Posts tagged: environmental justice

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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 Liz Judge's blog posts
30 September 2011, 8:46 AM
Here are the videos and statements they don't want you to see
Maria Gunnoe: "When the coal industry destroys Appalachia’s water it’s said to be in the best interest of our homeland security."

“They are blowing up my homeland,” said West Virginia coalfield resident Maria Gunnoe on Monday morning, in her sworn testimony on the impacts of mountaintop removal mining before the House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources.

I feel the vibrations of the core driller in the floors of my home; and the impacts of the blasting near my home are horrendous. This is absolutely against everything that America stands for.

When someone destroys water in a foreign country it is called an act of war. When the coal industry destroys Appalachia’s water it’s said to be in the best interest of our homeland security.

My nephew reminds me of what surface mining looks like from a child’s eyes. As we were driving through our community, he looks up and says, ‘Aunt Sissy, what is wrong with these people? Don’t they know we live down here?’ I had to be honest with him and say, ‘Yes, they know. They just simply don’t care.’

Maria’s powerful and moving testimony was a part of the House Subcommittee’s field hearing in West Virginia entitled “Jobs at Risk: Community Impacts of the Obama Administration’s Effort to Rewrite the Stream Buffer Zone Rule.”

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View Emily Enderle's blog posts
29 July 2011, 7:07 AM
H.R. 2584 compromises public health, esp. in environmental justice communities
Millions of Americans are already suffering from asthma. (Chris Jordan / Earthjustice)

The Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, FY 2012 (H.R. 2584) is chock-full of riders that protect polluters, not people. This bill makes excessive budget cuts and policy decisions that compromise public health, especially the health of environmental justice communities already disproportionately impacted by pollution. The outrageous cuts have brought together more than 70 groups on a letter to outright oppose H.R.

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View Ben Barron's blog posts
13 July 2011, 12:23 PM
Fracking invades rainforest havens of birds and natives who mimic them

Anyone who has seen the “Planet Earth” episode on jungles has witnessed the colorful plumes and remarkable displays of the Birds of Paradise.

But when you’re hiking (read: struggling) through the dense growth of Papua New Guinea’s rainforest, one of the world’s largest at over 100,000 square miles and home to 38 of the 43 Bird of Paradise species, it’s pretty difficult to catch a glimpse these magnificent birds.

You can’t help but hear them, though. Jungle life has a soundtrack, and the BOPs are the lead singers.

However, a new voice is about to join the New Guinea chorus, threatening to drown out the unique birds.

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View Liz Judge's blog posts
12 July 2011, 3:52 PM
Study links birth defects to MTR, but coal industry lawyers blame inbreeding

A major new scientific study shows significantly higher rates of birth defects in areas of heavy mountaintop removal mining, even after controlling for a range of other contributing factors. The study found that living near a mountaintop removal site poses a much greater risk to unborn babies than smoking during pregnancy. More than double the risk!

Says the study: "For babies born specifically with defects of the circulatory or respiratory system, smoking increased risk by 17 percent, and living in a mountaintop mining area increased risk by 181 percent. Living in a mountaintop mining area was a bigger risk for birth defects than smoking."

At this point, there have been numerous scientific studies on the environmental destruction caused by mountaintop removal mining. Mountains are torn down and destroyed, biodiverse forests are cut down and cleared out, streams are obliterated, waters across Appalachia are contaminated, and drinking water supplies are poisoned. But even more upsetting than the barren moonscapes is the fact that the people are being poisoned.

View Liz Judge's blog posts
06 July 2011, 9:03 AM
House comes out swinging in its newly revealed 2012 spending bill

The 112th Session of the House of Representatives is at it again, doing what they do best: writing legislation to strike and block the clean air and clean water laws that keep us alive and healthy.

This morning, the House majority released its spending bill for the year 2012, and not to disappoint those who wish to live in a world with big corporations enjoying full freedom to foul our air and water without restriction, penalty or accountability, the bill manages to take direct aim at a handful of landmark environmental safeguards and a slew of major public health protections.

Legislating through appropriations is a back-door, manipulative move in its own right. It essentially means that instead of having to muster the votes required to pass new laws or take our current environmental and health safeguards off the books, House leadership is using a spending bill to simply stop and block all funding for these protections. The laws still stand as they are, they just can't be enforced. The way this House sees it, if the agencies can't get the money to enforce our current laws, there's no need to worry about what the laws actually mandate.

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View Sam Edmondson's blog posts
24 June 2011, 10:43 AM
On public health protections, administration wants us to play the waiting game

Imagine two tiny figures perched on a politician's shoulders—one scientific, the other political.

The scientist whispers in the politician's ear: "You can save 6,500 lives every year with these health protections!"

The tiny politician counters, "You can save those lives, but who will save you from the powerful industry lobbyists outside your door?"

So with an election approaching, the right thing to do—pursuing environmental policy that will save lives, not placate industry—becomes the thing that isn't done. And the tiny scientist is brushed off. New evidence of that approach came today.

View Brian Smith's blog posts
23 June 2011, 1:04 PM
Decision delayed three times for periods now totaling almost a year
A smoggy day in Los Angeles.

When Lisa Jackson took the reins as administration of the Environmental Protection Agency, she issued a memo to staff stating that:

"Science must be the compass guiding our environmental protection decisions. We cannot make the best decisions unless we have confidence in the integrity of the science on which we rely. Therefore, it is my promise that scientific integrity will be the backbone of my leadership of the Agency."

While she does seem serious about this commitment, and has made some great decisions, the question now is whether the White House will let her do her job. A big test is coming with the adoption of new health standards on ground level-ozone (smog).

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View Sam Edmondson's blog posts
16 June 2011, 3:23 PM
Controversial air loophole encourages dangerous waste burning

Not all burning is bad. For example, campfires rule—when they are done sensitively. I don't mean with tenderness, but rather with attention paid to the ecosystem and the importance of the fallen wood within it. Those fires bring light, heat and comfort to our small corners of the wild.

But in other corners of the world, bad burning reigns, and the Obama administration has given it a new throne. The Obama Environmental Protection Agency is making the unprecedented assertion that burning industrial waste as a fuel—akin to coal or natural gas—is a form of recycling. This Bush-era line of logic will allow and in fact incentivize burning of industrial waste—things like scrap plastics, used chemicals and industrial sludges—in around 185,000 unregulated boilers across the country. These pieces of equipment aren't subject to pollution controls, air monitoring, or reporting requirements.

Should companies choose to burn waste in one of these boilers—and no doubt many will, as it will be a cheap way to make their waste go away—nearby communities will face increased emissions of mercury, benzene, dioxins and other hazardous air pollutants, and worse yet, they most likely won't even know it. Industry has pressed long and hard for such a gift, but the Obama administration is the first to give it so freely. Today, Earthjustice filed suit against the EPA to challenge this egregious loophole.

View Liz Judge's blog posts
04 June 2011, 8:20 AM
Mass Mobilization in WV, March on Blair Mountain Kicks Off Tomorrow
Appalachia is rising for justice, protection of the law, and an end to mountaintop removal mining.

This week more than 600 concerned citizens will participate in the largest mass mobilization against mountaintop removal mining that this country has ever seen, Appalachia Rising: The March on Blair Mountain.

Led by many of our dedicated friends and partners in Appalachia, hundreds of people from all across the country, from all stripes and walks of life and backgrounds -- students, scholars, artists, scientists, labor leaders, union workers, historians, environmentalists, and concerned citizens -- will walk shoulder to shoulder in a peaceful and permitted demonstration for 50 miles across the rugged Appalachian Mountain terrain, all joined by this conviction: The people of Appalachia deserve protection of the law and a prosperous and just future that does not include the devastation and destruction of mountaintop removal mining. Mountaintop removal mining must end, and justice must be brought to the people and communities of this region.

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View Liz Judge's blog posts
02 June 2011, 2:49 PM
"The Last Mountain" opens this weekend in DC and NYC
"The Last Mountain" movie poster

The buzz is heightening. The Sundance official selection documentary The Last Mountain is arriving at theaters across America beginning this weekend in Washington, DC, and New York City. Throughout June, it will open in 18 other cities, bringing this film -- on the frightening effects of destructive mountaintop removal mining-- to the biggest metropolitan markets in the nation.

The film is a powerful glimpse into the bombing and razing of mountains in West Virginia for coal, the corrupt politics that enable that destruction, and the people and communities at the foot of the exploded mountains who are paying the real price, and suffering the real costs, of one of America's greatest and most enduring environmental tragedies.

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