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
20 April 2010, 10:30 AM
EPA embraces science and the law in two strong actions

In Appalachia, moving mountains is easy. What's hard is keeping them where they are. Coal companies have used dynamite's muscle to blast hundreds of the earth's oldest summits into neighboring valleys, permanently altering the landscape. But two recent developments are shaking the foundations of mountaintop removal mining, signaling that perhaps, at long last, what's moving is the mountain of science and law that compels the end of this destructive practice.

In late March, the Environmental Protection Agency took dramatic action in proposing to veto a permit issued by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for the Spruce No. 1 mine in West Virginia—one of the largest mountaintop removal projects ever approved—on the grounds that mine operations would violate the Clean Water Act. The action was presaged by an Earthjustice lawsuit filed in 2007 that challenged approval of a Clean Water Act permit for the mine for failing to follow science and the law.

If the EPA does veto the permit, the agency's invocation of the Clean Water Act to curtail operations at the Spruce mine will be an important victory. It could have broader repercussions on mountaintop removal in general. (The agency is currently accepting public comments on the veto proposal. You can take action by telling EPA to follow through with the veto and enforce the Clean Water Act.)

But the good news doesn't end there.

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View Raviya Ismail's blog posts
01 April 2010, 11:57 AM
EPA announces plans to reduce destruction from MTR

Hooray for Appalachia!

Today, EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson announced guidelines to prevent continuing harmful environmental impacts as a result of mountaintop removal mining. This is a second win for environmentalists who cheered EPA's announcement last week to veto an Army Corps of Engineers permit for the Spruce No. 1 mine in West Virginia, the largest mountaintop removal mine ever authorized in Appalachia.

These recent EPA actions come on the basis of scientific studies that have determined that the resulting waste from mountaintop removal mining significantly compromises water quality often causing permanent damage to ecosystems and waterways.

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View Jared Saylor's blog posts
01 March 2010, 3:45 PM
Streams, rivers & lakes are polluted; here's what we can do to stop it.

The New York Times today reported in the next chapter of their exceptional "Toxic Waters" series that:

"Thousands of the nation's largest water polluters are outside the Clean Water Act's reach because the Supreme Court has left uncertain which waterways are protected by that law, according to interviews with regulators.

"As a result, some businesses are declaring that the law no longer applpies to them. And pollution rates are rising."

The saddest part of this legal debacle is that the streams, lakes and rivers losing federal protection also provide drinking water for approximately 117 million (or more than 1 in 3) Americans, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Polluters are free to dump carcinogens, bacteria and even oil directly into our waters with little or no recourse. This all stems from two misguided rulings by the Supreme Court that cast doubt upon what waters should be protected under federal law. Their ruling on "jurisdiction" left thousands of streams, lakes and rivers unprotected; EPA officials estimate that "as many as 45 percent of major polluters might be either outside regulatory reach or in areas where proving jurisdiction is overwhelmingly difficult."

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View Jared Saylor's blog posts
22 January 2010, 4:09 PM
RFK Jr.'s passion for environmental protection carries the day
Photo: Lawrence Pierce, West Virginia Gazette

People began filing into the University of Charleston's auditorium nearly two hours before the debate began. Charleston police, county sheriffs, state troopers and UC police lined the hallways and entrances. There were rumors of activists chaining themselves to trees and coal miners planning a huge rally. Television cameras were stationed along the walls and in nearly every corner of the auditorium.

It was the hottest ticket in town. All 950 seats in the main auditorium sold out in a few days, and an overflow room holding 2,000 more was expected to be fill. The biggest debate of the century was happening: Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship against Waterkeeper founder Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.

The UC dean, Dr. Edwin H. Welch, moderated. He walked onstage 15 minutes before the debate began, telling the audience that "it does not happen very often in our society to have people who disagree so much come to speak together…we're going to try and recapture the art of argument tonight."

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View Molly Woodward's blog posts
21 January 2010, 5:04 PM
Salmon, false killer whales, mercury, water pollution
Scene from the San Francisco Bay Delta

Some top stories from the past week at Earthjustice…

It’s a rainy week here in Oakland, as a storm system bestows California with some much-needed H2O. Our short supply of water has meant trouble for salmon. A new video by Salmon Water Now illuminates startling alliances between big agribusiness and the political interests controlling water and the fate of salmon in the San Francisco Bay Delta.

A wholly different marine creature in peril will get some help at last. The NMFS announced it will take measures to protect false killer whales from the commercial longline fishing industry, following years of Earthjustice litigation. Rarely seen by humans, false killer whales are close relations of dolphins.

Mercury pollution is a big problem for aquatic life (and people who eat fish), and a lot of it comes from medical waste incinerators. In September, the EPA set groundbreaking rules that significantly reduce air pollution from this source, but now these rules are being challenged in court. Earthjustice has intervened in the lawsuit.

And, the toxic green slime clogging Florida’s waterways might finally loosen its hold, thanks to a historic first step by the EPA to limit fertilizer, animal waste and sewage pollution in the state. While the proposed limits aren’t as stringent as they could be, they’re a big improvement.

View David Guest's blog posts
18 November 2009, 11:44 AM
EPA agreement on nutrient runoff has national impacts
Algae slimes Christopher Point Creek

Even though a large group of polluters tried to derail it, Earthjustice won this week a historic settlement—with nationwide implications—that requires the Environmental Protection Agency to set legal limits for the widespread nutrient poisoning that triggers harmful algae blooms in Florida waters.

Our settlement has been a long time coming, and its impact goes far beyond this state's borders. Currently, Florida and most other states have only vague limits regulating nutrients. The EPA will now begin the process of imposing quantifiable—and enforceable—water quality standards to tackle nutrient pollution, using data collected by the Florida DEP.

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View Raviya Ismail's blog posts
12 November 2009, 11:53 AM
Earthjustice steps in to prevent continued devastation of river

It's not enough that Tennessee's Clinch River was devastated by a toxic spill that dumped 1 billion gallons of coal ash into its waters last December. Now the Tennessee Valley Authority wants to systematically pollute the river (which leads to the mighty Tennessee River) to the tune of one million gallons a day of toxic pollutants. We're talking dumping mercury, selenium and other chemicals into a river which the Tennessee Valley Authority is supposed to be protecting. Instead the agency got permission to pollute the river with coal waste from its coal-fired Kingston Fossil Plant.

Earthjustice, Environmental Integrity Project, and the Sierra Club joined together to appeal this Clean Water Act permit, which pleases several local Tennessee residents, who have contended with the TVA's dirty water practices for years.

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View Brian Smith's blog posts
13 October 2009, 4:32 PM
Earthjustice action in New York Times today

Despite the insistence of multi-billion dollar ad campaigns from the coal industry, “clean coal” simply does not exist.

Even when scrubbers are installed to filter air pollution from coal-fired power plants, the mercury, selenium, and other toxic heavy metals released by coal combustion have to go somewhere. Sadly, too much pollution is ending up in America’s rivers and groundwater.

This week, the New York Times’ excellent series "Toxic Waters" takes a look at the dangers of shifting coal pollution from air to water.

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View Terry Winckler's blog posts
30 September 2009, 2:59 PM
Decision triggers environmental scrutiny of 79 mining permits

The Environmental Protection Agency has taken another positive step towards reining in the destructive practice of mountaintop removal mining.

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View Trip Van Noppen's blog posts
17 September 2009, 5:46 PM
Agency puts hold on dozens of mining permits for environmental review

On most environmental matters, the Obama administration scores high marks from us, especially for revitalizing the role of science and respect for the law in the agency's decisions. The shift in ethos from eight years of ruinous Bush policies occurred almost immediately after Obama took office. We have seen dramatic positive changes in how some federal agencies deal with the key issues of climate change and clean energy, roadless protections, clean air, and hazardous waste regulations.

But, until last week, Obama's actions on mountaintop removal mining largely tracked the course set by Bush. As we previously noted  in April we hoped that the EPA was going to put the brakes on 48 mountaintop removal permits. We were taken aback in May when the agency instead let 42 of the permits go ahead without further scrutiny. This was a disheartening setback.

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