Posts tagged: air

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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 Raviya Ismail's blog posts
15 September 2010, 1:09 PM
Residents from downwind states also in danger

I spent a few days in Houston attending an (insert irony here) air pollution hearing in June. After only a few days, I felt run-down, my eyes burning and my breathing labored. I believe my symptoms were caused by breathing in Houston's heavily polluted air.

That's not the only area of Texas exposed to dirty air. Current and proposed power plants will produce nearly one million tons of criteria pollutants annually. With its 21 operating coal plants and seven proposed coal plants, Texas has the largest number of any state in the nation. Which is why it's no surprise that states outside of Texas are being contaminated, too.

We filed suit on behalf of Sierra Club to urge the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to intervene, and establish and reinforce federal air standards in Texas to reign in the estimated 400,000 tons per year of ozone-forming pollution, more than 227 million tons per year of carbon dioxide, huge quantities of soot and other fine particle pollution, and almost 14,000 pounds per year of mercury.

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View Tom Turner's blog posts
07 September 2010, 10:48 AM
McKibben & 350.org have a wonderful plan

About 30 years ago, after some prodding from environmental groups, Jimmy Carter had solar panels installed on the roof of the White House. He gave a ringing speech at the time, hoping that this gesture would help build a solar revolution. He established a Solar Energy Research Institute and put Denis Hayes, the director of the first and subsequent Earth Days in charge.

Several years later, Ronald Reagan ordered the panels taken down, having belittled Carter for worrying so much about the energy crisis. He replaced Hayes with a dentist, and SERI was soon abolished. If Carter's bold move had succeeded who knows how much better off we'd be now, but there's no point bemoaning the failures of the past.

Turns out the panels were donated to Unity College in Maine where they've been doing their bit to help the climate problem for most of three decades. Now Bill McKibben and his colleagues at the wonderful 350.org are returning a symbolic panel to where it started. They put one of the panels on a biodiesel-powered truck the day after Labor Day and will deliver it to the White House on Friday, September 10, after stopping for rallies in Boston and New York.

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View Shirley Hao's blog posts
23 August 2010, 10:38 PM
A notable episode of congestion reminds us of the cost of "convenience"
Photo: http://flickr.com/photos/securityguard/3573714028/

Somewhere between reports of the re-education of a certain beloved “puny and decadent” ABP (American-Born Panda) nicknamed Butterstick and the Chinese economy swapping global economic rankings with its neighbor across the East China Sea, one particular tale from China is drawing escalating amounts of fascination and Facebook Shares.

We’re talking, of course, of the 60 mile-long, 9-day-weary-and-counting traffic jam on a major thoroughfare leading to Beijing. This one may be creeping into the record books, one hard-fought inch at a time.

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View Trip Van Noppen's blog posts
18 August 2010, 1:56 PM
EPA prepares move against those who pollute at our expense

Too often in the last two decades, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has gnawed big polluters like a toothless tiger. But 20 years after Congress endowed the agency with new tools to protect people from dangerous air pollution, the EPA is finally preparing to bite down hard.

The EPA is expected to finalize over the next few years a series of pollution control rules that could cut global warming pollution, improve air quality and protect the health of millions of Americans. But only if the agency gets it right—and big polluters will be fighting to make sure it doesn't.

This is especially true in the case of coal-fired power plants, which are targeted by many of the forthcoming rules. The coal and utility industries have retained an army of lobbyists and congressional champions to kill pollution controls and convince the American public that burning massive amounts of coal and protecting the environment aren't mutually exclusive.

But they are.

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View Ted Zukoski's blog posts
18 August 2010, 9:48 AM
Even when it seems King Coal loses, does the environment win?
A coal mine methane well carved into national forest land, Colorado. Ted Zukoski photo.

Headlines in the last week trumpeted a decision by Xcel, Colorado's largest utility, to convert several old coal-fired power plants into natural gas plants.

The decision was hailed by some as a victory for the environment, since natural gas, when burned, results in fewer pollutants and greenhouse gases.  Some proclaimed the political power of coal on the wane in the West and natural gas ascendent.

That's the soundbite.  The real story is more complicated. First, before we all run to embrace natural gas as the savior for clean air and a less warm climate, let's remember what natural gas is doing to our lands.

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View Jared Saylor's blog posts
09 August 2010, 12:00 PM
After a decade of litigation and activism, EPA makes pollution cuts

One of the first issues I worked on when I started at Earthjustice in 2004 was a lawsuit we filed to compel the EPA to take action on mercury and other toxic air pollution from cement kilns. This was during the Bush years, and despite winning in court, the EPA did next to nothing to abide by the law and clean up the air for dozens of communities living around these big polluters.

Today, we all finally have reason to celebrate. After thousands of emails, dozens of press releases, phone calls, meetings and your support, the EPA announced plans that will cut more than 16,000 pounds of mercury from our nation's cement kilns every year, starting in 2013. The rule also cuts thousands of pounds of particulate matter, sulfur dioxide, hydrogen chloride and other pollution, and promises to prevent up to 2,500 premature deaths each year.

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View Sam Edmondson's blog posts
23 July 2010, 12:01 PM
Tell the EPA by Aug. 3 to protect communties from waste burning

City-dwellers are intimately familiar with the pros and cons of living with neighbors. Their heavy footsteps thunder overhead, their loud music penetrates the walls, and strange odors sometimes drift down the halls. These are nuisances, no doubt, but not all neighborly disturbances are so innocuous.

Consider, for example, communities across the country that live near chemical plants, paper mills and other polluting industries. Air pollution from these industrial neighbors often results in higher rates of asthma and other serious illnesses in local communities.

Sadly, a recent rule proposed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency could leave such communities exposed to unregulated toxic emissions from the burning of scrap plastics, used chemicals, and other industrial wastes. These emissions contain pollutants like mercury, benzene, lead and dioxins that can cause respiratory illness, birth defects, cancer and other serious health problems.

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View Brian Smith's blog posts
21 July 2010, 2:14 PM
Glacier demands “No Coal”
Mt. Rainier asks us to save the snow

On Saturday, July 17 at 7:30 a.m., four moms reached the peak of Washington's iconic Mt. Rainier in a healthy political statement about coal power and the future of children of the Northwest.

The four moms, all parents of children between the ages of 3-6 years old, climbed Rainier to call for the closing or conversion of the TransAlta coal plant near Centrailia by 2015. They are asking state leaders to get serious about converting the state to green energy to protect our National Parks, wildlife, and our global climate.

The TransAlta plant is already the target of a campaign to bring its pollution down to levels that comply with emerging federal standards.

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View Liz Judge's blog posts
16 July 2010, 2:05 PM
The one place a climate and clean energy bill should never go

Update (7/22): On 7/22 Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid announced that the forthcoming energy bill will no longer include the section that would address climate change and limit carbon emissions from power plants. The Senate, he said, will address climate change in a separate bill in the fall after August recess.

In his statement to the press this afternoon, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said: "To be clear: we are not putting forth this bill in place of a comprehensive bill. But we will not pass up the opportunity to hold BP accountable, lessen our dependence on oil, create good paying American jobs and protect the environment.  I’m disappointed in my Republican colleagues, who again find themselves on the wrong side of history. But as we work through our differences on a comprehensive energy bill, Republicans have an immediate choice to make."

Senator John Kerry, the Senate's key negotiator of the draft climate language that was taken out of the bill package today, told press: "Harry Reid, today, has committed to giving us that opportunity, that open door, if you will, over the next days, weeks, months, whatever it takes, to find those 60 votes. So the work will continue every single day."

Sen. Kerry has said he will continue negotiatons with electric utilities, and before today, he indicated that those negotiations need more time. If these negotiations continue, he and other Senate leaders must take the polluter giveaways described below off the table.>

Back in May, when the Kerry-Lieberman draft climate bill came out, we told you about one deadly provision in it that needed to meet the chopping block fast, before it threatened American lives and decades of cleaner air in the United States. Earthjustice President Trip Van Noppen wrote about this in his Huffington Post column, "Giving a Free Pass to Soot, Smog, and Toxic Air Pollution is No Way to Pass a Climate Bill."

Well, this idea to use harmful air pollutants that have long been controlled through the Clean Air Act as bargaining chips in order to get industry on board is still ominously hanging around. And it needs to go away immediately. Take action now and tell your senators to step in and stop this now.

Here are some details on what exactly is happening:

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View Brian Smith's blog posts
16 July 2010, 12:42 PM
Climb delivers strong message to governor

Four Washington moms have begun their attempt to summit Mount Rainier this weekend to deliver a strong message to their governor about coal.

The Climb Against Coal challenges Governor Gregoire to close or convert the TransAlta coal plant by 2015, 10 years earlier than the governor wants to. The TransAlta plant is Washington's largest toxic polluter and largest stationary source of global warming pollution.

Read the letter the moms sent to Governor Gregoire. Here, an excerpt:

As mothers, we are concerned about the magnitude of greenhouse gases that come directly from the coal plant, creating climate chaos for future generations. We want our children to be able to stand in awe of the magnificent glaciers on Mount Rainier, as we do today.

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