Posts tagged: Environmental Protection Agency

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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 Lisa Evans's blog posts
30 January 2014, 9:02 AM
The long wait is over: EPA agrees to finalize waste rule this year
A rally in Asheville, NC, calling for strong protections against coal ash contamination of waterways.

Late yesterday, the Department of Justice on behalf of the EPA lodged a consent decree with the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia that requires the EPA to publish a final rule addressing the disposal of coal ash by Dec. 19, 2014. The settlement came as a result of a lawsuit brought by 10 public interest groups and the Moapa Band of Paiutes against the EPA for its failure to review and revise its regulations pertaining to coal ash. The settlement does not dictate the content of the final regulation, but it confirms that the agency will finalize a rule by a date certain after years of delay.

If there has ever been a time to celebrate a victory on coal ash over the last three decades, today is the day.

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View Doug Pflugh's blog posts
24 January 2014, 11:17 AM
Drought, diversions threaten Colorado, San Pedro and other rivers
The now-dry Colorado River delta branches into the Baja / Sonoran Desert, only 5 miles north of the Sea of Cortez, Mexico. (Pete McBride / USGS)

We’re less than a month in, but 2014 is already shaping up to be a tough year for rivers. Across the nation, from West Virginia to California, the headlines have been bleak. In the Rocky Mountain region, we’re gearing up for a long year defending the Colorado and San Pedro rivers.

Following recognition as America’s most endangered river in 2013, the Colorado River has become known nationwide for the unsustainable balance that exists between increasing diversions and declining flows. Much of the West has been built on a foundation of Colorado River water and millions of people in communities throughout the region depend on it on a daily basis. On-going regional drought and continued growth are now finally forcing water supply managers to accept that business as usual is no longer tenable and changes are coming to the basin.

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View Paul Achitoff's blog posts
16 January 2014, 6:41 AM
Consumers fight for protections and labeling
Clouds over a soy field. New GE corn and soy varieties have been engineered to resist the effects of 2,4-D, a component of Agent Orange. (Photo courtesy of Jerry Worster)

This month, Maine became the second state in the nation to require labels on food that contains genetically engineered (GE) ingredients. The state’s decision is part of a growing, nationwide effort to assert the right of consumers to know what they’re eating. Currently, more than 26 states are considering proposals to require labeling of altered foods, including Hawaiʻi, where Earthjustice is pushing for laws requiring labeling of GE products.

Despite support from 9 out of 10 Americans for labeling, the USDA recently made it even more likely that the next generation of GE corn and soy will soon be on the market—unlabeled and without any restriction or oversight whatsoever.

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View Ted Zukoski's blog posts
14 January 2014, 4:07 PM
Add the Elk River chemical spill to coal's hidden costs
The true price of coal is paid through hospital bills and devastated communities. (Alexan2008 / iStock)

Did we really need another reason not to like coal as an energy source? Ready or not, we have one.

The standard list is already pretty long: Climate change from burning coal in power plants... Coal ash spills... Mountaintop removal and valley fills... Air pollution damaging lungs and polluting lakes... Roadless areas and rangeland bulldozed or blown up.

Now add to the list: chemical spills that make water undrinkable.

View Jennifer Chavez's blog posts
13 January 2014, 12:45 PM
"Freedom Zones" act could assure more W. Virginia water spills
The lives of hundreds of thousands of people have been severely disrupted by the spill. (iStockphoto)

Those who push an extreme anti-environmental agenda often use the concept of freedom to promote their ideas. They are not concerned with your freedom to breathe clean air or to drink clean water. Instead they want to give corporations the freedom to exploit natural resources without regard for the adverse impacts, and they want to ensure that polluters have freedom from accountability for the potentially deadly impacts of their actions.

In December, Kentucky politicians proposed to “free” unemployed residents from environmental laws that protect their health and well-being.

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View Lisa Evans's blog posts
13 January 2014, 9:46 AM
Overdue rules would ensure polluters pay and prevent the next big spill
The state capitol building in Charleston, WV. (Henryk Sadura / Shutterstock)

In 1980, when Love Canal and Times Beach still dominated headlines, Congress passed Superfund, a bipartisan bill requiring polluters to pay for the cleanup of their toxic messes. Over the last 30 years, Superfund has been responsible for the investigation and cleanup of thousands of toxic sites.

Yet EPA’s 30-year failure to comply with one important provision of Superfund imperils our health and pocketbooks. Superfund contained a mandate that the nation’s most dangerous industries maintain financial assurance (insurance or bonding) to guarantee that polluters would have adequate funds to clean up their spills. The mandate would also provide industries with a financial incentive for safe management of dangerous chemicals. The Act required EPA to begin establishing such requirements no later than 1985.

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View Lisa Evans's blog posts
09 January 2014, 8:51 AM
House Bill eviscerates landmark law, threatening public safety
Why does House leadership want to eviscerate Superfund? (USDA Photo)

It’s a hustle of grand proportions and deadly consequences. The House of Representatives will vote today on H.R. 2279, a bill that guts Superfund—the law that requires industries to handle their hazardous waste safely and clean up their toxic spills.

The bill strikes at the heart of the Superfund, which over the past three decades has allowed the EPA and other federal agencies to identify and clean up thousands of polluted sites across the country. The bill is so radically dangerous that the White House issued a statement asserting that H.R. 2279 could cause “significant site cleanup delays, endangering public health and the environment," and recommended the President veto the bill. More than120 public interest groups have also called for its defeat in a letter to Congress.

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View Suma Peesapati's blog posts
31 December 2013, 10:03 AM
The journey towards a clean energy future in New Mexico
The Four Corners Power Plant has been operating without modern pollution controls for the past fifty years. (Photo courtesy of Ecoflight)

Arizona Public Service Company officially announced yesterday that it will retire Units 1, 2, and 3 of the Four Corners Power Plant by January 1, 2014 and install long-overdue pollution controls on the plant’s remaining two units by July 31, 2018.

Built before the Clean Air Act was enacted, this coal plant has been operating without modern pollution controls for the past fifty years. Uncontrolled pollution from this plant threatens the health of its Navajo neighbors and mars visibility in surrounding national parks, including the iconic Grand Canyon. Retirement of three of the plant’s units is an important step forward for environmental justice, protection of public lands, and our ongoing struggle against climate change.

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View Trip Van Noppen's blog posts
23 December 2013, 3:27 PM
Our litigation forces protections where political leaders fail us
Many environmental and public health safeguards still await approval, more than a year after the election. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

The White House “systematically” delayed finalizing a host of environmental and public health safeguards for political reasons before the 2012 election, reported The Washington Post last February. With many of these rules still awaiting approvals more than a year after the election, the Post recently revisited its investigation into the politics of continued White House delays.

The latest article, by Juliet Eilperin, delves into the findings of a new independent report that concludes President Obama’s White House has injected new layers of White House intervention, politics, and control over basic federal agency duties and regulations. Among the hostages of this political slowdown are Environmental Protection Agency responsibilities to protect the public from toxic coal ash waste, cement factories and other industrial facilities, and smog.

While some in Washington, D.C., would see these environmental rules as opportunity for politicking and power play, elsewhere in the nation, communities and families are feeling the pain of delay.

View Debra Mayfield's blog posts
23 December 2013, 10:04 AM
Harriman, TN residents are not the only ones dealing with legacy of the spill
Esther Calhoun is one of many community members who are fighting for health protections to be enforced at the Arrowhead Landfill. (Photo by Chris Jordan-Bloch)

It’s been five years, but hard to forget: On December 22, 2008, just after midnight, the town of Harriman, Tennessee woke to the flood of more than one billion gallons of toxic coal ash sludge that burst through an earthen dam on the Tennessee Valley Authority’s Kingston Fossil Plant. It was one of the worst environmental disasters in U.S. history—its volume 101 times larger than that of the Exxon Valdez oil spill. One resident described the boom of the breach as something supernatural, like the sound of the end of the world. The disaster damaged or destroyed two dozen homes, destroyed power lines, washed out roads, ruptured a major gas line and water main, and killed thousands of fish and other wildlife.

Harriman residents were dealing with a monumental disaster. But in the long saga of cleanup and recovery, they weren’t the only ones dealing with the legacy of this spill.

Flash forward to 2010. Only a small percentage of the ash had been cleaned up, and residents of Harriman were losing patience. Though local papers reported that TVA had considered keeping the coal ash within state lines, with the approval of the Alabama Department of Environmental Management (ADEM), they chose to move the 4 million cubic yards of poisonous ash across state lines and dump it at the Arrowhead Landfill in Perry County Alabama, a county that is 68 percent African American, according to the 2010 Census and one of the poorest in that state.

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