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.

ABOUT EARTHJUSTICE'S 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.

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View Ben Barron's blog posts
13 July 2011, 12:23 PM
Fracking invades rainforest havens of birds and natives who mimic them

Anyone who has seen the “Planet Earth” episode on jungles has witnessed the colorful plumes and remarkable displays of the Birds of Paradise.

But when you’re hiking (read: struggling) through the dense growth of Papua New Guinea’s rainforest, one of the world’s largest at over 100,000 square miles and home to 38 of the 43 Bird of Paradise species, it’s pretty difficult to catch a glimpse these magnificent birds.

You can’t help but hear them, though. Jungle life has a soundtrack, and the BOPs are the lead singers.

However, a new voice is about to join the New Guinea chorus, threatening to drown out the unique birds.

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View Liz Judge's blog posts
12 July 2011, 3:52 PM
Study links birth defects to MTR, but coal industry lawyers blame inbreeding

A major new scientific study shows significantly higher rates of birth defects in areas of heavy mountaintop removal mining, even after controlling for a range of other contributing factors. The study found that living near a mountaintop removal site poses a much greater risk to unborn babies than smoking during pregnancy. More than double the risk!

Says the study: "For babies born specifically with defects of the circulatory or respiratory system, smoking increased risk by 17 percent, and living in a mountaintop mining area increased risk by 181 percent. Living in a mountaintop mining area was a bigger risk for birth defects than smoking."

At this point, there have been numerous scientific studies on the environmental destruction caused by mountaintop removal mining. Mountains are torn down and destroyed, biodiverse forests are cut down and cleared out, streams are obliterated, waters across Appalachia are contaminated, and drinking water supplies are poisoned. But even more upsetting than the barren moonscapes is the fact that the people are being poisoned.

View Jessica Knoblauch's blog posts
08 July 2011, 10:08 AM
Killer candles, revenge of the nerds, France fracking halt
Michelle Bachman has some crazy ideas about the environment. Photo courtesy of Markn3tel.

Michelle Bachman drills down to solve the energy crisis
As the Republican contenders for the 2012 election begin to emerge, a old theme among the crew is arising deep from within the ashes of the failed McCain-Palin 2008 presidential run: Drill, baby, drill. The most recent aspiring president, Michelle Bachman, recently said that energy can be the “most easy problem for America to solve” by, you guessed it, digging for more fossil fuels, reports Grist. Unfortunately, the Republican rhetoric, as nice and easy as it may sound, relies heavily on ignoring all of the environmental and health problems that come with the practices involved in this age of extreme energy, such blowing up mountains and shoving millions of gallons of chemically treated water into rock formations.

Unfortunately for those of us stuck in the real world, this overly simplistic solution to the current energy crisis is just par for the course in Bachman’s world. According to recent news reports, Bachman has been busy spreading lies like the idea that high-speed rail from Disneyland to Las Vegas is just a ploy to get little kids hooked on gambling and that EPA is a murderous villain that’s attacking “helpless” corporations. Those kinds of allegations are akin to environmentalists calling Bachman a deranged serial killer—a serious allegation that has bite but is nonetheless inaccurate. Good thing she already beat everyone to the punch by accidently comparing herself to John Wayne Gacy

Scented candles may burn users with dangerous toxins
Filling a room with an array of scented candles may no longer be a harmless option for Romeos looking to make their Juliets swoon, reports the UK’s Daily Mail. A recent study found that burning scented candles in a poorly ventilated room may release air pollution toxic enough to raise the risk of asthma, eczema and skin complaints. Though stuffing candle wax with synthetic fragrances is harmful enough, the wicks themselves are also a concern. When burned, they release soot particles that can travel deep into the lungs and aggravate respiratory illness. To avoid getting burned, experts suggest using beeswax or soy-based candles with thin, braided wicks. Or, skip the candles and buy her fair trade, locally grown, organic, vegan chocolates. Everybody wins! 

View Liz Judge's blog posts
06 July 2011, 9:03 AM
House comes out swinging in its newly revealed 2012 spending bill

The 112th Session of the House of Representatives is at it again, doing what they do best: writing legislation to strike and block the clean air and clean water laws that keep us alive and healthy.

This morning, the House majority released its spending bill for the year 2012, and not to disappoint those who wish to live in a world with big corporations enjoying full freedom to foul our air and water without restriction, penalty or accountability, the bill manages to take direct aim at a handful of landmark environmental safeguards and a slew of major public health protections.

Legislating through appropriations is a back-door, manipulative move in its own right. It essentially means that instead of having to muster the votes required to pass new laws or take our current environmental and health safeguards off the books, House leadership is using a spending bill to simply stop and block all funding for these protections. The laws still stand as they are, they just can't be enforced. The way this House sees it, if the agencies can't get the money to enforce our current laws, there's no need to worry about what the laws actually mandate.

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View Jessica Knoblauch's blog posts
01 July 2011, 6:52 AM
Extreme weather, germy pillows, feminine mice
A recent Greenpeace investigation found that dirty energy companies have been financing a prominent climate change denier. Photo courtesy of L.C.Nøttaasen.

Climate change skeptic awash in oily money
A Greenpeace investigation has found that climate change denier Dr. Willie Soon, an astrophysicist at the Harvard-Smithsonian Centre for Astrophysics, has received more than $1 million in payment from major U.S. oil and coal companies over the past decade, reports the Guardian. Though Dr. Soon denies that any group influenced his studies, the fact that every new grant he has received since 2002 has been from oil or coal interests has raised more than a few eyebrows. Kert Davies, a research director at Greenpeace, summed it up well by saying, "A campaign of climate change denial has been waged for over 20 years by big oil and big coal. Scientists like Dr. Soon, who take fossil fuel money and pretend to be independent scientists, are pawns."

So who are some of the benefactors shoving money into the good doctor's coffer? None other than ExxonMobil, the American Petroleum Institute and the Koch brothers. That's right. In addition to doing some behind-the-scenes fundraising for a number of Republicans who sit on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, many of whom have vowed to restrict the reach of the Environmental Protection Agency, the Charles G Koch Foundation gave Soon two grants that ran about $175,000 in 2005/2006 and again in 2010, according to the Guardian. Apparently when it comes to pushing an anti-environmental agenda, the Koch brothers are going all in.

America’s pocketbook weathered by climate change
It’s no doubt that 2011 has been a year of extreme weather (and the year’s barely half over). All of those tornadoes, floods and droughts have taken an emotional toll on all Americans, especially those hardest hit by these events. Not surprisingly, this flood of record bad weather has also take a significant economic toll, reports Time. According to the National Center for Atmospheric Research, extreme weather costs the U.S. about $485 billion per year, which adds up to almost 4 percent of the country’s GDP. And, as we continue to release more carbon emissions into the atmosphere, the weather will only get worse and the cost to repair more steep. As the author notes, “If a broken planet isn't enough to mobilize us, a flat-broke country ought to be.” Find out how Earthjustice is encouraging the use of the cleanest, cheapest and most available source of energy to help weather this inevitable storm.

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View Raviya Ismail's blog posts
29 June 2011, 10:46 AM
From Kentucky to Tennessee and West Virginia...
Massive clean-up operations in the aftermath of the 2008 Kingston coal ash spill. (TVA)

A round-up of coal ash in headlines this week:

As we wait for the mark-up to begin on Rep. David McKinley’s (R-WV) legislation that would strip the Environmental Protection Agency from using its authority to protect people from toxic coal ash waste, one group is mad as heck at the congressman’s effort to block these health safeguards. Activists – more than a dozen in all – picketed last week in front of Rep. McKinley’s office in Morgantown, W. Va. The protestors also sent a letter demanding the congressman withdraw the bill in question.

View Ted Zukoski's blog posts
22 June 2011, 2:49 PM
Brilliant mid-summer flowers in the Rockies waning due to climate change
Hummingbird at larkspur. David Inouye photo.

One of the great joys of living in the Rockies is taking a summer stroll in a high meadow, surrounded by wildflowers - violet lupines, deep red skyrockets, purple larkspur, penstemons, 6-foot gentians, and many others.

Some of these diplays may be changing, however, according to a scientific article written up recently in the LA Times.  The study shows that the previous "peak" of flowers in the mid-summer is being stretched out.  As the biology geeks put it in the article:

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View Lisa Evans's blog posts
22 June 2011, 8:38 AM
House bill would prevent federal regulation of coal ash
Rep. David McKinley

Tomorrow morning, the House Energy and Commerce Committee will vote on a bill to eviscerate the Environmental Protection Agency’s authority to regulate coal ash, introduced by Rep. David McKinley (WV-R).  To quote Jeff Goodell of Rolling Stone, this is not just a fight about coal ash,  “it's about demonizing the EPA, stalling the clean energy revolution, and putting corporate profits above public health and a sustainable planet.”  Goodell used these words in a recent editorial, referring to the latest corporate nonsense from AEP, the power company that decried its “premature retirement” of plants over half a century old.  While not directly about coal ash, the shoe fits.   

Goodell also is right that this is all about money. 

View Brian Smith's blog posts
21 June 2011, 1:52 PM
"This is not how government is supposed to work"

Americans are worried about their government. We imagine backroom deals are cut, fates are foretold and the little guy always gets shafted because powerful interests own the cops.

Recent events in Kansas prove these fears can be spot-on.

The Kansas City Star has unearthed emails showing the Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE), the agency responsible for enforcing the federal Clean Air Act, had an “improper relationship” with an air permit applicant.

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View Emily Enderle's blog posts
16 June 2011, 8:50 AM
Congressman’s district is home to largest coal ash pond
Rep. David McKinley

Here we go again.

Some of our elected leaders are once more maneuvering to block much-needed health protections against coal ash. Rep. David McKinley (R-WV) has sponsored a bill that would broadly remove federal authority for any regulation of coal ash ever. This bill, if enacted, also would conveniently protect his business interests. In April, Politico exposed Rep. McKinley’s business interest in ensuring that coal ash is not regulated. Rep McKinley owns the largest engineering firm in West Virginia and his company uses coal ash in concrete, as fill for roads and other uses.