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Environmental Protection Agency

The U.S. Capitol building.

Lobbying is the act of attempting to influence decisions made by officials in the government. It conjures up an image of a guy in a $5,000 suit slipping money into a senator’s pockets. It’s seemingly taboo to lobby, and as a public policy major I find my answer to the often-repeated question of “So, are you going to sell out and become a lobbyist when you graduate?” being “Absolutely not!”

But, as I learned during my time here, “lobbying” has a much-more layered definition.

A sign warning of the presence of asbestos.

Every day, just in the course of normal activities, we are exposed to an unbelievable range of toxic chemicals that we may not know about. Of the 80,000 plus chemicals that have been approved to be on the market in the United States, approximately 24,000 are “secret”. Literally, we don’t know what they are.

A child walks through a field.

Farmworkers share stories from the frontlines, in this fourth and final installment of a weekly series:

Part 4: Calling on the EPA to get it right

"I was raised on a farm beginning in the post war years. While our crop used relatively small amounts of herbicides and pesticides, we used enough to become familiar with their hazards.

Southwest Detroit's Marathon Oil Refinery.

On April 27, 2013, thick, black smoke rose high above southwest Detroit from the flames at a nearby industrial facility. Three thousand residents were then ordered to leave their homes and evacuate the area. These residents are no stranger to poor air quality as their neighbors include a coal-fired power plant, a car factory, a water waste management plant, and the Marathon Ashland Petroleum oil refinery, one of 150 oil refineries in the country.

Ahi tuna tends to have high levels of mercury.

When browsing your local seafood counter, there’s a good chance you don’t consider how toxic the tuna or swordfish may be. 

For most people, mercury exposure from eating fish and shellfish is not a health concern. Yet, you may be unknowingly exposing your family to harmful mercury levels, depending on the type of fish you feed them, the serving size and how often your family consumes seafood.

Residents of Rochelle, Georgia, who have had to live with untreated sewage overflows.

I invite you to celebrate with a community in Rochelle, GA, that is finally getting a sewer system that works—after decades of being forced to live with one that doesn't.

An agreement to fix the system was reached this week between the city government and residents who teamed up last year with Earthjustice to sue the city. Under the settlement, the city will install a new network of pipes and pumps using funds from the state government.

A mother and child near an industrial plant.

Last week, the independent investigative news site ProPublica released a major new investigative report on the most powerful government office you’ve probably never heard of: the White House Office of Management and Budget’s Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, known as “OIRA” for short.

Chrisangel Nieto, 3, rides his tricycle in Hartman Park, the Manchester neighborhood of Houston, Texas.

The EPA held a second public hearing Tuesday in Houston, regarding its proposed rule on oil refinery emissions—and the testimony was dramatic from people living near the refineries who suffer from exposure to those emissions. Testimony ranged from bipartisan congressmen and industry representatives to environmental organizations and fenceline community members from Texas, Michigan, California, Pennsylvania and Louisiana.

A fluorescent green toxic algae outbreak on St. Johns River on November 12, 2013.

A toxic algae outbreak that recently caused officials in Toledo, Ohio to ban citizens from drinking tainted city water for several days, grabbed headlines around the world. For those of us living here in sunny Florida, these noxious green slime outbreaks are now a year-round occurrence.

A water plant that is supposed to serve 30,000 people along Southwest Florida’s Caloosahatchee River, near Fort Myers, has been repeatedly shut down over the years because toxic algae makes the water unsafe.

A flock of birds fly past a smokestack of a coal-fired power plant.

The Environmental Protection Agency recently held hearings in four cities on its proposed carbon pollution standards for the nation's existing power plants. Hundreds of Americans from all walks of life showed up at each hearing to express their support for the EPA’s safeguards.

Here are remarks from the Pittsburgh hearing delivered by Earthjustice attorney Shannon Fisk.

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About the Earthjustice 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. Learn more about Earthjustice.