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 Sam Edmondson's blog posts
30 September 2010, 3:02 PM
Uphold the Clean Air Act, groups ask
Photo: Fresno Bee

Across the United States—from California's Central Valley to Chicago, Houston and New York—people are breathing polluted air and suffering. Asthma, bronchitis, heart disease, birth defects and even cancer are the prices paid by residents in scores of American communities where polluting facilities operate.

Worst of all, this suffering is unnecessary. Cost-effective technology to dramatically reduce toxic air emissions exists, but some of the biggest polluters simply brush off obligations to clean up their acts and be better neighbors. This stubborn refusal to comply with the law is having an especially big impact on Latino citizens, as a recent letter to President Obama and Congress points out.

More than 25 million U.S. Latinos—66 percent of the total Latino population—live in places where federal air quality standards aren't being met. Rates of asthma in communities like San Diego's Barrio Logan neighborhood are four times the national average. The letter, signed by community groups representing more than 5 million Latino citizens in the U.S., urges the Obama administration and Congress to uphold the Clean Air Act, which the groups say "means jobs, better health and better opportunities for a brighter, healthier future."

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View Jessica Knoblauch's blog posts
30 September 2010, 1:57 PM
Sneezing salmon, farmers’ market fake-out, stinky CAFOs
Genetically engineering foods could make them more allergenic. Photo courtesy of evah, stock.xchng.

FDA's food policy makes people sneeze
On the heels of the FDA's decision to approve genetically engineered or GE salmon, a number of consumer and environmental advocacy groups are raising the alarm that genetically modified foods could be more allergenic due to the splicing and dicing of one food's genes into another, according to a recent Mother Jones' article. The concern is just one among many over GE foods, which is why Earthjustice is currently fighting to keep foods like genetically engineered sugar beets out of U.S. farms and off of Americans' plates.

Obama makes a stink over CAFOs
The Obama administration recently thumbed its nose at the Illinois EPA's oversight of confined animal feeding operations, aka CAFOs, which create mountains of manure equal to that of small cities and have fouled air and water supplies across the state. According to the Chicago Tribune, the agency has one month to clean up its mess. If it doesn't, the EPA will soon be wading knee-deep into the issue.

Farmers' market fakes out customers
Child-toting moms may soon start seeing "Farmers' Market" signs in the produce aisle of their favorite chain grocery store, according to the Washington Post. Stores like Safeway recently began posting the signs in an effort to cash in on the burgeoning local and organic foodie movement, but small farmers and their supporters are ready to throw tomatoes, arguing that the misleading tactic is unfair to customers and farmers alike.

View Terry Winckler's blog posts
29 September 2010, 11:19 AM
Public health groups urge Congress, Obama to act

Health organizations across the country are urging President Obama and Congress to recognize the damaging public health effects of climate change and to take measures that will reduce its impacts and the causes of climate change itself.

In a letter signed by many organizations, including the Lung Association and American Medical Assocation, the groups underscored how climate change harms the public:

As temperatures rise, more Americans will be exposed to conditions that can result in illness and death due to respiratory illness, heat- and weather-related stress and disease carried by insects. These health issues are likely to have the greatest impact on our most vulnerable communities, including children, older adults, those with serious health conditions and the most economically disadvantaged.

The letter greatly emphasized the need to protect the EPA in its mission to protect the public's health:

View Terry Winckler's blog posts
28 September 2010, 3:11 PM
Maybe Congress can swallow it in chunks, the prez says

So, now, President Obama—in a surprising interview with Rolling Stone magazine—says he will again push for climate change legislation in 2011, despite his inability this year to make it happen in the halls of Congress. Here's the telling quote:

One of my top priorities next year is to have an energy policy that begins to address all facets of our overreliance on fossil fuels. We may end up having to do it in chunks, as opposed to some sort of comprehensive omnibus legislation. But we're going to stay on this because it is good for our economy, it's good for our national security and, ultimately, it's good for our environment.

Politico dug into the interview and came up with this thought:

View Terry Winckler's blog posts
27 September 2010, 4:50 PM
Scientists warn of long-range health effects from oil, dispersants
Planes prays dispersant on Gulf oil spill

Here, in a one-sentence assessment by a U.S. Coast Guard commander, is what went right and wrong with the Gulf-oil spill clean up. As reported by the Wall Street Journal:

"My personal philosophy is, it is like a war and you have to respond with everything you have—overwhelmingly."

We were fortunate to have the Coast Guard at hand when BP's well exploded and the company was found ill-prepared to react. The Guard is nothing if not prepared and, as a branch of the military, attacked the spill as a foe trying to invade our homeland. They did, indeed, throw everything they had at it, including, unfortunately, a weapon with untested side effects: dispersants.

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View Liz Judge's blog posts
27 September 2010, 2:17 PM
The destructive mining practice cannot go on at the expense of Appalachians
Appalachians call for an end to watershed poisoning caused by mountaintop removal coal mining

On the campaign trail, President Obama shared his thoughts about mountaintop removal mining:

We have to find more environmentally sound ways of mining coal than simply blowing the tops off mountains. We're tearing up the Appalachian Mountains because of our dependence on fossil fuels ... Strip-mining is an environmental disaster ... What I want to do is work with experts here in West Virginia to find out what we need to do to protect the waterways here. That's going to be a primary task of the head of my Environmental Protection Agency.

This, if it happens, would be a sea change from the previous administration's EPA, which effectively wrote loopholes and exemptions into that law that allowed mining companies to evade longstanding regulations, sidestep basic Clean Water Act protections and dump their mountaintop removal mining waste directly into Appalachia's waters, contaminating drinking water supplies for communities and burying important streams.

Nearly two years into President Obama's term, we've seen small steps toward reducing the destruction of mountaintop removal mining in Appalachia, but the fact is: President Obama and his administration are still allowing this devastation to continue. The Army Corps of Engineers and the EPA are still permitting mountaintop removal mining permits in Appalachia, despite the regulations of the Clean Water Act.

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View Ted Zukoski's blog posts
27 September 2010, 12:40 PM
Canyon’s imperiled fish left high and dry by Obama
The Grand Canyon - home of the humpback chub. National Park Service photo.

First impressions can be deceiving.

In 1861, as America entered its first year of civil war, the Government Printing Office published the report of Lieutenant Joseph Ives on his expedition up the Colorado River from the Gulf of California.

Chapter VIII of his report describes an area he called "Big Canyon." While he proclaimed the scene from the Canyon’s south rim "marvellous," he wrote off the area as a worthless wasteland, unlikely to be visited again except by the Indians who lived there:

The region last explored is, of course, altogether valueless. It can be approached only from the south, and after entering it there is nothing to do but to leave. Ours has been the first, and will doubtless be the last, party of whites to visit this profitless locality. It seems intended by nature that the Colorado river, along the greater portion of its lonely and majestic way, shall be forever unvisited and undisturbed… Excepting when the melting snows send their annual torrents through the avenues to the Colorado, conveying with them sound and motion, these dismal abysses, and the arid table-lands that enclose them, are left, as they have been for ages, in unbroken solitude and silence.

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View Tom Turner's blog posts
21 September 2010, 12:29 PM
He proposes that we say "global climate disruption" not global warming
John Holdren, with President Obama.

In a speech in Oslo on September 6, John Holdren, President Obama's science advisor, suggested that 'global warming' be replaced by 'global climate disruption' as a more accurate expression. As The New York Times reported it, "changes to the climate are rapid when viewed in terms of the capacity of society and ecosystems to adjust; the impact is distributed unevenly; and the outcome will be overwhelmingly negative for most of the globe." Global warming implies slow changes that might even be benign.

Holdren (an old friend of mine and one of the smartest people in the universe) has long been a lightning rod for the right wing climate deniers owing largely to his long association with the population biologist Paul Ehrlich, with whom he wrote several books. Following Dr. Holdren's speech, the right blogosphere immediately accused the administration of playing politics, of trying to "rebrand" the subject preparatory to another push for a climate bill next year. The administration denied there's any rebranding going on.

I'm no expert, but John's suggestion makes good sense to me.

View Liz Judge's blog posts
15 September 2010, 3:02 PM
One key decision on a mountaintop removal mine will signal what's to come
The site of the proposed Spruce mine (green valley to right). Photo by Vivian Stockman of OVEC, Flyover courtesy SouthWings

At the end of this month, all eyes will be on the EPA as it makes its next key decision on mountaintop removal coal mining: its preliminary determination whether to veto the permit for the Spruce No. 1 mine, due September 24.

The Spruce No. 1 mine is one of the largest mountaintop removal mining projects ever considered in Appalachia. Last spring, the EPA released a proposal to rescind this permit based on scientific and legal analysis showing that the mine does not adhere to Clean Water Act standards.

The EPA must do its job of enforcing the Clean Water Act and finalize this veto, or the mining company will proceed to permanently bury more than seven miles of streams with mining waste, severely degrade water quality in streams adjacent and downstream from the mine, and devastate 2,278 aces of forestland — in an area already hard-hit by this type of mining.

Why is this one mine so important?

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View Liz Judge's blog posts
14 September 2010, 3:43 PM
But there is still a long way to go

Today, the Environmental Protection Agency celebrated the 40th anniversary of one of our nation's most successful and most protective laws, the Clean Air Act.

Commemorating the milestone anniversary with a full day of speakers, keynotes and panel discussions, the agency was joined by a host of industry leaders, business CEOs, clean air advocates and environmental champions to discuss just how far we've come in cleaning up our air and protecting people's lungs and lives from toxic and dangerous air pollution.

For proof on how far we've come, here's some of the pudding:

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