Posts tagged: 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 Terry Winckler's blog posts
02 May 2010, 7:42 AM
Today's catastrophe won't happen, BP assured government
Video of President Obama's remarks after the jump.

<Update: President Obama, on the scene in Louisiana today where oil from a massive offshore drill rig blowout is coming ashore, said "a massive and potentially unprecedented environmental disaster" is occurring.>

<Update: Interior Sec. Ken Salazar said today that the Gulf of Mexico oil spill could be worse than the Exxon Valdez ship spill.>

For more than a year, British Petroleum downplayed any chance of a catastrophic oil spill occurring on the scale now threatening the shores and wetlands of four gulf coast states, The Associated Press and Gulf Restoration Network are revealing. As a result, the company had no plan in place to deal with what now is happening. AP reports:

BP's plan filed with the federal Minerals Management Service for the Deepwater Horizon well, dated February 2009, says repeatedly that it was "unlikely that an accidental surface or subsurface oil spill would occur from the proposed activities."

BP's oil rig blew out April 20, and is pouring oil at an estimated 210,000 gallons—some say much more—per day into Gulf of Mexico waters. According to AP:

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View Terry Winckler's blog posts
01 May 2010, 1:43 PM
Gulf of Mexico spill worse than Exxon Valdez? New reports.
Oil on the Alaskan shoreline following the Exxon Valdez spill. Photo: Alaska Dept. of Natural Resources

President Obama is heading to the oil-ravaged Gulf Coast tomorrow as his administration tries to catch up with a rapidly developing political and environmental crisis.

What he faces is an uncertain catastrophe that's been building for nearly two weeks since an exploratory oil rig exploded in the Gulf of Mexico, unleashing a torrent of oil into gulf waters. The spill's disastrous potential became public Wednesday as authorities revealed that 200,000+ gallons of oil are blasting unchecked from the well hole and can't be controlled for weeks or months.<Update: Today, estimates of the spill grew exponentially, with some sources saying more than 10 million gallons are afloat—akin to the Exxon Valez disaster 21 years ago in Alaska. The reports suggest that leakage is many times more than the most recent offical estimates.>

Oil from the spill first hit Louisiana's barrier islands Thursday night and is being pushed by wind and tide onto a broad expanse of coastline. Assisted by a looping gulf current, the oil is expected to assault Florida's western coastline by Monday. In the last few days, it has tripled in size.

As The New York Times reports, the potential harm could range from moderate to catastrophic. The threat is imminent for two wildlife species that Earthjustice has fought to protect for years: sea turtles and bluefin tuna. But, there are at least 400 animal species that dwell in the gulf's oil-threatened coastal areas.

View Terry Winckler's blog posts
30 April 2010, 5:09 PM
Earthjustice president says risks are too great to proceed
Exxon Valdez oil spill cleanup

In the wake of the disastrous Gulf of Mexico oil spill, Earthjustice is calling for a halt to further exploratory oil drilling off America's coasts -- especially in fragile Arctic waters. Earthjustice President Trip Van Noppen issued the following statement:

The tragic explosion and loss of life on the exploratory drilling rig Deepwater Horizon in the Gulf of Mexico reminds us that offshore oil drilling comes with continued risks to workers and the environment.

We welcome the White House announcement today that the administration would hold off on any new drilling until a full review of the spill in the Gulf of Mexico has been conducted. It is especially important that the pause in new drilling the administration announced today apply to current and future offshore drilling plans in America’s Arctic waters. Despite the dangers of offshore oil drilling, plans are already underway for new exploratory oil drilling to begin as early as July in the Arctic Ocean’s Chukchi and Beaufort Seas. If we are unable to contain the spill from Deepwater Horizon, how can we expect to do any better in the ice-laden Arctic Ocean.

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View Sam Edmondson's blog posts
30 April 2010, 10:04 AM
New EPA rules will cut air toxics, but a loophole leaves some vulnerable
Solid waste incinerator. Photo: EPA.

Americans can breathe a sigh of relief today, thanks to new rules announced by the Environmental Protection Agency that will reduce toxic air pollution in communities across the country. The rules come three years after Earthjustice and others stopped the Bush administration from deregulating toxic emissions from industrial boilers, incinerators, and process heaters.

These sources may sound obscure, but consider that highly polluting materials like coal, discarded tires, used chemicals and other industrial wastes are burned in boilers and solid waste incinerators at hundreds of thousands of facilities in the U.S. Chances are, you or someone you know lives, works, or commutes by one of these facilities, perhaps without even knowing it.

Cancer, reproductive disorders, birth defects and other serious health problems can be caused by the toxic air pollutants from these sources. Now, many of these facilities will be subject to strong pollution controls.

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View Terry Winckler's blog posts
30 April 2010, 7:41 AM
Urgent citizen cleanup effort launched in Louisiana
Oil booms are set in Louisiana waters

<Update: By Monday, Florida's panhandle and western beaches will be seeing the same oil spill assault that Louisiana is now enduring, authorities say. Florida officials are concerned that it may cripple its $65 billion tourism economy, environment and fishing industry.>

<Update: Louisiana's $3 billion fishing industry jeopardized by oil spill, reports Wall Street Journal.>

<Update: President Obama said he is putting on hold plans to resume offshore drilling until a full investigation of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill has been conducted.>

As oil from the Gulf of Mexico spill moves onto the Louisiana shoreline today, pressure is building against President Obama's plan to expand oil drilling off the shores of America. <Update: The drumbeat of political opposition to offshore drilling is getting louder, reports The Atlantic.>

USA Today was blunt in its lead headline: "Should oil spill end Obama's offshore oil drilling plan?"

Meanwhile, a local citizens action group, Gulf Restoration Network, was on the scene in Louisiana reporting on the sights, smell and damage already occurring along environmentally sensitive shorelines. The group is organizing an outpouring of volunteers offering to help clean up the oil.
 

View Liz Judge's blog posts
29 April 2010, 12:24 PM
And more evidence of climate change, & learning things the hard way

Einstein defined insanity as doing the same thing over again and expecting different results. Einstein, who had a particular knack for coming up with enduring and timeless ideas, may find application in our country's energy landscape today.

Looking out yonder, we see a devastating oil spill and possibly one of the worst and most costly ecological disasters in our country's history, mountains being destroyed by explosives and the resulting toxic sludge getting dumped into our waterways, communities and people being poisoned by coal ash and coal waste, and carbon pollution exacerbating heat waves, warming our oceans, and increasing ocean acidity until building blocks of our underwater life are killed off—and these are just some of the things we are seeing here in the U.S.

Looking beyond the U.S., we see unfriendly regimes getting stronger and richer from our reliance on foreign oil, we see China boosting its share of the renewables market in its quest for global economic leadership and to meet its growing thirst for energy.

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View Jared Saylor's blog posts
29 April 2010, 11:35 AM
As oil slick approaches coast, why increase the threat?
NASA image of Gulf of Mexico oil spill

The latest news reports suggest the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico from the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig that sunk earlier this month is much worse than anticipated. The oil slick, which is now the size of West Virginia and getting bigger by the day, could hit Louisiana's coastline by this weekend. Experts say the oil continues to leak at a rate of about 5,000 barrels per day, more than five times original estimates. The Coast Guard's plan to ignite the oil slick and burn most of it away isn't going as planned as winds have limited their ability. The White House has declared this a spill "of national significance."

But just a month ago, the Obama adminsitration announced plans to open new areas off the East Coast to more offshore oil drilling, and also upheld Bush-era leases in almost 2.8 million acres of the Chukchi Sea in the Arctic Ocean. The announcement allows exploration drilling to move forward starting as early as this summer. As we and many other groups have said in the past, a catastrophic oil spill in the icy, remote waters of the Arctic would be an emergency beyond any we've ever seen.

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View Terry Winckler's blog posts
29 April 2010, 11:08 AM
Administration backs legislation by state's senators
View of Glacier National Park

This is quite a week for the unmatchable Flathead River Valley in Montana. First, ConocoPhillips said it was relinquishing oil and gas leases on 169,000 acres near the Glacier National Park, and now, the Obama administration is backing efforts to preserve nearly 300,000 acres in the valley near the park.

The administration said it supports legislation by Sens. Max Baucus (D-Mont.) and Jon Tester (D-Mont.) that would ban oil/gas drilling and mining in the area.

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View Brian Smith's blog posts
20 April 2010, 4:36 PM
The science on climate change continues to pile up

Global warming not only is real but is "primarily human-induced," the U.S. State Department has concluded in its draft 5th Annual U.S. Climate Action Report.

According to the report, climate change effects include the thinning of ice sheets in Antarctica and Greenland, rising sea levels, thawing permafrost, vanishing mountain glaciers, and warmer ocean temperatures.

Senate legislation on climate and energy authored by Democrat John Kerry, Republican Lindsey Graham and Independent Joe Lieberman is expected to be introduced on April 26.

Meanwhile…

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View Liz Judge's blog posts
20 April 2010, 12:47 PM
Energy efficiency positions itself to take a lead role in 2010

We’ve been calling it our nation’s dark horse energy source for a while now. We’ve been saying it has the potential to wean us off our dependence on dirty foreign and fossil fuels, provide jobs, and fight climate change. And we’ve been saying that if you embrace it, you will save lots of money in the process. So, just in time for Earth Day, we’re delighted to see some strong signs that energy efficiency will be propelling ahead in 2010.

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