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 Bill Walker's blog posts
01 September 2009, 11:26 AM
House bill would allow old, dirty coal plants to keep polluting
Navajo Generating Station, Arizona

The attorneys general of five states are urging Senate leaders to strengthen the federal climate bill by requiring cleanup or closure of dirty coal-fired power plants, preserving state authority to set stricter clean air standards than in federal law and ensuring that citizens can sue to enforce the bill’s provisions.

The letter was sent even as Democratic leaders in the Senate announced they are postponing consideration of the bill until later this year because of the political logjam over national health care reform.

“We believe that passage of a [stronger] bill . . . will build upon the efforts of states to address climate change, and by demonstrating the nation’s commitment to achieving carbon reductions, will put the U.S. in a stronger position in negotiations on a new international climate accord in Copenhagen later this year,” said the letter, sent Aug. 31. 

View Bill Karpowicz's blog posts
27 August 2009, 9:18 AM
Toxin found in every fish tested in 291 streams

More than two-thirds of fish tested by the federal government between 1998 and 2005 are contaminated by mercury at levels exceeding EPA standards according to a recent report.

Contamination is widespread, the report said, coming from various sources depending on geography. Coal-fired power plants are the largest source of mercury, although 59 of the 291 streams studied may have been affected by gold and mercury mining. The highest mercury levels were found in the south and southeast-North and South Carolina, Georgia, Florida and Louisiana, while elevated levels were found in mining areas of the West and watersheds in the Northeast and Upper Midwest.

In 2008, Earthjustice successfully appealed an EPA rule favorable to industry which would have allowed dangerous levels of mercury to persist. We’re waiting for the Obama administration to make good on its promise to introduce new power plant emission regulations.

View Tom Turner's blog posts
26 August 2009, 9:35 AM
U.S. Chamber of Commerce demands new Scopes trial

Things involving climate change are getting decidedly bizarre. The three-million-member U.S. Chamber of Commerce is demanding that the Environmental Protection Agency hold a trial—witnesses, cross-examination, the whole nine yards—to challenge climate science. The Chamber's purpose is to head off regulations that EPA may adopt based on an upcoming "finding" that CO2 emissions "endanger" human (Americans' in this case) health.

William Kovacs, a vice president of the Chamber, likened the proposed trial to the infamous Scopes monkey trial, where a Tennessee school teacher was convicted of teaching evolution in contravention of a state law that was later repealed. Kovacs promised a lawsuit should the EPA refuse to hold such a trial.

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View Terry Winckler's blog posts
17 August 2009, 2:04 PM
EPA and Obama can still stop destruction of lake
Photo: Pat Costello, courtesy of Lighthawk

Last Friday, the Army Corps of Engineers quietly gave Kensington gold mine permission to kill an Alaskan lake with mine tailings. It's disappointing for those of us who've been fighting for years to keep this lake—and the Clean Water Act—from being trashed.

Technically, the Corps had every right to grant the permit. So spoke the U.S. Supreme Court earlier this year in a narrow ruling that said a Bush-era twist of the Clean Water Act allowed a slurry of toxic, chemically-processed mine tailings to be defined as "fill." Fill, such as rock, has long been legal to place in our waterways under permits issued by the Corps.

Earthjustice, which argued against the permit in court, was disappointed by the ruling, but had good reason to believe the dumping would not be allowed.

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View Terry Winckler's blog posts
03 August 2009, 2:02 PM
Government has right to force environmental review, says legal action

A troublesome new chapter has opened in the matter of Sunflower Electric's attempt to more than double the electrical output at its existing coal-fired plant in Holcomb, Kansas.

After digging through 10,000 pages of documents, Earthjustice attorney Jan Hasselman discovered that Sunflower in the past had defaulted on its debt service payments to the federal government, and that as a consequence the federal government now has effective oversight over Sunflower's business decisions, including the attempted expansion of its existing plant.

That means that you and I and all other American taxpayers have a major stake in how that plant performs, financially and environmentally. We have long known that the expansion was a thoroughly bad idea because of the enormous amounts of greenhouse gases it would produce for decades. The revelation of Sunflower's indebtedness to the public could be a key to stopping the expansion.

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View Raviya Ismail's blog posts
23 July 2009, 10:51 AM
EPA says it will consider impact of Bush rule on low-income communities

Twenty-one citizens and experts testified June 30 at an Environmental Protection Agency public hearing about the impacts of living near hazardous waste sites. Among them was Sheila Holt-Orsted, a cancer survivor who's seen her mother, father, sister, cousins, aunts and uncles suffer from cancer and other illnesses believed to be caused by contamination from a Dixon County, Tennessee landfill.

Her father died in January 2007, stricken by prostrate and bone cancer, diabetes and hypertension. In 2003, Holt-Orsted was diagnosed with stage 2 breast cancer. After several surgeries, chemotherapy and radiation, she began looking for answers and didn't have to look far. Her family's farm was adjacent to the town landfill where toxic chemicals were dumped for years. Among the chemicals was trichloroethylene—a cancer-causing chemical and one of the most toxic agents known to man.

"No other community should have to experience a toxic legacy that has plagued my community," Holt-Orsted testified. "I urge EPA to protect the public's health and environment as RCRA intended it and to say no to this new rule. Get it right this time."

View John McManus's blog posts
22 July 2009, 3:55 PM
Agency favors dry land disposal method for mine tailings
Lower Slate Lake, after trees were stripped from around it for the mine

The Environmental Protection Agency is asking the Army Corps of Engineers to not immediately re-issue a permit for Kensington gold mine in Alaska, despite a Supreme Court ruling last month that upheld the now-expired permit.

In a letter to the Corps—and to the consternation of mine owner, Coeur d'Alene Mines Corporation—the EPA argued that a dry lands disposal plan favored by environmental groups is feasible and better for the environment. EPA estimates it would take 8 months to review and approve the plan, whereas Coeur wants to immediately start working on the mine.

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View Trip Van Noppen's blog posts
16 July 2009, 3:35 PM
Massive coal lobby threatens nation's chance for a clean energy future

The Senate, perhaps inadvertently, has given the American public a chance to help counter a massive assault by the fossil fuel industry on our nation's best hope to fight climate change and forge a clean energy future—the American Climate and Energy Security Act.

The mission of ACES is historic and essential: drive the transition to a clean energy economy with millions of new jobs and dramatically reduce carbon emissions to avert the worst impacts of climate change. It could enable the United States to play a powerful leadership role in global climate negotiations later this year.

But, though well intentioned, the legislation suffered at the hands of fossil fuel lobbyists in its passage through the House of Representatives, and even its champions acknowledge that some of the concessions in the bill may hamper its effectiveness. Now, in the Senate, it faces even more attacks on its integrity from lobbyists led by coal.

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View Kathleen Sutcliffe's blog posts
15 July 2009, 1:42 PM
EPA reveals locations—now it must actually regulate coal ash
A house destroyed by coal ash that spilled in December 2008 from the TVA containment pond.

It appears the old maxim "ask and you shall receive" is alive and well.

On June 18, a coalition of environmental groups, including Earthjustice, filed a Freedom of Information Act request asking the Environmental Protection Agency to make public a list of "high hazard" coal ash disposal sites across the country.

Eleven days later, we had the information in hand. The 44 sites were spread across 10 states as follows:

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View Jared Saylor's blog posts
21 May 2009, 11:09 AM
 

Appalachia's mountains never seem to get a break. First, back in 2007, a district court judge ruled in favor of a lawsuit we brought on behalf of some West Virginia groups that stopped five mountaintop removal mining permits from going forward because of the permanent destruction they would have done to Appalachian streams and headwaters. It was a short-lived victory: the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals overturned the decision and the permits were moving forward again.

But then, the Obama EPA said it was going to review a slew of pending mountaintop removal mining permits that were awaiting the outcome of the court decision, and all were optimistic that the agency would put a halt on them and help prevent further stream and mountaintop destruction from happening. Appalachian groups hailed this decision, but again, victory was short-lived: just this month, the EPA said that despite having reviewed the permits (and despite mountaintop removal mining completely flattening entire mountain ranges and completely burying streams and headwaters) it was going to let 42 mountaintop removal mining permits proceed.

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