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 Allie Eisen's blog posts
24 June 2013, 2:20 PM
Bill could dramatically worsen already contaminated waters
The Progress Energy power plant, viewed across Lake Julian. (zen Sutherland)

There is a running joke in my hometown about the glowing green fish and three-headed salamanders in Lake Julian. Nestled in the center of Arden, North Carolina, and surrounded by the Blue Ridge Mountains, this lake was once the picturesque centerpiece of the quaint Southern town. But thanks to the pollution from Progress Energy’s nearby coal ash pond, these jokes aren’t far from the truth.

Unfortunately, the North Carolina Legislature is debating a bill to make this type of coal ash contamination increasingly prevalent throughout local waterways. NC Senate Bill 612, sponsored by Republican leaders in both the House and Senate, seeks to “provide regulatory relief to the citizens of North Carolina” by creating a fast-track process to obtain environmental permits. The bill, which has already passed in the Senate and is currently moving through the House, would allow coal-fired power plants to contaminate groundwater up to and past their property lines—eliminating all current boundaries.

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View Ted Zukoski's blog posts
21 June 2013, 1:20 PM
Obama’s climate actions sometimes at odds with his rhetoric
Alberta tar sands refining. (NRDC)

President Obama is good at bold words, and he’s delivered quite a few of them on the need for action on climate change in the last nine months. There was his speech upon being re-elected; his 2013 State of the Union (in which he promised to act unilaterally on climate change if Congress wouldn’t); and most recently his speech at the Brandenburg Gate in which he rightly labeled climate change “the global threat of our time.”

And the hyped action on climate change is almost here, with the New York Times reporting that the president may announce as soon as next week a three-pronged plan to:

  1. Put limits on carbon dioxide emissions from existing and proposed power plants;
  2. Boost renewable energy development on public lands; and
  3. Mandate greater energy efficiency in buildings and equipment.

These three steps are overdue, but would have real benefits, and will require an expenditure of political capital from Mr. Obama. But he’s hardly gone all-in on climate change of late. On some very important climate issues, the president has instead displayed a penchant for ignoring the issue or dawdling on major decisions.

View Terry Winckler's blog posts
11 June 2013, 10:11 AM
World's largest coal mining company is turning to solar energy
A solar array in Pondicherry, India. (ammusk)

You gotta love it when the world’s largest coal mining company turns to solar energy, as a way to cut costs and because it recognizes that fossil fuels are fast going away.

According to a published report, Coal India plans to install solar in its various operations around the country. A company document explains why:

India has an abundance of sunshine and the trend of depletion of fossil fuels is compelling energy planners to examine the feasibility of using renewable sources of energy like solar, wind, and so on.

View Chris Jordan-Bloch's blog posts
04 June 2013, 3:47 PM
Landmark law moves Nevada from coal to renewables

"It felt like I was waking up from a nightmare. I wasn't really sure what was true or false. I was confused. My heart was racing. I was excited. Maybe, I thought, this nightmare is over."

This is what Vickie Simmons remembers feeling when she first heard that the Reid Gardner coal-fired power plant might be closing. Simmons is a leading member of the Moapa Band of Paiutes Health and Environmental Committee, and for years she and the rest of the Paiute tribe have lived in the shadow of Reid Gardner’s smokestacks and waste pits. They have paid incredible health costs and reaped little economic benefits.

But Simmons is right - the nightmare is ending.

 Photo of Vickie Simmons by Chris Jordan-Bloch

(Photo of Vickie Simmons by Chris Jordan-Bloch)

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View Trip Van Noppen's blog posts
17 May 2013, 9:35 AM
Ambassadors from every state arrive en masse to buttonhole congress reps
The grassroots campaign involved ambassadors from every state, plus D.C. and Puerto Rico.

A few days ago, a fierce army invaded Washington, D.C. to ask our representatives for something very simple: restore our right to breathe clean air.

This modest proposal came from more than 100 “clean air ambassadors” who know the cost of dirty air all too well. Take Hilton Kelley from Port Arthur, Texas, which is home to more than five large refineries, six chemical plants and an incinerator. In his community, one out of every five households has a child suffering from asthma and other contaminated-air-related illnesses. One day, after having moved away from his home town years ago, he looked in the mirror and asked himself, “If I’m not going to do anything about the conditions in Port Arthur, how can I expect anyone else to?”

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View Lisa Evans's blog posts
02 May 2013, 12:00 PM
Toxic coal ash found on school paths in Florida
Truckloads of the coal ash product EZBase were delivered to one Florida homeowner's property.  (Clean Water Action)

Recent sampling of paths constructed of coal ash near J.L. Wilkinson Elementary School in Middleburg, Florida reveal high levels of vanadium, a hazardous substance linked to cardiovascular disease and nervous system damage. Vanadium levels were up to seven times higher than levels deemed safe for residential soil by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection.

Earthjustice sampled two paths near the school after concerns were raised that EZBase, a product made from toxic fly ash and bottom ash residuals at coal-burning power plants and marketed by Jacksonville Electric Authority, may have been used to construct paths near the elementary school.

Exposure to high levels of vanadium in the air can cause lung and cardiovascular damage. In addition, nausea, mild diarrhea and stomach cramps have been reported in people ingesting vanadium. Vanadium is classified as “possibly carcinogenic” by the International Agency for Research on Cancer. Children are particularly susceptible to impacts from toxic exposure due to low body mass and developing systems.

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View Daniel Hubbell's blog posts
29 April 2013, 1:16 PM
Three stories from around the world
The 2013 Goldman Prize recipients.  (Courtesy of the Goldman Environmental Prize)

It is easy sometimes to feel like the problems of the world are just too large for any one person to tackle. Whether it is a global issue like climate change or more local struggles against ancient coal plants polluting the neighborhood, it feels like there are always powerful interests standing in the way. That’s why I am thankful for the Goldman Environmental Prize because it shows us just how incredible a difference one caring person can make.

Founded in 1989 by Richard and Rhoda Goldman, the Goldman prize recognizes those environmental heroes who have worked tirelessly to safeguard the environment and improve the lives of everyone in their communities. It offers a chance for those who have gone unsung for years to get the support they need to take their grassroots vision of change further, as these problems are often far too common. I had the good fortune to hear three of this year’s winners speak recently, and all of their stories are incredible.

View Liz Judge's blog posts
24 April 2013, 9:48 AM
Unanimous panel of judges rule for EPA in coal industry lawsuit

Great news!

Yesterday, citizens in Appalachia celebrated a huge victory in their fight to protect their families and communities from harmful mountaintop removal mining. In a sharp 15-page ruling, a panel of three Republican-appointed judges in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit unanimously upheld the Environment Protection Agency’s veto of the permit for the Spruce No. 1 mine, the largest proposed mountaintop removal mine in West Virginia. Earthjustice, along with Appalachian Mountain Advocates, represented a handful of community and citizen groups in this case.

This court decision comes after 15 years of court challenges by community groups whose members were in fallout zone of the proposed mine. It’s a precedent-setting decision and historic: The Spruce Mine permit is the first mountaintop removal mining permit ever challenged in courts.

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View Jared Saylor's blog posts
23 April 2013, 7:56 AM
One option protects waters from toxic pollution; other options fall far short
Power plant water discharges are filled with toxic pollution.  (EPA)

Coal-fired power plant pollution is contaminating our water, not just our air. Here’s how: when plants install scrubbers and other emission control devices onto smokestacks to capture air pollution, the chemical waste they pull from the air is then discharged into our waterways.

Not good.

This discharge contains mercury, arsenic, selenium and other toxic chemicals that can cause neurological and developmental damage, harm unborn fetuses in utero, damage internal organs, and cause cancer. Coal plants are the number one toxic discharger into our country’s waterways, yet the Environmental Protection Agrency has not reviewed clean water regulations for this industry in more than 30 years.

Until now.

View Trip Van Noppen's blog posts
09 April 2013, 8:58 AM
Gina McCarthy is a sound choice for the job
McCarthy will be a vital player in the effort to protect our families and environment.  (EPA)

This week a Senate committee will hold a nomination hearing for Gina McCarthy to replace Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa Jackson.

Gina McCarthy, the EPA assistant administrator for air and radiation, is a sound choice for the job. Given her background and experience, the Senate should move expeditiously to confirm her.

For more than 25 years Gina McCarthy worked with politicians from both parties, including a stint as Gov. Romney’s energy and climate advisor in Massachusetts. In 2009 Republican and Democratic senators easily confirmed McCarthy by a voice vote to head the clean air division of EPA.

Gina McCarthy is a dedicated environmental professional with a history of working on difficult issues including climate change. We share her vision of an energy-efficient economy which creates sustainable jobs.