Posts tagged: Congress v. The Environment

unEARTHED. The Earthjustice Blog

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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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
04 May 2011, 1:27 PM
House subcommittee on water sets stage, but does America buy the act?
Rep. Bob Gibbs

On Thursday morning, the House of Representatives Subcommittee on Water Resources and Environment, will begin a two-part hearing on the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) policies on mountaintop removal mining. The committee, chaired by Rep. Bob Gibbs (R-OH) is calling the hearings “EPA Mining Policies: Assault on Appalachian Jobs – Part I and Part II.

Judging from the name, do you think this hearing by the representative body of our democratic government will be fair and balanced? Reasoned and informed? Democratic?

Just in case you think a fair and informed hearing is an outside possibility, I present to you:

Exhibit A: The Witness List:

3 Comments   /   Read more >>
View Liz Judge's blog posts
29 April 2011, 11:38 AM
Movement to stop mountaintop removal and protect Appalachians is building
A billboard of Mountain Hero Karen Woodrum at a busy intersection in Washington, D.C.

The faces of Earthjustice's Mountain Heroes, those courageous people from the coalfields whose lives are afflicted by mountaintop removal mining and who are standing up against it, are now staring down politicians in Congress and their staffs, as well as White House and agency staff, reminding them that they are allowing this abuse to continue. 

For several months, billboards of these Mountain Heroes—Sid, James, Karen, Ken and Donetta—have been positioned in all three D.C.-area airports to face elected officials, policy makers and the general public as they arrive and depart on their travels. They have also appeared on the pages of INC., Fast Company and Mother Jones magazines.

And now the Mountain Heroes have officially come to the streets of D.C. The billboards pictured here are all over the nation's capitol, especially in high-traffic areas and all around federal government buildings.

7 Comments   /   Read more >>
View Liz Judge's blog posts
25 April 2011, 3:17 PM
A cartoon, a jammin' new tune and some fine-art photography tell the story
A screen shot of Mark Fiori's site and mountaintop removal cartoon animation

Well, it's true that here on a blog, the currency is words. We're supposed to tell stories through our prose. But today I'm going to go easy on the blog and yield the storytelling to a small collection of witty, beautiful, foot-stomping and surreal art by people who are mastering other mediums to talk about mountaintop removal mining:

View Tom Turner's blog posts
21 April 2011, 6:40 AM
Anti-wilderness bill is subject of scorn
Representative Kevin McCarthy (CA-22).

Last week we wrote about an effort by three Republican members of the House of Representatives to repeal the Roadless Area Conservation Rule that protects nearly 60 million acres of unspoiled lands on the national forests and to deny the Bureau of Land Management's authority to declare its unspoiled areas "wilderness study areas" and protect them until Congress can decide whether to give them permanent protection.

Now the hometown paper of one of the congressmen—Kevin McCarthy of Bakersfield, CA—has lit into him, invoking the memory of that great Republican president, Teddy Roosevelt, who would certainly deplore this foolish, not to say wicked, ploy. We thank and congratulate the editors of the Bakersfield Californian for their graceful and powerful editorial. We hope Mr. McCarthy will pay attention. Fat chance.

View Ted Zukoski's blog posts
20 April 2011, 1:09 AM
GOP plan would make national forests for loggers only
H.R. 1202 would put bald eagle nests on the chopping block

How should America's 190 million acres of national forest be managed?  Nine Republican congressmen, led by Rep. Stevan Pearce of New Mexico, have the answer in a bill introduced last month:  Forests are for logging. And to hell with everything else.

The bill, H.R. 1202, is short and not-so-sweet. The meat of the bill is a single sentence: 

Notwithstanding any other law, rule, or regulation … the Secretary of Agriculture shall permit any person who applies to carry out a timber activity on National Forest System land to carry out such activity. 

What does this mean?  It means the Forest Service MUST allow ANY logging proposal anyone brings to them.  It doesn’t matter what the impact of the logging is. It doesn’t matter if the logging proposal would otherwise violate laws meant to protect, say, community drinking water supplies.  It doesn’t matter if it would cost the U.S. Treasury millions.  The Forest Service has to approve the logging and the roads that go with it.  Period.

4 Comments   /   Read more >>
View Sam Edmondson's blog posts
14 April 2011, 12:15 PM
Some House Republicans want to delay life-saving health protections
Congressman Ed Whitfield (R-KY)

Today, another indication comes that some members of Congress don't breathe the same air as their constituents. Politico is reporting (subs. req'd) that House Republicans will soon introduce legislation to delay the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's efforts to reduce the amount of cancer-causing, asthma-inducing, premature death-dealing pollutants in the air we all breathe—some congresspersons excepted, apparently.

Rep. Ed Whitfield (R-KY), who serves on the Energy and Commerce Committee, was crystal clear about motives: "The objective is to delay the implementation of these regulations."

The health protections that House Republicans are trying to delay, which would finally clean up some of the nation's biggest toxic polluters—coal plants, industrial boilers and cement kilns—are already more than a decade late. In that time, unregulated pollution from these facilities has damaged our environment and made people sick. And what Whitfield didn't mention to reporters is that delaying these health protections further will lead to as many as 25,000 premature deaths… every year.

Here's a local yardstick: 25,000 people is nearly the number of students currently attending the University of Kentucky, Rep. Whitfield's alma mater.

View Sam Edmondson's blog posts
12 April 2011, 4:21 PM
Former Republican senator defends the Clean Air Act

Clean air isn't a partisan issue, although that's admittedly easy to forget if you're following the ongoing congressional clash over clean air protections (which sometimes seems as wide as the gap between the Grand Canyon's north and south rims). The American public certainly isn't so divided. A large majority—which includes citizens who identify as Republican, Democrat and independent voters—wants clean air health protections.

A recent op-ed in the Minneapolis Star-Tribune serves as a good reminder that clean air is important no matter which side of the political divide you happen to walk on. In the Star-Tribune piece, David Durenberger, a former Republican U.S. Senator who voted in 1990 along with 88 of his colleagues to pass strong amendments to the Clean Air Act, refers to the Act as "one of the great public-health achievements of American history—especially for kids."

Indeed, President Nixon signed the Clean Air Act into law in 1970 with strong bipartisan support. And the amendments to which Durenberger lent his support in 1990 were similarly popular. These cooperative efforts between our elected Democratic and Republican leaders exemplify good governing and an accomplishment that has made the lives of all Americans better.

View Raviya Ismail's blog posts
12 April 2011, 12:20 PM
Federal budget targets gray wolves and wild lands

It’s been a harrowing past few weeks (to say the least). The first jolt came Feb. 19, when House leaders approved a spending plan that slashed an array of environmental safeguards and pretty much gave polluter industries a free pass to continue using our air and water as their dumping grounds.

Amid the back and forth over the final spending legislation, the government came this close to a disastrous shut-down, with rumors that women’s reproductive rights and the EPA’s authority to regulate carbon emissions were on the bargaining table, but in the end, President Obama and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid were able to stave off clean air and water attacks. The final budget will be voted on by congressional leaders in the next few days and cuts $38 billion.

But not all was won. In the 11th hour, House Speaker John Boehner and his Tea Party flank were able to slip a few anti-environmental attacks in there, among them one that will remove ESA protections for gray wolves.

View Liz Judge's blog posts
08 April 2011, 1:22 PM
Tell Mr. Boehner and his House majority: "Hell No You Can't!"
House Speaker John Boehner

[Update: Amid hurried negotiations late Friday to avoid a government shutdown, House sources indicated that a possible deal has been reached to prevent weakening the government's regulation of mountaintop removal mining and climate change emissions. The uncertainty of this deal makes it all the more important for citizens to contact the White House and their congressional representatives to demand hands off of the Environmental Protection Agency.]

We've all seen the reports that say what is carrying our federal government quickly toward a total shutdown is not a difference over spending cuts but rather some costly ugly ideological demands by House leadership. First, we heard they were demanding blocks on clean air protections, and now we are hearing that a rider making mountaintop removal mining easier may be at the center of this political bargain.

If this is true, House leadership has managed to sink to an even lower level, by trying to use the innocent people, mountains and waters of Appalachia as their political bargaining chip -- just so the leadership can tell an extreme faction of the party that they secured a political "win."

Using this budget negotiations process as a way to help coal companies blow up mountains and dump their toxic waste into Appalachian streams and water supplies is an abomination. The White House and the Senate must not even consider sacrificing the people of Appalachia and their mountains and waterways for this political deal.

View Sam Edmondson's blog posts
07 April 2011, 4:21 PM
New report highlights prevalence, cost of asthma and the need for clean air
Photo: Chris Jordan/Earthjustice

People who suffer from asthma often say an attack feels like breathing through a pool of water or with a pillow covering their face. Unfortunately, millions of Americans know all too well what that's like.

In the United States, asthma is a bona fide public health epidemic: 17 million adults and 7 million children suffer from the disease. Every year, our society pays in excess of $53 billion to treat it. Millions of asthmatics, including hundreds of thousands of kids, make visits to the emergency room for medical attention. And in thousands of severe cases, people die.

The scope of this epidemic, broken down by state, is laid out in a report released yesterday by Health Care Without Harm, The National Association of School Nurses, and The Alliance of Nurses for Healthy Environments. The report notes that environmental triggers like air pollution can cause and exacerbate asthma, so it's critically important that we defend existing clean air protections and work for new ones.

No argument here, but many of our elected leaders in Congress apparently don't agree.