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 Molly Woodward's blog posts
21 January 2010, 5:04 PM
Salmon, false killer whales, mercury, water pollution
Scene from the San Francisco Bay Delta

Some top stories from the past week at Earthjustice…

It’s a rainy week here in Oakland, as a storm system bestows California with some much-needed H2O. Our short supply of water has meant trouble for salmon. A new video by Salmon Water Now illuminates startling alliances between big agribusiness and the political interests controlling water and the fate of salmon in the San Francisco Bay Delta.

A wholly different marine creature in peril will get some help at last. The NMFS announced it will take measures to protect false killer whales from the commercial longline fishing industry, following years of Earthjustice litigation. Rarely seen by humans, false killer whales are close relations of dolphins.

Mercury pollution is a big problem for aquatic life (and people who eat fish), and a lot of it comes from medical waste incinerators. In September, the EPA set groundbreaking rules that significantly reduce air pollution from this source, but now these rules are being challenged in court. Earthjustice has intervened in the lawsuit.

And, the toxic green slime clogging Florida’s waterways might finally loosen its hold, thanks to a historic first step by the EPA to limit fertilizer, animal waste and sewage pollution in the state. While the proposed limits aren’t as stringent as they could be, they’re a big improvement.

View Raviya Ismail's blog posts
19 January 2010, 3:46 PM
EPA rule threatened by medical waste industry

A few weeks ago Earthjustice filed a motion to intervene in a case in which the Medical Waste Institute and the Energy Recovery Council is challenging a toxic air pollution rule set forth by the EPA. The EPA has not always acted with the interest of public health and protecting the environment. But in many instances—including this one—they have. So we are joining the challenge to keep this rule intact.

The rule reduces emissions of mercury, dioxins, lead and other dangerous pollutants from medical waste incinerators by 393,000 pounds per year. Additionally, the rule mandates:

• A significant reduction in the amount of mercury that may be released from incinerators
• Enhanced testing of small, rural, medical waste incinerators, resulting in better enforcement in rural communities
• Significant reductions in dioxins, lead and other major pollutants, all of which will bring increased health benefits to communities hosting medical waste incinerators

These rules on toxic air pollution will save lives. So it's of utmost importance that this rule remain on the books.
 

View Trip Van Noppen's blog posts
13 January 2010, 11:36 AM
Arm in arm with lobbyists, senator aims to gut landmark law

<Update, Jan. 21>: Sen. Murkowski today declared her plan to exempt polluters from the Clean Air Act. She intends to use a little-known legislative maneuver to nullify the EPA's recent determination that greenhouse gases threaten public health. This move would restrict the Clean Air Act, a powerful and effective law, from being used to hold polluters accountable for their global warming emissions. Earthjustice's Sarah Saylor condemned Murkowski's gambit.

Sen. Lisa Murkowski is on a mission, legislative guns blazing, to shoot holes through the Clean Air Act—one of our nation's strongest and most successful environmental laws. If she prevails, we may lose one of the best tools we have to reduce global warming pollution. Senators may have to decide as soon as Jan. 20 whether to join her.

Industry lobbyists already have. In her scheme to bring down the Clean Air Act, Murkowski's script has been written by a pair of well-connected industry lobbyists whose clients include major coal-burning utilities like Duke Energy and the Southern Company. The Washington Post reports that both lobbyists, who were high-level officials at EPA under George W. Bush, even participated in a closed-door meeting last September to explain details of Murkowski's plan to the staffers of some centrist Democrats.

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View Jared Saylor's blog posts
21 December 2009, 1:31 PM
Dec. 22 will be a day residents in Harriman will never forget

I remember my first thought when I read the papers on Dec. 23, the day after one of the biggest environmental disasters in our nation's history: "This is only the beginning."

The stories about the spill came out like the spill itself: slow at first, then in a huge, sudden avalanche of sad details. 5.4 million cubic yards of coal ash from the Tennessee Valley Authority's Kingston Power Plant burst through a dam near Harriman and spread over 300 acres of pristine shoreline along the Emory and Clinch Rivers.

The spill damaged 23 homes and completely destroyed three.  This was enough coal ash to fill up nearly four Empire State Buildings; this much coal ash would flow over Niagara Falls for 24 minutes straight. Luckily, no one was physcially injured, but the emotional toll was immense.

Just 19 days later, 10,000 gallons were released from a pond at TVA's Widows Creek Power Plant in northeastern Alabama. A month after the Tennessee spill, Congress got involved with hearings and rhetoric about how we needed to clean up this mess and make sure it never happens again. But then on March 9, 2009, another spill occurred.

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View Trip Van Noppen's blog posts
18 December 2009, 5:36 PM
Senators try to stop EPA from reducing global warming pollution
Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK). Photo by AFP.

Today, as world leaders, led by President Obama, struggled deep into the night on a plan to fight climate change, a handful of U.S. senators at home were trying to sabotage U.S. climate action. In league with long-time climate science deniers in Congress, they launched an effort to keep the EPA from regulating greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act.

Led by Alaska's Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R), this politically motivated attack targets an "endangerment finding" announced by the EPA on Dec. 7. Sen. Murkowski, aided by Sen. Lindsay Graham and others, are trying to pass a resolution that would nullify this finding.

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View Jared Saylor's blog posts
17 December 2009, 1:25 PM
EPA backs off coal ash plans; industry pressure a likely cause

While we still had hopes to see the first ever coal ash regulations by the end of this year, it seems the EPA might be taking a bit more time before they release their long-awaited proposal. The EPA announced today that, despite repeated claims, it won't be issuing regulations for coal ash ponds by 2010.

It hasn't been an easy road for EPA so far. The power industry has used fear mongering and misinformation to pressure EPA to hold off on regulating one of the nation's biggest wastes, coal ash. Coal ash ponds have poisoned communities and destroyed the environment for decades. It wasn't until a spill in Harriman, Tennessee last December that the agency and the nation recognized the toxic threat at nearly 600 coal ash ponds across the country.

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View Sam Edmondson's blog posts
17 December 2009, 11:48 AM
Sen. Murkowski targets the EPA endangerment finding
Photo by AP

For the second time in 3 months, Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) is trying to block solutions to global warming. In September, she attempted to tack an amendment onto an appropriations bill that would have kept the Environmental Protection Agency from spending any money on reducing global warming pollution from major emissions sources, like coal-fired power plants. She failed.

But she's at it again. This go around, she's attempting to retroactively veto the EPA's recent Clean Air Act endangerment finding, which states that greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide are a threat to human health and welfare. The endangerment finding is the result of a Supreme Court ruling that found EPA has the authority and a legal obligation to use the Clean Air Act to regulate global warming pollution.

Is Murkowski suggesting that EPA ignore the High Court's ruling?

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View Trip Van Noppen's blog posts
16 December 2009, 4:06 PM
U.S. leadership on global warming threatened by compromise in Congress
A coal-fired power plant.

Becoming a grandfather is cause for celebration, unless you're a coal-fired power plant.

Coal plants that predate the Clean Air Act have become the mules of air pollution—set in their ways and not liable to change. Exploiting their "grandfathered" status, these coal plants have refused to implement technologies that are currently available to reduce pollution.

Now, Congress seems determined to let these dinosaurs off the hook all over again.

Although the Environmental Protection Agency's recent Clean Air Act endangerment finding prescribes a strong antidote to global warming pollution—a fact President Obama will surely highlight tomorrow on the final day of climate negotiations in Copenhagen—a political compromise over coal plants threatens to bind EPA's hands just as it begins to act.

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View Sam Edmondson's blog posts
10 December 2009, 5:19 PM
Senators release framework for global warming legislation
Photo by AP

The Senate's Three Amigos—Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), John Kerry (D-MA), and Joe Lieberman (I-CT)—today released their framework for tackling global warming, our planetary El Guapo. The 5-page document lays out some broad principles for a Senate bill but is slim on specifics.

Crystal clear, however, is the senators' desire for a market-based system (i.e. one in which supply and demand reigns) rather than a system of government regulation: "Monday's endangerment finding by the EPA underscores the importance of Congressional action to address greenhouse gas emissions before the EPA moves unilaterally."

The endangerment finding—which makes possible the regulation of global warming pollution through the Clean Air Act—is a bitter pill to most business groups and industries, whose spokespeople quickly fired off "economy killer" statements when the finding was announced.

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View Patti Goldman's blog posts
09 December 2009, 3:14 PM
New policy aims to correct decades of wrongdoings

Yesterday, the Environmental Protection Agency put itself on a path to right several wrongs of the past decades done to this nation's farmworkers and their families.

EPA announced a new policy that will apply the same science in assessing risks to workers and their families as it uses to protect children generally from pesticides in our food. In 1996, Congress mandated that EPA protect children from the risks posed by the combined exposure to pesticides in our foods, drinking water and environment. Congress also directed EPA to account for children's special vulnerabilities to toxic pesticides and gaps in our knowledge about their full risks.

EPA reviewed thousands of pesticides under these standards, but it carved out exceptions for some of the most vulnerable children—children who go with their parents in the fields and children who are exposed to pesticides that drift into their homes, schools, day care centers, and playfields.

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