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The devastating TVA Kingston coal ash spill of 2008.

It was standing room only, today, in a stately meeting room in the U.S. Capitol building as Senate staffers and a group of citizens gathered for a briefing about the hazards of toxic coal ash waste. Earthjustice and the Sierra Club organized the briefing in an effort to educate elected officials and their staff on the importance of keeping off the Senate floor any legislation that would prevent the EPA from regulating this toxic waste.

Wind turbines in a Kansas wheat field.

The Kansas Department of Health and Environment has given Sunflower Electric the green light to build a massive, dirty coal fired power plant. Just last year, the Kansas Supreme Court found the permit for this plant to be illegal because it failed to meet the most basic protections for clean air. Despite that ruling, KDHE recently reissued the permit virtually unchanged, once again failing to protect the citizens of Kansas from harmful air pollution. 

The U.S. Supreme Court.

For the third time since 2007, the U.S. Supreme Court has confirmed that the Environmental Protection Agency has the authority under the Clean Air Act to limit carbon pollution that is contributing to climate change.

In announcing the court's opinion Monday, Justice Antonin Scalia said, “It bears mention that EPA is getting almost everything it wanted in this case.”

Navajo Generating Station in Page, AZ. (Ecoflight)

We expected strong opposition to the Environmental Protection Agency's proposal for slashing emissions from the nation’s dirty power plants—the biggest contributors to climate change. But two weeks after the Obama administration rolled out its plan, the strongest reaction, so far, is from America’s people.

Trains carrying coal.

On Monday, the Board of Harbor Commissioners for the Port of Long Beach approved two agreements that locked in exports of coal and petroleum coke for the next 15 years.

Petcoke is a coal byproduct so dirty that the Environmental Protection Agency banned future permits for its use in the U.S. While disallowed here, petcoke is viewed in other countries as a cheap fuel, and these countries will buy it from American companies like Oxbow Corporation, founded and headed up by William Koch.

Today, because of unrelenting pressure from so many people who have demanded action on climate change, the Obama administration proposed the nation’s first-ever carbon pollution limits on existing power plants—the single biggest source of climate pollution.

Just getting this rule proposed has taken years of effort, and we are thankful for all of our supporters who sent messages urging our public officials to address climate change

Carbon limits for power plants are vitally important for a few key reasons:

It’s only been a few months since the chemical company Freedom Industries spilled an estimated 10,000 gallons of a coal chemical into the Elk River, contaminating the water supply for 300,000 West Virginians. Yet, it seems that a handful of Freedom’s executives are already getting a fresh start with a new chemical company that’s strikingly similar to the original.

The toxic coal ash turned the Dan River gray for 20 miles east of the North Carolina border.

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.

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About the Earthjustice Blog

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. Learn more about Earthjustice.