Posts tagged: Clean Air Act

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Clean Air Act


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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
21 June 2012, 2:25 PM
Huffington Post details injustice facing Mossville residents
Mossville, LA.

Last year, the EPA proposed an air rule that would finally limit the amount of cancer-causing chemicals residents in Mossville, Louisiana would have to breathe from the polyvinyl chloride plant nearby. So it came as a blow when the EPA released a final rule that imposes weaker limits at the CertainTeed plant in Mossville—a facility that emits 19 tons of poisonous air pollutants a year.

Turns out we aren’t the only ones finding fault in the EPA’s behavior, as seen in this gripping Huffington Post story detailing the stark reality of a community being destroyed by the toxic fumes it breathes.

View Sam Edmondson's blog posts
20 June 2012, 3:49 PM
Papers come out in support of strong standards to control deadly pollutant

The historical significance of the Environmental Protection Agency's recently proposed new limits on fine particle pollution, colloquially called soot, wasn't lost on a number of editorial pages. Soot is a known killer—the science clearly indicates soot's connections to premature death, heart and lung damage, and potentially even cancer and developmental and reproductive harm.

The New York Times wrote: "New standards are long overdue. In 2006, the E.P.A. reviewed the standards but decided to leave them where they had been set nearly 10 years before… This was a favor to industry groups that did not want to make new investments in pollution controls. The agency's scientific advisory committee, which had recommended tighter standards, was so incensed that it issued a rare public rebuke."

Ultimately, it took a judge's rebuke to stir action at the agency. A court order won by Earthjustice on behalf of the American Lung Association and National Parks Conservation Association was a boot to the EPA's backside—just the encouragement needed to get things back on track after years of scientific denial and foot-dragging.

The San Francisco Chronicle editorial page reacted acidulously to the EPA's announcement: "It only took a court order and five years of delay for them to do the right thing."

View Sam Edmondson's blog posts
20 June 2012, 12:30 PM
Victory for clean air and public health

There are some straight spines left in the U.S. Senate, which today voted down a resolution from Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-OK) that would have effectively exempted coal-fired power plants—the nation's worst air polluters—from Clean Air Act controls that limit mercury and other toxic emissions. This is a critical victory in the decades-long effort to protect communities from the egregious amounts of health-damaging pollutants that coal plants put in our air.

In contrast, Sen. Inhofe and some of his coaleagues—pardon me, colleagues—have bent over backwards for our nation's most recalcitrant industrial polluters time and again, tone deaf to the fact that coal plant pollution sickens and kills tens of thousands of people every year. In fact, the senator said recently that the Environmental Protection Agency's recently finalized protections against toxic air from coal plants are "not about health." Yet that's exactly what they're about: limits on coal plant air pollution are projected to prevent up to 11,000 deaths, 4,700 heart attacks, and 130,000 childhood asthma attacks every year.

But from the senator's perspective, these benefits are "negligible."

"I find it impossible to relate to the senator's view that such benefits are 'negligible,' and thankfully, a majority of senators appear to as well," said Earthjustice attorney Jim Pew, who has worked for more than a decade to obtain the mercury and air toxic standards for power plants, and who is currently defending them from industry attack on behalf of the NAACP, Sierra Club, Chesapeake Bay Foundation, and Clean Air Counsel.

View Raviya Ismail's blog posts
19 June 2012, 2:38 AM
Edgar Mouton spent final years seeking health safeguards against PVC pollution
Edgar Mouton

Edgar Mouton lived much of his 76 years in Mossville, Louisiana, and for the past decade fought doggedly to obtain federal protections from the toxic pollution that pours into Mossville from the largest concentration of PVC and vinyl manufacturing facilities in the U.S. and a host of other hazardous industrial facilities. As a great-grandfather and leader of Mossville Environmental Action Now (MEAN), Mr. Mouton worked to prevent the rising rates of cancer, respiratory disease and other illnesses suffered by residents of the historic African American community in southwest Louisiana.

Sadly Mr. Mouton, passed away June 7 without the EPA fulfilling what it had once promised his community.

View Sam Edmondson's blog posts
18 June 2012, 3:50 PM
Bill is dangerous scheme to exempt power plants from clean air laws

Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-OK) is spearheading an egregious effort in the Senate to exempt the nation's worst air polluters from the Clean Air Act. He is floating a resolution that would block recently finalized limits on the amounts of mercury, arsenic and other health-damaging pollutants that coal- and oil-fired power plants can emit. It's up for a vote on Wednesday.

Today, thankfully, the White House indicated that it will veto Inhofe's dirty air disaster if it manages to pass the Senate.

The senator, shockingly, has described the benefits of these landmark protections as "negligible." But there's nothing negligible about the prevention of up to 11,000 premature deaths, 4,600 heart attacks and 130,000 childhood asthma attacks every year.

View Sam Edmondson's blog posts
15 June 2012, 2:40 PM
Final standards, due in December, must be strongest possible
Photo: Chris Jordan-Bloch/Earthjustice

Just two weeks ago, the Environmental Protection Agency was dithering on a proposal to strengthen protections against an air pollutant that causes tens of thousands of avoidable deaths every year.

Enter Earthjustice attorney, Paul Cort, who on behalf of citizen groups asked a federal judge to order the EPA to get moving. So compelling was the case that the judge ruled in Earthjustice's favor directly from the bench, ordering the EPA to proceed without further delay. This motivated the EPA to settle the remainder of the suit and release a proposal. The agency also committed to release a final standard by Dec. 14, 2012.

Today, the agency released its proposal, and we have Cort's legal action to thank—a prime example of how citizen enforcement of our nation's environmental laws can produce real results for public health and the environment.

View Sam Edmondson's blog posts
31 May 2012, 3:43 PM
Federal court gives EPA a week to sign proposal, after Earthjustice suit

Nothing cuts baloney like a court order. Today, in response to a request made by Earthjustice, a federal judge gave the Environmental Protection Agency one week to sign a proposal for tightening standards on soot, an airborne mixture of tiny particles that causes tens of thousands of early deaths every year.

The court's action is most welcome: there's been so much foot-dragging at EPA on this issue, you have to wonder if everyone involved needs a new pair of shoes.

The order jumpstarts a process that will hopefully have significant public health ramifications. Last year, we released a report with the American Lung Association (ALA) and Clean Air Task Force called Sick of Soot that showed a strong soot standard could prevent nearly 36,000 premature deaths every year. That averages to a staggering 700 premature deaths just between now and June 7th, the deadline set by the court.

View Sam Edmondson's blog posts
29 May 2012, 3:59 PM
Air pollution penetrates the heart of California's wild places
A giant ponderosa pine. Photo: USFS.

Over this past long weekend, spent backpacking in California's Sierra Nevada mountains, I was reminded of a memorable method for distinguishing two of our stateliest trees. Though these two specimens are similar in many respects, the pine cones of "prickly ponderosa" have small spikes that point outwards, while those of "gentle Jeffrey" curve inward. (The bark of Jeffrey pines additionally smells like butterscotch or vanilla, which makes ID'ing them doubly delicious.)

But lo, after a string of days spent with these gentle giants, I returned to some sobering news. The Associated Press reports that smog pollution is weakening the growth of ponderosa and Jeffrey pine stands in California's Sequoia National Park. Ozone, the primary component of smog, inhibits the trees' ability to perform photosynthesis, evidenced by a yellowing of their bundles of long needles.

If you need a refresher, photosynthesis is the process by which plants harness energy from the sun and convert it into cellular energy. That energy is conferred to us animals when we eat plants. So, you know, it's really important.

View Jessica Knoblauch's blog posts
11 May 2012, 9:14 AM
Beneficial pollution, farmers market boost, plastic oceans
Photo courtesy of matthewven (flickr.com)

Investigation sets flame to chemical retardant claims
Flame retardants have long been heralded as life-saving chemicals that slow fires, but a recent investigative series by the Chicago Tribune has found that the toxic chemicals, which are found in American babies at the highest recorded levels among infants in the world, both may not be safe or prevent fire deaths. Among the discoveries that the Tribune uncovered includes a decades-long campaign of deception by the flame retardant industry that has loaded American homes with furniture treated with chemicals linked to cancer, neurological deficits, developmental problems and impaired fertility. Read the entire series here.

Air pollution protecting humans from climate change
Air pollution may be clogging up your lungs and burning your eyes, but at least it’s keeping global warming in check, reports E: The Environmental Magazine. According to research by Harvard scientists, for many decades the eastern half of the U.S. stayed cooler than the rest of the country thanks to a thick cloud of particulates that reflected incoming sunlight, helping to mitigate rising temperatures. But as levels of industrial pollution have decreased, warming has increased, inadvertently creating a perverse incentive to pollute the air. Despite the benefits, the researchers were quick to point out that they weren’t against improving air quality. After all, air pollutants like particulate matter from coal-fired power plants can embed themselves deep into the lungs and cause serious health problems, no matter how breezy the weather stays. Find out how Earthjustice is working to enforce Clean Air Act regulations to both clean up the air and reduce greenhouse gases.

View Sam Edmondson's blog posts
02 May 2012, 10:46 AM
As asthma awareness month begins, ozone season looms
Smog makes some kids sing the blues when "School's Out" (the memorable Alice Cooper tune)

“School’s out for summer!”

When I was growing up, Alice Cooper’s 1972 hit usually infiltrated my head sometime around the beginning of May, looped incessantly, and hit a feverish crescendo in the few minutes before the final bell released us to summer break. Now, many years later, a very different line completes the couplet in my head.

“Ozone is a bummer!”