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
26 June 2012, 11:09 AM
Federal appeals court sides with clean air

Today has turned into a better day for our planet—and our lungs. In a landmark decision, the D.C. federal appeals court upheld every single one of the EPA’s carbon pollution limits. These EPA protections are in response to the Supreme Court’s 2007 ruling in Massachusetts v. EPA, and are important parts of the agency’s efforts to curb such pollution under the Clean Air Act.

The rules went to oral argument in February after more than 60 lawsuits by companies including Massey Energy Co.; business groups such as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce; and states such as Texas and Virginia pushed the court to overthrow the “arbitrary” and “capricious” standards.

However, today the three-judge panel of the D.C. court of appeals ruled that the EPA’s interpretation of the Clean Air Act was “unambiguously correct.” The court also concluded that opponents don’t have the legal right to challenge the timing and tailoring rules.

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View Sam Edmondson's blog posts
20 June 2012, 3:49 PM
Papers come out in support of strong standards to control deadly pollutant

The historical significance of the Environmental Protection Agency's recently proposed new limits on fine particle pollution, colloquially called soot, wasn't lost on a number of editorial pages. Soot is a known killer—the science clearly indicates soot's connections to premature death, heart and lung damage, and potentially even cancer and developmental and reproductive harm.

The New York Times wrote: "New standards are long overdue. In 2006, the E.P.A. reviewed the standards but decided to leave them where they had been set nearly 10 years before… This was a favor to industry groups that did not want to make new investments in pollution controls. The agency's scientific advisory committee, which had recommended tighter standards, was so incensed that it issued a rare public rebuke."

Ultimately, it took a judge's rebuke to stir action at the agency. A court order won by Earthjustice on behalf of the American Lung Association and National Parks Conservation Association was a boot to the EPA's backside—just the encouragement needed to get things back on track after years of scientific denial and foot-dragging.

The San Francisco Chronicle editorial page reacted acidulously to the EPA's announcement: "It only took a court order and five years of delay for them to do the right thing."

View Sam Edmondson's blog posts
20 June 2012, 12:30 PM
Victory for clean air and public health

There are some straight spines left in the U.S. Senate, which today voted down a resolution from Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-OK) that would have effectively exempted coal-fired power plants—the nation's worst air polluters—from Clean Air Act controls that limit mercury and other toxic emissions. This is a critical victory in the decades-long effort to protect communities from the egregious amounts of health-damaging pollutants that coal plants put in our air.

In contrast, Sen. Inhofe and some of his coaleagues—pardon me, colleagues—have bent over backwards for our nation's most recalcitrant industrial polluters time and again, tone deaf to the fact that coal plant pollution sickens and kills tens of thousands of people every year. In fact, the senator said recently that the Environmental Protection Agency's recently finalized protections against toxic air from coal plants are "not about health." Yet that's exactly what they're about: limits on coal plant air pollution are projected to prevent up to 11,000 deaths, 4,700 heart attacks, and 130,000 childhood asthma attacks every year.

But from the senator's perspective, these benefits are "negligible."

"I find it impossible to relate to the senator's view that such benefits are 'negligible,' and thankfully, a majority of senators appear to as well," said Earthjustice attorney Jim Pew, who has worked for more than a decade to obtain the mercury and air toxic standards for power plants, and who is currently defending them from industry attack on behalf of the NAACP, Sierra Club, Chesapeake Bay Foundation, and Clean Air Counsel.

View Jared Saylor's blog posts
20 June 2012, 9:47 AM
McKinley offers motion testing House Democrats' concern for public health

It’s Groundhog Day in the House of Representatives. Once again, coal company allies are leading a charge to pass a symbolic vote that would reinforce their disdain for any plans to clean up coal ash ponds and landfills with federal minimum safeguards. But the symbolism has real-world impacts: nearly 200 coal ash sites have already contaminated nearby lakes, rivers, streams and aquifers with dangerous chemicals that cause cancer, organ damage and even death.

Representatives will vote on an arcane Motion to Instruct, which tells the 47 members of the House and Senate who are on the conference committee for a massive transportation bill package to include a bad amendment on coal ash. That amendment snuffs out any possibility for the EPA to set federal regulations for safe coal ash disposal and was attached to the version of the transportation bill the House passed last month.

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View Sam Edmondson's blog posts
18 June 2012, 3:50 PM
Bill is dangerous scheme to exempt power plants from clean air laws

Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-OK) is spearheading an egregious effort in the Senate to exempt the nation's worst air polluters from the Clean Air Act. He is floating a resolution that would block recently finalized limits on the amounts of mercury, arsenic and other health-damaging pollutants that coal- and oil-fired power plants can emit. It's up for a vote on Wednesday.

Today, thankfully, the White House indicated that it will veto Inhofe's dirty air disaster if it manages to pass the Senate.

The senator, shockingly, has described the benefits of these landmark protections as "negligible." But there's nothing negligible about the prevention of up to 11,000 premature deaths, 4,600 heart attacks and 130,000 childhood asthma attacks every year.

View Sam Edmondson's blog posts
15 June 2012, 2:40 PM
Final standards, due in December, must be strongest possible
Photo: Chris Jordan-Bloch/Earthjustice

Just two weeks ago, the Environmental Protection Agency was dithering on a proposal to strengthen protections against an air pollutant that causes tens of thousands of avoidable deaths every year.

Enter Earthjustice attorney, Paul Cort, who on behalf of citizen groups asked a federal judge to order the EPA to get moving. So compelling was the case that the judge ruled in Earthjustice's favor directly from the bench, ordering the EPA to proceed without further delay. This motivated the EPA to settle the remainder of the suit and release a proposal. The agency also committed to release a final standard by Dec. 14, 2012.

Today, the agency released its proposal, and we have Cort's legal action to thank—a prime example of how citizen enforcement of our nation's environmental laws can produce real results for public health and the environment.

View David Lawlor's blog posts
11 June 2012, 10:48 AM
Earthjustice’s campaign to ban fungicide will protect future generations
(Shutterstock)

Many of our legal team’s victories in defense of the environment or human health have lasting impacts that will be felt by future generations. But a new study from Washington State University suggests that our successful legal campaign to end the use of the dangerous agricultural fungicide vinclozolin will indeed pay dividends for years to come.

View Liz Judge's blog posts
04 June 2012, 11:28 AM
Stories and inspiration from the fight to end mountaintop removal mining

Over our years of working to stop mountaintop removal mining, we at Earthjustice have met so many brave and dedicated people fighting for their communities, mountains and waters. In 2010, Earthjustice launched our “Mountain Heroes” campaign to share their inspiring stories and show that this is not just a fight for the environment—it’s a fight for justice and a fight to save communities, families and Appalachian culture.

Through this campaign, we shared the stories of a few true heroes and created a public photo petition, asking the public to share their own stories—and tell us why they want to save mountains, protect clean water, and fight for justice in Appalachia.

What we got back was astounding and inspiring.

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View Sam Edmondson's blog posts
31 May 2012, 3:43 PM
Federal court gives EPA a week to sign proposal, after Earthjustice suit

Nothing cuts baloney like a court order. Today, in response to a request made by Earthjustice, a federal judge gave the Environmental Protection Agency one week to sign a proposal for tightening standards on soot, an airborne mixture of tiny particles that causes tens of thousands of early deaths every year.

The court's action is most welcome: there's been so much foot-dragging at EPA on this issue, you have to wonder if everyone involved needs a new pair of shoes.

The order jumpstarts a process that will hopefully have significant public health ramifications. Last year, we released a report with the American Lung Association (ALA) and Clean Air Task Force called Sick of Soot that showed a strong soot standard could prevent nearly 36,000 premature deaths every year. That averages to a staggering 700 premature deaths just between now and June 7th, the deadline set by the court.

View Emily Enderle's blog posts
17 May 2012, 11:12 AM
Rep. McKinley's constituents call him out for standing with corporate interests
Little Blue Run Dam and reservoir, as viewed from the International Space Station, is the largest coal ash pond in the country. Materials suspended in the water give it a striking, turquoise color. (April 2002, NASA)

It’s inspiring to see the commitment of Rep. David McKinley’s constituents living in the shadow of First Energy’s behemoth 1,000-acre Little Blue Run waste dump continuing to speak the truth amid the lies flaunted by corporate interests. Steve and Annette Rhodes, life-long residents of West Virginia, describe the stark and unfortunate reality of living near a toxic coal ash dump and debunk the many falsehoods spouted by Rep. McKinley in their recent piece in The Hill, Rep McKinley We Live Here with the Coal Ash. They are also quite clear that the coal ash amendment (Title V of HR 4348) pushed by Rep. McKinley is an overzealous attempt to jam a controversial public health loophole into an unrelated transportation bill.

Rep. McKinley is a broken record when it comes to citing flawed industry reports and ignoring the public health and environmental impacts of his dangerous provision. He consistently turns a blind eye to repeated private and public requests for relief from his constituents who live in the shadows of the largest toxic coal ash pond in the U.S. His constituents have testified before Congress, been quoted in the WV press, national press and elsewhere complaining of contaminated water flowing onto their properties, noxious odors and tainted soil.

Chester, WV, where the Rhodes live, borders Little Blue Run. The dump holds approximately 20 billion gallons of toxic sludge and is held back by a 400-foot earthen dam—the tallest of its kind in the U.S. It straddles the border between West Virginia and Pennsylvania and looms over Ohio. It’s rated a high hazard dam by EPA and is expected to kill upwards of 50,000 people in Ohio if it were to fail. According to the EPA, contaminated water from Little Blue Run has been dousing properties at a volume equal to seven fire hoses and arsenic has been migrating into Marks Run, a local stream.

Little Blue Run straddles the border between West Virginia and Pennsylvania and looms over Ohio. The coal ash dump holds approximately 20 billion gallons of toxic sludge and is held back by a 400-foot earthen dam—the tallest of its kind in the U.S.

Little Blue Run is the largest coal ash pond in the US. It straddles the border between West Virginia and Pennsylvania and looms over Ohio. The coal ash dump is 1000 acres, holds approximately 20 billion gallons of toxic sludge and is held back by a 400-foot earthen dam—the tallest of its kind in the U.S.