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 Brian Smith's blog posts
14 July 2010, 4:12 PM
Public has the right to know

Under the federal Toxics Substances Control Act, chemical manufacturers are required to submit health and safety studies to the EPA. Other federal law requires manufacturers of the oil dispersants being used by BP to submit data on the toxicity and effectiveness of the dispersants.

Earthjustice went to court today representing the Gulf Restoration Network and the Florida Wildlife Federation to get that information.

While the EPA has disclosed the secret ingredients of the two chemical dispersants, the agency has not released the health and safety studies. The lawsuit also seeks to uncover what's in other chemical dispersants approved for use by the EPA on oil spills.

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View Raviya Ismail's blog posts
06 July 2010, 2:21 PM
DC/East Coast residents will finally be able to take their breathing outside

Anyone who lives in Washington, D.C. and other smog-laden eastern regions may have kept their breathing indoors for the last few days as a result of the high pollution levels. Recent announcements by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency signal the agency is doing something about that.

In two moves toward cleaner air, the EPA first agreed to review hazardous air pollution rules for 28 industries—from pesticide production operations to pharmaceutical plants—and also proposed limits for interstate air pollution in 31 eastern states and Washington, D.C. The interstate rule is aimed to slash sulfur dioxide (linked to a number of adverse effects on the respiratory system) and nitrogen oxides (also very harmful to human health). EPA estimates that this rule would avoid annually an estimated 14,000 to 36,000 premature deaths, 21,000 cases of acute bronchitis, 240,000 cases of aggravated asthma and 1.9 million days of missed school and work as a result of reactions to ozone and other air pollutants.

In other words, this is a big deal.

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View Sam Edmondson's blog posts
06 July 2010, 9:55 AM
EPA to set emission standards for 28 polluting industries

In 1970, the Clean Air Act first took aim at toxic air emissions from industrial facilities across the United States. Forty years later, it finally hit a major target.

Actually, 28 major targets. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency today agreed to review and update Clean Air Act rules that rein in emissions of nearly 200 hazardous air pollutants released by 28 kinds of industrial facilities.

All those numbers will translate to one important thing: fewer toxic pollutants in our air that are linked to cancer, birth defects, anemia, nervous system damage, lung and respiratory ailments, and other illnesses. The 28 categories of industrial facilities include pesticide production operations, pharmaceutical plants and lead smelters.

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View Terry Winckler's blog posts
01 July 2010, 10:20 AM
Earthjustice demanded ingredient information, will seek expert opinions
Dispersant sprayed in Gulf of Mexico

<Update 7/1: EPA has released results of its first round of chemical testing of dispersants used in the Gulf. The report downplays toxicity, but as scientist/blogger Richard Denison points out - the report offers little new information and still leaves unresolved the bigger questions, such as what toxicity occurs when dispersants and oil combine, and what happens when that highly dispersed oil/dispersant brew is spread across vast areas and throughout the water column.>

<Update: A month after promising to test the toxicity of dispersants used against the Gulf oil spill, the EPA has yet to complete those tests - meanwhile more than 1.4 million gallons have been dumped in the Gulf with unmeasured consequences, reports Mother Jones. EPA's position is that the dispersants are less toxic than the oil, but that raises the question: are we just adding to the total toxicity of the spill?

<Update: Check out the latest information on the toxic potential of ingredients in oil dispersants>

The government wouldn't dare let a doctor give out an experimental drug without years of extensive testing, yet it has allowed British Petroleum to flood the Gulf of Mexico with more than a million gallons of a secret chemical compound in an untested experiment on human communities, hundreds of animal species, and myriad ecological systems.

We're talking about Corexit and other dispersants, made up of classified chemicals and spread over and injected into Gulf waters to break up BP's oil spill. The spill alone is in many ways unmatched in human history, scientists say, and because of dispersants may be wreaking special devastation in the Gulf. Aside from the fact that dispersants never before have been used on such a vast scale, we have been forced to guess at the danger they pose because BP and the dispersants' manufacturer refused to reveal the ingredients.

Today, after Earthjustice demanded the information through a Freedom of Information Act request, the Environmental Protection Agency finally provided a list of what's in these chemical compounds. Now, we can turn to experts to assess their danger. Our clients, the Gulf Restoration Network and Florida Wildlife Federation, who have long worked to protect the Gulf, must know what is happening to its rich fisheries, sea turtles, birds, and entire ecosystem.

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View Terry Winckler's blog posts
01 July 2010, 8:11 AM
With 140-million gallons of oil in the water, monster skimmer is needed

<Update 7/6: High seas have disrupted testing of the "A Whale" oil skimmer, the Coast Guard reports.>

<Update 7/1: Speaking of whales, a number of whale sharks have been spotted in the oil spill area, which is particularly bad for them, as they are plankton eaters—meaning they sieve the oil-laden waters. The species is among six described as most threatened by the spill, according to AOL. Other species listed are sea turtles, bluefin tuna, sperm whales, dolphins and brown pelicans.>

A record described as "notorious" in a USA Today headline is being reached today in the Gulf of Mexico as BP's oil spill tops the estimated 140-million-gallon mark. The previous record Gulf spill was 139 million gallons in the 1979 spill off Mexico's coast—but it took a year of gushing to get there. BP's spill has been gushing from its blown-out well since April 20 at up to 2.4 million gallons a day.

Even as that unhappy record is being achieved, the federal government has brought on scene the latest attempt to clean up the oil. A monster skimmer ship—3 1/2 football fields long and 10 stories high and named the "A Whale"—chugged in today, especially equipped to skim as much as 21 million gallons of oiled water per day—if the EPA gives the go ahead. The ship has never been tested.

View Terry Winckler's blog posts
29 June 2010, 4:51 PM
Gulf spill area like a cauldron waiting to be stirred
Tropical Storm Alex

<Update 7/1: All BP oil spill cleanup and containment efforts are on hold as wind and waves from the former Hurricane Alex push through the oil spill area. Although the storm stayed 600 miles to the west, it still had enough punch to not only stop the cleanup but actually push oil deeper into coastal wetlands and onto beaches.>

<Update: Alex has been upgraded to a hurricane and continues on course, veering away from any direct contact with the Gulf oil spill area, but still disrupting containment and cleanup efforts. Tar balls "big as apples" have been pushed deep into wetlands by the storm, reports AP. >

Wind and waves from Hurricane Alex are stirring up more questions than havoc so far at the BP oil spill site, hundreds of miles away. Pundits, scientists and outright guessers just can't agree on what's going to happen to that stew of oil and dispersants when a storm makes a direct hit on the spill scene.

Much of their uncertainty has to do with the chemical makeup of the dispersants, which have been strewn like a giant lab experiment over thousands of square miles of spilled oil, and shot into the oil at seabed level as it escapes. After Earthjustice demanded answers from the EPA, the agency revealed the ingredients, but toxic effects of those ingredients—especially in combination with the oil it binds to—are hard to tie down. And there seems to be nothing but conjecture when it comes to figuring out the added factor of hurricanes.

At this moment, it appears Alex will temporarily halt oil containment/clean up efforts, which are recovering about half of the estimated 60,000 barrels of oil gushing into the Gulf every day. By the time it hits land Wednesday, probably near the Mexico/U.S. border, the storm will have lobbed enough energy eastward to push globs of oily goo deeper into coastal wetlands and along a much broader expanse of beaches in relatively untouched states such as Florida and Mississippi.

But, imagine if Alex's 75+ m.p.h. winds were directly ravaging the spill area, pulling trillions of gallons of that toxic water into its vortex and raining it down over a many-states area.

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View Raviya Ismail's blog posts
28 June 2010, 12:33 PM
Port Arthur, TX residents continually exposed to toxic emissions
Hilton Kelley of Port Arthur, TX.

When Hilton Kelley of Port Arthur, Texas moved back to his hometown more than a decade ago, he didn't realize that he'd spend the ensuing years battling for clean air. And on a muggy Tuesday afternoon, he drove 90 miles west toward Houston to attend yet another EPA hearing to comment on air pollution rules.

Kelley, 49, lives in an area where there are 20 facilities, small and large, continuously pumping chemicals into the air.

"We have become the dumping ground for America's toxic waste," said Kelley. The Port Arthur community is comprised of residents that often times need two or three jobs to make ends meet, he said. "It's an area of least resistance."

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View Raviya Ismail's blog posts
24 June 2010, 9:19 AM
Industry complains of economic woes, Houstonians fear polluted air

Concerned Houston citizen Rosalie Guerrero recently visited a young mother who lives near a facility pumping chemicals in the air. The mother had given birth to a baby with half a brain. The baby suffered for 6 months before dying.

“I’d like to see how much that life costs,” said Rosalie, testifying at a U.S. EPA hearing in Houston on the detrimental effects of living near facilities that emit lead, mercury and cadmium in the air. “There is a cost associated with that.”

Advocates for clean air testified alongside industry representatives at hearings in Houston and Los Angeles Tuesday regarding recent EPA proposals to cut emissions of hazardous air pollutants like mercury and other toxic metals at nearly 100,000 facilities nationwide.

View Sam Edmondson's blog posts
23 June 2010, 3:02 PM
Clean air advocates tell EPA at public hearings to cut toxic emissions

Clean air advocates, many sporting "Don't Trash Our Lungs" t-shirts, spoke out yesterday at public hearings in Los Angeles and Houston for much-needed reductions in toxic air pollution. Held by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the hearings focused on recent EPA proposals to cut emissions of hazardous air pollutants like mercury and other toxic metals at nearly 100,000 facilities nationwide.

While aspects of the EPA's proposals will result in significant benefits to public health if finalized, the agency also made an irresponsible and dangerous offering to industry in the form of a loophole that would allow many facilities to burn industrial wastes without any meaningful oversight or pollution controls.

I attended the L.A. hearing to ask that EPA issue final standards that are maximally strong and protective of public health and ditch the loophole that endangers communities across the country. Hundreds of Earthjustice supporters in the L.A. area, which is notorious for its poor air quality, also submitted comments asking for the same, and I was able to read excerpts from many of these during my testimony.

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View Jared Saylor's blog posts
21 June 2010, 9:06 AM
Agency offers two options for coal ash: one good, one very, very bad

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency started the 90-day clock for public comments on its plans to set federal safeguards for millions of tons of dangerous coal ash wastee currently being stored in dry dumps and waste ponds. This means we've got three months to set the EPA on a straight course towards the first ever strong, federally enforceable safeguards for coal ash. And judging from the current proposal, it seems like the EPA can use our help.

The EPA has set two separate options for regulating coal ash. The first option classifies the nasty byproduct of coal-fired power plants as a "special waste," with strong, federally enforceable requirements for water monitoring and cleanup of the hundreds of dry dumps and wet waste ponds across the country. The second option, which is the favored approach by the polluters and companies responsible for the coal ash, offerws only guidelines that leave many communitites at risk of exposure to the toxic pollutants found in coal ash.

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