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 Jared Saylor's blog posts
20 January 2010, 10:41 AM
Head to head this Thursday over mountaintop removal mining

The tension has been building since the date was set last November. Ever since it was announced, skeptics clamored, "There's no way this is actually going to take place. Someone is going to back down." But they underestimated the raw emotion and high-voltage electricty surrounding this epic event.

I'm not talking about the next big boxing match, I'm talking about Thursday's (Jan. 21) debate between environmentalist Bobby Kennedy Jr. and Massey Coal Company chief Don Blankenship!

Blankenship will be on his home court as the two meet at the University of Charleston in West Virginia for a 90-minute public debate being broadcast on television stations throughout the state (unfortunately, despite plenty of interest from national media, the debate will be broadcast live only in West Virginia. But yours truly will be there in person, sending live Twitter and post-debate analysis via the unEarthed blog, so stay tuned!).

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View Brian Smith's blog posts
19 January 2010, 4:44 PM
Conservation and efficiency evaluations tip the scale

Updating a story from a few weeks ago, proposals for big new transmission lines that would bring coal plant energy from the Appalachia to the Eastern Seaboard are not standing up well when put under the microscope.

The largest of these projects, the Potomac-Appalachian Transmission Highline (PATH), was recently put on ice when the proponents (two coal companies) were challenged to prove they were actually needed.

Earthjustice attorney Abigail Dillen challenged the PATH proposal in Virginia on behalf of the Sierra Club. She argued that reduced demand and increased efficiency must be considered when weighing the need for the project.

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View Tom Turner's blog posts
15 January 2010, 4:28 PM
Many people are asking the wrong questions, proposing false solutions

Just got wind of a very sobering booklet, very sobering indeed. It's called Searching for Miracles, a joint publication of the International Forum on Globalization and the Post Carbon Institute, written by Richard Heinberg with a foreword by Jerry Mander.

The proposition Heinberg set out to explore is this: If society somehow managed to build all the solar installations possible—rooftop, central station, the works—plus all the wind farms and every other kind of good, clean, sustainable energy supply operation, would it be enough to serve current demand world-wide as fossil fuels run out and plants that rely on them are phased out or converted to other fuels?

The answer is a resounding no.

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View Trip Van Noppen's blog posts
13 January 2010, 11:36 AM
Arm in arm with lobbyists, senator aims to gut landmark law

<Update, Jan. 21>: Sen. Murkowski today declared her plan to exempt polluters from the Clean Air Act. She intends to use a little-known legislative maneuver to nullify the EPA's recent determination that greenhouse gases threaten public health. This move would restrict the Clean Air Act, a powerful and effective law, from being used to hold polluters accountable for their global warming emissions. Earthjustice's Sarah Saylor condemned Murkowski's gambit.

Sen. Lisa Murkowski is on a mission, legislative guns blazing, to shoot holes through the Clean Air Act—one of our nation's strongest and most successful environmental laws. If she prevails, we may lose one of the best tools we have to reduce global warming pollution. Senators may have to decide as soon as Jan. 20 whether to join her.

Industry lobbyists already have. In her scheme to bring down the Clean Air Act, Murkowski's script has been written by a pair of well-connected industry lobbyists whose clients include major coal-burning utilities like Duke Energy and the Southern Company. The Washington Post reports that both lobbyists, who were high-level officials at EPA under George W. Bush, even participated in a closed-door meeting last September to explain details of Murkowski's plan to the staffers of some centrist Democrats.

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View Jared Saylor's blog posts
07 January 2010, 1:55 PM
Leading stream, health scientists agree mountaintop removal does no good
West Virginia coal fields in winter. Notice the lack of tops on the mountains.

While it may seem obvious, especially with coal companies completely burying streams and routinely poisoning drinking water supplies, an article in the scientific journal Science shows clear scientific evidence that mountaintop removal mining destroys streams and poisons communities. <Update> The Los Angeles Times today reported on the magazine article, picking up on the urgent conclusion by scientists to halt this mining practice immediately.

This is no surprise to anyone who's heard of mountaintop removal, but what is exciting about it is that some of the nation's leading stream and health scientists are making a strong stand in the article for stronger federal oversight of this devastating practice.

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View Brian Smith's blog posts
07 January 2010, 1:00 PM
Coal plant pollutes parks and wilderness areas

The single biggest air polluter in the entire state of Washington is the state's one and only coal-fired power plant. The operating permit for the coal plant, which is in Centralia, was recently renewed without needed upgrades to protect the air and the people living nearby who breathe it. Earthjustice attorney Janette Brimmer has been working hard to get the permit pulled back and updated with better pollution standards to clean up the air.

Brimmer told a state board that the 40 year old coal burner has no controls for greenhouse gases and mercury and no additional controls for nitrogen oxide, the source of haze that limits visibility in national parks and wilderness areas. She said the permit should be revoked and reworked to address the air pollution spewing from the plant.

See how one TV station covered the hearing (video after the jump) or read what the Olympian newspaper had to say.

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View Tom Turner's blog posts
04 January 2010, 3:37 PM
Big Coal abandons its PATH to power

 "The problem is, of course, that not only is economics bankrupt but it has always been nothing more than politics in disguise ... economics is a form of brain damage."—Hazel Henderson

This lively little snippet came to mind the other day when we got news that the PATH project—that's Potomac-Appalachia Transmission Highline—a massive boondoggle that would have served Big Coal to the detriment of the burgeoning green-power industry (and to the detriment of the places it would have passed through) had gone off the rails.

The project's undoing, at least for now, were demand projections. The promoters of the plan had wildly overestimated the need for the line in the future, and experts rounded up by PATH opponents (Abbie Dillen of Earthjustice is their lawyer) pointed out the fact. PATH folded its tent.

A similar scenario recently played out in Florida, where promoters of a huge new coal plant also caved in when their projections were shown to be, shall we say, optimistic (that plant now will be solar instead of coal-fired). David Guest and Monica Reimer of Earthjustice were the lawyers on that one.

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View Jared Saylor's blog posts
21 December 2009, 1:31 PM
Dec. 22 will be a day residents in Harriman will never forget

I remember my first thought when I read the papers on Dec. 23, the day after one of the biggest environmental disasters in our nation's history: "This is only the beginning."

The stories about the spill came out like the spill itself: slow at first, then in a huge, sudden avalanche of sad details. 5.4 million cubic yards of coal ash from the Tennessee Valley Authority's Kingston Power Plant burst through a dam near Harriman and spread over 300 acres of pristine shoreline along the Emory and Clinch Rivers.

The spill damaged 23 homes and completely destroyed three.  This was enough coal ash to fill up nearly four Empire State Buildings; this much coal ash would flow over Niagara Falls for 24 minutes straight. Luckily, no one was physcially injured, but the emotional toll was immense.

Just 19 days later, 10,000 gallons were released from a pond at TVA's Widows Creek Power Plant in northeastern Alabama. A month after the Tennessee spill, Congress got involved with hearings and rhetoric about how we needed to clean up this mess and make sure it never happens again. But then on March 9, 2009, another spill occurred.

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View Molly Woodward's blog posts
17 December 2009, 3:19 PM
Coal-fired power plants, oil and gas drilling, sea turtles in peril

Some top stories from the last week at Earthjustice...

On this final day of the Copenhagen conference, our daily report and attending attorneys Martin Wagner and Erika Rosenthal will keep you apprised of the latest. Check for updates during the day at unEarthed.

The EPA's endangerment finding (now under assault by a GOP senator) was one of the biggest pieces of news from the conference. But Earthjustice President Trip Van Noppen warned that existing coal-fired power plants (responsible for a third of U.S. global warming pollution) could escape regulation.

This week, Earthjustice also responded to the second Arctic drilling permit granted to Shell Oil over the span of the Copenhagen conference, this time to drill in the Beaufort sea.

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View Jared Saylor's blog posts
17 December 2009, 1:25 PM
EPA backs off coal ash plans; industry pressure a likely cause

While we still had hopes to see the first ever coal ash regulations by the end of this year, it seems the EPA might be taking a bit more time before they release their long-awaited proposal. The EPA announced today that, despite repeated claims, it won't be issuing regulations for coal ash ponds by 2010.

It hasn't been an easy road for EPA so far. The power industry has used fear mongering and misinformation to pressure EPA to hold off on regulating one of the nation's biggest wastes, coal ash. Coal ash ponds have poisoned communities and destroyed the environment for decades. It wasn't until a spill in Harriman, Tennessee last December that the agency and the nation recognized the toxic threat at nearly 600 coal ash ponds across the country.

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