Posts tagged: Congress v. The Environment

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Congress v. The Environment


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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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View Andrea Delgado's blog posts
18 October 2013, 9:18 AM
Congress and the White House reach bipartisan budget compromise

On Wednesday night, with less than two hours before the country defaulted on its debts, Congress ended the standoff that shut the government down for 16 days, kept countless federal workers without work or pay, and left anyone watching disheartened by partisan antics. In the end, it amounted to Congress deciding to do its job and allowing others to do the same.

Budget compromise vote count. (Source: NYT)

Source: New York Times. See the Senate and House vote breakdown

Did the extreme right in Congress get what they wanted out of this theater and was it worth holding workers’ and families’ budgets hostage and taking us to the brink of default? The House had prepared a wish list of deeply harmful energy, environment and public health policy riders that got sidelined by its attack on Obamacare.

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View Abigail Dillen's blog posts
14 October 2013, 2:18 PM
Strong power plant carbon limits are critical for tackling climate change
EPA is now taking the next step to control pollution from new power plants. (Calin Tatu / Shutterstock)

This op-ed originally ran on October 11, 2013, on LiveScience's Expert Voices: Op-Ed & Insights.

The latest report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change cements the urgency for U.S. leaders to move boldly and quickly on climate change, and the most logical place to start is the nation's fleet of power plants.

Recently, when the Environmental Protection Agency announced a proposal to limit carbon pollution from new power plants, groups involved with climate change cheered the announcement. Cleaning up power plants is an essential first step to addressing climate change and its effects, from superstorms to catastrophic fire seasons. Power plants are by far the biggest carbon polluters in the country, accounting for 40 percent of U.S. carbon dioxide emissions. There is no excuse for building any new, dirty plants without carbon pollution controls.

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View Trip Van Noppen's blog posts
10 October 2013, 11:42 AM
For our economy and communities, we must live by the budget
Mountaintop removal mining is devastating communities in Appalachia. The drive to drill and mine anywhere, by whatever extreme means, is a disastrous substitute for a coherent American energy policy. (Chris Jordan-Bloch)

The following blog post by Trip Van Noppen originally ran on the Huffington Post on October 8, 2013.

The most damning and decisive report yet on humankind's contribution to climate change was delivered by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change little more than a week ago. The report, the most precise yet thanks to advances in scientific monitoring, confirms that climate change impacts are outpacing previous projections for ocean warming, the rate of glacial ice melt in the arctic, and sea level rise. But the biggest takeaway of the report is the unprecedented step it takes in setting a carbon budget.

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View Raviya Ismail's blog posts
18 September 2013, 11:51 AM
EPA and DOE officials point to science as House officials stay in denial
The Capitol Building, observer of many a false debate. (Architect of the Capitol)

They say denial is not just a river in Egypt. Such is true for many House leaders at a House Energy and Commerce subcommittee today on the Obama administration’s climate change agenda. EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy and DOE Secretary Ernest Moniz had to endure the political grandstanding of the House's climate deniers, most of whom have accepted huge political donations from the oil and gas industry.

Here is how EPA Administrator McCarthy opened up her testimony:

Climate change is one of the greatest challenges of our time. Based on the evidence, more than 97 percent of climate scientists are convinced that human caused climate change is occurring. If our changing climate goes unchecked, it will have devastating impacts on the United States and the planet. Reducing carbon pollution is critically important to the protection of Americans’ health and the environment upon which our economy depends.

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View Brian Smith's blog posts
16 August 2013, 12:05 PM
Court hearings this week may decide fate of Klamath/Trinity River salmon
Local fishing communities depend on healthy salmon runs. (Chris Jordan-Bloch / Earthjustice)

This is the time of year when Chinook salmon head back up the Klamath/Trinity River system to spawn—if they have abundant, cold water.

But this year—this week—powerful business interests are in court trying to seize that water, putting tens of thousands of salmon, and an entire generation of their offspring, in peril.

Here’s why:

Because California faces drought this year, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation (BuRec) has developed a plan to release extra water from dams along the Trinity River (a tributary of the Klamath) to prevent another disaster like the ‘Fish Kill of 2002.’ Also a drought year, 2002 saw the Klamath running low, slow and with high temperatures. The Bush administration prevented water from being released, leading to a massive die-off of adult Chinook salmon, one of the worst fish kills in U.S. history. Coastal communities dependent on those salmon suffered $200 million losses.

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View Liz Judge's blog posts
12 November 2012, 9:26 AM
Without a clean energy future, more Sandys could be the future
Homes damaged by superstorm Sandy. (FEMA)

While for many in the country, thoughts of Hurricane Sandy are being replaced by thoughts of the election, football, or the Thanksgiving holiday, for the tens of thousands of people in New York and New Jersey, survival and their families' well-being are still the urgent thoughts.

Two weeks after the storm, more than 68,000 people in the path of superstorm Sandy were still without power. Eighty-five died during Sandy and many are still suffering from the total loss of their homes and belongings, lack of food, heat, clothes, gas and more. At the worst point, the Long Island Power Authority reported that 8.5 million homes and businesses in the region were powerless. Gas rationing took over in the New York city area, and a blustery, snowy nor’easter storm left many shivering to stay warm without heat.

The tremendous costs of Sandy are still growing. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo estimated that Sandy will cost the state of New York $33 billion. New Jersey’s best estimates approach $50 billion. All combined, Sandy was the second most costly storm in U.S. history, just behind Katrina. The area affected by Sandy produces fully one-fifth of our nation’s GDP, so the economic implications of this storm have yet to be fully realized. It’s clearly in our entire nation’s best interest to do everything we can to get this region up and running and back to business as quickly as possible.

To deny that Sandy was intensified because of climate change would be to deny science. Rising ocean temperatures and sea levels make storms like Sandy more powerful and disastrous.

An aerial view of Breezy Point and Long Beach, NY, Nov. 12, 2012. (U.S. Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Chad J. McNeeley / Department of Defense)

An aerial view of Breezy Point and Long Beach, NY, Nov. 12, 2012.
(U.S. Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Chad J. McNeeley / Department of Defense)
View Liz Judge's blog posts
19 October 2012, 11:14 AM
And how do your Congressional reps vote on clean water?

You know that creek in your backyard, or the river or lake near your town? Have any idea what kind of condition it is in, or how polluted it is?

Most people probably don't  -- up until now, it hasn't been very easy to get this information. But to help people find out about the condition of their local waterways, in honor of the 40th anniversary of the Clean Water Act, yesterday the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) launched a supercool new app for your computer or mobile device that allows you to learn about the quality of the waters near you.

View Lisa Evans's blog posts
20 September 2012, 9:14 AM
H.R. 3409’s all-out assault on bedrock environmental protections
H.R. 3409 contains five of the most-anti-environmental bills previously passed by a House distinguished by its radical anti-health anti-science bias.

There’s no doubt that this House of Representatives has amassed the most anti-environmental record in history. According to the Democratic staff of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, the House voted more than 300 times “to block environmental regulations, weaken environmental laws, and stop environmental research” since January 2011.

In a very, very bad year, the “single worst anti-environmental bill” introduced by the House hits the floor this Friday. Officially (but ironically) titled “Stop the War on Coal Act,” H.R. 3409 actually represents the House leadership’s own elaborate and well-funded war on longstanding protections of clean air and water enjoyed by all Americans. In the guise of saving King Coal, Rep. Upton (R-MI) leads a charge up Capitol Hill to shred the Clean Water Act, Clean Air Act, Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, and Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act, enthusiastically eviscerating health and environmental safeguards.

View Sam Edmondson's blog posts
20 June 2012, 12:30 PM
Victory for clean air and public health

There are some straight spines left in the U.S. Senate, which today voted down a resolution from Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-OK) that would have effectively exempted coal-fired power plants—the nation's worst air polluters—from Clean Air Act controls that limit mercury and other toxic emissions. This is a critical victory in the decades-long effort to protect communities from the egregious amounts of health-damaging pollutants that coal plants put in our air.

In contrast, Sen. Inhofe and some of his coaleagues—pardon me, colleagues—have bent over backwards for our nation's most recalcitrant industrial polluters time and again, tone deaf to the fact that coal plant pollution sickens and kills tens of thousands of people every year. In fact, the senator said recently that the Environmental Protection Agency's recently finalized protections against toxic air from coal plants are "not about health." Yet that's exactly what they're about: limits on coal plant air pollution are projected to prevent up to 11,000 deaths, 4,700 heart attacks, and 130,000 childhood asthma attacks every year.

But from the senator's perspective, these benefits are "negligible."

"I find it impossible to relate to the senator's view that such benefits are 'negligible,' and thankfully, a majority of senators appear to as well," said Earthjustice attorney Jim Pew, who has worked for more than a decade to obtain the mercury and air toxic standards for power plants, and who is currently defending them from industry attack on behalf of the NAACP, Sierra Club, Chesapeake Bay Foundation, and Clean Air Counsel.

View Sam Edmondson's blog posts
18 June 2012, 3:50 PM
Bill is dangerous scheme to exempt power plants from clean air laws

Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-OK) is spearheading an egregious effort in the Senate to exempt the nation's worst air polluters from the Clean Air Act. He is floating a resolution that would block recently finalized limits on the amounts of mercury, arsenic and other health-damaging pollutants that coal- and oil-fired power plants can emit. It's up for a vote on Wednesday.

Today, thankfully, the White House indicated that it will veto Inhofe's dirty air disaster if it manages to pass the Senate.

The senator, shockingly, has described the benefits of these landmark protections as "negligible." But there's nothing negligible about the prevention of up to 11,000 premature deaths, 4,600 heart attacks and 130,000 childhood asthma attacks every year.