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 Liz Judge's blog posts
03 April 2013, 12:03 PM
Highlights from the EPA’s chief of water policy

Last week, the Environmental Protection Agency revealed that 55 percent of U.S. streams and rivers are in “poor” condition, according to its most recent national rivers and streams assessment. Following the release of that grim report, the EPA held a live Twitter chat to answer questions about our clean water protections and the state of our waters in the United States.

This was a rare opportunity for the public to directly ask the EPA’s head of water policy, Nancy Stoner, about the agency’s plans to address our nation’s water quality problems. We got a chance to ask some questions, too.

The first question of the chat was ours. We wanted to know how the EPA plans to fix the situation we find our nation in today: The fact is that 27% of the nation’s rivers and streams have excessive levels of nitrogen and 40% have high levels of phosphorus. These nutrient pollutants, which come from factory farms and industrial agriculture, cause toxic green slime outbreaks that are harmful to public health.

View Nadine de Coteau's blog posts
22 March 2013, 10:49 AM
Grammy Award-winning singer shares proceeds for endangered species
The Grammy-winning Radio Music Society is Esperanza's latest album.
(Courtesy of Esperanza Spalding)

When the President of the United States invites you to perform at his Nobel Peace Prize ceremony, there’s only one answer: yes. When that same performer offered to partner with Earthjustice to help raise awareness and support, there also was only one answer: Absolutely, yes!

Esperanza Spalding is a three-time Grammy Award winning musician whom we are lucky enough to count among Earthjustice’s most loyal and committed supporters. Her most recent album, Radio Music Society, was awarded two of the music industry’s most coveted awards: one for Best Vocal Jazz Album and one for Best Instrumental Arrangement (Accompanying Vocals) for the track, "City of Roses."

For more than six years, Esperanza has personally supported Earthjustice in our work to protect endangered species and to preserve wild lands as well as our campaigns against coal and Arctic drilling. This year, Esperanza has generously offered to support Earthjustice through her music—and her artistry.

View Chrissy Pepino's blog posts
12 March 2013, 2:11 PM
Be green: get rid of black
Black soot easily seen on ice formations in the Arctic.

Soot is melting the Arctic. Even scientists are alarmed with the disappearance rate of ice in the northern hemisphere. When soot falls on snow and ice it increases the amount of light and heat that is absorbed, just like any reflective surface. The Arctic is not alone in this unprecedented melting; the life-supporting snowpack in the Himalayas is also feeling the impact. Soot is now thought to have twice the heat-warming potential than estimated by the by Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in 2007.

View Daniel Hubbell's blog posts
27 February 2013, 7:42 AM
Mercury and Air Toxics Standards under industry attack
68% of African Americans live within 30 miles of coal fired power plants, our nation's worst toxic polluters.

Even in today’s divided political climate, taking a stance against mercury and arsenic in our air does not seem like it should be controversial. The gasses, along with other known toxics like chromium, cadmium and selenium are among 84 known air pollutants emitted every year by coal and oil fired power plants.

They have cost us dearly, resulting in as many as 11,000 premature deaths, 5,000 heart attacks and 130,000 asthma attacks annually. If we talk about the economy, these pollutants are responsible for 540,000 missed days of work. All this in addition to the terrible havoc these pollutants wreak on ecosystems.

It isn’t like this is a new problem, either. When the Clean Air Act was amended in 1990 it called for new Mercury Air Toxic Standards. A decade overdue, these standards have finally arrived to help us prevent such unnecessary suffering and pain. This is hardly an unprecedented step; the changes were based on protections many power plants had already enacted. All of this makes the barrage of lawsuits industry is filing to delay or dismantle these new standards more perplexing.

Against these legal assaults we are proud to stand alongside the NAACP and 16 other national and state medical, civil rights, environmental, public health and clean air groups.

View Brian Smith's blog posts
26 February 2013, 12:57 PM
U.S. excuses for climate inaction dwindling
A large majority of Americans now want action.  (Ray Wan)

Climate change deniers in the U.S. once claimed there was no proof that pumping tons of carbon into the atmosphere was changing our climate.

This worked for a while, but Midwest drought, western wildfires, and superstorm Sandy, which all hit during 2012, have changed public opinion dramatically.

A recent poll by Duke University found 50 percent of Americans are convinced the climate is changing and another 34 percent say it is probably changing—an increase from other recent polls. A large majority of Americans now want action. The Duke poll found 64 percent of Americans want strong regulations on power plants and factories and fuel-efficiency standards for cars.

So the climate change denial camp is now trying a different argument.

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View Liz Judge's blog posts
26 February 2013, 10:23 AM
Not enough change since historic disaster
The Buffalo Creek disaster destroyed 4,000 homes in 16 towns.  (WV Div. of Culture & History)

Forty-one years ago, today, a dam holding 132 million gallons of toxic liquid coal waste ruptured high up in the mountains of West Virginia, loosing a tsunami-like death wave of coal waste and chemical sludge that destroyed 4,000 homes in 16 towns, injured more than 1,000 people, and killed 125. Seven bodies were never found. This remarkable Charleston Gazette series shares the stories of the people who were affected by this horrific tragedy.

The Buffalo Creek disaster was one of the deadliest floods in American history, but unlike natural floods, it was a man-made disaster caused by corporate negligence, regulatory agency corruption and failure, and an ill-begotten idea of industrial waste disposal. Today, many of the circumstances that led to that disaster still persist, but sludge dams are several times larger. 

View John McManus's blog posts
22 February 2013, 11:24 AM
Earthjustice urges California PUC to consider storage systems
Battery systems would store surplus renewable energy when it’s produced for use later.  (LBNL)

Most people know that solar and wind energy is only generated when the sun shines or the wind blows. This leaves potential power gaps at times of no sun or wind. One of the Holy Grails of renewable energy has been storage systems (think battery here) that can store surplus energy when it’s produced for use later.

Various technologies are being explored, and widespread use should not be far off. With the current move from fossil fuel to renewables, we need to push utilities now to acquire storage. If we don’t, their tendency is to stick to business as usual, which favors burning fossil fuels.

Earthjustice is currently before the California Public Utility Commission, arguing the need for such storage. We’re careful not to tell the PUC or utilities what type of storage they must have, only that they must have it.

View Trip Van Noppen's blog posts
15 February 2013, 12:34 PM
Americans can’t wait for Congress to address climate change
President Obama delivers the State of the Union address in the House Chamber on Feb. 12, 2013.  (Chuck Kennedy / White House)

Last week, President Obama demanded that Congress take action on climate change, or else he would.

But, after years of political gridlock on the climate issue, coupled with rising seas and worsening droughts, one thing is clear: the nation simply cannot afford to wait any longer to take action. Though Congress may eventually pull together and pass a climate bill, the president must not wait on that uncertain prospect. He must act now.

After all, today the U.S. is farther from enacting a nationwide plan to reduce carbon emissions than it was four years ago. Congress has failed miserably. And though America’s greenhouse gas emissions are beginning to decline, the rate at which they’re doing so is nowhere near what we need to avoid catastrophic climate change.

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View Ted Zukoski's blog posts
13 February 2013, 3:57 PM
Obama can act on climate change by taking on a few western coal mines
Coal mining damage caused by West Elk Mine. (U.S. Forest Service)

In his State of the Union address, President Obama said some stirring things about climate change. Most dramatically, he urged Congress to take action and then said:

But if Congress won’t act soon to protect future generations, I will.

Well, if you want to act on climate change to protect future generations, Mr. President, I have a modest proposal: stop rubber-stamping coal mine expansions on federal lands in the western U.S.

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View Angela Garrone's blog posts
12 February 2013, 12:30 PM
Equips communities on how to take on coal burning

Note from Lisa Evans: The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) last week released the "Coal Blooded Action Toolkit," which is a companion to its report, Coal Blooded: Putting Profits Before People, published jointly by the NAACP and Little Village Environmental Justice Organization and the Indigenous Environmental Network last November.

The 2012 report found low-income communities and communities of color are more likely to suffer the damaging effects caused by coal plant operations, including the disposal of toxic coal ash. Expressly designed for grassroots communities, the Coal Blooded Action Toolkit is a step-by-step guide on how to take action to address pollution from coal fired power plants, covering investigation, raising community awareness, litigation, direct action and much more. It is essential reading for those who care about protecting communities from toxic pollution and defending civil and human rights violated by the burning of coal.

The following Tr-Ash Talk guest post is written by Angela Garrone, Southeast Energy Research Attorney for the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy:

The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), in conjunction with Little Village Environmental Justice Organization and the Indigenous Environmental Network, released a report analyzing sulfur dioxide (SO2) and nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions in conjunction with demographic factors, including race, income and population density. The report, entitled “Coal Blooded: Putting Profits Before People,” demonstrates the urgent need for community action focused on shutting down coal plants located in low-income communities and communities of color.