Posts tagged: congress

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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.


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 Jessica Knoblauch's blog posts
22 April 2011, 3:51 AM
Hint: It’s everywhere! Plus, meaty bugs and fresh air in Times Square
A recent study found that roughly one out of four packages of meat and poultry in the U.S. contained multidrug resistant staph. Photo courtesy of comprock (flickr).

Bacteria-resistant meat leaves beef lovers nauseated
A recent study found that nearly half of all beef, chicken, pork and turkey purchased at grocery stores across the country contained drug-resistant bacteria, reports Wired. Even worse, 52 percent of the meat contaminated with the common pathogen Staphylococcus aureus was resistant to at least three antibiotics commonly used by both doctors and vets, which means that “roughly one out of every four packages of meat and poultry across the United States contained multidrug resistant staph.” The researchers believe that the pathogens came from the livestock, which are routinely fed antibiotics to promote growth, but have the major downside of creating antibiotic resistant bacteria. This latest study is just one of many that have shed light on government’s flawed food safety system, which critics believe is in need of a major overhaul.  

Ditching cars in Times Square improves air quality
Back in the 1980s, Times Square was known for crime and prostitution. By the 1990s, after city officials cleaned up the place, it became a magnet for tourists and theatergoers enthralled with the bright lights of the big city. Now, thanks to NYC Mayor Bloomberg’s PlaNYC, Times Square may soon be known for its green attributes, like cleaner air and more public spaces. Grist reports that the city’s new pedestrian plazas—traffic-free areas throughout the square—are unsurprisingly, improving air quality. So far, nitrogen oxide and nitrogen dioxide levels have gone down 63 and 41 percent, respectively. This latest measure makes it clear that New Yorkers feel they have a right to breathe. Do you?


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.

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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 Jared Saylor's blog posts
13 April 2011, 9:52 AM
Congress avoided a shutdown, but at what cost to protecting our air and water?

We avoided a government shutdown with last minute deals that seemed to please both parties. But as they often say here in Washington, D.C. “the devil is in the details.” And in this case, it’s an awfully vicious budget slashing devil that has emerged in those details.

According to the Wall Street Journal, (subscription required) even though the GOP didn’t get the big ticket budget cuts to major EPA efforts to curb global warming pollution, clean up mercury from cement kilns, and cut asthma-causing pollution from big industrial polluters like power plants and incinerators, they did get an overall reduction in the EPA’s budget by 16 percent from 2010 spending. That’s a major cut that will certainly hamper the agency’s ability to protect the air we breathe and the water we drink.

The Journal wrote:

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 Jared Saylor's blog posts
12 April 2011, 8:39 AM
Their message: delays on coal ash regulations are simply unacceptable!
Tennessee coal ash spill 2008. Photo courtesy United Mountain Defense.

Members of Congress are going to hear from coal ash activists this week. But it’s going to be more than just phone calls and emails; 45 citizens from nine states are flying to Washington D.C.  to tell their coal ash stories to elected representatives and administration officials.

It’s been nearly a year since the Environmental Protection Agency proposed the nation’s first federal standard for coal ash ponds and dumps. Their two-option plan would either regulate coal ash as a hazardous waste, ensuring strong protections and monitoring requirements, or regulate it as non-hazardous waste, leaving discretion up to the states and endangering the drinking water supplies for thousands of communities near these toxic dumps.

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.

View Trip Van Noppen's blog posts
07 April 2011, 11:04 AM
Steeped in Tea Bag politics, House leaders are willing to sacrifice clean air
House Speaker John Boehner

As the threat of a total federal government shutdown hangs over the country, leaders in Congress and the White House continue eleventh-hour emergency negotiations to reach a compromise before time runs out on keeping our government funded and averting a costly and potentially disastrous government shutdown.

According to press reports this morning, the thing holding up any deal—and what will cause a shutdown if it happens—is not the dollar figure of budget cuts but the forcefulness of Republicans to use this budget bill as a vehicle to carry two unrelated political demands: blocks on clean air protections and reproductive rights for women..

“The two main issues holding this matter up are the choice of women, reproductive rights, and clean air,” Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) told The Hill this morning. “These matters have no place in a budget bill.”

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View Liz Judge's blog posts
06 April 2011, 3:14 PM
Squashes attempts to favor big corporate polluters over American citizens
Sen. James Inhofe

The Senate just voted to reject four—count 'em 1-2-3-4—bad amendments that would strangle and block the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency from being able to limit dangerous carbon dioxide pollution from the nation's biggest polluters.

These Dirty Air Acts went down in the upper chamber today because enough of the Senate still obviously believes that the well-being, future and health of Americans are more important than corporate special interests.

The amendments were offered on an unrelated small business innovation bill (S.493) by Sens. Rockefeller (S.AMDT.215), McConnell and Inhofe (S.AMDT.183), Baucus (S.AMDT.236), and Stabenow (S.AMDT.265).

Read Earthjustice's statement on today's Senate win for Americans, our health, and our future.

Now that the Senate has secured a victory for all Americans who breathe and whose businesses, families, and livelihood depend on a secure future for this country, eyes turn to the House, which is debating a Dirty Air Act of its own at this very moment.

View Jared Saylor's blog posts
05 April 2011, 12:55 PM
New ads in the D.C. region target attacks on Clean Air Act protections

House GOP members have been attacking clean air standards by pumping the stalled budget bill up with “riders” that remove the agency’s ability to clean up mercury, dioxins, arsenic and a host of other toxic chemicals from power plants, cement kilns, incinerators and the like.

But last week, a group called American Family Voices ran some compelling ads in the Washington, D.C. region targeting the value of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's efforts and the benefits of the Clean Air Act to get this pollution out of our lungs and out of the lungs of our children.

Here’s the ad: