roadless lands. That marked the beginning of an 11-year campaign during which I have worked as part of a team of Earthjustice lawyers to defend the Roadless Rule against a variety of challenges. But outside the legal context, protecting our national forest lands has been close to my heart since I developed a love for wild places and wild creatures amid the rugged mountains and canyons of northeast Oregon's Wallowa-Whitman National Forest, near where I was raised. I had the now-all-too-uncommon privilege of growing up near big, open wild country filled with impressive wildlife. I want to make sure that opportunity remains for future generations instead of becoming something that kids can only read about in history books.