Posts tagged: coal

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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 John McManus's blog posts
30 September 2011, 11:39 AM
Earthjustice asks court to cancel lease of massive coal mine

Earlier this week, Earthjustice attorney Jenny Harbine went to court to argue that the state of Montana was legally required to consider steps to minimize the consequences of burning more than a half-a-billion tons of coal before leasing it to St. Louis-based Arch Coal, Inc. Earthjustice is representing the Montana Environmental Information Center and the Sierra Club in a lawsuit asking the court to cancel the lease so that the state may study options for minimizing or avoiding the environmental consequences of this massive strip mine.

Arch Coal also has leased coal on adjacent private lands, which combined with the state-leased coal, amount to 1.3 billion tons. If developed, the Otter Creek strip mine would be one of the largest coal mines in the country. Arch is making plans to ship at least a portion of this coal to Asia by way of west coast ports. Once burned, the coal will emit billions of tons of CO2 into the atmosphere, not to mention mercury, lead and a host of other nasty byproducts.

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View Liz Judge's blog posts
30 September 2011, 8:46 AM
Here are the videos and statements they don't want you to see
Maria Gunnoe: "When the coal industry destroys Appalachia’s water it’s said to be in the best interest of our homeland security."

“They are blowing up my homeland,” said West Virginia coalfield resident Maria Gunnoe on Monday morning, in her sworn testimony on the impacts of mountaintop removal mining before the House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources.

I feel the vibrations of the core driller in the floors of my home; and the impacts of the blasting near my home are horrendous. This is absolutely against everything that America stands for.

When someone destroys water in a foreign country it is called an act of war. When the coal industry destroys Appalachia’s water it’s said to be in the best interest of our homeland security.

My nephew reminds me of what surface mining looks like from a child’s eyes. As we were driving through our community, he looks up and says, ‘Aunt Sissy, what is wrong with these people? Don’t they know we live down here?’ I had to be honest with him and say, ‘Yes, they know. They just simply don’t care.’

Maria’s powerful and moving testimony was a part of the House Subcommittee’s field hearing in West Virginia entitled “Jobs at Risk: Community Impacts of the Obama Administration’s Effort to Rewrite the Stream Buffer Zone Rule.”

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View Alana Bryant's blog posts
28 September 2011, 7:54 AM
Finger-pointing and blaming ensue among TVA representatives
Coal ash spill

The TVA Kingston trial has gotten off to a interesting, yet unsettling start. The trial consists of five cases, representing 250 plaintiffs who are suing TVA over the 2008 coal ash disaster that occurred in Knoxville, TN.

Testimony began last week, and proceedings are expected to continue anywhere from the next few weeks to the next few months. Representatives from TVA have been the first to testify, and so far it has been laden with blame-passing statements that characterize the disjointed nature of the TVA departments.

The Knoxville News Sentinel reported that TVA Engineer Matthew Williams was responsible for maintaining the groundwater monitoring system at the Kingston plant, but faced difficulties when other TVA crews repeatedly ran over his devices with heavy machinery.

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View Raviya Ismail's blog posts
21 September 2011, 12:28 PM
As TVA trial begins, House members question coal ash rule

As a federal trial on the TVA Kingston coal ash disaster continues in Knoxville, some of our elected leaders in Congress are including the coal ash rule (already delayed due to heavy industry opposition) in a list of rules that will be analyzed - and likely even more delayed.

But more on that later.

The trial is in response to the December 2008 TVA coal ash disaster, which spilled more than 1 billion gallons of toxic coal ash sludge into the Emory River, rupturing a natural gas line, disrupting power and transportation, destroying three homes and forcing the evacuation of a nearby community. Nearly three years later, 230 plaintiffs are suing the TVA over property damage and the ill health effects caused by the spill.

View Raviya Ismail's blog posts
07 September 2011, 12:50 PM
Labadie, Missouri residents challenge new coal ash pond
Labadie, MO, coal-fired power plant

Last month, Missouri had the dubious distinction of being one of the 12 worst states when it comes to coal ash regulations. In a front-page article that has generated a lot of buzz, residents of Labadie, Missouri have justifiably come together to oppose a new 400-acre coal ash landfill at a site where an existing pond has been leaking – for nearly two decades.

In line with our report, the Missouri Department of Natural Resources has not even monitored groundwater contamination at the site, which is precisely the issue with residents – they are fearful that the lead, mercury, arsenic and selenium found in coal ash has made its way into their drinking water. But of course the Missouri DNR has no idea if it has, because it’s not required to keep tabs on whether coal ash has contaminated residents’ drinking water.

See why residents are so fearful of another coal ash pond?

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View Raviya Ismail's blog posts
31 August 2011, 11:26 AM
Joliet residents protest outside congressman’s office
Residents protest outside Illinois Rep. Adam Kinzinger's office..

Illinois has the dubious distinction of being a state with one of the worst coal ash regulatory programs in the nation. But what is more outrageous is that no less than 11 Illinois congressmen are pushing to block the U.S. EPA from cleaning up coal ash in the state. Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-IL) is among them. That’s why when the Prairie Rivers Network and Environmental Integrity Project released a report detailing the risk of coal ash contamination in Illinois,  and in Rep. Kinzinger’s district in particular, more than three dozen Joliet, Illinois residents and members of Mt. Zion Baptist Church protested outside of Rep. Kinzinger’s office. 

Illinois not only was profiled in the EIP/Prairie Rivers Network report, it also was featured in an Earthjustice report that listed the top 12 states with the poorest state coal ash regulations. With 68 operating coal ash ponds and 15 retired ponds that still pose a danger, Illinois ranks first in the nation in the number of coal ash ponds. Only about a third of these ponds are lined.  The ponds threaten the health of Illinois communities because at least 10 power plants with active ponds have “high” to “very high” potential to contaminate a drinking water source, according to a 2010 Illinois EPA assessment.  In fact, the Illinois EPA has found pollution— the same chemicals commonly found in coal ash-- in groundwater at all 22 coal ash ponds evaluated by the state agency.

View Lisa Evans's blog posts
24 August 2011, 8:03 AM
Will it take an earthquake to get someone to inspect these coal ash dams?
Aftermath of coal-ash dam spill in Tennessee

The earthquake that yesterday rattled foundations along the eastern seaboard, shut down a nuclear power plant and cracked the Washington Monument also shook a great many dangerous coal ash dams, similar to the one that failed in Harriman, Tennessee almost three years ago.

Several large ash ponds are located near the epicenter of the quake, about 40 miles northwest of Richmond, including three significant-hazard earthen dams at Dominion’s Bremo Bluff and Chesterfield power stations. By definition, these dams will cause serious economic and/or environmental damage in the event of a break. The decades-old dams impound thousands of acre-feet of toxic waste from the two coal-fired plants. However, no one appears to be paying much attention.

But they should be.

View Trip Van Noppen's blog posts
16 August 2011, 12:05 PM
New poll finds voters of all stripes disapprove of the destructive mining practice

A major new poll released today reveals some shocking truths about public opinions on mountaintop removal mining in Appalachia.

The polling, conducted by the Democratic Lake Research Partners and Republican Bellwether Research & Consulting and funded by Earthjustice, Appalachian Mountain Advocates (formerly the Appalachian Center for the Economy and the Environment), and the Sierra Club was done between July 25 and 28 and sampled the opinions of 1,315 registered voters in Kentucky, West Virginia, Virginia and Tennessee on the practice of mountaintop removal coal mining and clean water protections.

The poll reveals beyond the shadow of a doubt that the people of America’s coal country—West Virginia, Kentucky, Tennessee, and Virginia—don’t like mountaintop removal mining and they don’t want it to continue at the expense of their homes, health, communities, families, and future.

The strong majority of Appalachians opposes mountaintop removal mining—57 percent, compared to 20 percent who support the practice—and this opposition soars no matter the political party. Independents, Democrats, Republicans and Tea Partiers alike have shown intense disapproval of this destructive form of mining. The will of Appalachians is transcendent: people from all education levels, political orientations, and all four states oppose mountaintop removal by strong margins.

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View Trip Van Noppen's blog posts
22 July 2011, 4:05 PM
Hijacking our democracy to attack our environment
Part of The Procession of the Trojan Horse in Troy (1773) by Domenico Tiepolo.

If you've ever suspected that Congress thinks of corporate polluters first and the polluted public last, the debacle unfolding in Washington, D.C. this week should leave you with little doubt—and a bitter taste. Many of our elected leaders have hijacked the process by which we fund government agencies to sack the environment like Odysseus did Troy.

The Trojan Horse that is the federal appropriations bill is filled with an unprecedented number of anti-environmental "riders"—provisions added to a piece of legislation that have little to no connection with the subject of the bill itself. And just as the Greeks sought to extinguish the fires of life in Troy, these riders are meant to run down the bedrock environmental protections that were created to keep our environment clean and our imperiled wildlife safe from extinction.

One egregious effort—dubbed the Extinction Rider—would paralyze the nation's ability to protect hundreds of species and turn the decision-making about endangered wildlife into a one-way street where protections can only be weakened, never strengthened.

This is an absolutely inappropriate way to set new policy. It demeans the democratic process and indicates that such extreme measures can't stand on their own—instead, they have to be slipped as stowaways into a must-pass bill.

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View Jessica Knoblauch's blog posts
15 July 2011, 10:56 AM
Conservative face off, hot climate deniers, big coal’s big misstep
The hunting and fishing crowd is increasingly unhappy with GOP efforts to slash conservation spending. Photo courtesy of eadmund42

Republicans cutting enviro bills shoot themselves in the foot
Republican measures to cut environmental programs that keep the nation’s air and water clean may prove foolish if they continue to ruffle the feathers of outdoorsmen, reports Politico. The angler and hunter crowd may typically swing conservative, but that could change if House Republicans continue their attempts to pull the trigger on a number of programs that keep wildlife intact, such as the North American Wetlands Conservation Act or State Wildlife Grants. Last week, leaders from a handful of conservation organizations like Ducks Unlimited met with top officials to make their case for restoring funding for environmental programs, arguing that the benefits of wildlife conservation go far beyond the duck pond, like cleaning up waterways and providing flood control for coastal communities. Though hunting and fishing types tend to be fiscally conservative, when it comes to slashing conservation programs that diminish the favorite pastimes of a large voting bloc, Republicans better think twice before going in for the kill.