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 Jared Saylor's blog posts
04 April 2011, 8:07 AM
ABC News tells how "Making Money Having Fun" destroyed Oklahoma town
Suella Hudson and her daughter (in picture) both died of cancer. Photo courtesy of Carlan Tapp.

Last week, coal ash coverage went national with a fine segment on ABC World News that told the story of residents in Bokoshe, OK, a small town with a very big coal ash problem. Only 450 folks live in Bokoshe, but as reporter Jim Sciutto discovered, many of them either have cancer or know someone who does.

One of the residents of Bokoshe  who was featured in the ABC story was kind enough to take a few moments to tell unEarthed about her experiences living near this toxic coal ash dump. As I wrote last week, the dump owner, a company called “Making Money Having Fun” is dumping nearly 80 truckloads of coal ash into an open pit every day. Bokoshe resident Susan Holmes—who lost both her sister and her mom to cancer—had this to say:

I applaud ABC News for taking the time to report our story here in Bokoshe. Small rural towns across the nation are considered inconsequential. We have become throwaway towns with throwaway people. The one comment made during our interviews that was not in the televised segment was that this is happening to small towns all over America, and our story is not unique. We were just blessed they chose us to interview.

At 81 years old, my mom insisted I contact ABC. I first wrote ABC over two years ago asking for an investigation. Did they come because of me? Probably not; it takes bigger and more important people to ask for them to get involved. I am just glad they listened. Those of us in Bokoshe are not stopping. We have a new pit that opened 5 miles west of town. For those that don’t know, my sister died of lung cancer in 2004 and my mom died of cancer New Year's Day this year. She knew before she died ABC News was coming. She just didn’t get to stay long enough to see it.

View Liz Judge's blog posts
30 March 2011, 11:12 AM
Senate votes tomorrow on whether to block EPA action on carbon pollution

The Senate votes tomorrow on four pieces of legislation that all aim to block or delay Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) action to reduce the carbon dioxide pollution of the nation's biggest polluters. These polluters have convinced their friends in Congress to author a wave of bills exempting them from strong air pollution limits—they are the Dirty Air Acts we've been warning you about for months.

These Dirty Air Acts will give polluters free rein to dump carbon dioxide pollution and other climate change pollutants into the air—at the expense of public health and the American quality of life. Please, call your senators and tell them to oppose these Dirty Air Acts!

The legislative measures up for a vote today are offered by Senators Rockefeller (S.AMDT.215), McConnell and Inhofe (S.AMDT.183), Baucus (S.AMDT.235), and Stabenow (S.AMDT.265) as amendments on an unrelated small business innovation bill (S.493).

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View Lisa Evans's blog posts
28 March 2011, 10:52 AM
EPA helped utilities shed millions of tons of waste, but EPA doesn't know where
The EPA’s free pass to large-scale coal ash dumping has undoubtedly placed communities in harm’s way.

The verdict is in. the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency turned a blind eye to coal ash reuse during the Bush Administration, and, in fact, the agency went a considerable way toward promoting reuses that were dangerous to human health and the environment. 

After a nine-month investigation, the EPA’s Office of Inspector General concluded that the EPA failed to follow accepted practices, which were laid out clearly in the EPA’s own guidelines, to determine the risks posed by the reuse of coal ash in 15 categories of “beneficial use.” Instead, the EPA for years promoted untested, and often dangerous, reuse of coal ash through a partnership with industry initiated during the Bush Administration.

In October 2010, the OIG’s “early warning” report directed the EPA to shut down the promotional website that provided a virtual stamp of approval for such reuse. Now, last week’s OIG report provides greater detail concerning the extent of the EPA’s failure to address potential risks from reuse of coal ash. 

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View Sarah Jackson's blog posts
24 March 2011, 3:27 PM
Advocates and Earthjustice want more from EPA Administrator in Central Valley

When Bush II’s Head of EPA came to California’s Central Valley, he tried to hold secret meetings with industry and was met with a protest from clean air advocates angered by EPA’s long history of ignoring the Valley’s severe public health and environmental justice problems in favor of big business interests.

Yesterday, President Obama’s EPA Administrator, Lisa P. Jackson, came to the Valley to meet with the Central Valley Air Quality Coalition, a coalition of environmental, public health, and environmental justice organizations and community members fighting to improve air quality and social justice in an area dubbed “the Appalachia of the West.”

And even though her visit was a historic step in the fight to elevate the Valley’s dire social and environmental woes to the national stage, Jackson, too, was met with protest.

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View Chris Jordan-Bloch's blog posts
24 March 2011, 12:30 PM
Lisa Jackson meets with environmental advocates in Fresno

For years citizens of California's central valley have been asking for help and Wednesday, if only for a few hours, one of the most influential people in the country listened. EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson travelled to a church in Fresno to hear the concerns of the people of the valley and what she heard was troubling to say the least.

In Arvin, one in four children has asthma. In Kettleman City a birth defect cluster has terrified a small town. In Delano farm workers and local citizens have been exposed to dangerous pesticides. And throughout the valley huge swaths of land are out of compliance with federal air quality standards and entire towns have undrinkable water. These were just a few of the concerns raised by members of the Central Valley Air Quality Coalition (CVAQ) at Wednesday's meeting.

Although the news in the valley is bad, Wednesday's meeting was a positive development. Nearly 10 years ago, affected citizens, concerned medical practitioners and environmental groups  including Earthjustice got together to form CVAQ. Since then the coalition has worked tirelessly to raise the profile of the area's environmental and health problems. The fact that the top environmental official in the land made a trip to listen to local residents is no small feat. Both the members of CVAQ as well as Administrator Jackson deserve kudos for this.

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View Sam Edmondson's blog posts
21 March 2011, 2:46 PM
Recent editorial supports reductions in power plants' toxic air emissions

Over the weekend, the editorial page of the New York Times once again defended the right to breathe clean air. This time, the paper focused on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s recently proposed health standards for power plants’ toxic air emissions, which are expected to save as many as 17,000 lives every year by reducing dangerous pollution.

The editorial concludes that the EPA’s health standard “is something industry can afford and the nation needs.” It’s good to see this influential paper argue forcefully for reductions in power plants’ toxic emissions.

View Sam Edmondson's blog posts
18 March 2011, 12:01 PM
New York Times blog highlights the costs of uncontrolled air pollution

The New York Times Green blog has a good post today that spells out in no uncertain terms the cost of delaying health standards for coal plants’ toxic air pollution: thousands of preventable deaths.

Earlier this week, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency took the historic action of proposing these long-overdue health standards, which are expected to save as many as 17,000 lives every year. In the Times post, John Bachmann, a former director for science and policy in the EPA’s air quality division is quoted thus: “This could have been done 20 years ago. These delays, as they’ve mounted up, have had a cost in people dying sooner. And it’s not trivial.”

The Times post provides some interesting history, including the failed attempt by the Bush administration to remove coal plants from the list of hazardous air polluters and institute an industry-favored mercury trading program. Coal plants are the nation’s worst emitters of toxic air pollutants such as mercury, acid gases, and arsenic. That they will finally be subject to health protections afforded by the Clean Air Act is a very good thing indeed.

View Jared Saylor's blog posts
16 March 2011, 12:38 PM
Cleaning up the air might actually be good for business

Today’s major announcement from the EPA to cut mercury and other toxic air pollution from hundreds of coal-fired power plants across the country was welcome news here at Earthjustice. For nearly 15 years, we’ve been fighting in the courts for cuts like these so that our communities and our children can breathe a little easier.

Turns out we’re not alone in celebrating. Major power providers Calpine Corporation, Constellation Energy, Exelon Corporation, PG&E Corporation, Public Service Enterprise Group, Inc., and Seattle City Light praised the EPA for it’s decision to regulate toxic pollutants like mercury, lead and arsenic.

“We support the EPA’s efforts to finalize the rule in order to reap the significant public health benefits as indicated by the Agency’s analysis,” the companies wrote in their joint statement. “There ought to be no further delay.”

View Liz Judge's blog posts
16 March 2011, 11:55 AM
House committee passes Dirty Air Act, while the Senate debates it
Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mi.)

As I write this, the Senate is debating an amendment to a small business bill that would block the Environmental Protection Agency from setting limits on carbon dioxide emissions from the nation's biggest polluters.

We've been making a lot of noise about this effort to cripple the EPA and obstruct health- and science-based standards for climate change pollution, but in the last couple of days, things are reaching a boil in Congress.

The engineers of this push to protect dirty energy corporations, you will recall, are Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI) and Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK). Both have introduced nearly identical companion bills in the House and Senate. But yesterday, the House Energy and Commerce Committee, on which Rep. Upton sits as chair, passed his Dirty Air Act. This means it is bound for the House floor for a full chamber vote sometime in the next few weeks, likely before the House's Easter recess.

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View Sam Edmondson's blog posts
16 March 2011, 10:52 AM
Protections will save 17,000 lives every year, protect children's health
Administrator Lisa Jackson and students this morning. Photo: EPA.gov

Two decades ago, Congress promised the American public major reductions of the most dangerous air pollutants—toxics such as mercury, arsenic and lead that cause major health problems and can lead even to premature death. Today, after a long struggle in which Earthjustice proudly participated, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency took historic action to clean up the worst of all toxic air offenders: coal-fired power plants.

These unrivaled sources of toxic air pollution—which damage our lungs and hearts, threaten the health and well-being of children across the U.S., and contribute to the toxic burden shouldered by low-income and communities of color—have never been required to limit their emissions of toxic air. Until now.

At a press conference this morning, EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson announced her agency’s new health protections against these dangerous pollution sources and signed the proposal flanked by kids from a local elementary school in S.W. Washington, D.C. Cleaning up coal-fired power plants will create a better, cleaner future for these and other kids across the country. One particularly notable example: when the health protections take effect in 2016, the EPA estimates that as many as 17,000 lives will be saved… every year.

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