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Environmental Protection Agency

Blueberries.

Finally. Yesterday—Sept. 30—was the last day that the highly toxic pesticide AZM could be used in the United States. This pesticide, originally developed as a nerve gas, has been poisoning people, particularly farmworkers, and insects for decades.

AZM disrupts the nervous system and causes a range of temporarily debilitating responses—splitting headache, nausea, vomiting, uncontrollable sweats, blurry vision, dizziness, unconsciousness—and even such grave long-term effects as paralysis, and death.

This fall, as fluorescent green toxic algae continues to break out in front of pricey waterfront homes along South Florida’s Treasure Coast (north of Palm Beach), and around the southwest tourist meccas of Sanibel and Captiva Islands, there’s an explosion of citizen protest and lot of talk about moving the polluted water somewhere else, please.

On Wednesday, we filed a legal brief asking the U.S. Supreme Court to allow a very important air safeguard to take effect. So what’s so important about the Cross-State Air Pollution Rule and how does it work?

Let’s get to the numbers first. The rule saves lives, plain and simple. According to the EPA, the air safeguard would every year prevent:

A coal export ship.

The use of coal in the U.S. has declined over the past few years, and orders for new plants are being cancelled at an increasing rate, owing to pressure from Earthjustice and others and competition from cheaper natural gas. Meanwhile, President Obama has made increasingly stern pronouncements about moving toward a renewable energy regime.

A power plant located next to a waterway.

Gathered on a grassy knoll outside the Environmental Protection Agency, an unlikely group of advocates came together to support a basic human necessity. These campaigners, representing organizations ranging from the National Hispanic Medical Association to the Catawba Riverkeepers, found a common denominator in the importance of appealing for a strong ELG standard—making a statement that clean water is essential for everyone.

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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. Learn more about Earthjustice.