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Environmental Protection Agency

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.

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.”

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.

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.

Now that human technology has failed to keep oil out of Gulf coast wetlands, some scientists think the solution lies with one of nature's most ancient techniques—flooding of the Mississippi River.

The scientists have concluded that powerful river flows kept oil from the BP/Gulf spill from invading large areas of wetlands. But as winter runoff diminished, so too did the river flow, and now oil is making a destructive invasion. The strong flow could be restored, however, by simply adjusting dams upstream that are diverting water out of the river bed.

Some top stories from the past week at Earthjustice…

This week, Earthjustice scored a big victory for our lungs with the announcement that the EPA is finally abandoning a dangerous rule—granted by the Bush administration—that would permit the unregulated burning of hazardous waste.

BP's latest effort to clean up its soiled image took it into even murkier waters after the oil giant recently began buying search terms like "oil spill" on Google and Yahoo search engines so that the company's official web site would be the first link to appear on a search page.

Amidst a vote on Sen. Murkowski's (R-AK) resolution to bail out big polluters, Earthjustice President Trip Van Noppen called on the Senate to put aside partisan politics and protect the American people by voting against this bill. Thankfully, the Senate has voted 53-47 against the bill.

Campaign manager Brian Smith reported on Interior Secretary Ken Salazar's recent announcement of a memorandum of understanding to establish the Atlantic Offshore Wind Energy Consortium, which has the goal of tapping into the estimated 1 million megawatts of potential wind power that exists off the east coast.

Earthjustice was curious to know just what's in all of those chemical dispersants that we're dropping into the Gulf of Mexico by the millions of gallons, so we filed a Freedom of Information Act request to get more information. Here's what we found (hint: it's not good).

Yesterday the White House took a firm stand against an effort to undermine the 40-year-old Clean Air Act, reverse a Supreme Court decision, and block the federal fuel efficiency standards that were finalized this past spring, which will reduce the nation's consumption of oil by at least 455 million barrels.
 

Juliet once said to Romeo: "What's in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet." Were Juliet as concerned by toxic air pollution as love, the fair Capulet might have instead philosophized: "That which we call hazardous waste by any other name would pollute as much when burned."

Breathing isn't a choice. Everyone does it, no matter where they live. But for many Americans, where they live has a tremendous impact on the quality of the air they breathe.

Take a look at Mossville, Louisiana for instance, which is home to 14 chemical plants. The town's residents are plagued by severe health problems like cancer and kidney disease attributed to pollution from these local facilities.

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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. Learn more about Earthjustice.