Posts tagged: Obama administration

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Obama administration


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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 Ted Zukoski's blog posts
11 December 2011, 10:44 PM
But there’s still a chance for one big present under the tree
Aerial view of the Alton coal strip mine near Bryce Canyon. Photo (c) Ray Bloxham, Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance.

As fall turns to winter, President Obama has continued his virtually unbroken streak of bending over backwards for the coal industry in the West.  For those who love Western public lands and could do without more subsidies to Big Coal, Mr. Obama has been more Grinch than Santa.

For example, the Forest Service recently consented to a coal lease in western Colorado that will result in more than two square miles of the beautiful Sunset Trail Roadless Area being chewed up with 48 well pads and 6.5 miles of road.  It’s a Christmas present to corporate goliath Arch Coal, and coal in the public’s stocking.

But wait, there’s more! BLM is moving ahead with plans to approve a strip mine on the doorstep of Bryce Canyon National Park.  Denuded habitat, truck trips that will disrupt tourism and the lives of local residents, and dust will all result.  Not everyone is wild about the idea - including the Salt Lake Tribune, which editorialized against the project.  (And if you're not wild about the strip mine either, go here to tell the BLM.) 

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View Jessica Knoblauch's blog posts
09 December 2011, 2:53 AM
Tiny plastic problems, “green” tanning, dry-clean druggies
New Mexico's dairy farms must clean up their act. (USDA)

New Mexico dairies forced to clean up their cow pies
New Mexico recently passed some of the most progressive water regulations for dairy farm operations in the West, reports High Country News. Large dairy operations create huge waste problems—each cow produces about 145 pounds of solid and liquid waste per day—so when Texas transplant Jerry Nivens found out in 2007 that a large dairy was planning to set up shop near his town, he and a band of allies teamed up against the powerful dairy lobby, and won. Four years later, after countless hours of grassroots organizing, New Mexico citizens have done what others in Idaho, Washington and California—all big dairy states—haven’t yet been able to: stop dairy farms from polluting their groundwater with nitrates, antibiotics and deadly bacteria like E.coli and salmonella. The new rules may inspire citizens in other states to follow suit by taking matters into their own hands when Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations of any kind—whether they house chickens, cows or pigs—poison their community.

Oceans get fleeced by clothes with microplastic
Polyester yoga pants may seem harmless with all of their comfy-ness and warmth, but every time you wash them you may be polluting the ocean, reports Grist. According to a new study by Environmental Science and Technology, approximately 2,000 polyester fibers are released for each piece of polyester clothing thrown the wash. And since the home appliance industry doesn’t filter out these tiny fibers, they end up in the world’s oceans where they can potentially harm marine life. Though most of the attention to date has been on plastic giants like the garbage patches found in the Atlantic, Pacific and elsewhere, these tiny microplastics worry scientists because they can be eaten by bottom feeders like clams and mussels, eventually making their way up the food chain, to us.

View Sam Edmondson's blog posts
07 December 2011, 12:47 PM
The nation's worst toxic air polluters need to be better neighbors
Hatfield's Ferry coal plant. Photo: Chris Jordan / Earthjustice

Imagine you live in a neighborhood full of families. There are many nice people, but a few households are real menaces. They're loud, they burn things in the backyard, and they drive around so fast that you're worried they're going to run someone down

The neighborhood bands together and one-by-one succeeds in getting these menaces to settle down. But there's a holdout—and it's the worst of all. The noise from that place is tremendous, the fires they burn are bigger than anyone's, and they drive with their eyes closed.

Meet the power plant family, America's worst toxic air polluters.

View Liz Judge's blog posts
22 November 2011, 4:16 PM
So this is what you mean by EPA's "War on coal" and EPA's "job-killing regulations"?
The jig is up: New data shows coal mining regulations are creating jobs, not killing them.

A little-covered news item from Nov. 18 bears much more attention. The Charleston Gazette's Ken Ward reported on some new data that blows the top off two years of coal industry lies and spin: Obama's so-called "job-killing regulations" and "war on coal" are not actually killing jobs, they are CREATING JOBS! We've been saying it all along, but here's the proof.

Since the Obama administration has taken initial steps to crack down on the coal industry's rampant pollution, which is contaminating waters and air across the nation, exposing families and communities to carcinogenic and poisonous toxic pollution, coal mining jobs have increased. By 10 percent! Since Obama's EPA began increasing mountaintop-removal-related protections on streams and waters!

View Liz Judge's blog posts
14 November 2011, 2:17 PM
Will the Senate defeat a Dirty Water Amendment this week?
The Barrasso/Heller Dirty Water Amendment would wipe out pollution limits for streams, brooks, wetlands, lakes and other waters in every state.

From early morning tadpole pursuits to sunset creek walks, my summer days started and ended in the creek that ran behind my home. My dad built a bridge across the creek, but for our neighborhood gang of rascals, well, there was no use for such bridges when we could splash and wade right through that water. Whether we were forging the stream or sitting cross-legged in it with our heads above the water, exploding with impish giggles, this creek was as much our home as our bedrooms 50 yards away. And when we outgrew the shallow waters of our backyard creek, my siblings and I took our energies to nearby Lake Erie, where we swam in deeper, more mysterious waters.

Many people have memories of swimming, fishing, wading, visiting, or skipping rocks in waters during their youth—whether those ran through their hometowns or were the destinations of family travels. That these waters were safe for recreation—or even drinking water—was no accident. Our nation’s Clean Water Act is the force that has allowed us to fish and swim and sip our water without ill consequences.

But today, the Clean Water Act and 59 percent of our nation’s streams and headwaters are in peril. The danger facing our nation’s waters, along with all the little kids who want to play in them, has arrived in an amendment by Senators John Barrasso (R-WY) and Dean Heller (R-NV).

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View Jessica Knoblauch's blog posts
11 November 2011, 9:44 AM
Bottle ban block, productive breathing, protest rings
Photo courtesy of Elvert Barnes

Energy companies dodge taxes while getting rich off subsidies 
Most people try to pay as little in taxes as possible, but energy companies like Exxon Mobil and PG&E have taken tax dodging to the extreme by actually making money off taxpayers while paying zero dollars in taxes, reports ThinkProgress. According to an analysis by the Citizens for Tax Justice and the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy, 32 companies in the fossil-fuel industry “transformed a tax responsibility of $17.3 billion…into tax benefits of $6.5 billion” between 2008 and 2010 through such financial wizardry as tax breaks, government-funded subsidies and “questionable tax dodging.” ' As the report’s authors note, “It seems rather odd, not to mention highly wasteful, that the industries with the largest subsidies (driven in part by their large share of total profits) are ones that would seem to need them least.” It’s rather odd, indeed, especially when average Americans are paying record prices at the gas pump.   

Coca-Cola drinks to successfully blocking Grand Canyon bottle ban
The nation’s top parks official recently blocked a plastic water bottle ban in the Grand Canyon after meeting with Coca-Cola, a major park foundation donor, reports the New York Times. Plastic bottles make up approximately one-third of the park’s total waste stream and are reportedly the “single biggest source of trash” found in the Grand Canyon. The plastic water bottle ban was scheduled to go into effect in 2012, but was shelved after Coca-Cola officials met with members of the National Park Foundation and expressed their “concerns” about the ban, such as the issue of limiting “personal choice.” Of course, both parties deny that Coca-Cola’s million dollar donations have anything to do with the park’s about-face on the issue. But even though the park won’t be going through with the ban, park officials have already installed about $300,000 worth of water filling stations so hikers and wildlife watchers can still make it their personal choice to not trash the canyon by bringing their own reusable bottles.
 

View Jessica Knoblauch's blog posts
09 November 2011, 11:03 AM
The 99 percent are marching against a path of unsustainability
The Occupy protests center around issues of corporate greed and government ineptitude.

It’s not every day that you see a “stop police brutality” sign coupled with signs about protecting the environment, but that was the scene I came upon last week while attending an Occupy Oakland.

If you’ve been paying any attention to the Occupy Wall Street movement that now spans100 U.S. cities, you know that many Americans are tired of corporate greed and government ineptitude. Though there’s no central voice for this people-powered movement, one recurring theme is the backlash against unregulated big businesses. Wall Street bankers are obvious targets, but the public’s aggravation extends further to corporate entities that put profit above people and the environment.

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View Liz Judge's blog posts
26 October 2011, 3:09 PM
Office of Surface Mining merged into Bureau of Land Management
OSMRE's accomplishment to date

Today Interior Secretary Ken Salazar announced a major agency reshuffling that will affect how the government enforces laws on mountaintop removal and surface coal mining.  He will fold the Office of Surface Mining, Reclamation and Enforcement (OSMRE) into another Department of Interior subdivision, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM).

OSMRE is the agency that oversees the enforcement of the nation's surface coal mining laws, and BLM is the agency that oversees the federal government's management of public lands. Most mountaintop removal mining happens on private lands, not public lands, in Appalachia.

Press coverage of the agency reshuffle managed to ask an important question: Will this make a difference in the enforcement of coal mining laws? Will this change the landscape at all? 

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View Tom Turner's blog posts
21 October 2011, 5:28 PM
Decision climaxes 13-year legal struggle by Earthjustice
Meadows and ponds abound in a roadless area in Wyoming’s Beartooth Plateau. (© Nelson Guda, 2009 / nelsonguda.com)

<In a major victory for Earthjustice and its supporters, today the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals reinstated The Roadless Rule, which protects nearly 50 million acres of National Forest lands against exploitation. Tom Turner, who literally wrote the book ("Roadless Rules") on the case, provides some background here.>

Toward the end of the Clinton administration, the Forest Service declared that most logging and road building no longer would be permitted on nearly 60 million acres of wild, unprotected national forest lands.

The so-called Roadless Area Conservation Rule was immediately challenged in nine separate lawsuits filed by states (Idaho, Wyoming, Alaska, Utah, North Dakota), a few counties, and several timber industry interests.

Earthjustice immediately moved to defend the rule in all those cases, eventually devoting thousands of hours by many attorneys to the effort. Many major national groups became involved, along with statewide groups. The Natural Resources Defense Council was a key ally in Alaska.

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View Sam Edmondson's blog posts
14 October 2011, 2:45 PM
House of Reps steers country toward the rocks

Somewhere along the road from their home districts to their offices in Washington, D.C., our Congressional representatives got their wires crossed. The American public sent them forth with a mandate to run the country, but instead, they're ruining it.

Toward the end of September, the House passed the first piece of House Majority Leader Eric Cantor's (R-VA) Toxic Agenda: H.R. 2401, the so-called TRAIN Act—an absolute wreck of public policy. It ties to the tracks and threatens to run over two clean air standards that would prevent up to 51,000 premature deaths every year and generate $420 billion in annual economic benefits by cleaning up dirty coal plants.

Does America support Cantor's agenda? Do we want to board a crazy train bound for a future of dirty air, more disease and shorter lives? The answer, not surprisingly, is No. NO.

Recent polling shows that 75 percent of voters—including 62 percent of Cantor's party—think that the Environmental Protection Agency, not Congress, should make decisions about clean air standards. Large majorities are also against delaying (67 percent) or blocking (76 percent) the clean air standards that Cantor's TRAIN wreck is colliding with.

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