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.

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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 Sam Edmondson's blog posts
06 July 2010, 9:55 AM
EPA to set emission standards for 28 polluting industries

In 1970, the Clean Air Act first took aim at toxic air emissions from industrial facilities across the United States. Forty years later, it finally hit a major target.

Actually, 28 major targets. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency today agreed to review and update Clean Air Act rules that rein in emissions of nearly 200 hazardous air pollutants released by 28 kinds of industrial facilities.

All those numbers will translate to one important thing: fewer toxic pollutants in our air that are linked to cancer, birth defects, anemia, nervous system damage, lung and respiratory ailments, and other illnesses. The 28 categories of industrial facilities include pesticide production operations, pharmaceutical plants and lead smelters.

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View Raviya Ismail's blog posts
28 June 2010, 12:33 PM
Port Arthur, TX residents continually exposed to toxic emissions
Hilton Kelley of Port Arthur, TX.

When Hilton Kelley of Port Arthur, Texas moved back to his hometown more than a decade ago, he didn't realize that he'd spend the ensuing years battling for clean air. And on a muggy Tuesday afternoon, he drove 90 miles west toward Houston to attend yet another EPA hearing to comment on air pollution rules.

Kelley, 49, lives in an area where there are 20 facilities, small and large, continuously pumping chemicals into the air.

"We have become the dumping ground for America's toxic waste," said Kelley. The Port Arthur community is comprised of residents that often times need two or three jobs to make ends meet, he said. "It's an area of least resistance."

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View Raviya Ismail's blog posts
24 June 2010, 9:19 AM
Industry complains of economic woes, Houstonians fear polluted air

Concerned Houston citizen Rosalie Guerrero recently visited a young mother who lives near a facility pumping chemicals in the air. The mother had given birth to a baby with half a brain. The baby suffered for 6 months before dying.

“I’d like to see how much that life costs,” said Rosalie, testifying at a U.S. EPA hearing in Houston on the detrimental effects of living near facilities that emit lead, mercury and cadmium in the air. “There is a cost associated with that.”

Advocates for clean air testified alongside industry representatives at hearings in Houston and Los Angeles Tuesday regarding recent EPA proposals to cut emissions of hazardous air pollutants like mercury and other toxic metals at nearly 100,000 facilities nationwide.

View Sam Edmondson's blog posts
23 June 2010, 3:02 PM
Clean air advocates tell EPA at public hearings to cut toxic emissions

Clean air advocates, many sporting "Don't Trash Our Lungs" t-shirts, spoke out yesterday at public hearings in Los Angeles and Houston for much-needed reductions in toxic air pollution. Held by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the hearings focused on recent EPA proposals to cut emissions of hazardous air pollutants like mercury and other toxic metals at nearly 100,000 facilities nationwide.

While aspects of the EPA's proposals will result in significant benefits to public health if finalized, the agency also made an irresponsible and dangerous offering to industry in the form of a loophole that would allow many facilities to burn industrial wastes without any meaningful oversight or pollution controls.

I attended the L.A. hearing to ask that EPA issue final standards that are maximally strong and protective of public health and ditch the loophole that endangers communities across the country. Hundreds of Earthjustice supporters in the L.A. area, which is notorious for its poor air quality, also submitted comments asking for the same, and I was able to read excerpts from many of these during my testimony.

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View Liz Judge's blog posts
18 June 2010, 9:41 AM
Fast-track approach to mountain destruction is suspended
Kayford Mountain in West Virginia - photo by Vivian Stockman, courtesy of Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition

Yesterday the Army Corps of Engineers announced that it is suspending the use of nationwide permits for mountaintop removal coal mining.

Under U.S. law, companies who wish to engage in mountaintop removal mining—this is, to use explosives to blow off the top of mountains to get to the coal underneath, and then dispose of the rubble in streams and waterways—need to get a permit from the Army Corps of Engineers to do so. This permit is actually a Clean Water Act permit, and the granting of it holds that a company is abiding by the Clean Water Act, the cornerstone of water protection in the United States, and is following its requirements when it dumps its mining waste in the valley streams and waterways.

In 1982, the Army Corps of engineers established a nationwide permit (NWA Permit 21) for mountaintop removal mining operations, most of which are in Appalachia. This was a generalized, fast-track process that waived the Clean Water Act permit application for companies and automatically granted them permits. Instead of applying and going through a normal permitting process that assesses each company's impact on the waterways and streams, this Corps permit acted as a blind rubber stamp, outright allowing companies to engage in mountaintop-removal mining without proving that Clean Water Act requirements will indeed be met.

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View Sam Edmondson's blog posts
09 June 2010, 10:43 AM
EPA abandons a rule permitting unregulated burning of hazardous waste
The star-crossed lovers, Romeo and Juliet.

Juliet once said to Romeo: "What's in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet." Were Juliet as concerned by toxic air pollution as love, the fair Capulet might have instead philosophized: "That which we call hazardous waste by any other name would pollute as much when burned."

I have a good reason for butchering Shakespeare's poetry. Yesterday, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency finally abandoned a dangerous exemption that allowed industrial polluters to store, transport, and burn hazardous waste without meeting crucial requirements to protect public health and the environment.

View Kathleen Sutcliffe's blog posts
03 June 2010, 1:57 PM
Toxic America series continues tonight at 8 pm ET/PT

Did you tune into CNN's special series "Toxic Towns USA" last night? I sure did. I wanted to root on our friends and allies in the town of Mossville, LA who were featured in the special one-hour program hosted by Dr. Sanjay Gupta.

Among the local heroes profiled in the piece was Dorothy Felix, who has spent much of the past decade fighting to protect her community from the cancer-causing chemicals raining down upon her hometown of Mossville, a historically African-American community in southwestern Louisiana ringed by chemical plants.

This is a community where University of Texas researchers found that 99 percent of residents suffered from at least one disease or illness related to toxic chemical exposure. Further studies found blood levels of dioxin in Mossville residents rivaling those seen in workers involved in industrial accidents. The toxicologists studying these results called them some of the highest levels ever reported in the United States from an environmental exposure.

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View Sam Edmondson's blog posts
02 June 2010, 11:36 AM
Residents of Mossville, La. speak out in debut of a new CNN investigation
Aerial view of a chemical plant in Louisiana.

Breathing isn't a choice. Everyone does it, no matter where they live. But for many Americans, where they live has a tremendous impact on the quality of the air they breathe.

Take a look at Mossville, Louisiana for instance, which is home to 14 chemical plants. The town's residents are plagued by severe health problems like cancer and kidney disease attributed to pollution from these local facilities.

Tonight at 8 PM ET/PT, CNN will profile the toxic plight of Mossville and its residents in "Toxic Towns USA," which is part of a two-night special investigation called "Toxic America" that culminates a "year-long, stunning look into toxic chemicals, health and the environment," according to the network. The investigation will continue tomorrow night with "Toxic Childhood" at 8PM ET/PT.

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View Jared Saylor's blog posts
04 May 2010, 1:38 PM
Agency offers two plans: one good, one bad
Cleaning up after the TVA coal ash spill in Tennessee, December 2008. Photo: http://www.tva.gov

It's been a long time coming, but they're finally here: the EPA announced today plans to set the first ever federal safeguards for coal ash, one of America's most dangerous wastes. But what they really did was announce two plans: one good and one bad. The agency will accept public comment on both plans and then decide which to pursue.

The good plan classifies coal ash as hazardous waste, a move we've been pushing the EPA to make for some time. The agency also proposed, however, to classify coal ash as non-hazardous (the bad plan), a move that will not yield strong protections for communities and won't get at the problems associated with coal ash ponds and landfills.

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View Sam Edmondson's blog posts
30 April 2010, 10:04 AM
New EPA rules will cut air toxics, but a loophole leaves some vulnerable
Solid waste incinerator. Photo: EPA.

Americans can breathe a sigh of relief today, thanks to new rules announced by the Environmental Protection Agency that will reduce toxic air pollution in communities across the country. The rules come three years after Earthjustice and others stopped the Bush administration from deregulating toxic emissions from industrial boilers, incinerators, and process heaters.

These sources may sound obscure, but consider that highly polluting materials like coal, discarded tires, used chemicals and other industrial wastes are burned in boilers and solid waste incinerators at hundreds of thousands of facilities in the U.S. Chances are, you or someone you know lives, works, or commutes by one of these facilities, perhaps without even knowing it.

Cancer, reproductive disorders, birth defects and other serious health problems can be caused by the toxic air pollutants from these sources. Now, many of these facilities will be subject to strong pollution controls.

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