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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.

ABOUT EARTHJUSTICE'S BLOG

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 Trip Van Noppen's blog posts
14 December 2010, 5:19 PM
New, hostile Congress readies attack on clean air standards

What stands between Americans and clean air isn't science, technology, or the law. It's politics. Last month, I wrote that the incoming House leadership of the new Congress is already beating the war drum in anticipation of taking down the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the critical health protections it is required by law to enact.

This is a defining moment.

Earthjustice and our supporters, allies, and clients have worked tirelessly for more than a decade to secure numerous important health standards, and we are now closer than ever to realizing their substantial benefits. The politics might be hazy, but the law and the science are on our side. We are standing on a mountain of good court decisions that confirm the EPA's responsibility to issue clean air standards that protect our health.

Over the past two years, the agency has been working diligently—for the first time in quite a while—to be a credible protector of the environment. In the long-term struggle to protect all Americans' right to breathe clean air, we cannot allow short-term political pressure to change that.

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View Liz Judge's blog posts
10 December 2010, 4:09 PM
Court clears the way for EPA to stay the course on global warming pollution

This afternoon. the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals swatted down big polluters' attempts to block this nation's most important progress on cutting climate change pollution. This court decision is a huge victory for clean air in America and for progress on climate change.

A coalition of Texas polluters are responsible, yet again, for this unsuccessful effort to prevent the Environmental Protection Agency from curbing global warming pollution from moving vehicles and the biggest industry polluters.

Earthjustice and others represented Environmental Defense Fund as a court intervenor in opposing the polluters' motions for a court stay on the endangerment finding and the EPA's action on carbon pollution, which has been scientifically found to harm and endanger human health and welfare.

Reacting to today's court decision,Earthjustice attorney David Baron said:

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View Martin Wagner's blog posts
03 December 2010, 11:23 AM
New report says delay equals catastrophe

(Editor's Note: Earthjustice attorneys Martin Wagner and Erika Rosenthal are blogging from the United Nations climate conference in Cancun, Mexico.)

"I was born in 1992. You have been negotiating all my life. You cannot tell me that you need more time."

This is the text on the t-shirts worn today by each of the international youth delegates here at the United Nations climate change negotiations in Cancun. It comes from a speech that Christina Ora of the Solomon Islands gave at last year's negotiations in Copenhagen.

Christina has a point.

The basic U.N. climate change treaty was produced in 1992 (the first President Bush ratified the agreement on behalf of the United States the same year). Ever since, the members governments have engaged in essentially continuous negotiations to establish and strengthen commitments that could avoid catastrophic climate change. And as the negotiations have dragged on, the evidence of the need for progress has grown.

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View Jessica Knoblauch's blog posts
24 November 2010, 1:15 PM
Idling laws, inconvenient climate truths, radiating trees
Wi-Fi radiation may be making trees sick. Photo courtesy of sxc.hu, Auro Queiroz

California's chemicals law gets tangled in toxic debate
With toxic chemicals regulations set to go into effect in January, manufacturers and advocacy groups are going head to head over how California should implement the landmark law, according to the Washington Post.

Advocates of the law say the regulations are too weak, while industry claims otherwise—a similar predicament that's also found in New York, where Earthjustice litigation recently resulted in state legislators requiring household cleaner manufacturers to begin disclosing their products' chemical ingredients and health risks.

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View Trip Van Noppen's blog posts
17 November 2010, 4:04 PM
Buoyed by supporters, Earthjustice expands to meet the challenge
Roadless areas of the Tongass N.F. are among Earthjustice's top priorities for protection

Although the recent elections signal a return to more inhospitable times for environmental protection in Congress, we are sustained by two constants: the power of the law and the dedication of our supporters.

The law provides leverage for progress even when political winds shift, and our steadfast supporters have shown time and again that they trust in our ability to wield it for positive change, regardless of the prevailing politics.

That backing has helped us through difficult times. Like so many American families and businesses, we were impacted by the economic recession. Thankfully, as we prepared to tighten our belts, our supporters sent a clear message with their generous donations: don't cut back your work to protect our environment.

Fueled by that generosity, we expanded our litigation and advocacy to take full advantage of the tremendous opportunities for advancing environmental issues that have existed over the past two years—and that still exist as we look at the next two. With Thanksgiving at hand, we want to take this opportunity to reflect on the progress made that wouldn't have been possible without your support.

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View Trip Van Noppen's blog posts
04 November 2010, 4:49 PM
A new and hostile congressional leadership is not new to Earthjustice

There is no reason to beat around the bush: Tuesday's election results are a setback in our progress towards a cleaner, healthier, more sustainable planet.

At a time when the world desperately needs leadership from the United States, voters have installed in the House of Representatives those who have vowed to do all they can to obstruct progress in cleaning up dirty coal-burning power plants, reducing health-destroying and climate-disrupting pollution, and protecting wild places and wildlife.

Yet, while the news is bad, we can take heart that the election was not a referendum on the environment. Voters still want clean water, healthy air, protected public lands, and action on transitioning from dirty power plants to a clean energy economy.

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View Sam Edmondson's blog posts
30 September 2010, 3:02 PM
Uphold the Clean Air Act, groups ask
Photo: Fresno Bee

Across the United States—from California's Central Valley to Chicago, Houston and New York—people are breathing polluted air and suffering. Asthma, bronchitis, heart disease, birth defects and even cancer are the prices paid by residents in scores of American communities where polluting facilities operate.

Worst of all, this suffering is unnecessary. Cost-effective technology to dramatically reduce toxic air emissions exists, but some of the biggest polluters simply brush off obligations to clean up their acts and be better neighbors. This stubborn refusal to comply with the law is having an especially big impact on Latino citizens, as a recent letter to President Obama and Congress points out.

More than 25 million U.S. Latinos—66 percent of the total Latino population—live in places where federal air quality standards aren't being met. Rates of asthma in communities like San Diego's Barrio Logan neighborhood are four times the national average. The letter, signed by community groups representing more than 5 million Latino citizens in the U.S., urges the Obama administration and Congress to uphold the Clean Air Act, which the groups say "means jobs, better health and better opportunities for a brighter, healthier future."

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View Liz Judge's blog posts
20 September 2010, 1:22 PM
Congressman to block efficiency gains and phase-out of old light bulbs
Rep. Joe Barton wants to spend his time keeping old, outdated light bulbs on store shelves

Joe Barton (R-TX) is proving that he has better things to do than apologize to Tony Hayward and BP. Now, he is trying to repeal energy efficiency standards that save American citizens billions of dollars every year. These standards, ironically, are among the few environmental policies made in eight years of Bush leadership. 

His latest daft idea is to propose legislation to wipe away huge national energy efficiency gains and block energy efficiency standards which have been on the books since 2007 and in the works well before that. These efficiency standards for light bulbs, which were reached as a part of the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007, had strong support from a coalition of light bulb manufacturers, electric utilities, as well as the Bush administration.

Last week Barton, the top recipient of Big Oil funds in Congress and the top recipient of special interest money from fossil fuel industries, introduced a new bill that goes against the work and support of his own party in proclaimed defense of industry in America, despite the fact that the industry itself actually supported and helped reach these standards. 

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View Trip Van Noppen's blog posts
15 September 2010, 11:13 AM
Consumers will get info on what's in their household cleaners

A few months ago, I told you about our tough legal fight in New York to force household cleaner manufacturers to reveal what chemicals they are putting in products that we use every day in our homes.

Today, I am glad to report that our work has persuaded the state of New York to take action. The Commissioner of New York's Department of Environmental Conservation last week told manufacturers to disclose what their products contain and any health risks they pose, the first such request ever made by regulators in any state. (You can send Commissioner Pete Grannis a note of thanks here.)

This is a huge win for consumers that wouldn't have happened without strong legal pressure.

You might recall from my previous column that a long-forgotten state law requiring manufacturers to come clean was unearthed by former Earthjustice attorney Keri Powell a few years ago. Following her discovery, Earthjustice and our coalition partners mounted an aggressive legal and advocacy campaign that ultimately triggered the state's decision to start enforcing this important right-to-know law. A big thanks go out to our supporters, who held green-cleaning parties in their homes and helped generate nearly 40,000 emails to decision-makers and cleaning product companies.

But, this isn't just a victory for New York state. Because many of the manufacturers doing business in the state of New York sell their products throughout the U.S., we all stand to benefit. After all, Procter & Gamble's Mr. Clean products and other national brands are the same whether you're in Poughkeepsie or Portland.

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View Liz Judge's blog posts
14 September 2010, 3:43 PM
But there is still a long way to go

Today, the Environmental Protection Agency celebrated the 40th anniversary of one of our nation's most successful and most protective laws, the Clean Air Act.

Commemorating the milestone anniversary with a full day of speakers, keynotes and panel discussions, the agency was joined by a host of industry leaders, business CEOs, clean air advocates and environmental champions to discuss just how far we've come in cleaning up our air and protecting people's lungs and lives from toxic and dangerous air pollution.

For proof on how far we've come, here's some of the pudding:

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