Posts tagged: coal

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.

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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 Sam Edmondson's blog posts
03 May 2011, 6:38 AM
Clean Air Ambassadors share inspiring stories, speak truth to power

The Clean Air Ambassadors who arrived yesterday in Washington, D.C. have some amazing stories to tell, and I spent the better part of yesterday hearing them. Alexandra Allred from Midlothian, TX described a day she spent outside with her son Tommy—a day when he didn’t suffer his usual respiratory issues and could play carefree, like a kid again. “I had my son back,” she told me.

William Anderson, an ambassador from Nevada and Chairman of the Moapa Band of Paiutes, described the coal fly ash that shrouds his community in a haze of toxic dust, choking local residents and concealing the nearby mountains behind a curtain of miasmal fog.

Kimberly Hill of Detroit, MI told me about residents who live near the Marathon oil refinery, which is expanding to refine tar sands crude oil from Canada—one of the dirtiest fossil fuels on earth. Tucked under a toxic blanket, these residents suffer from respiratory disease and unusual forms of cancer.

The ambassadors’ stories spring from pollution, disease, loss of loved ones and other unsavory challenges that life presents. But more importantly, their stories are charged with hope, perseverance and bravery. Many of the ambassadors arrived to tell their tales having never set foot in Washington, D.C., that inner circle of government life where power concentrates imposingly, and too often to the exclusion of the very people whose votes put the powerful in office. To walk in those halls and sit in those offices to tell Very Important People how vital clean air is to one’s community is an act of bravery by which I am awed and humbled.

View Brian Smith's blog posts
29 April 2011, 2:59 PM
Deal signed by governor today

At a formal ceremony in Centralia, Washington, today, Gov. Chris Gregoire signed legislation which will phase-out the massive 1,400 megawatt TransAlta plant between 2020 and 2025.

Under the agreement, Canadian-based TransAlta, will provide $30 million to be invested in direct economic development and energy efficiency in the Centralia community, and an additional $25 million to be invested in clean energy technology development in Washington.

TransAlta has also agreed to install additional controls at the plant to reduce haze pollution in regional national parks and wilderness areas while it is working toward shutting down the coal-burning units.

Earthjustice’s Clean Air Act and Clean Water Act legal work was an integral part of the campaign to help bring TransAlta to the negotiating table.

View Lisa Evans's blog posts
27 April 2011, 1:29 PM
Coal ash rule: MIA or POW?

News that the EPA may delay the coal ash rule until the end of 2012 or even 2013 will come as a bitter disappointment to communities across the United States. Many had faith in Administrator Jackson’s promise that this Administration would finally issue effective controls on toxic ash disposal in 2010.

The regulation of coal ash is already 30 years overdue. In 1976, Congress was cognizant of the threat to health, environment and drinking water from toxic waste, and it mandated that EPA regulate the disposal of both solid and hazardous wastes. In the years that followed, EPA proceeded to regulate hundreds of dangerous waste streams. Nevertheless, powerful interests have kept the regulation of coal ash at bay. In doing so, however, the electric utility industry has created monsters they cannot control—as seen in the release of over a billion gallons of toxic sludge from just one of hundreds of impoundments hanging above communities across the nation.

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View Jared Saylor's blog posts
12 April 2011, 8:39 AM
Their message: delays on coal ash regulations are simply unacceptable!
Tennessee coal ash spill 2008. Photo courtesy United Mountain Defense.

Members of Congress are going to hear from coal ash activists this week. But it’s going to be more than just phone calls and emails; 45 citizens from nine states are flying to Washington D.C.  to tell their coal ash stories to elected representatives and administration officials.

It’s been nearly a year since the Environmental Protection Agency proposed the nation’s first federal standard for coal ash ponds and dumps. Their two-option plan would either regulate coal ash as a hazardous waste, ensuring strong protections and monitoring requirements, or regulate it as non-hazardous waste, leaving discretion up to the states and endangering the drinking water supplies for thousands of communities near these toxic dumps.

View Sam Edmondson's blog posts
08 April 2011, 3:09 PM
Affordable, effective technology exists to make our air safer to breathe

When the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency proposed last month to clean up the toxic air emissions of coal-fired power plants, it wasn't a surprise. The date actually had been set for about a year, thanks to a court-ordered deadline won by Earthjustice and other groups. And for years prior to that deadline, a back-and-forth legal battle raged between a coalition of environmental and public health organizations—with Earthjustice in a leading role—and the coal-fired power industry's lobbyists and political cronies.

In fact, the effort to clean up power plants' emissions of mercury, arsenic and other toxics could legally drink a beer if it were a person. The seed of that effort was planted by Congress 21 years ago in amendments to the Clean Air Act.

So, don't believe the protestations from some sectors of the power industry that they can't possibly comply with these important health protections in time. These health protections have been coming to town for many, many years and would've arrived much sooner had the intransigence of industry not delayed them time and again.

View Liz Judge's blog posts
08 April 2011, 1:22 PM
Tell Mr. Boehner and his House majority: "Hell No You Can't!"
House Speaker John Boehner

[Update: Amid hurried negotiations late Friday to avoid a government shutdown, House sources indicated that a possible deal has been reached to prevent weakening the government's regulation of mountaintop removal mining and climate change emissions. The uncertainty of this deal makes it all the more important for citizens to contact the White House and their congressional representatives to demand hands off of the Environmental Protection Agency.]

We've all seen the reports that say what is carrying our federal government quickly toward a total shutdown is not a difference over spending cuts but rather some costly ugly ideological demands by House leadership. First, we heard they were demanding blocks on clean air protections, and now we are hearing that a rider making mountaintop removal mining easier may be at the center of this political bargain.

If this is true, House leadership has managed to sink to an even lower level, by trying to use the innocent people, mountains and waters of Appalachia as their political bargaining chip -- just so the leadership can tell an extreme faction of the party that they secured a political "win."

Using this budget negotiations process as a way to help coal companies blow up mountains and dump their toxic waste into Appalachian streams and water supplies is an abomination. The White House and the Senate must not even consider sacrificing the people of Appalachia and their mountains and waterways for this political deal.

View Emily Greenlee's blog posts
05 April 2011, 3:17 PM
Coal ash dumps are mostly in low-income communities
Coal ash landfill in Tennessee

From South Carolina to Alabama and all across the country, coal ash—which can leach dangerous toxic chemicals like arsenic, lead, cadmium, mercury, and selenium into groundwater—is often stockpiled in low-income communities.

Coal ash presents risks of both catastrophic spills, like the 2008 TVA coal ash disaster, and more common dangers, like pollution of groundwater used for human consumption. Poor ash disposal practices can cause cancer, neurological damage and other ailments in people unfortunate enough to live near impoundments or unlined landfills.

Who are the unlucky Americans facing the threat of coal ash in their communities?

View Jared Saylor's blog posts
04 April 2011, 8:07 AM
ABC News tells how "Making Money Having Fun" destroyed Oklahoma town
Suella Hudson and her daughter (in picture) both died of cancer. Photo courtesy of Carlan Tapp.

Last week, coal ash coverage went national with a fine segment on ABC World News that told the story of residents in Bokoshe, OK, a small town with a very big coal ash problem. Only 450 folks live in Bokoshe, but as reporter Jim Sciutto discovered, many of them either have cancer or know someone who does.

One of the residents of Bokoshe  who was featured in the ABC story was kind enough to take a few moments to tell unEarthed about her experiences living near this toxic coal ash dump. As I wrote last week, the dump owner, a company called “Making Money Having Fun” is dumping nearly 80 truckloads of coal ash into an open pit every day. Bokoshe resident Susan Holmes—who lost both her sister and her mom to cancer—had this to say:

I applaud ABC News for taking the time to report our story here in Bokoshe. Small rural towns across the nation are considered inconsequential. We have become throwaway towns with throwaway people. The one comment made during our interviews that was not in the televised segment was that this is happening to small towns all over America, and our story is not unique. We were just blessed they chose us to interview.

At 81 years old, my mom insisted I contact ABC. I first wrote ABC over two years ago asking for an investigation. Did they come because of me? Probably not; it takes bigger and more important people to ask for them to get involved. I am just glad they listened. Those of us in Bokoshe are not stopping. We have a new pit that opened 5 miles west of town. For those that don’t know, my sister died of lung cancer in 2004 and my mom died of cancer New Year's Day this year. She knew before she died ABC News was coming. She just didn’t get to stay long enough to see it.

View Terry Winckler's blog posts
31 March 2011, 11:56 AM
Judge rules against fed's approach to Sunflower coal-fired power plant
Courtesy redgreenandblue.org

After four years of trying, Big Coal’s national ambitions have again bogged down at the Kansas state line. 

A federal judge this week agreed with Earthjustice that the federal government failed to consider  environmental impacts of the proposed Sunflower plant expansion. The government has a financial stake in the plant because of loan arrangements made with plant owners by the federal Rural Utilities Service. The ruling could force the government to conduct an environmental impact review process on the proposed plant.
 
This is great news for clean energy advocates, because – at least for the time being – the ruling takes Sunflower’s future out of the hands of state politicians and their industry pals, who used backroom tactics to approve this polluting and unneeded behemoth.

View Chris Jordan-Bloch's blog posts
29 March 2011, 2:06 PM
The Fisk Power Plant in Chicago is the focus of a local political battle
The Fisk Power Plant in Chicago : Photo by swanksalot/flickr

When combined, the Fisk and Crawford coal-fired power plants are the largest source of pollution in Chicago, and local residents have been fighting for years for stronger health controls from these plants.

Recently, activists with the Pilsen Environmental Rights and Reform Organization (PERRO)made a huge step forward when they convinced a local politician to support stronger regulations on the plant. After nine months of constant pressure from the group, Alderman Daniel Solis decided to switch from backing coal to supporting Chicago's new Clean Power Ordinance. The law would regulate particulate and carbon dioxide emissions from all coal-fired power plants operating in Chicago. WGN TV in Chicago interviewed activists, politicians and power plant officials to produce this report on how the Fisk Power station is affecting both reisdent's health and an upcoming election.

Our kudos to PERRO for their pressure on Alderman Solis. Keep up the great work in the fight for the Right to Breathe.