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.

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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 Liz Judge's blog posts
24 April 2013, 9:48 AM
Unanimous panel of judges rule for EPA in coal industry lawsuit

Great news!

Yesterday, citizens in Appalachia celebrated a huge victory in their fight to protect their families and communities from harmful mountaintop removal mining. In a sharp 15-page ruling, a panel of three Republican-appointed judges in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit unanimously upheld the Environment Protection Agency’s veto of the permit for the Spruce No. 1 mine, the largest proposed mountaintop removal mine in West Virginia. Earthjustice, along with Appalachian Mountain Advocates, represented a handful of community and citizen groups in this case.

This court decision comes after 15 years of court challenges by community groups whose members were in fallout zone of the proposed mine. It’s a precedent-setting decision and historic: The Spruce Mine permit is the first mountaintop removal mining permit ever challenged in courts.

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View Trip Van Noppen's blog posts
09 April 2013, 8:58 AM
Gina McCarthy is a sound choice for the job
McCarthy will be a vital player in the effort to protect our families and environment.  (EPA)

This week a Senate committee will hold a nomination hearing for Gina McCarthy to replace Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa Jackson.

Gina McCarthy, the EPA assistant administrator for air and radiation, is a sound choice for the job. Given her background and experience, the Senate should move expeditiously to confirm her.

For more than 25 years Gina McCarthy worked with politicians from both parties, including a stint as Gov. Romney’s energy and climate advisor in Massachusetts. In 2009 Republican and Democratic senators easily confirmed McCarthy by a voice vote to head the clean air division of EPA.

Gina McCarthy is a dedicated environmental professional with a history of working on difficult issues including climate change. We share her vision of an energy-efficient economy which creates sustainable jobs.

View Andrea Delgado's blog posts
29 March 2013, 2:26 PM
Injustices plague farmworkers while administration turns a blind eye
Cesar E. Chavez warned about the perils of pesticides. (Joel Levine)

The agriculture industry relies heavily on the use of pesticides, which are highly toxic chemicals that farmworkers and surrounding communities are frequently exposed to through simply doing their jobs or living near agricultural sites. Pesticides enter the body through inhalation and penetration of the skin. The latest statistics indicate that in 2007, 1.1 billion pounds of pesticides were used in the United States, and 80 percent were destined for agriculture. Among these, 33 million pounds were organophosphates, a particularly pernicious class of pesticides that are the most frequent culprits of acute poisonings of farmworkers.

Our nation’s farmworkers live and work at ground zero for pesticide exposure.  In a 1989 speech before Pacific Lutheran University, Cesar E. Chavez, a beloved labor and civil rights leader and an indefatigable voice for farmworkers, warned about the perils of pesticides and called on the nation to recognize the challenges that plague farmworkers, such as fighting for higher wages and improved working conditions. We’d be ignoring a greater evil if we failed to protect them from “systematic poisoning through the reckless use of agricultural toxics.”  In raising the urgency to protect farmworkers, their families and surrounding rural communities from pesticides, he shared stories of workers collapsing and dying after entering recently sprayed fields, children with birth defects and neurological problems and cancer. Meanwhile, workers were repeatedly told that the pesticides they were frequently exposed to were merely plant “medicine” they need not fear.  

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View Kari Birdseye's blog posts
22 March 2013, 7:27 PM
And ConocoPhillips eager to drill in the Arctic Ocean

Earthjustice received some superb video today from Dutch Harbor, Alaska, of Shell’s beat up Arctic drilling rig, the Kulluk, as it was lifted onto a huge dry haul ship to be carried to Asia for repairs:

This comes on the heels of a report from the Department of Interior, which summarized  a 60-day investigation into Shell’s 2012 Arctic Ocean drilling season and was highly critical of the oil giant’s operations.

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View Andrea Delgado's blog posts
19 March 2013, 12:34 PM
Budget resolution tees up fight against harmful amendments
The devastating Kingston Fossil Plant coal ash spill in 2008. (TVA)

Arsenic-infused drinking water, the risk of cancer, and the fear of being washed away by a flood of toxic sludge are a burden of concern for Americans living near more than 1,300 toxic coal ash dump sites.They have expressed their concerns through numerous letters to Congress, petitions, and more than 450,000 public comments to the Environmental Protection Agency. They urge federal action to stop disposal practices that trap communities in clouds of toxic ash, contaminate drinking water, and lead to massive dam collapses.

Yet, protection from toxic heavy metals and standards that will prevent another dam failure are not solutions the EPA has provided. Meanwhile, as the administration plays a waiting game with potential disaster, citizens across the U.S. live in harm’s way.

View Jillian Murphy's blog posts
15 March 2013, 9:56 AM
House of Representatives legislation would protect air and water

Over the past few decades—with the help of Congress—Big Oil and Gas successfully chipped away at our bedrock environmental laws, carving out special exemptions for the fossil fuel drilling industry. In 1987, when Congress decided to implement new standards to control stormwater runoff pollution under the Clean Water Act, oil and gas companies got a pass. And in 1990 when the Clean Air Act was expanded to allow for control of more toxic air pollutants, the same industry got another pass. These exemptions from our fundamental air and water protections have left communities across the country exposed to dangerous health risks and threats to their environment from oil and gas operations right in their backyards.

Fortunately, activists engaged in the fight against fracking saw an important step forward, yesterday, with the introduction of two pieces of legislation in the House of Representatives. Rep. Jared Polis (D-CO) introduced H.R. 1154, the BREATHE Act, and Rep. Matthew Cartwright (D-PA) introduced H.R. 1175, the FRESHER Act. These bills call for common sense safeguards to protect water and air resources from pollution generated by the process of hydraulic fracturing, known as fracking.

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View Chrissy Pepino's blog posts
12 March 2013, 2:11 PM
Be green: get rid of black
Black soot easily seen on ice formations in the Arctic.

Soot is melting the Arctic. Even scientists are alarmed with the disappearance rate of ice in the northern hemisphere. When soot falls on snow and ice it increases the amount of light and heat that is absorbed, just like any reflective surface. The Arctic is not alone in this unprecedented melting; the life-supporting snowpack in the Himalayas is also feeling the impact. Soot is now thought to have twice the heat-warming potential than estimated by the by Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in 2007.

View Raviya Ismail's blog posts
27 February 2013, 2:57 PM
Concern grows over methane leaks from oil and gas wells

With the fracking boom building, natural gas is touted as a clean energy source. But the hard truth is that the gas drilling sector—which includes the controversial practice of hydraulic fracturing or fracking—has worsened air quality in many areas. In some parts of the country undergoing such a boom, air quality has fallen below levels the EPA determined to be safe.

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View Daniel Hubbell's blog posts
27 February 2013, 7:42 AM
Mercury and Air Toxics Standards under industry attack
68% of African Americans live within 30 miles of coal fired power plants, our nation's worst toxic polluters.

Even in today’s divided political climate, taking a stance against mercury and arsenic in our air does not seem like it should be controversial. The gasses, along with other known toxics like chromium, cadmium and selenium are among 84 known air pollutants emitted every year by coal and oil fired power plants.

They have cost us dearly, resulting in as many as 11,000 premature deaths, 5,000 heart attacks and 130,000 asthma attacks annually. If we talk about the economy, these pollutants are responsible for 540,000 missed days of work. All this in addition to the terrible havoc these pollutants wreak on ecosystems.

It isn’t like this is a new problem, either. When the Clean Air Act was amended in 1990 it called for new Mercury Air Toxic Standards. A decade overdue, these standards have finally arrived to help us prevent such unnecessary suffering and pain. This is hardly an unprecedented step; the changes were based on protections many power plants had already enacted. All of this makes the barrage of lawsuits industry is filing to delay or dismantle these new standards more perplexing.

Against these legal assaults we are proud to stand alongside the NAACP and 16 other national and state medical, civil rights, environmental, public health and clean air groups.

View Brian Smith's blog posts
26 February 2013, 12:57 PM
U.S. excuses for climate inaction dwindling
A large majority of Americans now want action.  (Ray Wan)

Climate change deniers in the U.S. once claimed there was no proof that pumping tons of carbon into the atmosphere was changing our climate.

This worked for a while, but Midwest drought, western wildfires, and superstorm Sandy, which all hit during 2012, have changed public opinion dramatically.

A recent poll by Duke University found 50 percent of Americans are convinced the climate is changing and another 34 percent say it is probably changing—an increase from other recent polls. A large majority of Americans now want action. The Duke poll found 64 percent of Americans want strong regulations on power plants and factories and fuel-efficiency standards for cars.

So the climate change denial camp is now trying a different argument.

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