Posts tagged: congress

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
04 June 2011, 8:20 AM
Mass Mobilization in WV, March on Blair Mountain Kicks Off Tomorrow
Appalachia is rising for justice, protection of the law, and an end to mountaintop removal mining.

This week more than 600 concerned citizens will participate in the largest mass mobilization against mountaintop removal mining that this country has ever seen, Appalachia Rising: The March on Blair Mountain.

Led by many of our dedicated friends and partners in Appalachia, hundreds of people from all across the country, from all stripes and walks of life and backgrounds -- students, scholars, artists, scientists, labor leaders, union workers, historians, environmentalists, and concerned citizens -- will walk shoulder to shoulder in a peaceful and permitted demonstration for 50 miles across the rugged Appalachian Mountain terrain, all joined by this conviction: The people of Appalachia deserve protection of the law and a prosperous and just future that does not include the devastation and destruction of mountaintop removal mining. Mountaintop removal mining must end, and justice must be brought to the people and communities of this region.

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View Liz Judge's blog posts
02 June 2011, 2:49 PM
"The Last Mountain" opens this weekend in DC and NYC
"The Last Mountain" movie poster

The buzz is heightening. The Sundance official selection documentary The Last Mountain is arriving at theaters across America beginning this weekend in Washington, DC, and New York City. Throughout June, it will open in 18 other cities, bringing this film -- on the frightening effects of destructive mountaintop removal mining-- to the biggest metropolitan markets in the nation.

The film is a powerful glimpse into the bombing and razing of mountains in West Virginia for coal, the corrupt politics that enable that destruction, and the people and communities at the foot of the exploded mountains who are paying the real price, and suffering the real costs, of one of America's greatest and most enduring environmental tragedies.

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View Trip Van Noppen's blog posts
19 May 2011, 10:31 AM
Community representatives make the case for clean air

Nobody gets through a day without breathing. Not executives in the coal-fired power and cement industries, which are polluting our air daily. Not the legion of lobbyists they hire to patrol the halls of Congress in defense of dirty air. And not the members of Congress who, hand-in-hand with these special interests, are marching the Clean Air Act off a cliff.

At the very same time that these women and men draw breath, they are working to derail and delay clean air protections with a vigor that suggests there isn't a set of functioning lungs between them.

To confront this audacity, Earthjustice helped to bring a diverse group of doctors, nurses, faith and tribal leaders, and environmental justice advocates to Washington, D.C. earlier this month for an event dubbed 50 States United for Healthy Air. These 80 Clean Air Ambassadors, who came from all 50 states, Washington, D.C. and Puerto Rico, met with members of Congress, the Obama administration and the Environmental Protection Agency to defend our right to breathe. Rev. Dr. Michael Stinson, one of the ambassadors, stated their purpose clearly: "We are people from all 50 states with a passion for one issue—clean air."

As part of an online storytelling project, Earthjustice staff asked the ambassadors to express in a sentence what clean air is to them. Their sentences read like axioms, as they elucidate core realities and challenges of this issue.

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View Jared Saylor's blog posts
17 May 2011, 2:06 PM
Protections against boiler pollution are put on hold after polluter pressure

Shame on the Environmental Protection Agency. Yesterday afternoon, the agency decided that it would postpone indefinitely a new health standard finalized a few months ago that would reduce toxic air pollution from industrial boilers. These small power plants are used at larger industrial facilities like oil refineries and chemical plants—more than 13,000 of them are in operation across the country. In the aggregate, they are among the worst emitters of mercury, chromium, lead, arsenic, dioxins and other hazardous air pollutants.

But rather than clean up their pollution, the EPA decided instead to cave to the polluters and some members of Congress who began ramping up the pressure during the mid-term elections. According to the Los Angeles Times, “Since December, the administration has slowed review and implementations of several closely watched regulations, including two affecting the powerful coal industry: ash disposal and mountaintop-removal mining.”

It seems to be politics as usual with this EPA. According to the agency’s own assessment, the projected pollution cuts from industrial boilers would have saved up to 6,500 lives every year, and outweighed the costs to industry by $22 billion to $54 billion annually. But the delay in implementing these pollution cuts will now cost 6,500 lives, 4,000 non-fatal heart attacks and 4,300 hospital and emergency room visits for every year that we wait.

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View Jessica Knoblauch's blog posts
13 May 2011, 2:19 AM
Banning the bag, fracking's flammable water, biting back against palm oil
Coal industry-sponsored materials are making their way into school classrooms. Photo courtesy of Steve and Jemma Copley.

Coal company tries to brainwash school kids
Scholastic Inc., whose books and educational materials dominate the American classroom, is distributing fourth-grade curriculum materials paid for by the American Coal Foundation, reports the New York Times. Not surprisingly, the industry-funded class materials have drawn the ire of groups such as the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood and Friends of the Earth, who argue that the one-sided curriculum conveniently leaves out coal’s environmental and human health impacts while failing to mention other useful, less polluting energy sources, like wind and solar. No word yet on whether the kids received a free inhaler to pair with their coal-friendly books and pamphlets.

Bagging bags becomes worldwide phenomenon
The U.S. may have been unable to pass meaningful climate legislation, but at least some communities have been successful in reducing their carbon footprint in other ways, like cutting down on plastic bags, reports National Geographic. Coast-to-coast and even internationally, cities like San Francisco and Washington, D.C. and entire countries like Italy have either banned plastic bags altogether or imposed taxes on the ubiquitous single-use sacks. The bans have resulted in a major drop in bag use, a big win for the environment since plastic bags clog storm drains, landfills and marine creatures’ bellies.

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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:

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View Jared Saylor's blog posts
03 May 2011, 1:28 PM
Asthma affects more than 25 million Americans; some are in D.C. to talk about it
Alex and Tommy Allred, from Midlothian, TX.

Alex Allred and her family are surrounded by cement. Not concrete, which is made from cement, but the big industrial facilities that crush and heat limestone to make cement. She lives in Midlothian, TX, an area known locally as “The Cement Capital of Texas,” a distinction that Alex and her family cannot appreciate. Her son eight-year-old son, Tommy, has asthma. His visits to the hospital emergency room are too numerous to remember. His asthma attacks hit him like a tank, unexpected and relentless.

As Alex describes it: “One minute he’s running around like a normal little boy, and the next minute he’s on the floor of the car gasping for air as I fly down the road, trying to get him to the hospital as fast as I can.”

Alex and her family believe it was air pollution from the cement kilns and other big polluters in their neighborhood that caused Tommy’s asthma. He and Alex have written a short story about how the pollution affects his health, and in it he describes what an asthma attack feels like: “It is very scary and sometimes when you can’t breathe, you think you’re going to die. Then, when the attack is over, you feel like you have to go to bed.”

Today is World Asthma Day, and to celebrate, Alex is joining an unprecedented collection of doctors, faith and tribal leaders, nurses, social justice advocates and affected citizens who have come to Washington, D.C. as part of “50 States United for Healthy Air.”

View Sam Edmondson's blog posts
03 May 2011, 6:38 AM
Clean Air Ambassadors share inspiring stories, speak truth to power

The Clean Air Ambassadors who arrived yesterday in Washington, D.C. have some amazing stories to tell, and I spent the better part of yesterday hearing them. Alexandra Allred from Midlothian, TX described a day she spent outside with her son Tommy—a day when he didn’t suffer his usual respiratory issues and could play carefree, like a kid again. “I had my son back,” she told me.

William Anderson, an ambassador from Nevada and Chairman of the Moapa Band of Paiutes, described the coal fly ash that shrouds his community in a haze of toxic dust, choking local residents and concealing the nearby mountains behind a curtain of miasmal fog.

Kimberly Hill of Detroit, MI told me about residents who live near the Marathon oil refinery, which is expanding to refine tar sands crude oil from Canada—one of the dirtiest fossil fuels on earth. Tucked under a toxic blanket, these residents suffer from respiratory disease and unusual forms of cancer.

The ambassadors’ stories spring from pollution, disease, loss of loved ones and other unsavory challenges that life presents. But more importantly, their stories are charged with hope, perseverance and bravery. Many of the ambassadors arrived to tell their tales having never set foot in Washington, D.C., that inner circle of government life where power concentrates imposingly, and too often to the exclusion of the very people whose votes put the powerful in office. To walk in those halls and sit in those offices to tell Very Important People how vital clean air is to one’s community is an act of bravery by which I am awed and humbled.

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.

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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: