Posts tagged: Clean Water Act

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Clean Water 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 Tom Waldo's blog posts
10 April 2014, 5:14 PM
Unpopular Alaskan mine project meets obstacles
Sockeye salmon in a river in the Bristol Bay, Alaska watershed. (Ben Knight / Trout Unlimited)

International mining firm Rio Tinto yesterday became the second out of three remaining investors to pull its funding from a much-maligned and controversial proposed gold and copper mine in wild and scenic Alaska, the Pebble Mine. Last September, Anglo American, a London-based mining company, cited financial risks and pulled out of the project. This leaves only the small Canadian mining company Northern Dynasty Minerals still backing the giant project.

Local communities, commercial and recreational fishermen, Native tribes, recreation and tourism industry groups, and concerned citizens from around the world have vehemently opposed the Pebble Mine, an enormous mining project proposed for southwest Alaska in the headwaters of Bristol Bay and its world-class salmon runs. The Bristol Bay watershed is rich with salmon, wildlife and salmon-based Alaska Native cultures and is home to the largest sockeye salmon fishery in the world.

Earthjustice has joined with this broad coalition in waging a powerful campaign against this mine, to protect this treasured wilderness and all the people who depend on it. Earthjustice supporters have sent approximately 50,000 letters to the EPA opposing the Pebble Mine.

View David Guest's blog posts
09 April 2014, 7:18 AM
Big-Ag backpumping allows pollutant-laden waters into drinking water sources
Backpumping into Lake Okeechobee has polluted drinking water supplies. (Photo courtesy of Ronald Woan)

For more than 30 years, the big lake that looks like a hole on the Florida map at the top of the Everglades—714-square-mile Lake Okeechobee—has been wrecked by government-sanctioned pollution.

But we won a decision in federal court March 28 that, we hope, will put a stop to it. Florida’s biggest newspaper, The Tampa Bay Times, called the ruling “long-awaited clarity and common sense” and “a victory for public health and the environment.”

We agree.

View Adrian Martinez's blog posts
20 March 2014, 2:20 PM
Lancaster citizens fear air pollutants will harm children's health
Ozone pollution causes premature death, asthma attacks and other breathing problems. (Chris Jordan-Bloch / Earthjustice)

A proposal for a large—570-megawatt—gas-fired power plant is pitting two Southern California cities against each other, and has aroused citizens worried about air quality and their children's health. Members of Desert Citizens Against Pollution are suing to challenge the plant’s approval.

The plant would be sited in Palmdale on the border of Lancaster.

Lancaster has generally opposed this project because of health concerns related to significant emissions that would go into its neighborhoods. The city also questions the need for this power plant, which it claims could thwart efforts to promote renewable energy like solar and wind developments. On the flip side, Palmdale has been really supportive of this project.

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View David Guest's blog posts
13 March 2014, 9:40 AM
Grassroots movement demands an end to slimy, toxic waterways
A toxic algae outbreak pollutes the Santa Fe River during the Memorial Day holiday in 2012. (John Moran)

Hundreds of citizens came from all over Florida to the state Capitol in Tallahassee on Feb. 18 with a strong message for the state’s leaders: we have a fundamental right to clean water, and we want our leaders to preserve that right.

The Clean Water Tally Rally also drew some forward-thinking legislators who stood with the demonstrators and said they are concerned about the water quality decline in the Sunshine State. All the leaders signed our grassroots movement’s Clean Water Declaration, which says:

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View Lisa Evans's blog posts
24 February 2014, 1:16 PM
Spills happen when there’s no incentive to comply with environmental rules
The toxic coal ash turned the Dan River gray for 20 miles east of the North Carolina border. (Photo courtesy of Waterkeeper Alliance)

Although the North Carolina Department of Natural Resources found Duke Energy in gross violation of the federal Clean Water Act, the state agency placed so little value on public health that they were willing to settle for a pittance—a penny per ton of toxic coal ash stored at Duke’s two illegally polluting plants. To rub ash into the wound, the agency didn’t even require Duke to stop the flow of arsenic, cadmium, chromium and other toxic metals from the millions of tons of coal ash at the plants, much less clean up the pollution. The state was willing to accept $99,000 in settlement with the utility giant.

Duke Energy can spare this chump change. The utility just announced a 50 percent increase in corporate profits in 2013, amounting to $2.6 billion per year for a company already valued at $50 billion. Duke’s $99,000 penalty was nothing—it’s like one of us, earning $50,000 a year, getting fined $1.90. Barely amounting to a library fine, this is no deterrent for the likes of Duke.

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View Jessica Knoblauch's blog posts
31 January 2014, 2:13 PM
Climate change threatens grapes, salmon and other dining favorites
Photo by Udo Schröter (Flickr)

While much of the country digs itself out from piles of snow, wine growers in Napa Valley are losing sleep over the state’s current drought, brought on by a lack of rain and freakishly warm weather.

California’s drought could spell disaster for wine growers in the region, who rely on rain stored in rivers and reservoirs to water their vineyards. But the damage isn’t just limited to the state’s wine connoisseurs. According to the Wine Institute, an industry trade group, California wines accounted for 63 percent of the total 703 million gallons—both foreign and domestic—consumed in the U.S. in 2005, or roughly two out of every three bottles sold in the country. As climate change continues to heat up the southwest, wine aficionados across the nationmay have a harder time finding their favorite pinot or syrah.
 
Of course, wine is hardly the only item on the menu that will be affected by a lack of water. Lack of rain can also stress out salmon, which require plenty of water to survive their migration from the ocean to inland waterways. Dams and diversions on rivers have already badly damaged important salmon runs along the west coast and scientists have confirmed that increasingly dry conditions will only magnify that damage.
 

View Doug Pflugh's blog posts
24 January 2014, 11:17 AM
Drought, diversions threaten Colorado, San Pedro and other rivers
The now-dry Colorado River delta branches into the Baja / Sonoran Desert, only 5 miles north of the Sea of Cortez, Mexico. (Pete McBride / USGS)

We’re less than a month in, but 2014 is already shaping up to be a tough year for rivers. Across the nation, from West Virginia to California, the headlines have been bleak. In the Rocky Mountain region, we’re gearing up for a long year defending the Colorado and San Pedro rivers.

Following recognition as America’s most endangered river in 2013, the Colorado River has become known nationwide for the unsustainable balance that exists between increasing diversions and declining flows. Much of the West has been built on a foundation of Colorado River water and millions of people in communities throughout the region depend on it on a daily basis. On-going regional drought and continued growth are now finally forcing water supply managers to accept that business as usual is no longer tenable and changes are coming to the basin.

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View Neil Gormley's blog posts
24 January 2014, 9:36 AM
Appeals court rejects company's request for premature mining
A West Virginia creek polluted by mining runoff. The Army Corps doesn’t dispute that mountaintop removal coal mining could be causing cancer, birth defects, and other serious diseases across Appalachia. (Mark Schmerling)

Earthjustice and its partners—Kentuckians for the Commonwealth, Sierra Club, Appalachian Mountain Advocates, and the Appalachian Citizens Law Center—just won a small victory with potentially big implications.

The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld an injunction we won in September that saved miles of mountain streams from destruction at the proposed Stacy Branch mountaintop removal coal mine near Vicco, Kentucky. The corporation behind the mine, Leeco, Inc., asked the Sixth Circuit to let it start mining in the streams before the court issues a final decision on whether the mining is legal. That could have rendered the whole lawsuit moot. Yesterday, the court sided with us and said no.

View Jennifer Chavez's blog posts
13 January 2014, 12:45 PM
"Freedom Zones" act could assure more W. Virginia water spills
The lives of hundreds of thousands of people have been severely disrupted by the spill. (iStockphoto)

Those who push an extreme anti-environmental agenda often use the concept of freedom to promote their ideas. They are not concerned with your freedom to breathe clean air or to drink clean water. Instead they want to give corporations the freedom to exploit natural resources without regard for the adverse impacts, and they want to ensure that polluters have freedom from accountability for the potentially deadly impacts of their actions.

In December, Kentucky politicians proposed to “free” unemployed residents from environmental laws that protect their health and well-being.

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View Lisa Evans's blog posts
13 January 2014, 9:46 AM
Overdue rules would ensure polluters pay and prevent the next big spill
The state capitol building in Charleston, WV. (Henryk Sadura / Shutterstock)

In 1980, when Love Canal and Times Beach still dominated headlines, Congress passed Superfund, a bipartisan bill requiring polluters to pay for the cleanup of their toxic messes. Over the last 30 years, Superfund has been responsible for the investigation and cleanup of thousands of toxic sites.

Yet EPA’s 30-year failure to comply with one important provision of Superfund imperils our health and pocketbooks. Superfund contained a mandate that the nation’s most dangerous industries maintain financial assurance (insurance or bonding) to guarantee that polluters would have adequate funds to clean up their spills. The mandate would also provide industries with a financial incentive for safe management of dangerous chemicals. The Act required EPA to begin establishing such requirements no later than 1985.

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