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.

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 John McManus's blog posts
11 December 2012, 4:10 PM
Earthjustice seeks better labeling of seafood to protect consumers
Consumers should have easy access to information about fish species with elevated mercury content. (NIH)

A new report has some not-so-great news for those who love to eat fish. Mercury is turning up in fish from all over the world—and coal is one of the main culprits.

Coal burned in power plants releases mercury, basically dissolved in smoke, that later settles out over the land. It typically falls out of the atmosphere within 30 miles or so of where it was burned and then finds its way into soil and runoff that eventually end in the oceans.

In July of 2011, Earthjustice filed a petition on behalf of Dr. Jane Hightower, the Mercury Policy Project and the Center for Science in the Public Interest, asking the Food and Drug Administration to post signs near market seafood counters and on seafood labels to warn consumers about mercury in fish.

View Jared Saylor's blog posts
30 November 2012, 12:14 PM
Defends DoD Bill against unrelated Hoeven Coal Ash Amendment
Sen. Boxer takes a stand against false rider tactics.

Some members of the Senate believe it’s acceptable to write up legislation to prevent the EPA from regulating toxic coal ash—and then attach it to a completely unrelated bill.

They tried unsuccessfully earlier this summer to put it into must-pass legislation that would help maintain and improve our nation’s highway infrastructure. They’re considering including it as a “rider” on the pending “fiscal cliff” bill. They even talked about putting it on a spending bill for the Department of Defense.

It seems some senators know no bounds on allowing polluters to continue dumping this waste—filled with arsenic, lead, mercury and more—into unlined and unmonitored ponds and landfills next to coal-fired power plants. Already, coal ash has polluted lakes, rivers, streams and aquifers at nearly 200 sites across the country.

But yesterday, one senator made clear that she’s not willing to allow dangerous environmental riders onto unrelated legislation.

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View Lisa Evans's blog posts
28 November 2012, 1:16 PM
Lawmakers are leading nation to environmental cliff
More than a hundred million gallons of coal ash slurry were released when a coal ash dam failed, flooding Buffalo Creek Valley in West Virginia.

In the aftermath of a major catastrophe, lawmakers and regulators should be held accountable to create new safety protocols to avert future disasters. Incidents like the Cuyahoga River catching fire and the Exxon Valdez oil spill prompted changes in how we protect our nation’s waters from industrial chemicals. The Buffalo Creek disaster in West Virginia in 1972 likewise prompted changes to the regulation of dams storing toxic materials. Similarly, we must demand changes to how coal ash is handled, following the largest toxic waste spill in our nation’s history—the spill in Kingston, Tennessee in December 2008, which will have its fourth anniversary in a few weeks.

Former Director of the National Mine Health and Safety Academy Jack Spadaro remembers the Buffalo Creek disaster and knows that its grim legacy still casts a shadow today.

View Trip Van Noppen's blog posts
17 November 2012, 7:47 PM
It's back on Obama's agenda, along with "all of the above"
President Obama, on election night.  (Christopher Dilts)

Life doesn’t hand you many second chances to make good on promises.

But that’s what the American public, with an assist from superstorm Sandy, has given President Obama: another 4-year opportunity to tackle climate change—the critical environmental issue of our time. He’s now talking about the issue again, after two years of near-silence, and just a few days ago spoke of “an agenda that says we can create jobs, advance growth and make a serious dent in climate change.”

President Obama's words aren't quite as bold as those he made four years ago about attacking climate change, but they give us hope that climate change has become a politically viable issue—especially when seen in the context of the election.

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View Jared Saylor's blog posts
16 November 2012, 1:09 PM
4 years after the Tennessee coal ash spill, problems continue to grow
Aerial view of the devastating 2008 coal ash disaster in Tennessee. (TVA)

Four years ago, a small Tennessee town woke up to a nightmare. A nearby coal ash pond that held back more than a billion gallons of toxic waste collapsed, sending a flood of ash and dirt right through their doors. In the weeks and months that followed, an entire nation began to see the magnitude of the coal ash threat.

Cleaning up the Clinch River near Kingston, TN, continues. Just last week, the Tennessee Valley Authority—the owners of the coal ash dam that burst—announced plans to let nature take its course in removing the remaining half a million tons of ash.  Coal ash activist, Watauga Riverkeeper and Earthjustice client Donna Lisenby summed it up best: "Five hundred cubic yards is enough coal ash to fill a football field almost 94 feet high from end zone to end zone. Coal ash contains arsenic, lead, chromium and many other toxic pollutants. Leaving that much ash in the river system to combine with all the other legacy pollutants just increases the total pollutant load."

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View Liz Judge's blog posts
16 November 2012, 12:54 PM
Historic agreement signals beginning of end for tragic mining practice

Yesterday, one of the nation’s top coal companies, Patriot Coal, announced that it is getting out of the business of mountaintop removal mining. The decision comes out of a settlement with several Appalachian community groupsWest Virginia Highlands Conservancy, Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition, Sierra Club, represented by Appalachian Mountain Advocates—requiring Patriot to clean up toxic selenium pollution running off into streams and rivers from two mountaintop removal sites in West Virginia.

This news marks the beginning of the end of mountaintop removal mining. This is the first time a coal company is publicly acknowledging community impacts of this destructive and extreme form of mining. Now, it's up to all of us to finish the job and demand that our nation's leaders in the White House and in Congress end mountaintop removal before coal companies do more damage. They shouldn't be left to their own timelines: We need to work to end this sooner.

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View Trip Van Noppen's blog posts
04 November 2012, 5:10 PM
Superstorm blows climate change onto national ballot
Lower Manhattan was without power for days.  (Eric Konon)

Hurricane Sandy delivered a lot of pain when it punched into the East Coast. As I write this, a week later, the sea has retreated but the suffering remains. Half of Manhattan is cold and dark. The New Jersey shore is in bits. Parts of Long Island are knocked out.

Having spent most of my life in hurricane country and having lived through many similar blows, I can’t stop thinking about what people are going through to find bottled water and a place to get gas and some sort of help for the elderly and infirm. My heart is with them.

But I’m also thinking about the other knock-out punch that Sandy delivered—to the climate deniers and the climate-avoiding politicians. Sandy is the kind of superstorm that climate scientists have been warning about for decades. They are the new heavyweight champs of the hurricane world, and will reign as long as we fail to challenge the causes of rising sea levels and warming ocean and atmospheric temperatures near coastal mega-cities.

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View Ted Zukoski's blog posts
19 October 2012, 5:03 AM
Forests will die someday, why shouldn't coal companies help them along?
Bear claw marks on aspen in the Sunset Trail Roadless Area. (Ted Zukoski / Earthjustice)

Coal companies have been blasting mountains, dumping waste rock into streams, and undermining private and public lands for more than a century. It’s apparently lucrative to do so.

But a recent filing by a coal company shows just how far they have drunk their own Kool-Aid (or coal ash?) in justifying the damage mining can cause.

The filing concerned Earthjustice’s efforts to protect the Sunset Roadless Area on the GMUG National Forest in western Colorado. The Sunset area is a landscape of pine, fir, and aspen stands, dotted with wet meadows and beaver ponds.

It provides habitat for black bear and the imperiled lynx, elk and goshawk. And it’s darned pretty, with the peak of Mount Gunnison in the West Elk Wilderness looming to the east.

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View Debra Mayfield's blog posts
04 October 2012, 3:15 PM
Author asks, answers: If coal is so clean, why is it killing us?
Dr. Alan Lockwood is Emeritus Professor of Neurology and Nuclear Medicine at the State University of New York at Buffalo.

In the latest episode of Down to Earth, our own Jessica Knoblauch interviews Dr. Alan Lockwood, neurologist and author of the new book, The Silent Epidemic: Coal and the Hidden Threat to Health. Dr. Lockwood reiterates eloquently what we’ve known for decades: there’s nothing clean about coal.

Whether you’re mining it, moving it, washing it, burning it, or disposing of it, coal is dirty, dirty business. And one that is killing us.

View Trip Van Noppen's blog posts
21 September 2012, 2:59 PM
On way out of town, House votes industry a free pass to pollute

It's been a long two years with the 112th Congress. In that time, House leadership has often tried to "help the economy" by wiping away our basic public health and environmental protections—in the process putting thousands of Americans at risk of disease and death from exposure to toxic chemicals and carcinogens in our air and water.

And today, as a final departing gift before recessing for the fall, House leaders put through H.R. 3409—a toxic sell-out bill that decimates our fundamental public health protections with the pretext of addressing the "war on coal." The House passed the bill by a vote of 233 to 175.

To wit: H.R. 3409 includes provisions we believe will:

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