Posts tagged: coal ash

unEARTHED. The Earthjustice Blog

coal ash


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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 Brian Smith's blog posts
18 May 2010, 10:04 AM
Otter Creek Mine may serve growing economies of Asia
Coal mining operation in the Powder River Basin. Photo: BLM

Late last week, Earthjustice filed a lawsuit against the State of Montana over the state's decision to lease 572 million tons of coal for strip mining at Otter Creek without examining the environmental impacts of the decision. The decision was supported by Democratic Governor Brian Schweitzer, who has been dubbed the "Coal Cowboy" by the national media.

The lease was awarded to St. Louis-based Arch Coal, the nation's second largest coal producer. Including the coal it acquired from the state, Arch Coal has amassed leases for at least 1.3 billion tons of coal in the area, which will make the proposed Otter Creek mine one of the largest strip mines in North America.

Even while our nation's leaders are claiming the need to achieve "energy independence," Arch Coal says that Otter Creek coal would be mined to serve the growing demand in Asian countries.

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View Jared Saylor's blog posts
04 May 2010, 1:38 PM
Agency offers two plans: one good, one bad
Cleaning up after the TVA coal ash spill in Tennessee, December 2008. Photo: http://www.tva.gov

It's been a long time coming, but they're finally here: the EPA announced today plans to set the first ever federal safeguards for coal ash, one of America's most dangerous wastes. But what they really did was announce two plans: one good and one bad. The agency will accept public comment on both plans and then decide which to pursue.

The good plan classifies coal ash as hazardous waste, a move we've been pushing the EPA to make for some time. The agency also proposed, however, to classify coal ash as non-hazardous (the bad plan), a move that will not yield strong protections for communities and won't get at the problems associated with coal ash ponds and landfills.

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View Liz Judge's blog posts
29 April 2010, 12:24 PM
And more evidence of climate change, & learning things the hard way

Einstein defined insanity as doing the same thing over again and expecting different results. Einstein, who had a particular knack for coming up with enduring and timeless ideas, may find application in our country's energy landscape today.

Looking out yonder, we see a devastating oil spill and possibly one of the worst and most costly ecological disasters in our country's history, mountains being destroyed by explosives and the resulting toxic sludge getting dumped into our waterways, communities and people being poisoned by coal ash and coal waste, and carbon pollution exacerbating heat waves, warming our oceans, and increasing ocean acidity until building blocks of our underwater life are killed off—and these are just some of the things we are seeing here in the U.S.

Looking beyond the U.S., we see unfriendly regimes getting stronger and richer from our reliance on foreign oil, we see China boosting its share of the renewables market in its quest for global economic leadership and to meet its growing thirst for energy.

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View Jared Saylor's blog posts
15 April 2010, 1:13 PM
239 public interest groups urge Pres. Obama to regulate coal ash

When the EPA said on its website that April was going to be the month when we'd see the first ever federal coal ash regulations, environmental groups were in support. Sure, it would be four months later than what the EPA originally promised when a billion gallons of coal ash spilled across 300 acres in Tennessee, but we remained optimistic.

Now the month is half over and still no coal ash regulations. So, we're taking our fight up the ladder.

Today, 239 public interest groups representing all 50 states signed a letter to President Obama, asking him to make coal ash regulations public. This unprecedented display of unified support for strong federal safeguards against coal ash is needed to counter the mistruths and fearmongering spread by the coal and power industries.

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View Raviya Ismail's blog posts
24 February 2010, 1:23 PM
31 new water contamination sites across 14 states
Coal ash spill

During a tele-press conference today discussing a new report on coal ash sites, Charleston Gazette reporter Ken Ward asked environmental advocates whether West Virginia Gov. Joe Manchin was correct in asserting that the U.S. EPA was "jumping to classify coal ash" as a hazardous waste. Earthjustice's Lisa Evans was quick to discredit this assertion.

"That's a patently absurd concept," she stated. Manchin is "ignoring science and ignoring concern for public health."

The EPA has been deliberating for 30 years on the issue of regulating coal ash as a hazardous waste and the evidence is overwhelming and mounting that this substance is a threat to public health.

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View Jared Saylor's blog posts
19 February 2010, 10:58 AM
New EPA website says rules are on the way
EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson.

I know how crazy this sounds: I love spending time reading through arcane government filings in the Federal Register and on Regulations.gov. I'm fascinated by the volume of it all, and like a modern day miner panning for environmental gold, I sometimes unearth a juicy nugget of information. Today is one of those days.

Yesterday, the EPA sent out a press release about a new website they've created for bureaucratic nerds like me: www.epa.gov/rulemaking. This site is a "regulatory gateway," giving all sorts of information about current and pending federal regualtions. So, of course, I start searching various issues we work on: cement kilns (final rule due June 2010), power plants (regulating mercury emissions, proposal due March 2011). But the best nugget came when I searched "coal combustion waste."

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View Molly Woodward's blog posts
29 January 2010, 11:16 AM
Coal industry and park preservation
Bighorn sheep headbutting in Glacier National Park. Photo: USGS

Some top stories from the past week at Earthjustice…

One result of burning coal is lots and lots of toxic coal ash. It's stored in hundreds of ponds across the U.S., and it can flood and devastate entire communities. Yesterday, Earthjustice joined more than 100 environmental groups in a Day of Action, urging the White House to finally call coal ash what it is: hazardous waste.

A heated debate over mountaintop removal coal mining last week drew huge crowds. The competitors: Don Blankenship, CEO of coal giant Massey Energy, and Waterkeeper founder Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. The reporter: Earthjustice Campaigns Director, Jared Saylor. The victor: Decide for yourself!

The same Massey Energy is one of several industry groups asking a federal appeals court to review (aka do away with) the EPA Clean Air Act endangerment finding. In defense of the finding, 16 states and New York City filed a motion last week to intervene in the case.

Glacier National Park is nearly 100 years old, and Monday Reads introduces us to a truly incredible photography project in celebration of its centennial birthday. Right next door on the U.S.-Canadian border lives the Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park, now threatened by mining plans in the nearby Flathead Valley. But there was hopeful news last week: Earthjustice encouraged an investigation that has resulted in a recommendation of a moratorium on mining and a conservation plan for this essential region.

View Jared Saylor's blog posts
28 January 2010, 8:40 AM
Day of Action nets 100+ groups to call, email, fax the White House
TVA coal ash spill, Dec. 2008. Photo: http://jerrygreerphotography.com

Coal ash currently stored in ponds across the U.S. could flow continuosly over Niagara Falls for three days straight. The new Dallas Cowboys stadium couldn't hold all the coal ash in those ponds; in fact, you'd need 263 Dallas Cowboys stadiums to hold it all. We'd need to build 738 Empire State buildings to contain it all. It would take Michael Phelps 8,823,000 seconds, or 16.78 years to swim the Butterfly stroke across the number of Olympic-sized swimming pools needed to contain coal ash: nearly 310,000.

These numbers don't even reflect the amount of coal ash stored in unlined landfills and underground mines. The EPA guesses that amount could be even greater than what's being stored in ponds!

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View Trip Van Noppen's blog posts
21 January 2010, 12:25 PM
Focus is on clean energy, natural heritage, and health

Last year, the U.S. government started taking environmental protection seriously again, but as 2010 dawns, we continue to see political and economic interests preventing or stalling critical environmental solutions.

In the face of this opposition, this year Earthjustice is targeting key issues with our legal and advocacy work. Our focus is on three core priorities: building a clean energy future, protecting our natural heritage, and safeguarding our health.

To avoid global warming's worst impacts, we must build a clean energy future. Reducing demand through efficiency and increasing supply from renewable sources of power are cornerstones of the foundation. But these steps are obstructed by the political stranglehold of the fossil fuel industry. Earthjustice is using the law to help break our national reliance on fossil fuels, which we continue to extract, burn, and subsidize heavily with taxpayer money, despite the destructive impact on people and the planet.

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View Molly Woodward's blog posts
07 January 2010, 4:05 PM
Mountaintop removal, Copenhagen, PATH project, the Tongass

Some top stories from the last two weeks at Earthjustice...

A full blue moon brought us into this new year and decade.  

Perhaps a new year will mean new policy for mountaintop removal mining. Thus far, the Obama Administration has continued to allow companies to destroy mountains, streams, and communities. Could a new article in Science help change its position?

 Many still wonder what exactly happened at the Copenhagen climate conference. Attorneys Martin Wagner and Erika Rosenthal reviewed what went down, the role Earthjustice played in the negotiations, and the way forward for climate progress.

The way forward for the PATH (Potomac-Appalachia Transmission Highline) project was successfully blocked with help from Earthjustice. Turns out the massive Big Coal transmission line simply isn’t needed to the degree its proponents claimed.

 America’s largest temperate rainforest, the majestic Tongass of Alaska, is a resource we do need. Earthjustice filed a lawsuit last week to protect the National Forest under the Roadless Rule. The Bush Administration “temporarily” exempted it back in 2006.

 Dec. 22 marked one year since the Tennessee Valley Authority's Kingston Power Plant flooded 300 acres of shoreline, and more than 25 homes, with toxic coal ash.

 Reflecting on the changing environmental movement, Patti Goldman reviewed some of Earthjustice’s efforts over the past year to help people most impacted by environmental degradation.