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.

ABOUT EARTHJUSTICE'S BLOG

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 June 2010, 11:36 AM
Residents of Mossville, La. speak out in debut of a new CNN investigation
Aerial view of a chemical plant in Louisiana.

Breathing isn't a choice. Everyone does it, no matter where they live. But for many Americans, where they live has a tremendous impact on the quality of the air they breathe.

Take a look at Mossville, Louisiana for instance, which is home to 14 chemical plants. The town's residents are plagued by severe health problems like cancer and kidney disease attributed to pollution from these local facilities.

Tonight at 8 PM ET/PT, CNN will profile the toxic plight of Mossville and its residents in "Toxic Towns USA," which is part of a two-night special investigation called "Toxic America" that culminates a "year-long, stunning look into toxic chemicals, health and the environment," according to the network. The investigation will continue tomorrow night with "Toxic Childhood" at 8PM ET/PT.

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View Liz Judge's blog posts
01 June 2010, 3:45 PM
What in the world is going on?

While the federal government launches a criminal investigation into the cause of the Deepwater Horizon explosion and oil spill, some in the Senate are still making designs for a big polluter bailout.

On Friday, 13 leading environmental officials joined the ranks of the many who have protested this effort in Senate, which was put forth in a proposal by Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) months ago and will come to a Senate vote on June 10.

Her proposed legislation would keep us hooked on dirty and dangerous fossil fuels, and protect the oil and coal industries from having to clean up their pollution, by removing the Environmental Protection Agency's ability to regulate global warming-causing greenhouse gases. The EPA has this authority by way of the Clean Air Act, one of our nation's most effective and successful environmental laws, and the Supreme Court's 2007 Massachusetts v. EPA ruling.

In a letter to Senate leaders, the bipartisan group of state environmental agency heads and leaders from both coasts and parts in between defends the 40-year-old Clean Air Act, and argues that any reversal or delay of the EPA's science-based findings on the threat of global warming would be unacceptable.

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View Liz Judge's blog posts
28 May 2010, 1:14 PM
Proposal out for new and renovated federal government buildings to be green

The Department of Energy today released a proposal to require that all new and renovated federal buildings across America meet a host of sustainable design, siting, and construction requirements. These standards will ensure that when a new post office goes up in your town, or when your local courthouse gets a building makeover, or when your military base builds a new facility, it will be green. And this green government building will stand as an example for the rest of the town, state and country.

We're obviously glad to see DOE finally start to take important action, even though today's standards are just a first step of what is needed, because of the impact that a full energy efficiency upgrade will make nationally once DOE addresses all of the current requirements.

Just to give it some perspective, in a typical year, federal buildings consume nearly 40 percent of all energy used by the government and represent 5 percent of all commerical buildings' energy consumption in the country. Greening our federal buildings will dramatically reduce our nation's overall carbon emissions and save us, the taxpayers, tens of millions of dollars in the process. In 2008, for example, the federal government spent $7 billion to purchase energy for its buildings. Reducing these buildings' energy use will save us dramatically.

View Brian Smith's blog posts
18 May 2010, 10:04 AM
Otter Creek Mine may serve growing economies of Asia
Coal mining operation in the Powder River Basin. Photo: BLM

Late last week, Earthjustice filed a lawsuit against the State of Montana over the state's decision to lease 572 million tons of coal for strip mining at Otter Creek without examining the environmental impacts of the decision. The decision was supported by Democratic Governor Brian Schweitzer, who has been dubbed the "Coal Cowboy" by the national media.

The lease was awarded to St. Louis-based Arch Coal, the nation's second largest coal producer. Including the coal it acquired from the state, Arch Coal has amassed leases for at least 1.3 billion tons of coal in the area, which will make the proposed Otter Creek mine one of the largest strip mines in North America.

Even while our nation's leaders are claiming the need to achieve "energy independence," Arch Coal says that Otter Creek coal would be mined to serve the growing demand in Asian countries.

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View Sam Edmondson's blog posts
30 April 2010, 10:04 AM
New EPA rules will cut air toxics, but a loophole leaves some vulnerable
Solid waste incinerator. Photo: EPA.

Americans can breathe a sigh of relief today, thanks to new rules announced by the Environmental Protection Agency that will reduce toxic air pollution in communities across the country. The rules come three years after Earthjustice and others stopped the Bush administration from deregulating toxic emissions from industrial boilers, incinerators, and process heaters.

These sources may sound obscure, but consider that highly polluting materials like coal, discarded tires, used chemicals and other industrial wastes are burned in boilers and solid waste incinerators at hundreds of thousands of facilities in the U.S. Chances are, you or someone you know lives, works, or commutes by one of these facilities, perhaps without even knowing it.

Cancer, reproductive disorders, birth defects and other serious health problems can be caused by the toxic air pollutants from these sources. Now, many of these facilities will be subject to strong pollution controls.

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View Liz Judge's blog posts
29 April 2010, 12:24 PM
And more evidence of climate change, & learning things the hard way

Einstein defined insanity as doing the same thing over again and expecting different results. Einstein, who had a particular knack for coming up with enduring and timeless ideas, may find application in our country's energy landscape today.

Looking out yonder, we see a devastating oil spill and possibly one of the worst and most costly ecological disasters in our country's history, mountains being destroyed by explosives and the resulting toxic sludge getting dumped into our waterways, communities and people being poisoned by coal ash and coal waste, and carbon pollution exacerbating heat waves, warming our oceans, and increasing ocean acidity until building blocks of our underwater life are killed off—and these are just some of the things we are seeing here in the U.S.

Looking beyond the U.S., we see unfriendly regimes getting stronger and richer from our reliance on foreign oil, we see China boosting its share of the renewables market in its quest for global economic leadership and to meet its growing thirst for energy.

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View Liz Judge's blog posts
22 April 2010, 9:41 AM
Thanks for all you've done

“The battle to restore a proper relationship between man and his environment, and between man and other living creatures, will require a long sustained political, moral, ethical, and financial commitment far beyond any commitment ever made by any society in the history of man. Are we able? Yes. Are we willing? That’s the unanswered question.” – Gaylord Nelson, founder of Earth Day.

When Earth Day was born 40 years ago, there were “spumes of pollution pouring out of smokestacks, people spraying children in parking lots and at picnics with DDT, air pollution in major cities that was basically unbreathable, rivers catching on fire, lakes dying,” says one of Earth Day’s original organizers, Denis Hayes, in this Washington Post video. “It was just deteriorating very rapidly, but what addressed those problems was a wave of legislation immediately after Earth Day.” (For more on Earth Day’s storied history, read this.)

As we celebrate 40 years of Earth Day, we’re also celebrating 40 years of Earthjustice victories – check out 40 of our favorite victories along with stunning photos in this new slideshow made for Earth Day 2010.

We're also celebrating our army of supporters, activist members, and concerned citizens. We have you to thank for each of these major victories, and the many victories and wins in between.

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View Liz Judge's blog posts
20 April 2010, 12:47 PM
Energy efficiency positions itself to take a lead role in 2010

We’ve been calling it our nation’s dark horse energy source for a while now. We’ve been saying it has the potential to wean us off our dependence on dirty foreign and fossil fuels, provide jobs, and fight climate change. And we’ve been saying that if you embrace it, you will save lots of money in the process. So, just in time for Earth Day, we’re delighted to see some strong signs that energy efficiency will be propelling ahead in 2010.

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View Liz Judge's blog posts
22 March 2010, 1:08 PM
Urge EPA to adopt strong ozone pollution standards today

As sure as April brings showers and May brings flowers, June brings ozone pollution warnings. These alerts come to us by way of air quality reports in our local weather forecasts, and they let us know when ground-level ozone pollution, the primary component of smog, reaches a dangerous level in the air we breathe. We see the alerts almost exclusively in the summer because sunlight and hot weather spur chemical reactions between air pollutants, thereby forming ground-level ozone and, in turn, smog.

Smog, then, fills the air until it's hard for some of us to breathe, especially babies and children, whose lungs are more delicate and less developed. Babies, children, senior citizens, and people who suffer from asthma, allergies, breathing problems, and lung disease bear the brunt of the suffering from smog, but scientific research shows us that no matter how healthy, we all are vulnerable to this dangerous pollutant.

Anyone who spends time outdoors in the summer may be affected, and millions of Americans live in areas where the national ozone health standards are exceeded. (Conversely, ozone in the upper atmosphere -- the good kind of ozone -- forms a layer that protects life on earth from the sun's harmful rays.)

Today until midnight, March 22, is final day of the EPA's public comment period for this ozone pollution standard. Please join tens of thousands of others and take a moment to send EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson a message, urging her to adopt the strongest possible standards for ozone pollution.

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View Raviya Ismail's blog posts
08 March 2010, 12:37 PM
A victory for Earthjustice and those who live near refineries, other plants
Tesoro Refinery fire. Photo by Jesse Marquez

You know when you're hiking up a mountain and you think you've reached the summit, only to turn the corner with the realization that you have further to climb? Well, Earthjustice and other clean air advocates have finally reached the summit, putting an end to litigation involving a loophole that gave industrial facilities a free pass to ignore pollution limits whenever plants start up, shut down or malfunction.

Today, the U.S. Supreme Court denied the American Chemistry Council (and others) a request to review the case, which Earthjustice won in December 2008.

The Supreme Court's decision is huge for us, but it's folks on the ground (the ones that live near these plants and their skyrocketing emissions) that are cheering the loudest -- people like Jesse Marquez: who lives three miles from a Wilmington, California Tesoro Energy Corp's refinery which caught fire last September because of a malfunction. Jesse was at the scene, taking pictures and recalling the terrible mixture of crude oil and diesel fuel filling the air for 6 hours.

That same month, Tesoro CEO Bruce Smith traveled to DC to lobby Congress to protest emissions reductions.

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