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 Marty Hayden's blog posts
19 February 2011, 9:40 AM
House leaders give industry handouts and cut public health protections

 It’s a shame that it took the House days and many late night and early morning hours to come up with a budget plan like this. And during the wee hours of 4:35 a.m. the final roll call counted a vote of 235 to 189. And just like that our elected leaders eliminated safeguards for our air, water and wildlife.

The House voted to turn Florida’s once-clear waters into poisonous blooms of green slime. It also gave polluters the green light to continue choking our air with mercury pollution from cement kilns, to dump toxic coal ash in communities nationwide, to blow up the mountains of Appalachia and to endanger salmon and slaughter our wolves. Our elected leaders also took aim at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, limiting them from curbing the carbon dioxide pollution of the nation's biggest polluters, which they are lawfully required to do.

 In more detail, some of the most harmful amendments adopted:

View Liz Judge's blog posts
18 February 2011, 4:15 PM
House lawmakers continue to slash essential protections for the American public

As I write this, members of the House of Representatives continue to debate and move their way through votes on hundreds of amendments to the chamber's government spending bill. The voting and debate has been a marathon process, stretching from morning through late at night for the last three days, and looks to carry on until late tonight or tomorrow.

Once the amendments are voted on and settled, the whole House will cast a final vote on the entire bill package with all the passed amendments. Then the Senate takes its turn, crafting a spending bill of its own. The two chambers must then confer and agree on one bill that funds the federal government by March 4 -- or the government must shut down until its spending and funding sources are settled.

The amendments that the House is currently considering are wide-ranging. They aim to cut government spending by cutting the funding streams of hundreds of government programs. So, instead of ending those programs through legislation and appropriate voting, many members of the House are seeking to delete the programs by wiping out the funds that keep them going.

View Patti Goldman's blog posts
17 February 2011, 6:45 AM
Amendments target wildlife, water, air, public health, natural resources

Forty years of environmental progress is under attack today by a vote in the House of Representative on a stop-gap funding measure to keep the federal government running.

Unfortunately, that measure—called a continuing resolution—is loaded with amendments and provisions that would slash the Environmental Protection Agency’s budget, and seeks to override the rule of law at every turn.

These so-called  “riders” could not pass on their own merits, so their sponsors hope they will ride the coat-tails of this must-pass budget bill. Like fleas, they come with the dog, only these are far more than irritants. They would overturn court decisions that we have obtained to stop illegal behavior and force federal agencies to comply with the law.

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View Marty Hayden's blog posts
16 February 2011, 10:38 AM
Amendments to funding bill target everything from wolves to water to health
Wolves are on the congressional hit list

House Republicans are using the oft-repeated refrain of “fiscal restraint” as their excuse for gutting several environmental initiatives that will put the public in harm’s way. But there simply is no excuse for hacking away at health protections that will leave our air and water dirtier and our children and seniors at risk.  It’s not hard to see their real agenda. In many cases their proposals are clearly designed to make it easier for some of America’s biggest polluters to dump their pollution on us rather than pay to dispose of it responsibly. 

House GOP’s Public Enemy Number 1: the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The spending legislation introduced this week slashes the EPA budget by $3 billion and blocks the agency from regulating greenhouse gas emissions. And in a symbolic dig against the White House, the bill also stymies President Barack Obama from replacing departing lead White House climate and energy advisor Carol Browner.
 
The spending plan also tries to block the EPA from fully implementing the Clean Water Act, while effectively letting major polluters foul our water. This will jeopardize drinking water for 117 million Americans and could leave millions of  acres of wetlands and thousands of miles of streams and rivers without Clean Water Act protections from pollution. But it doesn’t stop there.

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View Lisa Evans's blog posts
16 February 2011, 7:53 AM
Theft of protections against toxic coal ash is on House agenda
Aerial view of coal spill in Kingston, Tennessee

The highwaymen of the 112th Congress are trying to take away the authority of the EPA and rob the will of the people on a variety of critical public health and environmental issues by attaching riders to the House budget bill (the Continuing Resolution). The spending legislation introduced by the House Appropriations Committee this week would not only slash billions of dollars from programs protecting public health by ensuring clean water and air, but it would also undo or block key environmental initiatives.

While belt-tightening is a necessity, the special interest giveaways and legislative earmarks protecting big polluters are no less than highway robbery. Their attempt to pillage vital health protections guaranteed by our federal environmental statutes threatens the quality of our air and water, and places our most vulnerable communities and citizens at great risk.

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View Terry Winckler's blog posts
15 February 2011, 3:53 PM
Legislative amendments target air, water, public lands and wildlife

Teabag by teabag, the anti-environment faction in the House of Representatives has filled its federal government spending bill with amendments that will cripple protections for our water, air, natural resources, wildlife and public health. 

Not since the darkest days of the Bush administration have we seen such an onslaught on the environment—and the hits are still coming. By mid-day today (Tues., Feb. 15), the list has grown to include attacks on a number of endangered species, including wolves and salmon, and on the power of the Environmental Protection Agency to keep lethal pollutants out of the air we breathe and the water we drink. Some amendments are outright handouts to our nation’s worst polluters.

The spending bill will fund the government so that it can continue operating after March 4, but first the Senate must pass the bill. Today, Pres. Barack Obama warned that he would veto the bill as constructed.

The following is a list of the most harmful provisions and amendments proposed so far:

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View Brian Smith's blog posts
10 February 2011, 5:30 PM
New study challenges marketing campaign
Rod Bremby

A study released today by MSB Energy Associates calls into question claims that the new Sunflower coal-fired power plant expansion near Holcomb, Kansas will be the “cleanest” in the country.

Among the report’s findings:
- 669 coal-fired power generating units have lower emissions of particulate (soot) air pollution
- 321 coal-fired units have lower emissions of mercury
- 53 emit lower rates of sulfur dioxide, and
- 18 emit lower rates of nitrogen oxides

These findings are based on a controversial air permit approved by the Kansas Department of Health and the Environment in December 2010.

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View Vernice Miller-Travis's blog posts
09 February 2011, 7:47 AM
Federal oversight needed to clean up Chesapeake Bay

(This is the latest in a weekly series of 50 Tr-Ash Talk blogs discussing the dangers of coal ash. Earthjustice hopes that by December 2011, the third anniversary of the TVA coal ash spill, the EPA will release a coal ash rule establishing federally enforceable regulations ensuring the safe disposal of this toxic waste. Vernice Miller-Travis is the Vice Chair of the Maryland Commission on Environmental Justice and Sustainable Communities.)

One of the biggest environmental challenges in Maryland is protecting and improving the quality of the waters of the Chesapeake Bay. There are hundreds of rivers and streams that traverse our state, many of which feed into the Chesapeake Bay. Though we are a thoroughly modern state, we are also a state that has a large agricultural base, and a huge part of our economy is based on seafood, which generations of Waterman have fished out of the Chesapeake Bay. We are famous for our blue crabs and oysters.  

Here in Maryland, we are having our own version of a national debate at the local level. The vast majority of our electric power is produced at coal-fired power plants across the state. Already, several documented instances of violations of the Clean Water Act have been identified at coal ash landfills and impoundment sites in our state. Maryland is home to multiple coal combustion waste sites that have contaminated drinking water wells and polluted surface waters and the environment with arsenic, cadmium, selenium, nickel, thallium and other toxic pollutants.

Our state Attorney General’s office and the Maryland Department of the Environment have filed a lawsuit against Mirant Mid-Atlantic, LLC and Mirant Maryland Ash Management, LLC for violations of the Clean Water Act at the Mirant Faulkner coal combustion waste landfill in Charles County, and the Mirant Brandywine coal combustion waste landfill in Prince George’s County not far from the banks of the Patuxent River, a major tributary to the Chesapeake Bay.

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View Sam Edmondson's blog posts
08 February 2011, 3:57 PM
Reports strongly support first-ever EPA protections

Next month, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency will propose the first ever health protections against power plants’ toxic air pollution. No industrial source of dirty air poses greater risks to human health or the environment than these juggernauts, which have never been subject to federal limits on their emissions of mercury, arsenic, acid gases and carcinogens such as dioxins.

Power plants are also among the worst emitters of fine particle pollution (a.k.a. PM 2.5), a microscopic mixture of liquid and solid droplets suspended in the air that can penetrate deep into our lungs. Fine particle pollution takes a serious toll on our health—particularly on some of the most vulnerable individuals in our society such as children, the elderly, and low-income and communities of color who live downwind of a disproportionate number of these and other industrial facilities.

In a report released in Sep. 2010, the Clean Air Task Force presented data that project fine particle pollution from coal-fired power plants would cause 13,200 deaths, 20,400 heart attacks, 217,600 asthma attacks, and more than 1.5 million days when people have to miss work in 2010. In all, these negative impacts to our health cost us more than $100 billion.

View Brian Smith's blog posts
07 February 2011, 5:06 PM
Rushed-through process finally gets scrutiny

Tom Gross, an official with the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, is frustrated with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Gross has been publicly complaining that EPA requirements to use the latest pollution-mitigating technologies are annoying. "The whole process was incredibly frustrating," Gross told the House Energy and Utilities Committee. "We told them a few words we can't repeat," reported the Lawrence-Journal World.

Late last week, the EPA issued a letter questioning KDHE’s air-quality permit issued in December, which will allow expansion of the coal-fired power plant by Sunflower Electric. The permit generated massive public opposition. For one thing, three-quarters of the new capacity, or 695 megawatts, would be reserved for use in Colorado while Kansans get all the pollution.