Posts tagged: Environmental Protection Agency

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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 Trip Van Noppen's blog posts
18 August 2010, 1:56 PM
EPA prepares move against those who pollute at our expense

Too often in the last two decades, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has gnawed big polluters like a toothless tiger. But 20 years after Congress endowed the agency with new tools to protect people from dangerous air pollution, the EPA is finally preparing to bite down hard.

The EPA is expected to finalize over the next few years a series of pollution control rules that could cut global warming pollution, improve air quality and protect the health of millions of Americans. But only if the agency gets it right—and big polluters will be fighting to make sure it doesn't.

This is especially true in the case of coal-fired power plants, which are targeted by many of the forthcoming rules. The coal and utility industries have retained an army of lobbyists and congressional champions to kill pollution controls and convince the American public that burning massive amounts of coal and protecting the environment aren't mutually exclusive.

But they are.

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View David Guest's blog posts
18 August 2010, 10:34 AM
They ask Congress to keep the toxic good times flowing
St. John's River algae infestation - Courtesy Jacksonville University

Florida's St. John's River is fouled this summer with green slime, and dead fish are washing up on its shores. Every time it rains, nutrients like phosphorous and nitrogen poison this river and others all over Florida. The poison comes from sewage, animal manure and fertilizer.

It is a crisis big enough that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency agreed in November 2009 to set the first-ever legal limits for nutrient poisoning.

But, now, polluters are trying to derail efforts to clean up Florida's waters. They arrived enmasse recently at Congress, where they met with numerous federal lawmakers to try getting a rider put on the federal appropriations bill. The rider would, unbelievably, prevent EPA from setting important new limits on nutrient pollution. The rider may be introduced in a few weeks.

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View Jared Saylor's blog posts
09 August 2010, 12:00 PM
After a decade of litigation and activism, EPA makes pollution cuts

One of the first issues I worked on when I started at Earthjustice in 2004 was a lawsuit we filed to compel the EPA to take action on mercury and other toxic air pollution from cement kilns. This was during the Bush years, and despite winning in court, the EPA did next to nothing to abide by the law and clean up the air for dozens of communities living around these big polluters.

Today, we all finally have reason to celebrate. After thousands of emails, dozens of press releases, phone calls, meetings and your support, the EPA announced plans that will cut more than 16,000 pounds of mercury from our nation's cement kilns every year, starting in 2013. The rule also cuts thousands of pounds of particulate matter, sulfur dioxide, hydrogen chloride and other pollution, and promises to prevent up to 2,500 premature deaths each year.

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View Jared Saylor's blog posts
06 August 2010, 12:51 PM
Industry lobby group pushes their members to pressure EPA
Photo: jerrygreerphotography.com.

In just over three weeks, the EPA will hold the first of five public hearings on its plan to finally regulate coal ash, the nasty, hazardous remains leftover from coal-fired power plants. On August 30, right here in Washington DC, the EPA will hear from hundreds of victims, advocates, community members, environmentalists, activists and everyday citizens about the need to clean up these dangerous dumps and waste ponds filled with decades of contaminated coal ash.

The EPA will also hear from lobby groups like the American Coal Ash Association. Just recently, the ACAA sent out an email to its supporters (which include Duke Energy, American Electric Power, and dozens of other utilities and industry groups) to attend the public hearings in Washington DC, Denver, CO (Sept. 2), Dallas, TX (Sept. 8); Charlotte, NC (Sept. 14) and Chicago, IL (Sept. 16). This confirms what we expected: that industry is going to be out in full force at these public hearings making false claims about the EPA's approach to regulate coal ash waste dumps and landfills. The EPA has offered two options: one that sets strong, federally enforeable safeguards for coal ash, and another that does nothing to mitigate the threat to our drinking water and health. Guess which one the industry supports?

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View Liz Judge's blog posts
03 August 2010, 2:07 PM
Army Corps and EPA to follow core legal requirements in MTR mine permitting

The EPA and Army Corps of Engineers have announced a major step to help prevent the destruction caused by mountaintop removal mining. In a rare joint guidance, the two agencies agreed to improve the process for permitting mountaintop removal mines.

Although it doesn't solve the problem of mountaintop removal mining, this new direction will make it much harder for coal mining companies to use Appalachian waterways as dumping grounds for their mining waste.

For 30 years, the Corps of Engineers allowed mining companies to completely bury streams with the rubble from their mountaintop mining explosions on the condition that they replace the stream with a manmade stream. In reality, this was a death sentence for healthy streams and entire ecosystems.

Here's how it happened: mining companies exploded the tops off of hundreds of mountains and dumped the waste into streams, burying more than 2,000 miles of vital Appalachian waterways. They claimed to replace the "structure" of those streams with drainage ditches as their permits required. Trouble is, science tell us that you can't just dig a ditch and create a living, healthy stream.

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View Brian Smith's blog posts
28 July 2010, 11:14 AM
Human health and climate threatened by soot

Black carbon, also known as soot, comes from diesel engines, coal-fired power plants, and wood burning and is a significant contributor to global warming. Perhaps more significant than we realized, according to a new report.

Here's an introduction to the problem.

 

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View Sam Edmondson's blog posts
23 July 2010, 12:01 PM
Tell the EPA by Aug. 3 to protect communties from waste burning

City-dwellers are intimately familiar with the pros and cons of living with neighbors. Their heavy footsteps thunder overhead, their loud music penetrates the walls, and strange odors sometimes drift down the halls. These are nuisances, no doubt, but not all neighborly disturbances are so innocuous.

Consider, for example, communities across the country that live near chemical plants, paper mills and other polluting industries. Air pollution from these industrial neighbors often results in higher rates of asthma and other serious illnesses in local communities.

Sadly, a recent rule proposed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency could leave such communities exposed to unregulated toxic emissions from the burning of scrap plastics, used chemicals, and other industrial wastes. These emissions contain pollutants like mercury, benzene, lead and dioxins that can cause respiratory illness, birth defects, cancer and other serious health problems.

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View Trip Van Noppen's blog posts
22 July 2010, 12:08 PM
Chlorpyrifos is in same chemical family as Nazi nerve agents

<Update: Read the San Francisco Chronicle story on this issue.>

Terri Carawan's health problems began in 1984, soon after the spraying started. Her skin became inflamed and her burning, itching eyes were nearly swollen shut with fluid. Despite tremendous fatigue, she struggled with sleeplessness.

It turns out that the telephone company where Terri worked as an operator had recently hired a pest control service to deal with lice and other insects in the building. Every month, they sprayed a pesticide called chlorpyrifos throughout the premises, including on the switchboard Terri operated.

In one of my first cases as a young lawyer, I represented Terri after her exposure to chlorpyrifos, recovering her medical expenses and lost wages and getting the spraying stopped. More than a quarter century later, while most indoor uses of chlorpyrifos have been banned due to risks to human health, the pesticide is still sprayed liberally—nearly 10 million pounds per year—on corn, oranges, and other crops in fields and orchards across the United States.

Today, I am proud that Earthjustice, along with NRDC and Pesticide Action Network, is filing suit to get this dangerous pesticide banned for good.

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View Terry Winckler's blog posts
21 July 2010, 4:16 PM
Senate bill would greatly improve testing and use of chemicals

<Editor's Note: Our newest blogger, Earthjustice attorney Marianne Engelman-Lados, compiled this report.>

The response to the oil spill in the Gulf has exposed fundamental flaws in the current system for regulating the use of chemical dispersants. Since April 20, when the Deepwater Horizon drilling platform exploded, BP has added nearly two million gallons of dispersants to the waters of the Gulf.

BP's use of dispersant is unprecedented—not only in volume but also because it is being applied under the surface of the water, at the source of the leak. Yet the potential health and environmental effects of the use of the dispersant are not well understood.

Last week, Earthjustice filed a lawsuit in federal court on behalf of Gulf Restoration Network and the Florida Wildlife Federation to force EPA to release health and safety information related to dispersants. This information is crucial for residents and workers who may be exposed to the dispersant and, also, for researchers.

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View Jared Saylor's blog posts
15 July 2010, 7:47 AM
Request for coal ash hearings goes ignored

For once in this coal ash fight, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is doing something early. Unfortunately, what they're doing isn't good.

On June 21, the EPA published their two-option proposal for regulating coal ash. One option sets strong, federally enforceable safeguards for coal ash and will do much to protect public health. The other option keeps the status quo of ineffective state regulations that put the public and our environment at dangerous risk. When the EPA published these options, it said, "EPA will provide an opportunity for a public hearing on the rule upon request. Requests for a public meeting should be submitted to EPA's Office of Resource Conservation and Recovery by July 21, 2010." I added that emphasis on July 21, because that's important.

So today, July 15, six days before the deadline to request public hearings, the EPA published the location of its public hearings. We and hundreds of other groups requested public hearings in Washington, D.C., Chicago, Tennessee (the site of the biggest coal ash disaster in history), Pittsburgh (where nearby drinking water supplies are poisoned with coal ash), Texas (which is one of the biggest coal ash producers in the country) and Atlanta (a city with a strong commitment to environmental justice; many coal ash dumps and landfills are located in low income areas and communities of color).

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