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.

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 Jessica Knoblauch's blog posts
25 March 2011, 9:39 AM
Lead gardens, oil-covered lies, hot flash chemicals
Nuclear power has come under scrutiny in recent weeks. Photo courtesy of redjar.

Nuclear power industry experiences public fallout
As the nuclear crisis in Japan worsens, concerns about nuclear power's safety are spreading, prompting news agencies to take a second look at the inherently risky technology. As the Christian Science Monitor recently reported, last year U.S. nuclear plants had at least 14 “near misses” that occurred with “alarming frequency” and jeopardized human safety. In addition, Mother Jones recently created an eye-opening chart that lists the location of nuclear plants across the country and their proximity to nearby cities using data from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. Despite these concerns, many of the world's governments remain largely unphased, except Germany, which has stepped up to the plate by declaring its plans to stop using nuclear power. Sehr gut!

Senator Jeff Bingaman throws gas on oil-drilling lies, lights a match
While many politicians are busy peddling the false claim that the U.S. must drill more to bring down gas prices, last week Sen. Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.) broke with the ranks by declaring that domestic policies like carbon and oil drilling regulations have little to no effect on the price at the pump, reports Grist. That's because oil prices are set on the global market, which is much more affected by things like, say, Middle East unrest. This indisputable fact has led Bingaman to the remarkably frank conclusion that to “ease the burden of high prices for U.S. consumers when oil prices are determined mostly outside our borders...[we need to] become less vulnerable by using less oil.”

View David Lawlor's blog posts
23 March 2011, 10:37 AM
Judge’s decision safeguards drinking water for Pennsylvanians
View of the Monogahela River in Pittsburgh. (Photo by Dave Gingrich)

After 40 years without effective pollution controls, a scrubbing system was recently installed at the Hatfield’s Ferry power plant in Masontown, Penn., limiting the amount of sulfur dioxide and other pollutants the plant pumps into the air. But the plant’s failure to install a scrubbing system for its discharged wastewater means that the dangerous pollutants that formerly fouled the air are now being dumped into the Monongahela River, a drinking water source for more than 350,000 people living south of Pittsburgh.

Earthjustice attorney Abigail Dillen, representing the Environmental Integrity Project and Citizens Coal Council, successfully fended off a legal challenge from plant owner Allegheny Energy, which sought allowance for its facility to continue polluting the river. The company claimed that it was acceptable to foul the river because the scrubber system at Hatfield’s Ferry should be considered an existing source of pollution rather than a “new discharger.” Chief Judge Thomas W. Renwand rejected the company’s argument this week, deciding in favor of our clients. The decision lays the foundation for requiring a wastewater scrubber system and limiting water pollution from the power plant.

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View David Lawlor's blog posts
18 March 2011, 4:35 PM
Earthjustice plays a key role in thwarting the environmentally harmful project
Coal train photo courtesy of Surfrider Foundation

Residents of Longview, Wash., can exhale a sigh of relief today, secure in the knowledge that their health will not be jeopardized by a coal shipping terminal. Australian-based Ambre Energy and its subsidiary Millennium Bulk Logistics announced this week that the companies are withdrawing a permit application to construct a coal export facility in Longview on the shores of the Columbia River. Earthjustice played a leading role in opposing the terminal and informing the public about the environmentally harmful project.

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View Sam Edmondson's blog posts
18 March 2011, 12:01 PM
New York Times blog highlights the costs of uncontrolled air pollution

The New York Times Green blog has a good post today that spells out in no uncertain terms the cost of delaying health standards for coal plants’ toxic air pollution: thousands of preventable deaths.

Earlier this week, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency took the historic action of proposing these long-overdue health standards, which are expected to save as many as 17,000 lives every year. In the Times post, John Bachmann, a former director for science and policy in the EPA’s air quality division is quoted thus: “This could have been done 20 years ago. These delays, as they’ve mounted up, have had a cost in people dying sooner. And it’s not trivial.”

The Times post provides some interesting history, including the failed attempt by the Bush administration to remove coal plants from the list of hazardous air polluters and institute an industry-favored mercury trading program. Coal plants are the nation’s worst emitters of toxic air pollutants such as mercury, acid gases, and arsenic. That they will finally be subject to health protections afforded by the Clean Air Act is a very good thing indeed.

View Ted Zukoski's blog posts
16 March 2011, 1:49 PM
BLM gives Colorado coal mine expansion a second look
Drilling a methane drainage well at the Elk Creek Mine, 2008. Bureau of Land Management photo.

In 2009, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar issued an order taking aim at climate change, saying: "The Department is ... taking the lead in protecting our country's lands and resources from the dramatic effects of climate change....  The realities of climate change require us to change how we manage the land, water, fish and wildlife ... and resources we oversee."  Bold stuff.

Sadly, the Department has done little to apply this directive to coal mining, a huge source of climate-change-inducing greenhouse gases. 

Something like a third of the nation's coal is mined from public lands managed by Ken Salazar's Interior Department.  And all of that coal goes up in smoke, mostly in power plants that spew out a huge chunk of the country's climate-change-causing greenhouse gases. 

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View Jared Saylor's blog posts
16 March 2011, 12:38 PM
Cleaning up the air might actually be good for business

Today’s major announcement from the EPA to cut mercury and other toxic air pollution from hundreds of coal-fired power plants across the country was welcome news here at Earthjustice. For nearly 15 years, we’ve been fighting in the courts for cuts like these so that our communities and our children can breathe a little easier.

Turns out we’re not alone in celebrating. Major power providers Calpine Corporation, Constellation Energy, Exelon Corporation, PG&E Corporation, Public Service Enterprise Group, Inc., and Seattle City Light praised the EPA for it’s decision to regulate toxic pollutants like mercury, lead and arsenic.

“We support the EPA’s efforts to finalize the rule in order to reap the significant public health benefits as indicated by the Agency’s analysis,” the companies wrote in their joint statement. “There ought to be no further delay.”

View Brian Smith's blog posts
16 March 2011, 11:23 AM
Great news on many fronts

Today, the Environmental Protection Agency proposed a new air standard that will finally reduce mercury, arsenic and other toxic air pollutants from power plants.

This is great news for every American who breathes, and I’ve yet to meet one who doesn’t.

This new standard came under a court-ordered deadline thanks to Earthjustice litigation after a Bush administration proposal to deal with the problem failed to meet legal muster.

A part of this story you may not have heard about is how many jobs will be produced in cleaning up mostly older power plants.

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View Lisa Evans's blog posts
14 March 2011, 8:40 AM
From nukes to coal ash: regulators must distinguish fact from fiction
Coal ash flood in Tennessee

“We all have a responsibility to ensure that the American people have facts and the truth in front of them, particularly when fictions are pushed by special interests with an investment in the outcome.”  - EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson in testimony before Congress on March 10 in response to false claims by Republicans and special interest groups concerning the reach and impact of proposed regulations.

Rep. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) railed at a recent Congressional hearing about EPA regulations that treat spilled milk on dairy farms like spilled oil.  The fact that this is plainly false did not stop him from saying it, nor Rep. Morgan Griffith (R- VA) from spreading the lie in a newsletter to his constituents, nor did it deter the Wall Street Journal from publishing the editorial that started the rumor. The fact that dairy industry representatives supported the EPA apparently carried little weight or news value.

Big lies are popular currency on Capital Hill.  Another circulating in Congress is that federal regulation of coal ash will “kill” all beneficial reuse of ash, that the reliability of the electric grid is threatened by a coal ash rule, and that the cost of safely disposing of coal ash is too high for coal-burning power plants or consumers to bear.

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View Jessica Knoblauch's blog posts
04 March 2011, 9:49 AM
LA biking bonanza, radioactive water supplies, Republican foam parties
Walmart recently put the kibosh on allowing flame retardants in any of its products. Photo courtesy of samantha celera.

Walmart blazes trail in banning flame retardants
Fed up with feds dragging their heals on banning a controversial flame retardant, retail giant Walmart recently enacted its own ban, reports the Washington Post. Known as polybrominated diphenyl ethers or PBDEs, this class of chemicals is found in everything from pet supplies to furniture and electronics, and has been linked to liver, thyroid and reproductive problems. Though the Environmental Protection Agency has listed PBDEs as a "chemical of concern," it has yet to ban them. Walmart may not be the greenest of companies, but its latest move is testament that it plans to uphold the second half of its motto, "Save Money. Live Better."

Bike lanes to take over Los Angeles
Spurned by an incident last year where a cab driver's rude behavior caused him to fall off of his bike and break his elbow, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa recently signed legislation to implement a bicycle master plan that calls for the creation of 1,680 miles of interconnected bike lanes, reports Grist. The plan, which will start with the addition of 100 miles of new lanes per year over the next five years, will be funded in part from a half-cent sales tax increase. The move is sure to help green LA's notoriousl image as a city full of bumper-to-bumper traffic and smoggy air.

View David Lawlor's blog posts
03 March 2011, 5:12 AM
Coalition challenges the company's proposed Longview coal terminal

With many older coal-fired power plants going offline in the United States and construction of new plants significantly slowed, Australian-based Ambre Energy has a new game plan: send U.S. coal to China.

The company has proposed building a shipping terminal in Longview, Wash., which would be the first West Coast port to transport coal, the largest source of carbon pollution, across the Pacific Ocean. The coal would be sourced from mines in Wyoming and Montana. In December 2010, Earthjustice and a coalition of allies filed an appeal to prevent construction of the terminal.