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.

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 Stephanie Maddin's blog posts
14 December 2012, 4:56 PM
Rule will save up to thousands of lives
Soot is composed of tiny microscopic particles that penetrate deep within the lungs often triggering respiratory harm and even premature death. (Chris Jordan-Bloch / Earthjustice)

No one likes to breathe dirty and polluted air. Unfortunately, for some communities there may be little to no choice.

But today, the EPA took a step in the right direction to clean up soot pollution and protect millions of Americans forced to breathe dirty air. Administrator Lisa Jackson announced a tightened standard that will limit soot pollution in many major metropolitan areas across the country, cleaning up the smokestacks and tailpipes that belch out this dirty pollution.

The current standard, set in 1997, is outdated, prompting our legal action against the EPA. Last year, we partnered with the American Nurses Association, Physicians for Social Responsibility, the Hip Hop Caucus, and the National Council of Churches to collectively call on Congress and federal regulators to protect citizens from preventable air pollution. This effort, dubbed 50 States United for Healthy Air educated stakeholders on the need for strong clean air protections for all Americans. Thankfully, some voices on Capitol Hill got the message and called on the EPA to set forth strong soot standards.

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View Daniel Hubbell's blog posts
13 December 2012, 10:39 AM
Moapa Band of Paiutes blaze a trail to clean energy and better health
Vickie Simmons, a tribal member, stands in front of Reid Gardner Power Station.  (Chris Jordan-Bloch / Earthjustice)

In his address at the Tribal Nations Conference, President Obama spoke with his usual eloquence about invigorating growth on tribal lands, and the perfect example of this new growth is the Moapa solar project on the Moapa River Indian Reservation. Situated just 30 miles north of Las Vegas, the site will generate up to 350 megawatts of clean, renewable energy. It highlights in many ways the future of the nation’s energy supply, and unfortunately the Paiute Indians themselves know the industry’s cloudy past.

Just next to the reservation is the Reid Gardner Power Station. This coal-fired power plant generates more than just electricity; it produces more than 4,000 tons of toxic, arsenic-laden coal ash every year. This waste is stored in landfills near the power station, but often it does not stay there. On bad days, the wind sends the ash sweeping into the reservation, a condition some tribal members compare to a sandstorm. Locking the doors and staying inside is the only recourse on these bad days, and even that has not protected the Moapa Band of Paiutes. The locals have plenty to say about their health, ranging from headaches and dizziness to asthma and even serious heart conditions. The almost-50-year-old belching coal plant has plenty to answer for.

Still, the Moapa Paiutes are determined to show the world that there is a better way forward.

View Raviya Ismail's blog posts
04 December 2012, 3:36 PM
Disproportionate burden of coal plant emissions placed on such communities

The results of a comprehensive study investigating the impacts of living near 378 coal plants in the United States have found that people of color and low-income communities are disproportionately more burdened by this pollution than any other segment of the population. Coal Blooded was pulled together by the NAACP, Little Village Environmental Justice Organization (LVEJO) and the Indigenous Environmental Network.

View Raviya Ismail's blog posts
29 November 2012, 11:22 AM
Nearly two-thirds of those surveyed support standards
The microscopic size of soot allows it to lodge deep within the lung. (Chris Jordan-Bloch / Earthjustice.)

They have spoken! Nearly two-thirds of American voters are demanding stronger protections against one of the most dangerous and pervasive pollutants around: soot.

Today, the American Lung Association released results from a national survey of 942 registered voters, finding that support for these clean air protections is broad and deep, with strong majority backing even after hearing balanced messages on both aisles of the debate.

Now it’s time for the EPA and the White House to listen: on Dec. 14, 2012, the EPA will release final updated standards for PM 2.5 (soot). Earlier this year the EPA proposed updated clean air safeguards that will prevent thousands of premature deaths and take steps toward clearing hazy air in national parks.

The proposal came in response to legal action filed by Earthjustice on behalf of the Lung Association and the National Parks Conservation Association.

The polling specifically finds that 62 percent of voters favor the proposal, compared to 30 percent who oppose it. Nearly 40 percent of voters strongly favor the standards, while only 20 percent express strong opposition.

ALA poll results.

A survey by ALA found broad and deep support for stronger soot standards.
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View Daniel Hubbell's blog posts
20 November 2012, 2:37 PM
Cancer-causing chemical threatens lungs of many
Chromium plating facilities emit high levels of the carcinogen into local communities.  (Neal Sanche)

Chromium shows up in surprising places in modern society—most notably on car bumpers and furniture to improve how they look. Too often, the facilities that do this kind of plating put the carcinogen hexavalent chromium into the air in local communities where they operate.

The highly toxic chemical was made infamous by Erin Brockovich’s work on a California case where hexavalent chromium leaked into a town’s drinking water. The case resulted in action against Pacific Gas and Electric Company, which settled for several hundred million dollars. Yet that case has hardly been the only incident, or the only way, that hexavalent chromium from these facilities can affect people’s health.

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View Raviya Ismail's blog posts
19 November 2012, 10:51 AM
Clean air champions go to court on "fracking" and other drilling air rules
Heavy smoke caused by flaring operations at natural gas well located on state land near Pinedale, WY.  (William Belveal)

Last Wednesday, a group of clean air advocates intervened to protect crucial air safeguards that will curb pollution emitted during oil and gas drilling. Unfortunately the state of Texas and their allies with the American Petroleum Institute and a variety of other state alliances of oil and gas companies are pushing back against these necessary protections.

But here are the facts: industry and their allies are hyping natural gas as a miracle fuel, yet the gas drilling sector—which includes the controversial practice of hydraulic fracturing or “fracking”—has worsened air quality around the country. In some parts of the country undergoing a gas drilling boom, air quality has fallen below levels the EPA determined to be safe. This is a growing problem that is wreaking havoc on our lungs.

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View Ted Zukoski's blog posts
15 November 2012, 4:27 PM
Drilling near Denver is adding to the area's worsening smog problem
Denver smog. Brought to you in part by fracking.

Last week, supporters of the controversial drilling practice know as fracking held a rally in Denver. According to media reports, one booster drew laughs from the crowd when he said that fracking’s economic benefits would eventually "trickle down to attorneys [and] doctors."

Colorado doctors are probably already seeing increased business because of fracking, but not in a humorous way.

Oil and gas drilling is a contributor to ozone—better known as smog—on Colorado’s Front Range.

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View Jessica Knoblauch's blog posts
01 October 2012, 12:06 PM
Plus: Bacon blues, ocean critter jitters, burger smog and cattle candies
(flickr, cookbookman17)

Climate change may ruin BLTs and loaded baked potatoes
You know Americans may be a little food-obsessed when the only time we get concerned about climate change is when it affects our favorite meals. According to the USDA, this year’s drought is so bad that it’s expected to negatively impact next year’s pork production, reports Mother Jones, meaning that BLTs and pork chops may soon become a luxury item for many Americans. And forget about importing your bacon fix from Europe. Britain’s National Pig Association recently announced that a “world shortage of pork and bacon is now unavoidable” thanks to high pig-feed costs that are causing farmers to reduce their herd sizes. Though the association’s press release doesn’t specifically mention “climate change,” it does allude to “disastrous growing and harvesting weather,” which scientists only expect to get worse with increasing carbon emissions. In other words, if we don’t get our act together soon, it may mean good-bye, baconator®. Hello, tofu maker?
 
Consumers’ caffeine consumption gives ocean critters the jitters
Many people these days tend to be a little over-caffeinated, and it turns out that all of the sodas, coffee and energy drinks that people consume are having a similarly jittery effect on the world’s oceans, reports National Geographic. Conditions are especially amped up along the Pacific Northwest, home of Starbucks and many a caffeine-fiend, where researchers recently discovered caffeine pollution off of Oregon’s coast. Currently, caffeine’s impact on natural ecosystems is relatively unknown, though at least one researcher has found that the stimulant’s presence in water does tend to stress out mussels. Surely anyone who has knocked back too many cups of black gold can relate. But the problem isn’t just coming from the Pacific Northwest. Caffeine has also been detected in Boston Harbor and Massachusetts Bay seawater. The presence of caffeine is the oceans isn’t all that surprising though considering that most water treatment facilities typically don’t screen or filter for many pollutants, such as pharmaceuticals, detergents or estrogen-containing birth control pills. But given the growing evidence for elevated levels of human contaminants in the water, they may soon have to, or suffer the caffeinated consequences.
 

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View Trip Van Noppen's blog posts
21 September 2012, 2:59 PM
On way out of town, House votes industry a free pass to pollute

It's been a long two years with the 112th Congress. In that time, House leadership has often tried to "help the economy" by wiping away our basic public health and environmental protections—in the process putting thousands of Americans at risk of disease and death from exposure to toxic chemicals and carcinogens in our air and water.

And today, as a final departing gift before recessing for the fall, House leaders put through H.R. 3409—a toxic sell-out bill that decimates our fundamental public health protections with the pretext of addressing the "war on coal." The House passed the bill by a vote of 233 to 175.

To wit: H.R. 3409 includes provisions we believe will:

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View Terry Winckler's blog posts
18 September 2012, 3:19 PM
His legacy flows through America's waterways
Russel Train -- Photo Courtesy The Heinz Awards

It’s not the passing of Russell Train – who died Monday at 92 – that we remember, but the life he led as a powerful, humble, principled warrior for the Earth.

Mr. Train was chairman of the newly created White House Council on Environmental Quality before President Nixon picked him to be the second head of the Environmental Protection Agency, a role that fully launched his career as a conservationist, recalls Joan Mulhern, a colleague of mine who worked with this remarkable man to protect the Clean Water Act.

A lifelong Republican, Mr. Train embodied what it meant to be a conservative conservationist, Joan said.