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 Emily Enderle's blog posts
17 May 2012, 11:12 AM
Rep. McKinley's constituents call him out for standing with corporate interests
Little Blue Run Dam and reservoir, as viewed from the International Space Station, is the largest coal ash pond in the country. Materials suspended in the water give it a striking, turquoise color. (April 2002, NASA)

It’s inspiring to see the commitment of Rep. David McKinley’s constituents living in the shadow of First Energy’s behemoth 1,000-acre Little Blue Run waste dump continuing to speak the truth amid the lies flaunted by corporate interests. Steve and Annette Rhodes, life-long residents of West Virginia, describe the stark and unfortunate reality of living near a toxic coal ash dump and debunk the many falsehoods spouted by Rep. McKinley in their recent piece in The Hill, Rep McKinley We Live Here with the Coal Ash. They are also quite clear that the coal ash amendment (Title V of HR 4348) pushed by Rep. McKinley is an overzealous attempt to jam a controversial public health loophole into an unrelated transportation bill.

Rep. McKinley is a broken record when it comes to citing flawed industry reports and ignoring the public health and environmental impacts of his dangerous provision. He consistently turns a blind eye to repeated private and public requests for relief from his constituents who live in the shadows of the largest toxic coal ash pond in the U.S. His constituents have testified before Congress, been quoted in the WV press, national press and elsewhere complaining of contaminated water flowing onto their properties, noxious odors and tainted soil.

Chester, WV, where the Rhodes live, borders Little Blue Run. The dump holds approximately 20 billion gallons of toxic sludge and is held back by a 400-foot earthen dam—the tallest of its kind in the U.S. It straddles the border between West Virginia and Pennsylvania and looms over Ohio. It’s rated a high hazard dam by EPA and is expected to kill upwards of 50,000 people in Ohio if it were to fail. According to the EPA, contaminated water from Little Blue Run has been dousing properties at a volume equal to seven fire hoses and arsenic has been migrating into Marks Run, a local stream.

Little Blue Run straddles the border between West Virginia and Pennsylvania and looms over Ohio. The coal ash dump holds approximately 20 billion gallons of toxic sludge and is held back by a 400-foot earthen dam—the tallest of its kind in the U.S.

Little Blue Run is the largest coal ash pond in the US. It straddles the border between West Virginia and Pennsylvania and looms over Ohio. The coal ash dump is 1000 acres, holds approximately 20 billion gallons of toxic sludge and is held back by a 400-foot earthen dam—the tallest of its kind in the U.S.
View Ted Zukoski's blog posts
22 February 2012, 9:54 AM
Speculative energy source won't fund highways
A chunk of oil shale-bearing rock. Try burning this in your gas tank. (Dept. of Interior photo.)

Getting energy from oil shale is a half-baked idea.  Literally.

Oil shale, also known as kerogen, is a waxy pre-petroleum substance found in rock layers in Colorado, Utah and Wyoming.  Unlike pools of oil in the ground, it can't be turned into liquid fuel for transportation unless it's baked to 700 degrees.  And no company in the U.S. has been able to develop a process that turns it into oil in a way that actually makes money, despite a century of trying.  No wonder oil shale has been mocked as the "fuel of the future - because it always has been, and always will be."

Because of the technological and economic challenges, oil shale is putting as much liquid fuel into U.S. markets as it did in the early 1900s.  Which is to say:  zero.

View Liz Judge's blog posts
06 January 2012, 4:16 AM
The no-brainer decisions the president must make this year

President Obama won the White House on a platform of hope and change – promising an end to dirty corporate influence over our political system and a beginning to an era in which our energy choices lead us to a clean, sustainable future, or at least don’t kill us or make us sick.

So far, the president’s performance has been mixed – with some deliveries on the promise and some disappointments. His last year, whether in office or in his first term, will be crucial in righting his spotty record and making good on his campaign promises to the American people.

Leading up to his fourth year in office, and making sure the new year got off to a good start with supporters, he handed the country a solid. His EPA, led by Administrator Lisa Jackson, finalized a strong rule to protect Americans from mercury poisoning and toxic air pollution from power plants.

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View Marty Hayden's blog posts
16 December 2011, 4:31 PM
Arctic rider snuck into year-end funding legislation
(Florian Schulz /visionsofthewild.com)

It’s that time of year again. No, I’m not talking about the great big man in the red suit and last-minute Christmas shopping.

I’m talking about the House GOP majority trying to deliver on their year-long assault on environmental and public health protections in the last two bills that will be passed by Congress this year.

The first is the omnibus spending bill that was passed by the House and Senate today. For the past two weeks, the GOP House Leadership and Appropriations Chairs have had a priority list of anti-environmental policy riders they had to have in any final spending bill. Some of those at the top of the list included blocking measures to require the clean up of industrial boilers and incinerators, cement kilns and power plants, and attempts to railroad Clean Water Act protections for streams, rivers and lakes. Removing protections for gray wolves in Wyoming and the Midwest were also on the list.

Thanks to the efforts of the White House, and Senate and House Democrats, none of these anti-environmental riders will become law in the final spending bill. Sadly, the same cannot be said of the Arctic. A last-minute, backroom deal tacked on a measure that excludes oil companies from complying with Clean Air Act protections in the Arctic.

View Chris Jordan-Bloch's blog posts
01 December 2011, 3:29 PM
One Man's Quest for Clean Air

Tom Frantz grew up in California’s central valley. The once sparse rural area is now the source of food for millions of Americans, and throughout his life Tom has seen the bucolic pastures of his childhood transform into modern-day mega-farms.

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View Liz Judge's blog posts
22 November 2011, 4:16 PM
So this is what you mean by EPA's "War on coal" and EPA's "job-killing regulations"?
The jig is up: New data shows coal mining regulations are creating jobs, not killing them.

A little-covered news item from Nov. 18 bears much more attention. The Charleston Gazette's Ken Ward reported on some new data that blows the top off two years of coal industry lies and spin: Obama's so-called "job-killing regulations" and "war on coal" are not actually killing jobs, they are CREATING JOBS! We've been saying it all along, but here's the proof.

Since the Obama administration has taken initial steps to crack down on the coal industry's rampant pollution, which is contaminating waters and air across the nation, exposing families and communities to carcinogenic and poisonous toxic pollution, coal mining jobs have increased. By 10 percent! Since Obama's EPA began increasing mountaintop-removal-related protections on streams and waters!

View Liz Judge's blog posts
14 November 2011, 2:17 PM
Will the Senate defeat a Dirty Water Amendment this week?
The Barrasso/Heller Dirty Water Amendment would wipe out pollution limits for streams, brooks, wetlands, lakes and other waters in every state.

From early morning tadpole pursuits to sunset creek walks, my summer days started and ended in the creek that ran behind my home. My dad built a bridge across the creek, but for our neighborhood gang of rascals, well, there was no use for such bridges when we could splash and wade right through that water. Whether we were forging the stream or sitting cross-legged in it with our heads above the water, exploding with impish giggles, this creek was as much our home as our bedrooms 50 yards away. And when we outgrew the shallow waters of our backyard creek, my siblings and I took our energies to nearby Lake Erie, where we swam in deeper, more mysterious waters.

Many people have memories of swimming, fishing, wading, visiting, or skipping rocks in waters during their youth—whether those ran through their hometowns or were the destinations of family travels. That these waters were safe for recreation—or even drinking water—was no accident. Our nation’s Clean Water Act is the force that has allowed us to fish and swim and sip our water without ill consequences.

But today, the Clean Water Act and 59 percent of our nation’s streams and headwaters are in peril. The danger facing our nation’s waters, along with all the little kids who want to play in them, has arrived in an amendment by Senators John Barrasso (R-WY) and Dean Heller (R-NV).

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View Jessica Knoblauch's blog posts
09 November 2011, 11:03 AM
The 99 percent are marching against a path of unsustainability
The Occupy protests center around issues of corporate greed and government ineptitude.

It’s not every day that you see a “stop police brutality” sign coupled with signs about protecting the environment, but that was the scene I came upon last week while attending an Occupy Oakland.

If you’ve been paying any attention to the Occupy Wall Street movement that now spans100 U.S. cities, you know that many Americans are tired of corporate greed and government ineptitude. Though there’s no central voice for this people-powered movement, one recurring theme is the backlash against unregulated big businesses. Wall Street bankers are obvious targets, but the public’s aggravation extends further to corporate entities that put profit above people and the environment.

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View Jessica Knoblauch's blog posts
03 November 2011, 2:16 PM
dust rule despisers, spill dodgers, Cracker Barrel car chargers
Photo courtesy of quinn.anya

Republican dust up over phantom environmental regulation
Conservative Republicans are so intent on eliminating “unnecessary” environmental regulations that they recently set their sights on eliminating a rule that doesn’t even exist, reports the Washington Post. The so-called “dust rule” regulates farm dust, which is mixed with things like dirt and dried cornstalk bits and is technically considered pollution by the U.S. EPA. The agency does limit how much of this particle pollution can be in the air, but just two states—Arizona and California—require farmers to take some dust control measures. Though EPA administrator Lisa Jackson has said that she’s unlikely bring on stricter dust rules, regulation-wary Republicans aren’t taking any chances and have already proposed three new bills to prevent a rule that does not (and probably will never) exist. Unfortunately, the zealousness with which Republicans have attacked this rule is just the latest in a spate of attempts to cut the EPA off at its knees for trying to regulate environmental health hazards like coal ash, power plant pollution, and mountaintop removal mining.
 
Exxon punts financial responsibility on Valdez spill
While the oil continues to linger on the shore of Alaska’s Prince William Sound—twenty some years since the Exxon Valdez oil spill—the company who caused this mess is quietly trying to get out of paying to clean it up, reports Mother Jones. To date, Exxon has paid about $900 million over 10 years for cleanup costs, but when the government asked for an additional $92 million in 2006 to address existing problems, Exxon said no way, arguing that it is only responsible for “restoration projects” and not costs associated with cleanup. Of course, none of this matters to the people affected by the spill, who are too busy trying to move on with their lives to argue over semantics.
 

View Sam Edmondson's blog posts
01 November 2011, 1:24 PM
The economy needs regulation to get going
Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA)

Today, Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA)—that's "Ice-uh" for those unfamiliar with the congressman—ran a hearing in the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee about pollution from coal-fired power plants. The hearing unfolded roughly as expected, with one side—repped by Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli—arguing that clean air standards are job-killers, and the other side—repped by Environmental Protection Agency Deputy Administrator Robert Perciasepe—countering that the tremendous health benefits of reducing toxic air pollution from coal-fired power plants vastly outweigh the costs.

Now, enter Dr. Josh Bivens, the third witness at the hearing, who laid out an economic argument worth mentioning here, as it provided some refreshing clarity. Dr. Bivens, who works at the Economic Policy Institute, argued that now is precisely the time that we should be regulating big toxic polluters like the coal-fired power industry.

Because of the Great Recession, rather than spending their cash reserves on job-creating investments, big industries are just sitting on them. This is called a liquidity trap. Bivens argued that government regulations—e.g. clean air standards—are a great way to get these companies to start spending those reserves. In other words, the money that industry spends to comply with clean air standards will actually be highly beneficial for the economy. Factor in the substantial health benefits that accrue to the public when dirty coal plants install pollution control technology to control their toxic air emissions, and these clean air standards look even more like a no-brainer.

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