Posts tagged: mountaintop removal

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mountaintop removal


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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 Trip Van Noppen's blog posts
20 April 2010, 10:30 AM
EPA embraces science and the law in two strong actions

In Appalachia, moving mountains is easy. What's hard is keeping them where they are. Coal companies have used dynamite's muscle to blast hundreds of the earth's oldest summits into neighboring valleys, permanently altering the landscape. But two recent developments are shaking the foundations of mountaintop removal mining, signaling that perhaps, at long last, what's moving is the mountain of science and law that compels the end of this destructive practice.

In late March, the Environmental Protection Agency took dramatic action in proposing to veto a permit issued by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for the Spruce No. 1 mine in West Virginia—one of the largest mountaintop removal projects ever approved—on the grounds that mine operations would violate the Clean Water Act. The action was presaged by an Earthjustice lawsuit filed in 2007 that challenged approval of a Clean Water Act permit for the mine for failing to follow science and the law.

If the EPA does veto the permit, the agency's invocation of the Clean Water Act to curtail operations at the Spruce mine will be an important victory. It could have broader repercussions on mountaintop removal in general. (The agency is currently accepting public comments on the veto proposal. You can take action by telling EPA to follow through with the veto and enforce the Clean Water Act.)

But the good news doesn't end there.

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View Raviya Ismail's blog posts
01 April 2010, 11:57 AM
EPA announces plans to reduce destruction from MTR

Hooray for Appalachia!

Today, EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson announced guidelines to prevent continuing harmful environmental impacts as a result of mountaintop removal mining. This is a second win for environmentalists who cheered EPA's announcement last week to veto an Army Corps of Engineers permit for the Spruce No. 1 mine in West Virginia, the largest mountaintop removal mine ever authorized in Appalachia.

These recent EPA actions come on the basis of scientific studies that have determined that the resulting waste from mountaintop removal mining significantly compromises water quality often causing permanent damage to ecosystems and waterways.

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View Terry Winckler's blog posts
10 February 2010, 12:46 PM
Flathead Valley’s natural riches will be kept intact

<Update: Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.) announced that he will introduce legislation that provides the same protections on federal lands in Montana that British Columbia has agreed to.> Canada's portion of the Flathead Valley—a dazzling part of wilderness known as the "Crown of the Continent"—has been saved from the kind of mineral development that is destroying many parts of the United States.

British Columbia, in partnership with the state of Montana, has agreed to ban mining, oil and gas development and coalbed gas extraction in the valley, which is adjacent to a World Heritage site spanning the U.S.-Canadian border.

This is a big win for Earthjustice and its Canadian counterpart, EcoJustice, which had petitioned the United Nations in 2008 to investigate proposed mining activities. What's been saved, says Earthjustice attorney Tim Preso, is "a treasure more precious than coal or gold."

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View Molly Woodward's blog posts
29 January 2010, 11:16 AM
Coal industry and park preservation
Bighorn sheep headbutting in Glacier National Park. Photo: USGS

Some top stories from the past week at Earthjustice…

One result of burning coal is lots and lots of toxic coal ash. It's stored in hundreds of ponds across the U.S., and it can flood and devastate entire communities. Yesterday, Earthjustice joined more than 100 environmental groups in a Day of Action, urging the White House to finally call coal ash what it is: hazardous waste.

A heated debate over mountaintop removal coal mining last week drew huge crowds. The competitors: Don Blankenship, CEO of coal giant Massey Energy, and Waterkeeper founder Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. The reporter: Earthjustice Campaigns Director, Jared Saylor. The victor: Decide for yourself!

The same Massey Energy is one of several industry groups asking a federal appeals court to review (aka do away with) the EPA Clean Air Act endangerment finding. In defense of the finding, 16 states and New York City filed a motion last week to intervene in the case.

Glacier National Park is nearly 100 years old, and Monday Reads introduces us to a truly incredible photography project in celebration of its centennial birthday. Right next door on the U.S.-Canadian border lives the Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park, now threatened by mining plans in the nearby Flathead Valley. But there was hopeful news last week: Earthjustice encouraged an investigation that has resulted in a recommendation of a moratorium on mining and a conservation plan for this essential region.

View Shirley Hao's blog posts
22 January 2010, 6:11 PM
One hundred years of national park goodness
Beargrass, a lily native to Glacier National Park, blooms along the Iceberg Lake trail in Montana. Photo: NPS.

Happy Birthday, Glacier National Park!

Okay, so we’re a few months early…but when you’re coming up on one hundred, you clearly deserve a more grandiose and extended celebration.

The birthday star is one half of the dynamic duo making up Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park. North of Glacier National Park lies its companion, Canada’s Waterton Lakes National Park. Together, these parks represent a corridor of nearly unparalleled pristine wilderness, where almost all of the historical flora and fauna still exist.

In honor of Glacier’s centennial, Glacier Park Magazine editor Chris Peterson set about to photograph the park for a hundred consecutive days. The results are nothing short of thrilling. Chris’s images and insightful commentary bring alive the beauty, diversity, and wonder of this amazing place.

A sampling of Chris’s work:

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View Jared Saylor's blog posts
22 January 2010, 4:09 PM
RFK Jr.'s passion for environmental protection carries the day
Photo: Lawrence Pierce, West Virginia Gazette

People began filing into the University of Charleston's auditorium nearly two hours before the debate began. Charleston police, county sheriffs, state troopers and UC police lined the hallways and entrances. There were rumors of activists chaining themselves to trees and coal miners planning a huge rally. Television cameras were stationed along the walls and in nearly every corner of the auditorium.

It was the hottest ticket in town. All 950 seats in the main auditorium sold out in a few days, and an overflow room holding 2,000 more was expected to be fill. The biggest debate of the century was happening: Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship against Waterkeeper founder Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.

The UC dean, Dr. Edwin H. Welch, moderated. He walked onstage 15 minutes before the debate began, telling the audience that "it does not happen very often in our society to have people who disagree so much come to speak together…we're going to try and recapture the art of argument tonight."

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View Trip Van Noppen's blog posts
21 January 2010, 12:25 PM
Focus is on clean energy, natural heritage, and health

Last year, the U.S. government started taking environmental protection seriously again, but as 2010 dawns, we continue to see political and economic interests preventing or stalling critical environmental solutions.

In the face of this opposition, this year Earthjustice is targeting key issues with our legal and advocacy work. Our focus is on three core priorities: building a clean energy future, protecting our natural heritage, and safeguarding our health.

To avoid global warming's worst impacts, we must build a clean energy future. Reducing demand through efficiency and increasing supply from renewable sources of power are cornerstones of the foundation. But these steps are obstructed by the political stranglehold of the fossil fuel industry. Earthjustice is using the law to help break our national reliance on fossil fuels, which we continue to extract, burn, and subsidize heavily with taxpayer money, despite the destructive impact on people and the planet.

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View Jared Saylor's blog posts
20 January 2010, 10:41 AM
Head to head this Thursday over mountaintop removal mining

The tension has been building since the date was set last November. Ever since it was announced, skeptics clamored, "There's no way this is actually going to take place. Someone is going to back down." But they underestimated the raw emotion and high-voltage electricty surrounding this epic event.

I'm not talking about the next big boxing match, I'm talking about Thursday's (Jan. 21) debate between environmentalist Bobby Kennedy Jr. and Massey Coal Company chief Don Blankenship!

Blankenship will be on his home court as the two meet at the University of Charleston in West Virginia for a 90-minute public debate being broadcast on television stations throughout the state (unfortunately, despite plenty of interest from national media, the debate will be broadcast live only in West Virginia. But yours truly will be there in person, sending live Twitter and post-debate analysis via the unEarthed blog, so stay tuned!).

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View Molly Woodward's blog posts
07 January 2010, 4:05 PM
Mountaintop removal, Copenhagen, PATH project, the Tongass

Some top stories from the last two weeks at Earthjustice...

A full blue moon brought us into this new year and decade.  

Perhaps a new year will mean new policy for mountaintop removal mining. Thus far, the Obama Administration has continued to allow companies to destroy mountains, streams, and communities. Could a new article in Science help change its position?

 Many still wonder what exactly happened at the Copenhagen climate conference. Attorneys Martin Wagner and Erika Rosenthal reviewed what went down, the role Earthjustice played in the negotiations, and the way forward for climate progress.

The way forward for the PATH (Potomac-Appalachia Transmission Highline) project was successfully blocked with help from Earthjustice. Turns out the massive Big Coal transmission line simply isn’t needed to the degree its proponents claimed.

 America’s largest temperate rainforest, the majestic Tongass of Alaska, is a resource we do need. Earthjustice filed a lawsuit last week to protect the National Forest under the Roadless Rule. The Bush Administration “temporarily” exempted it back in 2006.

 Dec. 22 marked one year since the Tennessee Valley Authority's Kingston Power Plant flooded 300 acres of shoreline, and more than 25 homes, with toxic coal ash.

 Reflecting on the changing environmental movement, Patti Goldman reviewed some of Earthjustice’s efforts over the past year to help people most impacted by environmental degradation.

View Jared Saylor's blog posts
07 January 2010, 1:55 PM
Leading stream, health scientists agree mountaintop removal does no good
West Virginia coal fields in winter. Notice the lack of tops on the mountains.

While it may seem obvious, especially with coal companies completely burying streams and routinely poisoning drinking water supplies, an article in the scientific journal Science shows clear scientific evidence that mountaintop removal mining destroys streams and poisons communities. <Update> The Los Angeles Times today reported on the magazine article, picking up on the urgent conclusion by scientists to halt this mining practice immediately.

This is no surprise to anyone who's heard of mountaintop removal, but what is exciting about it is that some of the nation's leading stream and health scientists are making a strong stand in the article for stronger federal oversight of this devastating practice.

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