Posts tagged: mercury

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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.

ABOUT EARTHJUSTICE'S BLOG

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
17 April 2012, 5:07 PM
Cleaning up pollution actually hurts those afflicted by it, says EPA critic

A remarkable thing happened during a Senate hearing today on the EPA's rule to limit toxic air pollution from coal-fired power plants. A critic of the agency's policy argued that reducing air pollution from coal-fired power plants—the nation's worst air polluters—is a bad idea because it will make it more expensive for asthmatics to run their air conditioners on hot days when poor air quality forces them inside.

Seriously? Seriously.

"Look, anybody who has a child with asthma, anybody who is caring for an elderly relative knows that during times of the year, the most important thing you can do is get them into a room that has good air conditioning," said Jeff Holmstead during his testimony. "If you make that air conditioning a lot more expensive, you're gonna have problems."

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View Sam Edmondson's blog posts
21 March 2012, 3:26 PM
New public survey shows broad support for clean air standards

Breathing isn’t just a physiological necessity, relegated to the unconscious functioning of our reptilian brains. It’s actually quite popular. Darn popular!

I imagine that’s so because not all breathing is created equal. There’s the satisfying lungful of sweet, clean air (I hope we have all had that experience). And there’s the cough-inducing, eye-watering, lung-busting inhalation of dirty air. Sadly, far too many people are intimately familiar with this latter experience—which may help to explain why clean air is so popular. It’s in short supply in a lot of places where people live and breathe.

Sixty-six percent of voters nationally strongly support action by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to curb smog, mercury and other dangerous air pollution, according to new public opinion research released today.

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View Stephanie Maddin's blog posts
21 March 2012, 9:29 AM
In the Senate, public health is up for debate

That coal- and oil-fired power plants are big air polluters is beyond question—they emit hundreds of thousands of tons of hazardous air pollution (mercury, lead, acid gases, e.g.), far more than any other industrial polluter. And yet, many in Congress question whether we should do anything about this major threat to public health. The debate took center stage yesterday in a subcommittee hearing of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee.

Sen. John Barrasso said that the costs and real benefits of cleaning up toxic air pollution from power plants are unknown. This is an incredible statement considering that extensive analysis by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has shown substantial benefits from cleaning up power plants: the prevention of up to 11,000 premature deaths, 130,000 asthma attacks and 5,000 heart attacks every year. The benefits of reducing power plant pollution could reach $90 billion each year, 9 times the cost.

Barrasso's colleague, Sen. Lamar Alexander, had a different take. He acknowledged the damage that mercury and other toxics pose to fetal development and the health of other vulnerable populations. He also conceded that power plants have evaded clean air standards for more than a decade and that the country needs to "get on with it and do it!" He then, ironically, suggested a blanket 6-year compliance timeline, which Gina McCarthy, EPA's Deputy Administrator, strongly opposed. She argued that delaying the standards any longer will severely compromise the health benefits for the American public.

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View Jessica Knoblauch's blog posts
27 January 2012, 2:36 AM
Green seas, climate change horticulture, mercury meddles with melody
Photo courtesy of AJC1

Conspiracy theorists descend on Florida climate change plan
Plans to prepare for rising sea levels and other climate change affects in south Florida are being attacked by conspiracy theorists who believe climate change is a hoax perpetuated by a group of “progressive elites” who want to raise taxes, reports the Sun Sentinel. Though the majority of comments on the draft Southeast Florida Regional Climate Action Plan came from government agencies and nonprofits that want to improve the plan, a small faction of conspiracy theorists are bent on taking it down, but that doesn't mean policymakers will listen. Said John Van Leer, associate professor of meteorology and physical oceanography at the University of Miami, “A lot of people believe the earth is 5,600 years old. A lot of people believe the human landing on the moon was staged in a Hollywood studio…but that doesn't mean we should base public policy on that." Meanwhile, other states like Hawaii are moving forward on bills to prepare their states for sea level rise. Whether those bills will sink or swim under climate climate change conspiracies remains to be seen.

Clean seas could boost economies’ green
It turns out that oceans that don't have heaps of garbage patches in them don’t just look better, they also make more money for the world economy, reports Reuters. A recent report by the United Nations Environment Program found that pollution from events like oil spills and chemical dumps, coupled with rampant over-fishing, have heavily damaged the oceans’ productivity and health. Add to that the fact that the oceans have acidified more in the last 200 years than the previous 21,000 years and it’s clear that the oceans and its critters need some help from its land-based brethren. In order to clean up oceans, the report recommends "key steps for ‘greening’ the seas across areas” like tourism, fishing and deep-sea mining. Though greening the sea may be costly upfront, the long-term benefits include a $50-billion boost to the economy each year just by restoring fish stocks and reducing fishing capacity. Find out more about how Earthjustice is working to clean up the deep blue sea and why the high value of the oceans is crystal clear.

View Brian Smith's blog posts
26 January 2012, 1:37 PM
The Economist magazine sees a trend

When an environmental organization tells you the age of coal is over, it’s fair to dismiss that as mere wishful thinking.

But when an international economic magazine says the same thing, people sit up and pay attention.

While the cradle-to-grave impacts of coal are well documented, the fact remains that coal still provides 45 percent of the nation’s power. But coal's dominance is decreasing as new sources of power come online and energy efficiency improves.

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View Liz Judge's blog posts
06 January 2012, 4:16 AM
The no-brainer decisions the president must make this year

President Obama won the White House on a platform of hope and change – promising an end to dirty corporate influence over our political system and a beginning to an era in which our energy choices lead us to a clean, sustainable future, or at least don’t kill us or make us sick.

So far, the president’s performance has been mixed – with some deliveries on the promise and some disappointments. His last year, whether in office or in his first term, will be crucial in righting his spotty record and making good on his campaign promises to the American people.

Leading up to his fourth year in office, and making sure the new year got off to a good start with supporters, he handed the country a solid. His EPA, led by Administrator Lisa Jackson, finalized a strong rule to protect Americans from mercury poisoning and toxic air pollution from power plants.

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View Sam Edmondson's blog posts
23 December 2011, 3:41 PM
Coal plant pollution limits point to brighter future

The historic victory for clean air announced a few days ago—limits on the mercury, arsenic and other toxic emissions from coal plants—has been a long time coming. Congress called for these limits in 1990, but the coal power industry got to work undermining them straight away. As a result, instead of getting the breath of fresh air promised by Congress, Americans living in the shadow of a smokestack have been getting daily lungfuls of toxic air for 21 years.

It took determined litigation and public advocacy to break through the politics and industry's obstruction—the victory achieved on December 21, 2011 is the culmination of those long, hard years of fighting. Earthjustice got involved in the legal fight in 1994 and Jim Pew, a staff attorney in our Washington, D.C. office, has been dedicated to the cause for more than a decade, successfully arguing against attempts by the Bush administration to give power plants a pass.

This short video features Jim Pew and two Pennsylvanians—Marti Blake and Martin Garrigan, neighbors—who know firsthand what it means to live in the shadow of a smokestack and the specter of a plume. Check it out, and if you feel moved to send a thank you to President Obama for issuing protections to cut down on the pollution coming from this bad industrial neighbors, you can do so here.

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View Sam Edmondson's blog posts
21 December 2011, 1:52 PM
In new video, Obama explains how critical clean air protections are

The White House recently posted a video of President Obama discussing the new clean air protections that his administration released today to limit mercury, arsenic and other air toxic emissions from power plants. The President's words underscore how momentous this occasion is. The fight for these protections is more than two decades old. Earthjustice entered it in 1994 and has been pushing hard ever since. Check out the video below.

View Chris Jordan-Bloch's blog posts
21 December 2011, 12:02 PM
For many Americans, historic EPA protection is shining light
Marti Blake points out the window at her neighbor

"It's like hell. Living in hell," says Marti Blake, when asked about being neighbors with a coal-fired power plant. "It's filthy, it's dirty, it's noisy, it's unhealthy."

For the past 21 years, Blake has lived across the street from the Cheswick Generating Station in Springdale, PA. A family situation left her trying to find a place quickly, and a simple brick home in the small town only 20 minutes from Pittsburgh seemed fine.

"I've regretted that decision ever since, because I've felt sick for the last 20 years," says Blake, who is on medication for a slew of symptoms that include coughing, sinus infections and headaches. Blake attributes these symptoms to the dirty neighbor across the street. Who else in the neighborhood, after all, has a 750-foot tall smoke stack that is spewing out toxic smoke around the clock?

Marti Blake

A portrait of Marti Blake is paired with the reflection in her living room window.
View Sam Edmondson's blog posts
21 December 2011, 10:31 AM
Protections to scrub coal plants' toxic emissions proposed after years of delay

To all who wondered what gift the Obama administration is giving the American public for the holidays: it's clean air.

The administration just announced the first-ever clean air protections against the nation's dirtiest polluters—coal-fired power plants. This is one of the most significant developments in the history of environmental protections and the 40-year old Clean Air Act.

Earthjustice has been a big part of this fight for more than a decade—our litigation helped cut through the politics and intense pressure from industry to scuttle these important protections. Today, we're proud that those years of work have resulted in a major victory for the health of the American public. We're also proud that nearly 50,000 Earthjustice supporters made their voices heard in a call for these protections and the right to breathe.

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