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 Sarah Saylor's blog posts
08 November 2013, 1:08 PM
Citizens give EPA an earful at carbon pollution listening sessions
Hundreds spoke during the public listening sessions on carbon pollution controls. (Photo courtesy of Moms Clean Air Force)

At the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's listening session regarding carbon pollution controls from existing power plants, I put myself in EPA’s shoes and did some real listening. It turns out the list of what may be lost and what must be protected by such a rule is not as short as we sometimes make it in the name of expediency.

Hundreds of people spoke in Washington, D.C., and thousands have spoken at the 10 other listening sessions the EPA is conducting across the country. Below are just 55 reasons*—one for every state and territory in our nation—for the EPA to take bold strides when it comes to limiting carbon pollution:

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View Lisa Evans's blog posts
06 November 2013, 3:26 PM
New report talks trash about Michigan's ash
In Michigan, no regulations prohibit dangerous dumping of coal ash. (Clean Water Fund)

Clean Water Fund’s new report, Toxic Trash Exposed: Coal Ash Pollution in Michigan, reveals widespread damage from coal ash dumping in Michigan. The report discloses dozens of waterways and aquifers already poisoned and warns of statewide harm due to failure to impose reasonable safeguards on toxic dumping.

Clean Water Action released Toxic Trash Exposed on the second anniversary of the immense coal ash spill at the We Energies power plant in Oak Creek, WI, where 25,000 tons of coal ash spilled onto the lakeshore and into Lake Michigan. No one was hurt, but large boxcars tumbled like matchbox trucks in the melee. It could have killed anyone in its path.

View Lisa Evans's blog posts
30 October 2013, 5:26 PM
What if EPA’s coal ash rule doesn’t close unlined lagoons?
The pollutants from these black-bottomed coal ash lagoons are real—and deadly. (Image courtesy of Universal Pictures.)

The utility industry is speaking with one voice. According to comments filed last month with the Environmental Protection Agency, the Utility Solid Waste Activities Group (USWAG) is crying out for a coal ash rule that would allow forever-dumping of toxic waste in unlined, leaking and potentially unstable coal ash impoundments.

Each year, the coal industry saves boatloads of cash by dumping millions of tons of toxic waste in more than 1,000 lagoons, and they’d like to keep it that way. Wet dumping is the cheapest way, in the short-term, to dispose of toxic ash, but it is also the most dangerous. Terminating this dumping would require plants to close, stabilize and monitor coal ash lagoons that contain millions of tons of toxic waste and which have already poisoned underlying aquifers. To the coal industry, this is a frightening financial prospect.

View Charles McPhedran's blog posts
30 October 2013, 2:06 PM
Agency has an April deadline to rework standard
Little Stoney Man at Shenandoah National Park. (NPS)

On Tuesday, Oct, 22, the federal appeals court in Philadelphia gave the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency an April deadline for reworking its rule to limit haze pollution from Pennsylvania sources. This pollution reduces visibility and causes bad health effects at parks and wilderness areas.

Earthjustice, on behalf of the Sierra Club, National Parks Conservation Association, and Clean Air Council, had sued the EPA over the Pennsylvania haze plan. Inadequate air pollution requirements for big polluters, including coal-fired power plants, degrade air quality at the Brigantine National Wildlife Refuge in New Jersey, Shenandoah National Park in Virginia, Dolly Sods Wilderness in West Virginia, and other treasured public lands. This pollution harms human health, with children, pregnant women and seniors most vulnerable.

View Lisa Evans's blog posts
24 October 2013, 1:53 PM
Toxic ash disposal at Kingston still dangerous and poorly regulated
The Kingston Fossil Plant coal ash spill, in 2008. (TVA)

It’s been almost five years since the TVA Kingston coal ash disaster blanketed an idyllic riverfront community in toxic waste.

I revisited the site earlier this month, and the progress of the ongoing Superfund mega-cleanup is evident. One can once again see what brought generations to settle in this scenic valley, amid the broad rivers, quiet bays and gentle green mountains.

In Harriman, Tennessee, families enjoyed vibrant waterfront recreation off sandy beaches along the calm sloughs. Before 2008, every riverfront home had a dock, and the neighborhoods were tight, sharing a common love of the beauty and bounty of the water and mountains. In December 2008, all this was destroyed by the dam’s collapse.

House nearly buried by TVA Kingston Disaster, December 2008.

House nearly buried by TVA Kingston Disaster, December 2008.
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View Raviya Ismail's blog posts
21 October 2013, 5:44 PM
Joins in encouraging mayor to allow ordinance to become law
Earthjustice and the Center for Food Safety are prepared to defend the bill if any companies challenge it in court.  (Toa55 / Shutterstock)

It took the Kauaʻi County Council 19 hours to decide to pass, by a vote of 6–1, a controversial ordinance that would restrict the use of pesticides near sensitive areas by companies developing GMO crops, and require them to disclose the chemicals they use and the engineered crops they are growing.

And while Kauaʻi Mayor Bernard Carvalho, Jr. must approve the ordinance for it to become law, Earthjustice Attorney Paul Achitoff and George Kimbrell, senior attorney with the Center for Food Safety, sent a letter to the mayor urging him to approve the legislation. The letter states that both lawyers are prepared to intervene on behalf of community groups to defend the bill if any companies challenge the bill in court.

View Terry Winckler's blog posts
18 October 2013, 1:14 PM
Industry falls short in challenges over health and car/truck emissions
The Supreme Court building. (Architect of the Capitol)

This week the U.S. Supreme Court rebuffed industry by refusing to hear challenges to the Environmental Protection Agency’s finding that carbon dioxide and other climate change pollutants endanger our health. The court also rejected attacks on carbon pollution limits for cars and trucks – limits that respond to the 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 court’s action also provides a solid footing for future EPA action to set standards for other major sources of climate change pollution like power plants, refineries, and oil and gas operations. A 2011 Supreme Court ruling confirmed EPA's authority to set such standards.

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View Andrea Delgado's blog posts
18 October 2013, 9:18 AM
Congress and the White House reach bipartisan budget compromise

On Wednesday night, with less than two hours before the country defaulted on its debts, Congress ended the standoff that shut the government down for 16 days, kept countless federal workers without work or pay, and left anyone watching disheartened by partisan antics. In the end, it amounted to Congress deciding to do its job and allowing others to do the same.

Budget compromise vote count. (Source: NYT)

Source: New York Times. See the Senate and House vote breakdown

Did the extreme right in Congress get what they wanted out of this theater and was it worth holding workers’ and families’ budgets hostage and taking us to the brink of default? The House had prepared a wish list of deeply harmful energy, environment and public health policy riders that got sidelined by its attack on Obamacare.

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View Abigail Dillen's blog posts
14 October 2013, 2:18 PM
Strong power plant carbon limits are critical for tackling climate change
EPA is now taking the next step to control pollution from new power plants. (Calin Tatu / Shutterstock)

This op-ed originally ran on October 11, 2013, on LiveScience's Expert Voices: Op-Ed & Insights.

The latest report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change cements the urgency for U.S. leaders to move boldly and quickly on climate change, and the most logical place to start is the nation's fleet of power plants.

Recently, when the Environmental Protection Agency announced a proposal to limit carbon pollution from new power plants, groups involved with climate change cheered the announcement. Cleaning up power plants is an essential first step to addressing climate change and its effects, from superstorms to catastrophic fire seasons. Power plants are by far the biggest carbon polluters in the country, accounting for 40 percent of U.S. carbon dioxide emissions. There is no excuse for building any new, dirty plants without carbon pollution controls.

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View Raviya Ismail's blog posts
10 October 2013, 11:32 AM
Health issues growing as wood furnaces become more commonplace
Outdoor wood furnaces for sale in Delaware. (Samuel Houchins)

Many Americans are looking to escape high heating bills and have found what seems to be the perfect solution: outdoor wood boilers. Commonplace now along rural roads, they look like sheds with chimneys on top, and circulate water into homes for heating systems or hot water.

But they aren't as innocuous as they may look. Which is why Earthjustice, on behalf of several health and environmental groups, filed a lawsuit Wednesday over the EPA’s failure to update standards for these units. But we aren't the only ones crying foul. Filing a similar complaint were the states of New York, Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts, Oregon, Rhode Island, and Vermont and the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency.

The issue in a nutshell: these units emit high volumes of particulate matter (which can lodge deep within the lungs causing serious cardiovascular and respiratory harm) carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides, volatile organic compounds, hazardous air pollutants and carcinogens. We know all these chemicals are toxic soup for our lungs and health. And EPA’s failure to update the standards means that homeowners install thousands of new wood-burning boilers, furnaces and stoves each year that produce far more dangerous air pollution than cleaner units would.