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 Raviya Ismail's blog posts
29 November 2012, 11:22 AM
Nearly two-thirds of those surveyed support standards
The microscopic size of soot allows it to lodge deep within the lung. (Chris Jordan-Bloch / Earthjustice.)

They have spoken! Nearly two-thirds of American voters are demanding stronger protections against one of the most dangerous and pervasive pollutants around: soot.

Today, the American Lung Association released results from a national survey of 942 registered voters, finding that support for these clean air protections is broad and deep, with strong majority backing even after hearing balanced messages on both aisles of the debate.

Now it’s time for the EPA and the White House to listen: on Dec. 14, 2012, the EPA will release final updated standards for PM 2.5 (soot). Earlier this year the EPA proposed updated clean air safeguards that will prevent thousands of premature deaths and take steps toward clearing hazy air in national parks.

The proposal came in response to legal action filed by Earthjustice on behalf of the Lung Association and the National Parks Conservation Association.

The polling specifically finds that 62 percent of voters favor the proposal, compared to 30 percent who oppose it. Nearly 40 percent of voters strongly favor the standards, while only 20 percent express strong opposition.

ALA poll results.

A survey by ALA found broad and deep support for stronger soot standards.
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View Lisa Evans's blog posts
28 November 2012, 1:16 PM
Lawmakers are leading nation to environmental cliff
More than a hundred million gallons of coal ash slurry were released when a coal ash dam failed, flooding Buffalo Creek Valley in West Virginia.

In the aftermath of a major catastrophe, lawmakers and regulators should be held accountable to create new safety protocols to avert future disasters. Incidents like the Cuyahoga River catching fire and the Exxon Valdez oil spill prompted changes in how we protect our nation’s waters from industrial chemicals. The Buffalo Creek disaster in West Virginia in 1972 likewise prompted changes to the regulation of dams storing toxic materials. Similarly, we must demand changes to how coal ash is handled, following the largest toxic waste spill in our nation’s history—the spill in Kingston, Tennessee in December 2008, which will have its fourth anniversary in a few weeks.

Former Director of the National Mine Health and Safety Academy Jack Spadaro remembers the Buffalo Creek disaster and knows that its grim legacy still casts a shadow today.

View Daniel Hubbell's blog posts
20 November 2012, 2:37 PM
Cancer-causing chemical threatens lungs of many
Chromium plating facilities emit high levels of the carcinogen into local communities.  (Neal Sanche)

Chromium shows up in surprising places in modern society—most notably on car bumpers and furniture to improve how they look. Too often, the facilities that do this kind of plating put the carcinogen hexavalent chromium into the air in local communities where they operate.

The highly toxic chemical was made infamous by Erin Brockovich’s work on a California case where hexavalent chromium leaked into a town’s drinking water. The case resulted in action against Pacific Gas and Electric Company, which settled for several hundred million dollars. Yet that case has hardly been the only incident, or the only way, that hexavalent chromium from these facilities can affect people’s health.

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View Raviya Ismail's blog posts
19 November 2012, 10:51 AM
Clean air champions go to court on "fracking" and other drilling air rules
Heavy smoke caused by flaring operations at natural gas well located on state land near Pinedale, WY.  (William Belveal)

Last Wednesday, a group of clean air advocates intervened to protect crucial air safeguards that will curb pollution emitted during oil and gas drilling. Unfortunately the state of Texas and their allies with the American Petroleum Institute and a variety of other state alliances of oil and gas companies are pushing back against these necessary protections.

But here are the facts: industry and their allies are hyping natural gas as a miracle fuel, yet the gas drilling sector—which includes the controversial practice of hydraulic fracturing or “fracking”—has worsened air quality around the country. In some parts of the country undergoing a gas drilling boom, air quality has fallen below levels the EPA determined to be safe. This is a growing problem that is wreaking havoc on our lungs.

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View Trip Van Noppen's blog posts
17 November 2012, 7:47 PM
It's back on Obama's agenda, along with "all of the above"
President Obama, on election night.  (Christopher Dilts)

Life doesn’t hand you many second chances to make good on promises.

But that’s what the American public, with an assist from superstorm Sandy, has given President Obama: another 4-year opportunity to tackle climate change—the critical environmental issue of our time. He’s now talking about the issue again, after two years of near-silence, and just a few days ago spoke of “an agenda that says we can create jobs, advance growth and make a serious dent in climate change.”

President Obama's words aren't quite as bold as those he made four years ago about attacking climate change, but they give us hope that climate change has become a politically viable issue—especially when seen in the context of the election.

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View Jared Saylor's blog posts
16 November 2012, 1:09 PM
4 years after the Tennessee coal ash spill, problems continue to grow
Aerial view of the devastating 2008 coal ash disaster in Tennessee. (TVA)

Four years ago, a small Tennessee town woke up to a nightmare. A nearby coal ash pond that held back more than a billion gallons of toxic waste collapsed, sending a flood of ash and dirt right through their doors. In the weeks and months that followed, an entire nation began to see the magnitude of the coal ash threat.

Cleaning up the Clinch River near Kingston, TN, continues. Just last week, the Tennessee Valley Authority—the owners of the coal ash dam that burst—announced plans to let nature take its course in removing the remaining half a million tons of ash.  Coal ash activist, Watauga Riverkeeper and Earthjustice client Donna Lisenby summed it up best: "Five hundred cubic yards is enough coal ash to fill a football field almost 94 feet high from end zone to end zone. Coal ash contains arsenic, lead, chromium and many other toxic pollutants. Leaving that much ash in the river system to combine with all the other legacy pollutants just increases the total pollutant load."

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View Ted Zukoski's blog posts
15 November 2012, 4:27 PM
Drilling near Denver is adding to the area's worsening smog problem
Denver smog. Brought to you in part by fracking.

Last week, supporters of the controversial drilling practice know as fracking held a rally in Denver. According to media reports, one booster drew laughs from the crowd when he said that fracking’s economic benefits would eventually "trickle down to attorneys [and] doctors."

Colorado doctors are probably already seeing increased business because of fracking, but not in a humorous way.

Oil and gas drilling is a contributor to ozone—better known as smog—on Colorado’s Front Range.

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View Liz Judge's blog posts
12 November 2012, 9:26 AM
Without a clean energy future, more Sandys could be the future
Homes damaged by superstorm Sandy. (FEMA)

While for many in the country, thoughts of Hurricane Sandy are being replaced by thoughts of the election, football, or the Thanksgiving holiday, for the tens of thousands of people in New York and New Jersey, survival and their families' well-being are still the urgent thoughts.

Two weeks after the storm, more than 68,000 people in the path of superstorm Sandy were still without power. Eighty-five died during Sandy and many are still suffering from the total loss of their homes and belongings, lack of food, heat, clothes, gas and more. At the worst point, the Long Island Power Authority reported that 8.5 million homes and businesses in the region were powerless. Gas rationing took over in the New York city area, and a blustery, snowy nor’easter storm left many shivering to stay warm without heat.

The tremendous costs of Sandy are still growing. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo estimated that Sandy will cost the state of New York $33 billion. New Jersey’s best estimates approach $50 billion. All combined, Sandy was the second most costly storm in U.S. history, just behind Katrina. The area affected by Sandy produces fully one-fifth of our nation’s GDP, so the economic implications of this storm have yet to be fully realized. It’s clearly in our entire nation’s best interest to do everything we can to get this region up and running and back to business as quickly as possible.

To deny that Sandy was intensified because of climate change would be to deny science. Rising ocean temperatures and sea levels make storms like Sandy more powerful and disastrous.

An aerial view of Breezy Point and Long Beach, NY, Nov. 12, 2012. (U.S. Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Chad J. McNeeley / Department of Defense)

An aerial view of Breezy Point and Long Beach, NY, Nov. 12, 2012.
(U.S. Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Chad J. McNeeley / Department of Defense)
View Trip Van Noppen's blog posts
06 November 2012, 9:56 PM
President must unite America to secure prosperity and fight climate change
President Obama now has a second chance to put this nation on course to a prosperous future built on clean energy. (Scout Tufankjian)

The American people have reinvested their faith in a President who now has a second chance to put this nation on course to a prosperous future built on clean energy and with a far-reaching goal of ending mankind’s role in climate change.

In the wake of superstorm Sandy, voters saw—and many continue to experience—the impacts of climate change-induced weather. They are convinced and, like us, demand that President Obama take action to steer us away from the fossil fuels that feed climate change. This is the real path to energy independence.

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View Trip Van Noppen's blog posts
04 November 2012, 5:10 PM
Superstorm blows climate change onto national ballot
Lower Manhattan was without power for days.  (Eric Konon)

Hurricane Sandy delivered a lot of pain when it punched into the East Coast. As I write this, a week later, the sea has retreated but the suffering remains. Half of Manhattan is cold and dark. The New Jersey shore is in bits. Parts of Long Island are knocked out.

Having spent most of my life in hurricane country and having lived through many similar blows, I can’t stop thinking about what people are going through to find bottled water and a place to get gas and some sort of help for the elderly and infirm. My heart is with them.

But I’m also thinking about the other knock-out punch that Sandy delivered—to the climate deniers and the climate-avoiding politicians. Sandy is the kind of superstorm that climate scientists have been warning about for decades. They are the new heavyweight champs of the hurricane world, and will reign as long as we fail to challenge the causes of rising sea levels and warming ocean and atmospheric temperatures near coastal mega-cities.

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