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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 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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View Terry Winckler's blog posts
04 November 2009, 4:30 PM
Senate vote on climate bill unlikely before climate change conference

UPDATE: Democrats today (Nov. 5) ducked a Republican boycott to pass a climate change bill out of a key Senate committee. One senator described the move as a way to prove the United States is serious about fighting global warming.

President Obama hoped to have a climate change bill in hand to strengthen America's credibility in December at the world climate change conference in Copenhagen—but he may have to settle for a "show of progress" instead. A Republican boycott on the bill this week all but doomed hope of getting a bill passed before the conference.

But, is a "show" enough to convince other countries that the U.S. is no longer the rogue nation it was under Bush? We posed the question to Earthjustice legislative representative Sarah Saylor. Here's her response:

Anyone watching the process knows that our Congressional leaders are moving the legislative process forward. That bill has cleared two of five key hurdles in the legislative process by passing through committee to the House floor, and through the House floor to the Senate.

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View Sam Edmondson's blog posts
28 October 2009, 4:51 PM
Mountaintop removal mining begins at Coal River Mountain
Coal River Mountain as seen from nearby Kayford Mountain. Photo: Coal River Mountain Watch.

The halls of Congress are echoing this week with debate over proposed legislation to fight global warming—a fight that can't be won without addressing a primary cause of global warming: our dependence on coal. As the rumpus goes on there, a real-life battle between coal and the future of American energy has reached a pivotal moment in Appalachia.

In an effort to protect their familial homes and water resources, residents of West Virginia's Coal River Valley have long fought to prevent Coal River Mountain from being blown apart for the coal beneath it. Local groups like Coal River Mountain Watch, an Earthjustice client, have argued compellingly that the mountain is an ideal site for a wind power facility, which could make the region a model for sustainable, green economic growth.

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View Trip Van Noppen's blog posts
15 October 2009, 12:00 PM
EPA chief asks Congress for new law to protect public from toxic threats

Suppose I asked you to drive a nail into the wall and then handed you a banana to do it. At best you'd make a mess of it—the same mess faced by the Environmental Protection Agency when it comes to keeping the public safe from toxic chemicals. Right job, wrong tool.

Congress handed the EPA a banana in 1976 called the Toxic Substances Control Act, a law that EPA chief Lisa Jackson herself recently described as "an inadequate tool for providing the protection against chemical risks that the public rightfully expects." The numbers bear her out: EPA has required safety testing of only 200 of the roughly 82,000 chemicals registered for use under TSCA. These are chemicals in products that we all encounter every day, from household cleaners to cell phones, toys, carpets and food containers. The result is more potentially hazardous chemicals in our bodies than ever before.

Recognizing this tremendous failure to protect the public, Jackson is asking Congress for a hammer.

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View Peter Campbell's blog posts
15 October 2009, 10:07 AM
A Blog Action Day post: stop factory farming
Earthjustice is participating in Blog Action Day.

Today is Blog Action Day, and this year's theme is Climate Change. Here's my pitch for an immediate step that could be taken to reduce the production of greenhouse gases significantly, while promoting good health; improving the economy in rural America; and reducing cruelty to animals. In fact, this suggestion is so logical that it's a travesty that I have to suggest it. It makes Sarah Silverman's recent hunger-ending proposal look paltry in comparison. Here's my suggestion:

Close down factory farms. Eliminate agribusiness.

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View Sam Edmondson's blog posts
24 September 2009, 2:14 PM
Senate abandons Alaskan senator's attempt to constrain EPA authority
Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK)

Just as world leaders convened in New York earlier this week for the U.N. Climate Conference, Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) was introducing an amendment to an appropriations bill that would have hogtied EPA's ability to regulate carbon pollution from power plants and other large industrial polluters.

Fortunately, the Senate just decided not to vote on Senator Murkowski's amendment.

Some major dominoes still have to fall before big carbon polluters like power plants are regulated under the Clean Air Act, but the jettisoning of Murkowski's amendment clears the way for EPA to continue its work in that direction.

Here's a thanks to the 12,000 Earthjustice supporters who earlier this week urged their senators to reject Murkowski's amendment and instead tackle climate change and carbon polluters head on.
 

View Bill Walker's blog posts
01 September 2009, 11:26 AM
House bill would allow old, dirty coal plants to keep polluting
Navajo Generating Station, Arizona

The attorneys general of five states are urging Senate leaders to strengthen the federal climate bill by requiring cleanup or closure of dirty coal-fired power plants, preserving state authority to set stricter clean air standards than in federal law and ensuring that citizens can sue to enforce the bill’s provisions.

The letter was sent even as Democratic leaders in the Senate announced they are postponing consideration of the bill until later this year because of the political logjam over national health care reform.

“We believe that passage of a [stronger] bill . . . will build upon the efforts of states to address climate change, and by demonstrating the nation’s commitment to achieving carbon reductions, will put the U.S. in a stronger position in negotiations on a new international climate accord in Copenhagen later this year,” said the letter, sent Aug. 31. 

View Sam Edmondson's blog posts
21 August 2009, 10:34 AM
Clean coal wishful thinkers part ways with disgraced lobbying firm

Thanks, but no thanks. So said the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity (ACCCE) to the black-sheep lobby shop Bonner & Associates, which was caught sending forged letters opposing the Waxman-Markey bill to three members of Congress. In the wake of this scandal, first reported by the Charlottesville Daily Progress back in late-July, it seems ACCCE is making the wise decision to relieve Bonner from its employ

But as others have noted, ACCCE is no innocent actor in this story. They were made aware of the forgeries on June 24, 2009 by the Hawthorn Group, an ACCCE client that hired Bonner & Associates on ACCCE's behalf to reach out to local groups in the districts of key members of Congress.

View Sam Edmondson's blog posts
18 August 2009, 4:17 PM
New fraudulent letters opposing the climate bill revealed

The scandal involving a D.C. lobbying firm called Bonner & Associates that sent forged letters opposing the climate bill to members of Congress continues to grow. A number of blogs are covering a press release from Rep. Ed Markey (D-MA) that states five new forged letters were uncovered as part of a congressional investigation launched shortly after reports of the first batch of forged letters surfaced.

The recently discovered letters, sent to three Democratic representatives—Tom Perriello (D-VA), Kathy Dahlkemper (D-PA) and Christopher Carney (D-PA)—were purportedly from senior citizen centers and expressed concern that fixed-income seniors would be hurt by rate increases as a result of the climate bill. 

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View Terry Winckler's blog posts
12 August 2009, 12:21 PM
Although public favors bill, Senate is consumed with health care

If the latest Zogby poll is right, Americans have taken a green flip-flop in favor of Congress acting on climate change. The poll says 65 percent of us feel that way, and even believe that jobs growth is tied to clean energy investment.

Most politicians guide their votes on the basis of public opinion, so this would seem a good omen for the climate legislation passed earlier by the House into Senate hands. The "American Clean Energy and Security Act" is in part based on the premise of creating economic growth by fighting global warming.

Trouble is, the Senate is too fixated on health care reform right now to feel any wind shift on climate change. Nor is the Obama administration able to take quality time off from that ruckus to rouse action on ACES. It's supposed to be taken up early next month, but most political wags think it is on a slow, slow track. The hoped-for December deadline for a full Senate vote is in jeopardy.