Posts tagged: coal ash

unEARTHED. The Earthjustice Blog

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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.


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
02 February 2012, 10:03 AM
Taxpayers took a bath with Kansas plant

While much has been made of the $535 million loan guarantee made to the failed Solyndra Corporation in 2009 to encourage alternative energy, you may have missed the court decision this week, halting expansion plans for a Kansas coal plant facing similar problems.

The ruling underscores how deadbeat coal plants can be even more costly for taxpayers.

Back in 1980, Sunflower Generation Corporation in Kansas received $543 million in federal loans and loan guarantees (taxpayer money). Like Solyndra, they were not able to pay that money back. So they arranged deals with the federal government to “restructure” the loans, multiple times. Sunflower was unable to repay taxpayers due to financial strain related to over-built Holcomb I, the existing coal plant Sunflower owns.

Sunflower now charges ahead with plans for an even bigger facility. The proposed multi-billion dollar, 895-megawatt coal-fired power plant expansion is designed to serve the western grid through a deal with Colorado-based Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association. Kansas gets the pollution, Colorado gets most of the power.

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View Brian Smith's blog posts
26 January 2012, 1:37 PM
The Economist magazine sees a trend

When an environmental organization tells you the age of coal is over, it’s fair to dismiss that as mere wishful thinking.

But when an international economic magazine says the same thing, people sit up and pay attention.

While the cradle-to-grave impacts of coal are well documented, the fact remains that coal still provides 45 percent of the nation’s power. But coal's dominance is decreasing as new sources of power come online and energy efficiency improves.

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View Raviya Ismail's blog posts
13 January 2012, 8:53 AM
EPA’s promise to close ponds obviously going nowhere
Aerial image of the TVA spill. (TVA)

Last month we marked three years since the Tennessee Valley Authority Kingston coal ash spill, underscoring the fact that the EPA has yet to regulate toxic coal ash waste.

Now we have even more reason to be concerned.

According to analysis by the Environmental Integrity Project, the most recent U.S. Toxic Release Inventory indicates that coal ash disposal into these big ponds was much higher in 2010 than it’s been since 2007. Shortly after the Dec. 23, 2008 spill, the EPA pledged it would take this toxic menace seriously, yet the agency has still not published a final rule addressing the waste.

View Liz Judge's blog posts
06 January 2012, 4:16 AM
The no-brainer decisions the president must make this year

President Obama won the White House on a platform of hope and change – promising an end to dirty corporate influence over our political system and a beginning to an era in which our energy choices lead us to a clean, sustainable future, or at least don’t kill us or make us sick.

So far, the president’s performance has been mixed – with some deliveries on the promise and some disappointments. His last year, whether in office or in his first term, will be crucial in righting his spotty record and making good on his campaign promises to the American people.

Leading up to his fourth year in office, and making sure the new year got off to a good start with supporters, he handed the country a solid. His EPA, led by Administrator Lisa Jackson, finalized a strong rule to protect Americans from mercury poisoning and toxic air pollution from power plants.

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View Raviya Ismail's blog posts
22 December 2011, 2:21 PM
Three-year anniversary of TVA coal ash spill and no regulation in sight
Tennessee coal ash spill three years ago

So much has happened since that terrible day three years ago when more than 1 billion gallons of toxic coal ash sludge burst through a dam at the Tennessee Valley Authority’s Kingston Fossil Plant in Harriman, about 150 miles from Nashville.

For starters, the Environmental Protection Agency, which had promised to move swiftly to protect the public from future coal ash disasters soon after the TVA spill, has still not finalized a national rule.  In the absence of EPA action, more contamination has been uncovered at 19 new sites and additional disasters have occurred, such as the October 31, 2011 25,000-ton coal ash spill in Oak Creek, Wisconsin, where a bluff collapsed sending coal ash and debris from We Energies Oak Creek Power Plant into Lake Michigan.

View Trip Van Noppen's blog posts
12 December 2011, 12:06 PM
First-time rules for coal-power toxics are due Friday
How tough will President Obama be on coal plant pollution?

This Friday, the Obama administration has the historic opportunity to rein in a coal industry that has been allowed to pour toxic emissions like mercury, benzene and arsenic into our lives without limit.

There’s little question that the administration will set limits – the law requires it and the courts have ordered it. The question, and the opportunity facing Obama, is how strong those limits will be.

For more than two decades, the powerful coal industry has dodged stricter pollution limits while countless other industries have cleaned up their acts. They have operated without national restraints on the amount of mercury and other toxic air pollution released from power plant smokestacks. The court order ending this free pass is the result of relentless Earthjustice litigation.

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View Raviya Ismail's blog posts
07 December 2011, 12:59 PM
States bad on coal ash oversight also have dirty air
Coal ash landfill

Looks like that murky glass of water shouldn’t be your only concern.  Several states weak on coal ash disposal also have another dubious claim: many are the worst offenders of air pollution.
In August, we released a report detailing the lack of state-based regulations for coal ash disposal and the 12 worst states when it comes to coal ash dumping.

View Jessica Knoblauch's blog posts
02 December 2011, 12:40 PM
Turtle bones get brittle, fat rat dilemma
The supposedly "green" Bank of America has been lending billions to the coal industry. Photo courtesy of Alex E. Proimos.

Report finds allegedly “green” banks finance dirty coal
A recent investigation by a group of non-governmental organizations found that a number of supposedly “green” banks fall into the top 20 institutions to finance coal-mining and coal-fired energy generation, reports the UK Guardian. Taking the first three places is JP Morgan Chase, Citigroup and Bank of America, which together have provided at least $42 billion to the coal sector since 2005. Since coal is one of the dirtiest and most carbon-intensive energy sources out there, it’s fair to say that the new report puts the banks’ supposedly green credentials into question. No matter how many wind and solar projects they highlight in the public eye, at the end of the day lending money to an industry that’s literally burning up humanity's chances to avoid catastrophic climate change is neither a green nor smart investment choice.

PCBs stunt turtle bone growth
PCBs, those long-forgotten but deadly chemicals that were banned by the U.S. in 1979, are causing stunted growth and low bone-density in turtles, reports Discovery News. The chemicals, once used in pesticides and industrial fluids, have been linked to slower growth rates, tumors in mink jaws and deformed heads in zebrafish in previous studies. But a new study, that exposed diamondback terrapin turtle eggs to a PCB dose that's equivalent to what they would encounter in the environment, stunted the turtles growth and left their bones weak. Though the results are preliminary, the study may have implications for humans since our bones grow similarly to turtles and since we too are exposed to low amounts of lingering PCBs. Said Don Tillitt, an environmental toxicologist, “When we see effects like this, we know there are things that are maybe more insidious. It's a good reminder that we have to be on guard."

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View Raviya Ismail's blog posts
23 November 2011, 11:37 AM
To all those clean water champions out there!
Rep. Edward Markey (D-MA) opposed H.R. 2273, calling it a "green-light pass for utility companies to dispose of their waste without regard to public health or the environment."

It’s been a hard year for those of us who dream of our drinking water being free from coal ash contamination.  We waited for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to release standards for regulating toxic coal ash and were dismayed to find out they would be delayed until the end of 2012 or even 2013. Then in October, the House of Representatives passed a bill that allows for coal ash to keep polluting our drinking water. That same month a 50-year-old coal ash fill in Wisconsin collapsed, sending toxic waste directly into Lake Michigan.

And if all of that wasn’t enough, the Senate has an identical companion bill, S. 1751, that they will be voting on imminently.

But despite all this, we are grateful.

View Jessica Knoblauch's blog posts
18 November 2011, 3:17 PM
Fake farmers, BPA thanks, flooding NYC
The CIA has a secret about climate change. Photo courtesy of AJC1.

CIA shouldn’t be keeping secrets about climate change
A new report by a U.S. government agency known as the Defense Science Board says that the CIA needs to stop being so secret about its climate change research, reports the UK Guardian. Though climate denialism in government seems to be all the rage these days, the CIA has seen the invisible ink on the wall -- that climate change is happening -- and has decided to start preparing for it. Enter the CIA’s Climate Center, established in 2009 to gather intelligence on climate change and its potential national security implications. Unfortunately, in typical CIA fashion, the agency has so far refused to disclose its valuable data to the public or even other government agencies, which could go a long way in preparing the nation for the inevitable destabilization that will occur in around the world as sea levels rise and fresh water resources dry up.

Fake “farmers” abound at local farmers’ markets
The next time you visit your local farmers’ market you may want to keep an eye out for unscrupulous vendors masquerading as local farmers, reports E: The Environmental Magazine. As the popularity of farmers’ has surged, so have the number of markets, from less than 2,0000 in 1994 to more than 7,000 in 2011. Though greater access to farmers’ markets is a good thing, the increased access has also left the door wide open to non-local, corporate vendors looking to cash in on the typically higher priced goods. In response to these fakers, some markets have begun adopting strict regulations to ensure that their farmers are the real deal. Before paying $2 for a local, organic Red Delicious apple, shoppers should look into the screening practices of their own farmers’ markets to find out whether they’re getting the real deal.