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 Trip Van Noppen's blog posts
04 November 2010, 4:49 PM
A new and hostile congressional leadership is not new to Earthjustice

There is no reason to beat around the bush: Tuesday's election results are a setback in our progress towards a cleaner, healthier, more sustainable planet.

At a time when the world desperately needs leadership from the United States, voters have installed in the House of Representatives those who have vowed to do all they can to obstruct progress in cleaning up dirty coal-burning power plants, reducing health-destroying and climate-disrupting pollution, and protecting wild places and wildlife.

Yet, while the news is bad, we can take heart that the election was not a referendum on the environment. Voters still want clean water, healthy air, protected public lands, and action on transitioning from dirty power plants to a clean energy economy.

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View David Guest's blog posts
18 October 2010, 11:51 AM
They ask EPA to delay cleaning Florida waterways
Green slime caused by polluted waters

The EPA committed to set these new limits after Earthjustice, representing Florida Wildlife Federation, Sierra Club, Conservancy of Southwest Florida, Environmental Confederation of Southwest Florida, and St. Johns Riverkeeper, sued in 2008.

It turns out that these former secretaries are at drastically at odds with public opinion. The EPA reports that it has received 22,000 public comments on the proposed new nutrient pollution standards, and 20,000 of those comments were in support of the standards.

People want clean water! Sadly, Florida is rock bottom in the U.S. in terms of protecting its waters from pollution. Across the United States, scientists report that 30 percent of bays and estuaries and 44 percent of streams have unsafe water. But in Florida, it is much worse—more than 98 percent of the state's bays and estuaries, and more than 54 percent of its streams, are unsafe to swim and/or fish in. The BP oil spill disaster this summer showed us that even the possibility of pollution can chase away Florida's number-one economic engine—tourism.

View Kathleen Sutcliffe's blog posts
13 October 2010, 2:36 PM
We want to know. Preferably before the next oil spill
Third-generation shrimp fisherman Clint Guidry. Credit: Matthew Preusch/Gulf Restoration Network

Yesterday, Interior Secretary Ken Salazer lifted the moratorium on deepwater oil drilling and declared the Gulf of Mexico "open for business."

We presume he was talking to the folks at BP, Exxon, and Shell—not so much to shrimp fishermen like Clint Guidry.

Like his father and grandfather before him, the 62-year-old Guidry has worked in Louisiana's shrimp industry for most of his adult life. But he simply doesn't know what the future holds for the family business.

A lot depends on the chemicals used as so-called dispersants in the wake of the BP Deepwater Horizon spill this summer. Did the 1.8 million gallons of chemicals dumped into the Gulf of Mexico send toxic-coated oil droplets tumbling from the water's surface and into the same areas of the ocean where Guidry's catch feed and spawn? Will it make the ocean creatures sick? What about the people who eat Gulf-caught fish?

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View Liz Judge's blog posts
27 September 2010, 2:17 PM
The destructive mining practice cannot go on at the expense of Appalachians
Appalachians call for an end to watershed poisoning caused by mountaintop removal coal mining

On the campaign trail, President Obama shared his thoughts about mountaintop removal mining:

We have to find more environmentally sound ways of mining coal than simply blowing the tops off mountains. We're tearing up the Appalachian Mountains because of our dependence on fossil fuels ... Strip-mining is an environmental disaster ... What I want to do is work with experts here in West Virginia to find out what we need to do to protect the waterways here. That's going to be a primary task of the head of my Environmental Protection Agency.

This, if it happens, would be a sea change from the previous administration's EPA, which effectively wrote loopholes and exemptions into that law that allowed mining companies to evade longstanding regulations, sidestep basic Clean Water Act protections and dump their mountaintop removal mining waste directly into Appalachia's waters, contaminating drinking water supplies for communities and burying important streams.

Nearly two years into President Obama's term, we've seen small steps toward reducing the destruction of mountaintop removal mining in Appalachia, but the fact is: President Obama and his administration are still allowing this devastation to continue. The Army Corps of Engineers and the EPA are still permitting mountaintop removal mining permits in Appalachia, despite the regulations of the Clean Water Act.

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View Tom Turner's blog posts
20 September 2010, 1:43 PM
Extensive expansion of piers and other facilities is derailed
Emerald Bay, Lake Tahoe.

"I thought it must surely be the fairest picture the whole world affords."

Thus spake Mark Twain of Lake Tahoe, the magnificent high-altitude lake nestled in an alpine cup between Nevada and California.

But, as with so many other places, Tahoe's fatal beauty has led to too much development—too many homes, too many casinos, too many cars, too many piers, and too many boats. The clarity of the water has suffered, as has the purity of the air.

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View Liz Judge's blog posts
15 September 2010, 3:02 PM
One key decision on a mountaintop removal mine will signal what's to come
The site of the proposed Spruce mine (green valley to right). Photo by Vivian Stockman of OVEC, Flyover courtesy SouthWings

At the end of this month, all eyes will be on the EPA as it makes its next key decision on mountaintop removal coal mining: its preliminary determination whether to veto the permit for the Spruce No. 1 mine, due September 24.

The Spruce No. 1 mine is one of the largest mountaintop removal mining projects ever considered in Appalachia. Last spring, the EPA released a proposal to rescind this permit based on scientific and legal analysis showing that the mine does not adhere to Clean Water Act standards.

The EPA must do its job of enforcing the Clean Water Act and finalize this veto, or the mining company will proceed to permanently bury more than seven miles of streams with mining waste, severely degrade water quality in streams adjacent and downstream from the mine, and devastate 2,278 aces of forestland — in an area already hard-hit by this type of mining.

Why is this one mine so important?

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View Liz Judge's blog posts
21 July 2010, 1:40 PM
We're live blogging tomorrow as he speaks at the National Press Club

Tomorrow (July 22), Don Blankenship, the notorious chairman and CEO of Massey Energy, speaks at the National Press Club. We'll be live blogging to make sure you all get the play-by-play -- which promises to be interesting at the very least if Blankenship's previous speaking engagements are any indicator (we live-blogged at his public debate with Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., in January in Charleston, WV -- check it out here).

As you may know, an explosion April 5 at the Massey’s Upper Big Branch Mine in Montcoal, West Virginia killed 29 miners. It was the deadliest coal mine explosion in the United States in 40 years.

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View Jared Saylor's blog posts
15 July 2010, 7:47 AM
Request for coal ash hearings goes ignored

For once in this coal ash fight, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is doing something early. Unfortunately, what they're doing isn't good.

On June 21, the EPA published their two-option proposal for regulating coal ash. One option sets strong, federally enforceable safeguards for coal ash and will do much to protect public health. The other option keeps the status quo of ineffective state regulations that put the public and our environment at dangerous risk. When the EPA published these options, it said, "EPA will provide an opportunity for a public hearing on the rule upon request. Requests for a public meeting should be submitted to EPA's Office of Resource Conservation and Recovery by July 21, 2010." I added that emphasis on July 21, because that's important.

So today, July 15, six days before the deadline to request public hearings, the EPA published the location of its public hearings. We and hundreds of other groups requested public hearings in Washington, D.C., Chicago, Tennessee (the site of the biggest coal ash disaster in history), Pittsburgh (where nearby drinking water supplies are poisoned with coal ash), Texas (which is one of the biggest coal ash producers in the country) and Atlanta (a city with a strong commitment to environmental justice; many coal ash dumps and landfills are located in low income areas and communities of color).

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View Liz Judge's blog posts
18 June 2010, 9:41 AM
Fast-track approach to mountain destruction is suspended
Kayford Mountain in West Virginia - photo by Vivian Stockman, courtesy of Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition

Yesterday the Army Corps of Engineers announced that it is suspending the use of nationwide permits for mountaintop removal coal mining.

Under U.S. law, companies who wish to engage in mountaintop removal mining—this is, to use explosives to blow off the top of mountains to get to the coal underneath, and then dispose of the rubble in streams and waterways—need to get a permit from the Army Corps of Engineers to do so. This permit is actually a Clean Water Act permit, and the granting of it holds that a company is abiding by the Clean Water Act, the cornerstone of water protection in the United States, and is following its requirements when it dumps its mining waste in the valley streams and waterways.

In 1982, the Army Corps of engineers established a nationwide permit (NWA Permit 21) for mountaintop removal mining operations, most of which are in Appalachia. This was a generalized, fast-track process that waived the Clean Water Act permit application for companies and automatically granted them permits. Instead of applying and going through a normal permitting process that assesses each company's impact on the waterways and streams, this Corps permit acted as a blind rubber stamp, outright allowing companies to engage in mountaintop-removal mining without proving that Clean Water Act requirements will indeed be met.

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View Jared Saylor's blog posts
21 April 2010, 11:24 AM
New bill is a compromise from earlier versions, but a good start

It's raining here in Washington DC, but there's no way this gray day is going to put a damper on my spirits. We got some great news from the House of Representatives this morning, announcing important clean water legislation has finally been intrdouced!

Here's the gist: the U.S. Supreme Court made some supremely bad decisions over the last few years that essentially call into question whether up to 60 percent of our rivers, lakes, streams, wetlands and coastal areas are protected by the Clean Water Act.

The word in question is "navigable." And for the last few years, government agencies have been exempting clean water protections for streams that feed communities with drinking waters, rivers where fishers wade, lakes for boating and swimming holes for summer fun. This means polluters can dump pollution into waters where we drink, fish, swim and play.

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