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 Trip Van Noppen's blog posts
11 September 2013, 12:19 PM
High above this great nation, you can see the struggles we face
An airplane passes over Desolation Canyon, UT. (Ecoflight)

“If you want to see the places we’ve helped protect, ask for a window seat.”

So reads my favorite Earthjustice message, decorating airports across the country. It’s true: 35,000 feet is a great vantage to see the forests, mountains and river canyons that are intact, unroaded and resilient thanks to our legal work with many allies.

But on a recent flight, I also saw a different, far more disturbing picture: the ravages of fossil fuel extraction and burning. I took off from San Francisco bound for D.C. As we climbed over California, one of my favorite sights, the majestic Sierra Nevada mountains, was obscured by thick smoke—the result of massive fires brought on by drought and rising temperatures, increasingly common as fossil-fueled global warming settles in.

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View Chrissy Pepino's blog posts
10 September 2013, 4:14 PM
Haze from coal-fired power plants obscures our greatest national treasures
How much of Yosemite Valley will you be able to see on your next visit? (Chrissy Pepino / Earthjustice)

Drops of sunscreen-infused sweat sting your eyes as you climb towards the summit; a small price to pay for the panoramic views that lie ahead.

But after finally conquering every switchback, your view of far-stretching vistas is obscured, not by sweat, but by haze created by coal-fired power plants – a polluting problem that afflicts many of America’s 400 national parks.

Each year these parks attract more than 275 million visitors who, like you, expect awesome visual experiences, whether standing cliff-side at Angels Landing in Zion National Park, conquering the Grand Tetons in Wyoming, or gaping from the valley floor in Yosemite at Half Dome.

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View Sarah Burt's blog posts
10 September 2013, 3:15 PM
Report shows need to reign in the most-polluting gas guzzlers
The airline industry as a whole simply can’t be trusted to voluntarily improve its fuel efficiency. (house.gov)

A new report by the International Council on Clean Transportation ranks the major airlines according to their fuel efficiency—and for the first time reveals the major gaps that exist between airlines in their fuel use.

For a long time, green consumers have known that air travel is the biggest part of the average individual’s carbon footprint. Consumers have been told that if we want to reduce our carbon footprint and make a personal contribution to curbing climate change, we can fly less.

This may be true, but today’s report shows that we should not let the airlines off the hook. It’s not just a matter of our individual consumer decisions to fly or not to fly: there are efficiency leaders and there are gas guzzlers—and the airlines’ efforts to reduce their climate pollution matter.

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View Kari Birdseye's blog posts
09 September 2013, 12:41 PM
California on verge of giving in to Nevada pro-development forces
Lake Tahoe's famed clarity has been clouded by increased human activity and urban development. (Geoff Stearns)

Any day now, the fate of Lake Tahoe’s famed blue waters could be drastically compromised.

Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval and California Gov. Jerry Brown could seal a bi-state deal that will encourage the agency created to protect the lake from pollution and over-development to place economic development front and center. The California Senate recently passed SB 630 to approve the deal that caves in to Nevada’s threats to dissolve a more-than-four-decades-long “marriage” to protect Lake Tahoe.

But what is California getting out of this deal?

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View Raviya Ismail's blog posts
05 September 2013, 10:20 AM
Clean air safeguard would save thousands of lives
A regional smog layer extends across central New York, western Lake Erie and Ohio, and further west. Winds bring ozone and chemicals that participate in its formation to areas downwind of emission sources. (NASA JSC)

On Wednesday, we filed a legal brief asking the U.S. Supreme Court to allow a very important air safeguard to take effect. So what’s so important about the Cross-State Air Pollution Rule and how does it work?

Let’s get to the numbers first. The rule saves lives, plain and simple. According to the EPA, the air safeguard would every year prevent:

  • 13,000 to 34,000 premature deaths
  • 15,000 non-fatal heart attacks
  • 19,000 hospital and emergency room visits
  • 19,000 episodes of acute bronchitis
  • 420,000 upper and lower respiratory symptoms
  • 400,000 episodes of aggravated asthma, and
  • 1.8 million days of missed work or school.
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View Adrian Martinez's blog posts
28 August 2013, 3:32 PM
Plans for urban growth must address community impacts
The Port of Oakland, the fifth busiest container port in the country, is adjacent to community neighborhoods.  (Esther Dyson)

Last week, my colleagues in San Francisco filed a lawsuit against Plan Bay Area on behalf of Sierra Club along with Communities for a Better Environment. Plan Bay Area is the master transportation plan for the San Francisco Bay region. It’s an important plan because of its far-reaching scope covering transportation planning through 2040.

In another part of California last week, Jamie Holter, a transportation analyst, wrote an L.A. Times op-ed calling on people in Los Angeles to treat every day like “Carmageddon.” Holter made the point that the data he crunches shows that when there is a will, there is a way to change the way we move throughout our cities.

It is no coincidence that transportation issues receive so much attention in the nation’s first- and third-most congested cities, Los Angeles and San Francisco respectively. We are at a critical crossroads for the health of the planet and the health of our communities. There are no better metropolitan regions to lead a transformation than Los Angeles and San Francisco. California’s strong efforts to combat harmful climate pollution make these two large urban centers the perfect places to advance a modern vision for transportation.

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View Ted Zukoski's blog posts
27 August 2013, 10:07 AM
Industry, Colorado Gov. agree: drilling opponents are probably hypocrites
A refinery in Denver, CO. (NREL)

The oil and gas industry in Colorado has a new script to disparage efforts to move towards a clean energy future. And one of their friends—Colorado’s Gov. John Hickenlooper—appears to have gotten the memo about how to belittle those trying to limit the damaging impacts of dirty energy.

Take statements made two days apart by the president of the Colorado Petroleum Association and Gov. Hickenlooper. Both men responded to efforts to limit the damage caused by fossil fuels.

In an Aug. 22 article on National Geographic’s website, Stan Dempsey, president of the Colorado Petroleum Association, derides those seeking a fracking ban in their community as hypocrites who are still using fossil fuels while trying to limit drilling. He also attacks the idea of a fracking ban as a hollow gesture that is merely “symbolic.”

So, industry’s response to the need to transition from fuel that’s poisoning the air, threatening our water and heating the planet is to attack opponents as ineffective hypocrites. Nice.

View Debra Mayfield's blog posts
15 August 2013, 12:19 PM
Citizen soldiers talk, unite ... and triumph

With some members of Congress doing less to protect the health and welfare of their constituents and more for the interests of industry, it’s easy for us ordinary folks to get disillusioned and throw in the towel. But then we turn towards the faces of our children, neighbors, parents and friends struggling with asthma from industrial pollution and tail pipe emissions. We see the lakes and rivers we swam and fished in as kids decimated and our drinking water supplies poisoned by poorly regulated and inadequately maintained coal ash disposal sites.

View Lisa Evans's blog posts
24 July 2013, 9:26 AM
McKinley's shameless coal ash bill is worse than ever
Residents of Asheville, NC have seen their waterways polluted by coal ash. (Watch video »)

This week the House will vote on the “Coal Residuals Reuse and Management Act of 2013” (HR 2218) sponsored by Rep. David McKinley (R-WV). The bill ruthlessly guts longstanding public health and environmental protections of the nation’s decades-old statute protecting communities from solid and hazardous waste disposal. This shameless industry giveaway creates a giant loophole for the toxic waste generated by coal-fired power plants.

This is the fifth time since 2011 the House will vote on a McKinley abomination that allows the nation’s second largest industrial waste stream to escape federal safeguards. Enough toxic coal ash is produced each year to fill a freight train that would stretch from the North to the South Poles—waste that is filled with toxic chemicals like arsenic, chromium, lead and mercury.

This latest iteration is the most deadly. Among other atrocities, it allows leaking coal ash impoundments to operate indefinitely—even if they are gushing toxic chemicals into aquifers; it limits EPA authority to take over state programs—even if those programs are failing to protect human health; and it potentially blocks all future EPA rules concerning coal ash—including EPA’s recently proposed Clean Water Act rule addressing toxic wastewater from coal plants.

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View Marty Hayden's blog posts
19 July 2013, 2:59 PM
Gina McCarthy chosen to protect our air, land, water
Gina McCarthy is our nation's new EPA Administrator. (EPA)

The partisan antics of a few in the Senate finally halted to allow confirmation of a new and well-qualified Administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Gina McCarthy.

This Senate confirmation means that, finally, after months of political obstruction by the Congressional friends of big polluters, we have a new administrator to deliver the public health and environmental protections that we all deserve. And, boy, does she have her work cut out.

Thank you for the phone calls you made to push for this confirmation and the letters you wrote to back these polluter cronies down off their agenda to block any and all progress in cleaning up our nation’s energy landscape, our waters, our air, and combating climate change.

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