Posts tagged: environmental justice

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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 Jessica Knoblauch's blog posts
11 February 2011, 6:37 AM
Radiated bird brains, Clorox cleaning, peak oil Wikileaks
A recent USDA decision allows farmers to plant genetically modified sugar beets. Photo courtesy of Uwe Hermann.

USDA gives Big Ag some sugar in GE beet decision 
In a move that directly contradicts the finding of a U.S. federal judge, last week the Department of Agriculture said that farmers could start planting their genetically modified sugar beets, reports the New York Times, despite concerns raised over GE crops by environmental and organic groups. The decision to allow farmers to plant the beets before a (legally required) environmental impact assessment was conducted was most likely brought on by fears that blocking the crops’ planting would result in a sugar shortage, an odd concern for a country who's known to have a bit of a sweet tooth

Clorox freshens up stance on ingredient disclosure
Hooray! This past Tuesday, cleaning company Clorox announced it would allow consumers to know just what’s in all of those cleaners and cleansers, reports the LA Times. The announcement comes after sustained pressure by environmental and health groups, including Earthjustice, which argue that consumers have a right to know what’s in their toilet bowl cleaner. After all, sunlight is the best disinfectant.

View Sam Edmondson's blog posts
08 February 2011, 3:57 PM
Reports strongly support first-ever EPA protections

Next month, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency will propose the first ever health protections against power plants’ toxic air pollution. No industrial source of dirty air poses greater risks to human health or the environment than these juggernauts, which have never been subject to federal limits on their emissions of mercury, arsenic, acid gases and carcinogens such as dioxins.

Power plants are also among the worst emitters of fine particle pollution (a.k.a. PM 2.5), a microscopic mixture of liquid and solid droplets suspended in the air that can penetrate deep into our lungs. Fine particle pollution takes a serious toll on our health—particularly on some of the most vulnerable individuals in our society such as children, the elderly, and low-income and communities of color who live downwind of a disproportionate number of these and other industrial facilities.

In a report released in Sep. 2010, the Clean Air Task Force presented data that project fine particle pollution from coal-fired power plants would cause 13,200 deaths, 20,400 heart attacks, 217,600 asthma attacks, and more than 1.5 million days when people have to miss work in 2010. In all, these negative impacts to our health cost us more than $100 billion.

View Sam Edmondson's blog posts
03 February 2011, 4:41 PM
Recent reports detail sky-high mercury emissions of the worst toxic polluters

When it comes to mercury pollution, coal-fired power plants are king. Two recent reports—one from the Environmental Integrity Project, the other from Environment America—take a look at the scope of the problem.

EIP has meticulously tracked mercury pollution from power plants for years in their Dirty Kilowatts reports. But this year is an especially important time to focus on this unresolved pollution problem, as the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is currently on a court-ordered deadline won by Earthjustice and a broad coalition of environmental and public health groups to issue the first-ever health protections against emissions of mercury and other toxic pollutants from power plants. The draft health protections are due March 16, 2011.

According to EIP’s report—“America’s Power Plant Mercury Polluters: The Good, the Bad, and the Dirty”—the 50 worst mercury polluters generated nearly half of the power plant industry’s total mercury emissions. These 50 dirty plants emitted 33,280 pounds of mercury—a shocking number when you consider it takes only 1/70th of a teaspoon of mercury to pollute a 20-acre lake to the point where fish are unsafe to eat.

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View Sam Edmondson's blog posts
02 February 2011, 4:46 PM
New survey reaffirms that public wants clean air, health protections
President George H.W. Bush signs Clean Air Act Amendments into law on Nov. 15, 1990. (George Bush Presidential Library and Museum)

Sixty-three percent of Americans want the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency “to do more to hold polluters accountable and protect the air and water.” This according to a new survey conducted at the end of January by ORC International.

Rep. John Carter (D-TX)—fast becoming a household name around here—isn’t part of that 63 percent. In early January, Rep. Carter sponsored a resolution to effectively block EPA health protections that will limit emissions of mercury and other dangerous air toxics from cement plants. These protections could prevent the premature death of as many as 2,500 people every year when they take effect in 2013.

Notwithstanding the fact that Rep. Carter has seriously misrepresented the facts in his push to win support for his anti-health resolution, a large majority of Americans generally disagree with his approach. The ORC survey found that 77 percent of Americans—more than three out of every four—say “Congress (should) let the EPA do its job.”

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View Sam Edmondson's blog posts
01 February 2011, 2:43 PM
Also, congressman's dirty deeds and boilers' toxic air
Refinery photo by Pamela A. Miller.

(Clean air is a life saver, which is why Earthjustice is working to ensure that polluters don’t stand in the way of safeguards against air pollution. Here’s a round up of some recent news in the ongoing campaign to protect our Right to Breathe.)

Use the #right2breathe hashtag on Twitter to track campaign updates.

EPA Defends Hazardous Waste Loophole
Back in 2008, the Bush administration exempted oil refineries from safety requirements designed to protect the public from the storage, transport, and burning of hazardous waste. Citizen groups including Earthjustice asked the current EPA to close the loophole, but last week, the agency signaled its support for the Bush-era exemption. This is bad news for communities that live near oil refineries. Wilma Subra of the Louisiana Environmental Action Network said “Communities in the Gulf region already suffer enough from refineries’ toxic pollution. The last thing we need is uncontrolled burning of their hazardous wastes.” A public comment period will open shortly—we’ll keep you posted on what you can do to help close this egregious loophole.

View Liz Judge's blog posts
21 January 2011, 12:48 PM
Movement to stop the destruction picks up after historic EPA action on MTR
A photo mosaic of the late Judy Bonds, a crusader to stop MTR, made up of 650 Earthjustice photo submissions.

Yesterday, The New York Times published an excellent editorial on mountaintop removal mining in support of the EPA's decision to veto the water pollution permit for the largest proposed mine in West Virginia, Arch Coal's Spruce No. 1 mine.

It issues a strong reproach of the antics of certain friends of coal in Congress:

The mine received a final permit from the Army Corps of Engineers in 2007. The E.P.A. has long had the power to veto such permits but has used it only once before. This decision provoked predictably outraged responses from industry and its political friends, including West Virginia’s two Democratic senators, John Rockefeller IV and Joe Manchin III, a former governor ...

Arch Coal has vowed a court fight, which Mr. Manchin says he will support. A far better use of their energies would be to find a less destructive way to mine coal.

This moral reinforcement comes after a monumental and whirlwind week in the movement to stop mountaintop removal mining.

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View Jessica Knoblauch's blog posts
21 January 2011, 10:35 AM
Canned mercury, dirty Apples, pollution-seeking sweatshirts
Protesters against hydraulic fracturing in the Marcellus Shale. Photo courtesy of Marcellus Protest.

Celebrity disses hydraulic fracturing
Forget traipsing around a creepy island with Leonardo DiCaprio. Actor Mark Ruffalo recently went on a much more daring crusade in his latest roll as a passionate environmental advocate speaking out against the practice of hydraulic fracturing, according to HuffPo. After attending an NYC event called "Fracking and Its Effects: A Panel Discussion," Ruffalo told HuffPo in an exclusive interview that risky technologies like fracking will lead to "greater degradation…and greater catastrophes," urging people to speak out on the issue. Visit Earthjustice's Web site to see how you can help put the brakes on fracking.

High-tech sweatshirt detects air pollution
A pair of NYU grad students with a flair for combining fashion and science have created a high-tech sweatshirt that features an image of pink lungs whose veins turn blue after coming in contact with air pollution, reports the NY Daily News. A tiny carbon monoxide sensor embedded in the shirt can pick up air pollutants from a range of sources, like cars and second-hand smoke. At $60 a pop, it's unlikely that the shirts will be mass produced any time soon, but in the meantime the shirts make quite the fashion statement.

View Liz Judge's blog posts
13 January 2011, 12:07 PM
Coal mine finally stopped as EPA rejects Spruce No. 1 Mine
Site of the proposed Spruce mine (green valley to right). Photo by Vivian Stockman of OVEC, Flyover courtesy SouthWings.

Today, after a generation of blasting its way virtually unhindered across Appalachia, the coal industry has been defused. The EPA announced its veto of what would have been the largest mountaintop removal operation in West Virginia -- Arch Coal's Spruce No. 1 Mine.

The EPA's unprecedented action spares the land, protects those in the area of the proposed mine, and must be seen as a huge victory for communities across Appalachia. They have hope at last that this most destructive form of coal mining is finally being reined in. It is a huge victory for them and for all Americans joined in the struggle to protect our air and water from industrial pollution.

The impacts of this decision are profound:

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View Liz Judge's blog posts
04 January 2011, 10:44 AM
Rest in peace Judy Bonds, godmother of fight to stop mountaintop removal mining

Last night we lost a true hero, Judy Bonds of Marfork, West Virginia. Judy—the executive director of Coal River Mountain Watch, Goldman Prize recipient, and friend and partner of Earthjustice—was a courageous leader in the fight to protect Americans and future generations from the poisonous pollution and destruction of mountaintop removal mining.

She was an inspiration to many in this movement, a fearless voice for her fellow West Virginians, and a righteous fighter. She fought for the health of her neighbors and all Americans, she stood up against toxic pollution, for justice, and against the greed and destruction of rich and powerful corporations. Through her persistent fight, she opened many people's eyes to the environmental injustices of mountaintop removal mining. "I don't mind being poor, and I don't mind being made fun of, but I draw the line at being blasted and poisoned," she said. She had a way with words and was a powerful orator and organizer.

"Fight harder" was often her advice to others, and despite meeting obstacles, challenges and even threats, she kept up the fight and managed to fight yet harder. She inspired so many of us to join in the fight, and even more of a gift, she made us believe that if we join together, if we really try, we can make a difference and we can win.

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View David Lawlor's blog posts
28 December 2010, 2:58 PM
Decision comes amid ongoing persecution of activists in Latin America
Rodolfo Montiel and Teodoro Cabrera

The Inter-American Court of Human Rights has ruled against Mexico and its army in the case of two Mexican farmers who were persecuted as a result of their environmental advocacy. The Interamerican Association for Environmental Defense (AIDA), Earthjustice’s partner organization in international environmental law, submitted an amicus brief in the case supporting the farmers.

Teodoro Cabrera García and Rodolfo Montiel Flores were imprisoned and tortured by the Mexican Army in 1999 after the pair formed the Organization of Peasant Ecologists of the Sierra de Petatlán and Coyuca de Catalán (OCESP). The group’s mission was to defend the environment in southern Mexico’s Guerrero state where industrial logging was destroying the region’s landscape and threatening the livelihood of local farmers. Cabrera and Montiel were eventually released from prison in 2001, but were forced to leave the country following threats to their lives.