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 Sam Edmondson's blog posts
09 December 2009, 1:20 PM
Efforts to tie EPA's hands voted down

The endangerment finding released by the Environmental Protection Agency earlier this week—which states that greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide are a threat to public health and welfare—sure seems to rub some politicians the wrong way. Rep. Todd Tiahrt (R-Kan.), a U.S. Senate hopeful, made an attempt to keep any funding allocated in an omnibus spending bill to the EPA from being spent on regulations based on the endangerment finding.

Tiahrt's amendment to the $446.8 billion dollar spending bill was rejected last night in a 5-9 vote. A similar unsuccessful assault on EPA regulation of global warming pollution was mounted in September by Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK). Her amendment, which would have prevented the EPA for one year from spending any money allocated to them through an appropriations bill on regulating stationary sources of carbon pollution like power plants, didn't even get a vote.

These attempts to block funding for regulations, compared to the enthusiasm expressed by many at the announcement of the endangerment finding, illustrate a central issue: Using the Clean Air Act to regulate global warming pollution from cars, trucks, power plants, factories and other sources is a divisive issue. Moving forward, if and when EPA rolls out proposed regulations for these sources, it'll be interesting to see who lines up on which side of the argument.

View Raviya Ismail's blog posts
07 December 2009, 9:56 AM
EPA chief to declare emissions a danger to public health

(Update: As expected, today, EPA chief Lisa Jackson announced that greenhouse gases, including from vehicles, are a danger to public health that should be regulated. Earthjustice President Trip Van Noppen immediately welcomed the announcement, commenting in part that "our nation must move quickly and efficiently to achieve the cuts in carbon dioxide and other global warming pollution needed to stave off catastrophic climate change." Read his full statement here.)

As the climate change conference convenes in Copenhagen, Lisa Jackson, head of the Environmental Protection Agency, is set to declare today that carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions are a danger to public health.

In April, the EPA released an endangerment finding, acknowledging that greenhouse gases endanger public health and welfare. Jackson's latest announcement finalizes that initial action toward addressing global warming pollution under the Clean Air Act. At the time, we said:

The Obama administration has removed a road block in curbing pollution responsible for climate change and signaled a turn toward a clean energy future. We applaud this action, and welcome the President's leadership to overcome the greatest environmental challenge of our time.

View Jared Saylor's blog posts
03 December 2009, 9:14 AM
EPA dumps Bush-era rule that allowed unfettered hazardous waste burning

The Bush Years: Sounds like an afternoon special, right? Unfortunately it was a reality we remember all too well.

As President Bush prepared to leave office, his cronies at EPA pushed for a slew of bad rulemakings that favored polluters at the cost of public health and the environment. This came as no surprise back then, and Earthjustice and others did a wonderful job of fighting back and defeating many of these "midnight rulemakings," as they were often called.

One particularly egregious rule, known as the Emissions Comparable Fuels rule, allowed industries to burn up to 100,000 tons of hazardous waste without any federal hazardous waste protections.

View Brian Smith's blog posts
02 December 2009, 5:33 PM
Industry thinks so, but Earthjustice disagrees

Almost one year ago, a dyke holding back the 40-acre coal ash pond at the Tennessee Valley Authority's Kingston Fossil Plant broke, releasing more than 500 million gallons of toxic coal ash. The sludge (six feet deep in some places) spread out over 400 acres, damaged 12 homes, and wrecked a train. It was the largest human-induced environmental disaster since Chernobyl.

For the last year, Earthjustice and our partners have worked to reveal the location and contents of toxic coal ash ponds around the United States. We have had some notable success.

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View David Guest's blog posts
18 November 2009, 11:44 AM
EPA agreement on nutrient runoff has national impacts
Algae slimes Christopher Point Creek

Even though a large group of polluters tried to derail it, Earthjustice won this week a historic settlement—with nationwide implications—that requires the Environmental Protection Agency to set legal limits for the widespread nutrient poisoning that triggers harmful algae blooms in Florida waters.

Our settlement has been a long time coming, and its impact goes far beyond this state's borders. Currently, Florida and most other states have only vague limits regulating nutrients. The EPA will now begin the process of imposing quantifiable—and enforceable—water quality standards to tackle nutrient pollution, using data collected by the Florida DEP.

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View Raviya Ismail's blog posts
12 November 2009, 11:53 AM
Earthjustice steps in to prevent continued devastation of river

It's not enough that Tennessee's Clinch River was devastated by a toxic spill that dumped 1 billion gallons of coal ash into its waters last December. Now the Tennessee Valley Authority wants to systematically pollute the river (which leads to the mighty Tennessee River) to the tune of one million gallons a day of toxic pollutants. We're talking dumping mercury, selenium and other chemicals into a river which the Tennessee Valley Authority is supposed to be protecting. Instead the agency got permission to pollute the river with coal waste from its coal-fired Kingston Fossil Plant.

Earthjustice, Environmental Integrity Project, and the Sierra Club joined together to appeal this Clean Water Act permit, which pleases several local Tennessee residents, who have contended with the TVA's dirty water practices for years.

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View Raviya Ismail's blog posts
05 November 2009, 2:22 PM
Earthjustice settlement is healthy news for Gulf Coast residents

Folks living in the Gulf Coast—and near stinky PVC plants—rejoice! Earthjustice has reached a settlement agreement to have the EPA begin regulating toxins coming from these plants, which are responsible for pumping approximately 500,000 pounds of vinyl chloride—a known human carcinogen—and other toxins into the air. In spite of the documented effects of these cancer-causing chemicals, the PVC industry's air emissions have remained largely unregulated for decades.

Most of the nation's 24 plants are in Louisiana and Texas—states with the dubious distinction of being home to six plants apiece. The remaining plants are in New Jersey, Delaware, Illinois, Kentucky, Mississippi, Alabama, Michigan and Oklahoma.

Edgar Mouton, Jr. 74, a lifelong resident of Mossville, LA, has lived for decades near a PVC plant. He is a member of Mossville Environmental Action Now, one of several client groups Earthjustice represented in a lawsuit.

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View Jared Saylor's blog posts
03 November 2009, 8:59 AM
When is hazardous coal ash not considered hazardous?
The devastation of the TVA spill in Tennessee, December 2008. Photo: United Mountain Defense

When is hazardous coal ash not considered hazardous? According to the Environmental Protection Agency, when you dump it in a landfill as opposed to a pond. This approach is currently being floated by the EPA in its plans to regulate coal ash later this year. Coal ash—the waste left over after coal is burned at coal-fired power plants—is full of dangerously high levels of arsenic, lead, mercury, cadmium and other hazardous metals. Cancer rates skyrocket near coal ash dumps that have leaked into drinking water supplies.

As the one-year anniversary of the Kingston coal ash spill approaches (December 22), the EPA has been working hard to prepare the first ever federal regulations of coal ash. But newspapers are reporting that the Government Accountability Office issued a report last week that indicates EPA's plans aren’t the strongest safeguards against this toxic threat.

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View Trip Van Noppen's blog posts
15 October 2009, 12:00 PM
EPA chief asks Congress for new law to protect public from toxic threats

Suppose I asked you to drive a nail into the wall and then handed you a banana to do it. At best you'd make a mess of it—the same mess faced by the Environmental Protection Agency when it comes to keeping the public safe from toxic chemicals. Right job, wrong tool.

Congress handed the EPA a banana in 1976 called the Toxic Substances Control Act, a law that EPA chief Lisa Jackson herself recently described as "an inadequate tool for providing the protection against chemical risks that the public rightfully expects." The numbers bear her out: EPA has required safety testing of only 200 of the roughly 82,000 chemicals registered for use under TSCA. These are chemicals in products that we all encounter every day, from household cleaners to cell phones, toys, carpets and food containers. The result is more potentially hazardous chemicals in our bodies than ever before.

Recognizing this tremendous failure to protect the public, Jackson is asking Congress for a hammer.

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View Peter Campbell's blog posts
15 October 2009, 10:07 AM
A Blog Action Day post: stop factory farming
Earthjustice is participating in Blog Action Day.

Today is Blog Action Day, and this year's theme is Climate Change. Here's my pitch for an immediate step that could be taken to reduce the production of greenhouse gases significantly, while promoting good health; improving the economy in rural America; and reducing cruelty to animals. In fact, this suggestion is so logical that it's a travesty that I have to suggest it. It makes Sarah Silverman's recent hunger-ending proposal look paltry in comparison. Here's my suggestion:

Close down factory farms. Eliminate agribusiness.

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