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.


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 Liz Judge's blog posts
13 January 2011, 12:07 PM
Coal mine finally stopped as EPA rejects Spruce No. 1 Mine
Site of the proposed Spruce mine (green valley to right). Photo by Vivian Stockman of OVEC, Flyover courtesy SouthWings.

Today, after a generation of blasting its way virtually unhindered across Appalachia, the coal industry has been defused. The EPA announced its veto of what would have been the largest mountaintop removal operation in West Virginia -- Arch Coal's Spruce No. 1 Mine.

The EPA's unprecedented action spares the land, protects those in the area of the proposed mine, and must be seen as a huge victory for communities across Appalachia. They have hope at last that this most destructive form of coal mining is finally being reined in. It is a huge victory for them and for all Americans joined in the struggle to protect our air and water from industrial pollution.

The impacts of this decision are profound:

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View Sam Edmondson's blog posts
06 January 2011, 5:02 PM
New reps waste no time in sticking up for big polluters at expense of Americans
A cement kiln in Midlothian, TX operates near a playground. Photo: Samantha Bornhorst

The Republican majority in the new Congress has named the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency as its chief adversary and is now preparing to thwart by any means necessary the agency’s efforts to reduce pollution. Today, they took one of their first swipes at the agency.

Led by Rep. John Carter (R-TX), House Republicans are attempting to use an obscure procedure known as the Congressional Review Act to take down the EPA’s recently finalized standards to control toxic air emissions from cement plants—the third largest source of mercury pollution in the U.S.

But this crusade is far more than an attack on the EPA, which under Lisa Jackson’s leadership has become a whipping boy for the congressional allies of big polluters. It’s an attack on Americans and their right to breathe clean air.

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View Liz Judge's blog posts
06 January 2011, 4:42 PM
Some in Congress care more about special interests than the public interest
Fred Upton (R-MI) is leading the charge against EPA's public health protections.

Only three days after Republicans took over the House of Representatives, Americans are at risk of losing critical, life-saving pollution protections. Since they took their seats in the 112th Congress, some elected representatives have made shooting down or slowing down these protective pollution controls their top priority.

Today, House Republicans announced a resolution that seeks to undo U.S. Environmental Protection Agency rules to control toxic emissions from cement plants. EPA scientists have estimated the rules would prevent up to 2,500 premature deaths and thousands of heart and respiratory incidents, and save billions of dollars in health costs each year. Read more about this deadly proposal in Congress.

Also today, Rep. Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) and Rep. Ted Poe (R-TX) introduced two separate bills to delay and block EPA action on global warming pollution, scientifically found to endanger human health and welfare.

And, yesterday, a group of House members, all Republicans with one exception, introduced a bill that also would block the EPA from being able to follow through on its global warming pollution controls, which were required by the Supreme Court in 2007.

It's shocking and bewildering to see members of Congress take their seats and immediately come out swinging at pollution protections that SAVE OUR LIVES and keep us safe and healthy.

View Sam Edmondson's blog posts
30 December 2010, 1:12 PM
Clean air protections saved more than 100,000 lives this year

As 2011 approaches, scores of online outlets are eulogizing the Hollywood stars, musicians, authors, and other icons who died this year. While it’s only natural to reflect on what was lost, there’s also a powerful story to be told about a huge group of people who didn’t die—though it may not get the attention won by familiar names and faces.

According to estimates from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, 160,000 American lives were saved in 2010 by the Clean Air Act’s health protections. That tremendous number—roughly the population of U.S. cities such as Santa Rosa, CA, Sioux Falls, SD, and Springfield, MA—is the capstone in a year-end list of the eleven biggest clean air events of 2010, compiled by the American Lung Association.

ALA’s list highlights some of 2010’s monumental victories, including the first-ever toxic air emission standards for cement kilns—one of the largest sources of mercury pollution in the United States—and new limits on auto pollution.

View Jessica Knoblauch's blog posts
23 December 2010, 11:45 AM
EPA ash sitting, mama pig abuse, food safety victory
The HSUS recently released a video on sow abuse at Smithfield farms. Photo courtesy of garwee,

Oil spill sand berms saturated in failure
Miles of sand berms built to protect the coastline during the Gulf oil spill that cost millions of dollars were a huge waste of money, according to a presidential oil spill commission. During the spill, Louisiana governor Bobby Jindal strongly insisted on having the berms, despite scientists and federal agencies raising concerns over the berms' potential effectiveness. Yet, as the Associated Press quoted coastal scientist Rob Young as saying, the berm effort has so far done little more than draw "a pencil line of sand." Ouch.

EPA sluggish on coal ash regulations
Two years after the Tennessee coal ash spill released more than 1 billion gallons of toxic coal slurry that destroyed homes and the area's livelihood, the EPA is still "sitting on its ash," reports Mother Jones. Despite EPA administrator Lisa Jackson's pledge early on to investigate coal ash sites, there is still no regulation of coal ash dumps, an unsettling fact that has prompted Earthjustice and others to call on the EPA to finally protect the public from the dangers of coal ash.

View Raviya Ismail's blog posts
23 December 2010, 10:25 AM
EPA Announces Timetable for GHG Reductions at Power Plants and Oil Refineries

Earthjustice is feeling merry today – and it’s not just the holidays. In part to our litigation, today the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced timetables for setting greenhouse gas emission limits for power plants and oil refineries. In a press call making the announcement, Gina McCarthy—EPA's Assistant Administrator for the Office of Air and Radiation – explained that power plants and oil refineries are “two of the largest stationary sources of greenhouse gas emissions.”

View Trip Van Noppen's blog posts
22 December 2010, 10:41 AM
Communities across U.S. are in peril until agency acts
Coal ash spill in Tennessee

Today marks the second anniversary of the nation’s largest toxic waste spill, when a billion-gallon wave of arsenic-filled coal ash carried away three houses and destroyed a riverfront community below the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) Kingston Fossil Plant in rural Tennessee.

Two years and $400 million dollars later, critical problems remain. Despite removal of more than 3 million tons of spilled ash, the cleanup at Kingston is far from complete, and the direction of EPA’s rulemaking, intended to prevent another spill, is as murky as the contaminated cove beneath the broken dam.

The disaster cast a spotlight on EPA’s 30-year failure to regulate the disposal of coal ash, a toxic-laden waste left over after burning coal for electricity. In the absence of federal protection standards, an enormous quantity of this waste has been dumped in unlined pits and ponds throughout the U.S. At least 50 high-hazard dams hold back millions of tons of toxic ash and threaten communities, like Harriman, that face destruction should these aging, unregulated dams break. And if another one of these dams collapses, human life is expected to be lost.

Beyond these catastrophic disasters, there are more than 100 locations across the country where water and air are poisoned by coal ash.. Arsenic levels in drinking water around unlined ash ponds can be high enough to cause cancer in 1 of 50 people – which is 2,000 times EPA’s acceptable risk. Additionally, these sites often are not covered, allowing ash to enter into the lungs of vulnerable populations like children and the elderly.

View David Lawlor's blog posts
21 December 2010, 1:08 PM
City water supplies across United States contaminated with known carcinogen
Probably the best (and only) film about hexavalent chromium

The nonprofit public interest organization Environmental Working Group (EWG) this week released the results of a study that tested the water supplies of 35 American cities. In 31 of the 35 cities tested, the known carcinogen hexavalent chromium was present in the water supply.

The result of industrial manufacturing and processes, hexavalent chromium can seep into groundwater after being discharged, thus contaminating drinking water supplies. In 25 of the cities tested, the EWG study found hexavalent chromium in amounts greater than the maximum threshold the State of California has set as a safe exposure level. California is the only state that tests and regulates hexavalent chromium in drinking water.

As a result of the study, EWG is asking the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to establish a legal limit for hexavalent chromium contamination in water supplies and to conduct regular tests for the chemical compound. Similarly, Earthjustice is working to limit emissions from chrome plating facilities and is urging EPA to safeguard the health of communities exposed to hexavalent chromium.

View Tom Turner's blog posts
17 December 2010, 1:58 PM
Holdren lays down the law
EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson

 The Hill, a beltway website, carried a piece Dec. 17, reporting on a memo issued by the White House science advisor, John Holdren, ordering all federal agencies, in no uncertain terms, to use science as the basis for decisions.

The White House memo in turn links to a directive from Holdren aimed at agency heads that spells out in some detail the principles under which they are expected to act. This is all a followup to another memo, issued by President Obama last spring, urging that scientific integrity be at the top of everyone's agenda.

This all may seem like wonkish arcanity, but it seems clear that the White House is steeling itself for the expected onslaught of attacks on--among many other things--the administration's attempts to address climate change, specifically the Environmental Protection Agency's upcoming regulations to reduce the impact of vehicles on the climate.

View Terry Winckler's blog posts
16 December 2010, 1:13 PM
A bitter climax to three-year fight over major pollution producer

Three years ago, Kansas became the poster child of the nation's clean energy movement, thanks to a pair of stalwart political leaders who refused to approve a coal-fired power plant that would have increased America's global warming gas emissions by millions of tons each year.

Today, in the absence of those strong leaders, Sunflower Electric Co. finally got state permission to build its pollution producer. Under a new administrator, the Kansas Department of Health and Environment granted the permit after department workers spent nights and weekends processing the permit, presumably so they could beat a deadline that would have forced the new plant to meet stringent pollution standards kicking in Jan. 2.

The permit likely would not have been issued if former KDHE chief Rod Bremby hadn't been forced out a few weeks ago after refusing since 2007 to allow the permit. Supported by then-Gov. Kathleen Sebelius, Bremby disallowed the permit because of its global warming gases output. It was the nation's first such permit rejection. But, Sebelius eventually left to join President Obama's cabinet, leaving Bremby to fight the good fight in the face of highly politicized, industry-friendly opposition. Earthjustice had a strong hand in that fight.

Not all is lost, however—not by a long shot. The Environmental Protection Agency last month warned that it is taking a careful look at the whole permit process. Here's what a top EPA official wrote:

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