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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
21 January 2010, 12:25 PM
Focus is on clean energy, natural heritage, and health

Last year, the U.S. government started taking environmental protection seriously again, but as 2010 dawns, we continue to see political and economic interests preventing or stalling critical environmental solutions.

In the face of this opposition, this year Earthjustice is targeting key issues with our legal and advocacy work. Our focus is on three core priorities: building a clean energy future, protecting our natural heritage, and safeguarding our health.

To avoid global warming's worst impacts, we must build a clean energy future. Reducing demand through efficiency and increasing supply from renewable sources of power are cornerstones of the foundation. But these steps are obstructed by the political stranglehold of the fossil fuel industry. Earthjustice is using the law to help break our national reliance on fossil fuels, which we continue to extract, burn, and subsidize heavily with taxpayer money, despite the destructive impact on people and the planet.

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View Trip Van Noppen's blog posts
13 January 2010, 11:36 AM
Arm in arm with lobbyists, senator aims to gut landmark law

<Update, Jan. 21>: Sen. Murkowski today declared her plan to exempt polluters from the Clean Air Act. She intends to use a little-known legislative maneuver to nullify the EPA's recent determination that greenhouse gases threaten public health. This move would restrict the Clean Air Act, a powerful and effective law, from being used to hold polluters accountable for their global warming emissions. Earthjustice's Sarah Saylor condemned Murkowski's gambit.

Sen. Lisa Murkowski is on a mission, legislative guns blazing, to shoot holes through the Clean Air Act—one of our nation's strongest and most successful environmental laws. If she prevails, we may lose one of the best tools we have to reduce global warming pollution. Senators may have to decide as soon as Jan. 20 whether to join her.

Industry lobbyists already have. In her scheme to bring down the Clean Air Act, Murkowski's script has been written by a pair of well-connected industry lobbyists whose clients include major coal-burning utilities like Duke Energy and the Southern Company. The Washington Post reports that both lobbyists, who were high-level officials at EPA under George W. Bush, even participated in a closed-door meeting last September to explain details of Murkowski's plan to the staffers of some centrist Democrats.

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View Trip Van Noppen's blog posts
18 December 2009, 5:36 PM
Senators try to stop EPA from reducing global warming pollution
Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK). Photo by AFP.

Today, as world leaders, led by President Obama, struggled deep into the night on a plan to fight climate change, a handful of U.S. senators at home were trying to sabotage U.S. climate action. In league with long-time climate science deniers in Congress, they launched an effort to keep the EPA from regulating greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act.

Led by Alaska's Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R), this politically motivated attack targets an "endangerment finding" announced by the EPA on Dec. 7. Sen. Murkowski, aided by Sen. Lindsay Graham and others, are trying to pass a resolution that would nullify this finding.

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View Sam Edmondson's blog posts
17 December 2009, 11:48 AM
Sen. Murkowski targets the EPA endangerment finding
Photo by AP

For the second time in 3 months, Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) is trying to block solutions to global warming. In September, she attempted to tack an amendment onto an appropriations bill that would have kept the Environmental Protection Agency from spending any money on reducing global warming pollution from major emissions sources, like coal-fired power plants. She failed.

But she's at it again. This go around, she's attempting to retroactively veto the EPA's recent Clean Air Act endangerment finding, which states that greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide are a threat to human health and welfare. The endangerment finding is the result of a Supreme Court ruling that found EPA has the authority and a legal obligation to use the Clean Air Act to regulate global warming pollution.

Is Murkowski suggesting that EPA ignore the High Court's ruling?

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View Terry Winckler's blog posts
17 December 2009, 7:54 AM
Highlights from the climate change conference on Dec. 16

(Editor's Note: This file presents news and information from the Copenhagen climate change conference on Dec. 17, distilled from news outlet reports. Check for updates during the day.)

<Update>: A leaked draft document at Copenhagen suggests that the political agreement being forged will allow the planet's temperature to rise so high that disastrous consequences will result.

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View Trip Van Noppen's blog posts
16 December 2009, 4:06 PM
U.S. leadership on global warming threatened by compromise in Congress
A coal-fired power plant.

Becoming a grandfather is cause for celebration, unless you're a coal-fired power plant.

Coal plants that predate the Clean Air Act have become the mules of air pollution—set in their ways and not liable to change. Exploiting their "grandfathered" status, these coal plants have refused to implement technologies that are currently available to reduce pollution.

Now, Congress seems determined to let these dinosaurs off the hook all over again.

Although the Environmental Protection Agency's recent Clean Air Act endangerment finding prescribes a strong antidote to global warming pollution—a fact President Obama will surely highlight tomorrow on the final day of climate negotiations in Copenhagen—a political compromise over coal plants threatens to bind EPA's hands just as it begins to act.

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View Sam Edmondson's blog posts
10 December 2009, 5:19 PM
Senators release framework for global warming legislation
Photo by AP

The Senate's Three Amigos—Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), John Kerry (D-MA), and Joe Lieberman (I-CT)—today released their framework for tackling global warming, our planetary El Guapo. The 5-page document lays out some broad principles for a Senate bill but is slim on specifics.

Crystal clear, however, is the senators' desire for a market-based system (i.e. one in which supply and demand reigns) rather than a system of government regulation: "Monday's endangerment finding by the EPA underscores the importance of Congressional action to address greenhouse gas emissions before the EPA moves unilaterally."

The endangerment finding—which makes possible the regulation of global warming pollution through the Clean Air Act—is a bitter pill to most business groups and industries, whose spokespeople quickly fired off "economy killer" statements when the finding was announced.

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View Sam Edmondson's blog posts
09 December 2009, 1:20 PM
Efforts to tie EPA's hands voted down

The endangerment finding released by the Environmental Protection Agency earlier this week—which states that greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide are a threat to public health and welfare—sure seems to rub some politicians the wrong way. Rep. Todd Tiahrt (R-Kan.), a U.S. Senate hopeful, made an attempt to keep any funding allocated in an omnibus spending bill to the EPA from being spent on regulations based on the endangerment finding.

Tiahrt's amendment to the $446.8 billion dollar spending bill was rejected last night in a 5-9 vote. A similar unsuccessful assault on EPA regulation of global warming pollution was mounted in September by Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK). Her amendment, which would have prevented the EPA for one year from spending any money allocated to them through an appropriations bill on regulating stationary sources of carbon pollution like power plants, didn't even get a vote.

These attempts to block funding for regulations, compared to the enthusiasm expressed by many at the announcement of the endangerment finding, illustrate a central issue: Using the Clean Air Act to regulate global warming pollution from cars, trucks, power plants, factories and other sources is a divisive issue. Moving forward, if and when EPA rolls out proposed regulations for these sources, it'll be interesting to see who lines up on which side of the argument.

View Terry Winckler's blog posts
01 December 2009, 4:14 PM
Global warming could be the last straw for many species

A host of wildlife, plants and fish in America may not survive the current debates over global warming in Congress and among the world's nations. According to a report from the Endangered Species Coalition, the effects of global warming could be the coup-de-grace for species that are already endangered by other causes. Says Leda Huta, executive director of the Endangered Species Coalition:

Global warming is like a bulldozer shoving species, already on the brink of extinction, perilously closer to the edge of existence...We need action now. Polar bears, lynx, salmon, coral and many other endangered species are already feeling the heat.

The report focuses on 10 endangered or threatened species that represent many other species jeopardized by a warming climate, and sets forth actions that Congress and the international community must quickly take to keep species from disappearing forever. Read the full report here.

View Trip Van Noppen's blog posts
18 November 2009, 12:26 PM
An ocean continues to wait for change
The Chukchi Sea. Photo: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

In the Arctic waters surrounding Alaska, George W. Bush is still president, but Interior Secretary Ken Salazar has the chance to inaugurate a new regime.

Shell Oil recently got the green light from the Department of Interior to drill next summer just off the shores of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, in waters that are an important migratory route for endangered bowhead whales. With numerous decisions on offshore drilling in the Arctic still pending, the looming question is, will Sec. Salazar chart his own course—using science as a guide—or will he continue to make decisions as though Bush were still in charge?

Last summer, Salazar told the magazine American Cowboy, "The science is fundamental to decisions we make. Ignoring the science will imperil important priorities to the United States and our world. Unfortunately, the last administration often ignored the science to get to what it wanted to get to. We will not do that."

On the Arctic, science has spoken, and I hope Sec. Salazar meant what he said.

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