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.

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 Jessica Knoblauch's blog posts
03 January 2013, 5:35 PM
Plus: Oregano immunity, recycling for couples, NorCal coastal protections
Photo courtesy of Scott Beale (flickr)

Climate change could flood Facebook, Google by 2050
Facebook can't be brought down by angry fans irritated with its privacy policy and data mining tendencies, but it could be swept away by climate change- induced sea level rise, reports Climate Wire. Though much of the California coastline is at risk, Silicon Valley is especially vulnerable since the land it sits on is between 3 and 10 feet below sea level. According to a draft study from the Army Corps of Engineers, an extreme storm coupled with higher seas could put the valley, along with nearby homes and businesses, under water. Despite the dire predictions, for now Silicon Valley inhabitants seem content with delaying any climate change action, a sentiment that world leaders are mimicking. Unfortunately, a recent study has found that delaying carbon cuts until 2020 will make dealing with climate change far more expensive than tackling it now, reports Reuters. And, delaying action also significantly reduces the chance of meeting an U.N. agreed-upon limit of 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial times, which is the limit many scientists agree we must adhere to in order to avoid the most damaging effects of catastrophic climate change. So far, temperatures have risen by 0.8 degrees Celsius since we first started emitting carbon in massive quantities. While governments and industries dawdle, find out how Earthjustice is taking action to stop climate change, before it’s too late.

View Neil Gormley's blog posts
03 January 2013, 3:26 PM
Why this destructive practice is holding Appalachia back
Satellite imagery of the massive Hobet mine. September 20, 2012. (NASA's Earth Observatory)

Last month, Earthjustice Associate Attorney Neil Gormley took a trip to West Virginia to visit partners and clients and to see the effects of mountaintop removal mining first-hand. As he explains in this unEarthed entry, his visit prompted questions about the relationship between this destructive practice and regional poverty.

The Hobet mining complex is one of the largest mountaintop removal surface mines in the country. It was my destination last month when I took off from Charleston’s Yeager Airport in a four-seater Cessna, courtesy of Earthjustice’s partners at SouthWings.

Neil Gromley.Neil, on board the SouthWings plane.

Hobet is huge. Between current and past mining, it spans more than 15 square miles. At the time of my visit, miners were operating a dragline, an earth-moving machine so enormous it dwarfed the 240-ton dump trucks. The destruction is impossible to miss from above. Yet the mine is barely visible from the state highway that runs along its eastern perimeter. It’s shielded from view by a tall ridgeline, sparing most passers-by the eyesore.

Hobet mine.

Aerial view of the Hobet mine.  (Neil Gormley / Earthjustice via Southwings)
View Lisa Evans's blog posts
30 December 2012, 9:20 PM
But EPA must not leave the job half done
Outgoing EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson.  (The National Academy of Sciences)

During her four-year tenure as administrator of the EPA, Lisa Jackson was a true champion for public health and environmental justice.

One of her greatest legacies is the Mercury and Air Toxics Standard, a rule that will help Americans breathe a little easier since it sharply limits the amount of mercury and other toxic metals that can be emitted by coal-fired power plants. The rule finally requires the capture of mercury, arsenic, hexavalent chromium, nickel, selenium and other heavy metals at the plant smokestacks.

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View Patti Goldman's blog posts
27 December 2012, 11:46 AM
America was well-served by her staunch efforts
Lisa P. Jackson has announced that she will be stepping down from her position in January 2013.

Earthjustice is saddened by today's announcement that Lisa Jackson is stepping down as administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency.

America owes Lisa Jackson a debt of gratitude for her work to protect the public's health from polluters and their allies in Congress. For her efforts to clean up pollution and better protect the environment and public health, she faced a steady barrage from members of Congress and the industrial polluters who back them. Her detractors are the same people who told us taking lead out of gasoline in the 1970's would break the economy and that taking acid out of acid rain in the 1990's would ruin the country. In both cases, the environment and economy were strengthened and this is the approach Lisa Jackson took. There is a lot of unfinished business started by Jackson that the next EPA director will need to attend to. Whoever it is, they'll need the support of the President and they'll need to be ready for a non-stop barrage of attacks from the chemical, industrial and fossil fuel industries and their allies in Congress.

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View Maria Beloborodova's blog posts
27 December 2012, 10:00 AM
Readers were most inspired by stories of the wild
Two of the first five calves born at Ft. Peck Indian reservation this year. (Bill Campbell)

Blog posts about Earth's magnificent places and creatures were the most popular themes for unEarthed readers in 2012. By far the most-read post concerned Arctic drilling, followed by reports of bison being restored and wolves losing protection. Not shown in our top 10 blog posts, below, are the delightful tales of curious critters painted in words by our own Shirley Hao. Posts written years ago by Shirley are still being discovered and read by thousands of people every year.

And, now, for your enjoyment, we present our most-read posts of 2012:

View Stephanie Maddin's blog posts
24 December 2012, 11:49 AM
Health of thousands put on hold by weak agency action
Alexandra Allred. (Chris Jordan-Bloch / Earthjustice)

“…My son's school would be named in a USA Today report as being in the upper 1 percent of the most toxic schools in the nation—the same school I butted heads with cement plant executives about being under the toxic plumes while children were at recess.”

– Alex Allred,
50 States United Clean Air Ambassador from Texas

We are taught as children to play fair and to follow the rules. Apparently, everyone doesn’t get the same life lessons. For communities in the shadow of cement plant pollution, the rules of engagement seem to change when it comes to Clean Air Act protections. Last week, the Environmental Protection Agency decided to both weaken and delay an already overdue standard to clean up toxic cement plant emissions.

The decision was legally indefensible with a federal court requesting small technical changes to the standard. These plants emit dangerous levels mercury, lead, dioxin, benzene and fine particulate matter (soot) and are responsible for up to 2,500 premature deaths each year.

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View Kari Birdseye's blog posts
20 December 2012, 4:56 PM
Salazar announces National Petroleum Reserve conservation measures
Caribou in the western Arctic, Alaska. (Florian Schulz / visionsofthewild.com)

Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar recently announced a final plan for managing the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska, a vast and wild area in northwestern Alaska that provides vital habitat for caribou, countless shorebirds, waterfowl, bears, wolves and wolverines, among others.

The plan is the first that covers the entire reserve, and it is a major step forward for protective management of the western Arctic.

Under provisions of the plan, key habitat areas such as these are protected:

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View Trip Van Noppen's blog posts
14 December 2012, 5:39 PM
Earthjustice set to make 2013 the year to powerfully engage climate change

Earthjustice has just won two major victories over fossil fuels that strengthen our resolve to make 2013 the year America turns from these dirtiest of energy sources and moves towards a clean energy future—the only real solution to climate change.

On Friday, the Environmental Protection Agency reacted to Earthjustice legal action by adopting drastic limits on the amount of soot poured out from coal-fired power plants and tailpipes. This powerful achievement will save thousands of lives a year and slow climate change by reducing pollution that accelerates sea ice melt.

And, a few weeks ago, we learned that the Danskammer coal-fired power plant, one of New York’s dirtiest polluters, will be retired and torn down. Recent Earthjustice legal action helped bring about this happy outcome, aided by flooding from superstorm Sandy, a storm made fiercer by the climate-changing emissions from coal power plants like this one.

But we aren’t basing our climate change plan on more poetic justice. Our plan for tackling climate change is based on the kind of justice we had great success in achieving this year through the courts and the political system.

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View David Guest's blog posts
14 December 2012, 10:59 AM
EPA will step in to regulate 100,000 miles of Florida's waters
Visitors at spring-fed Santa Fe River near Gainesville, FL, for the 2012 Memorial Day weekend found a rude surprise—pollution from sewage, manure and fertilizer sparked an outbreak of nasty green slime. (John Moran)

We’re happy to report that our long fight to clean up the green slime that’s been plaguing Florida waterways for years hit a major turning point on Nov. 30. That’s the day the Environmental Protection Agency agreed to set numeric pollution limits for some 100,000 miles of Florida waterways and 4,000 square miles of estuaries.

We fought every polluting industry in Florida for four years to get this result. These slime outbreaks—caused by pollutants in inadequately treated sewage, manure and fertilizer—are a pestilence, contaminating water, killing fish, destroying property values and chasing off tourists. Now the EPA has to stop dragging its feet and deal with it.

Using extensive data it has been collecting and analyzing in concert with Florida Department of Environmental Protection scientists, the EPA will impose numeric limits on the allowable amount of phosphorus and nitrogen—so called “nutrient” pollution—in the state’s waterways.

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View Daniel Hubbell's blog posts
13 December 2012, 10:39 AM
Moapa Band of Paiutes blaze a trail to clean energy and better health
Vickie Simmons, a tribal member, stands in front of Reid Gardner Power Station.  (Chris Jordan-Bloch / Earthjustice)

In his address at the Tribal Nations Conference, President Obama spoke with his usual eloquence about invigorating growth on tribal lands, and the perfect example of this new growth is the Moapa solar project on the Moapa River Indian Reservation. Situated just 30 miles north of Las Vegas, the site will generate up to 350 megawatts of clean, renewable energy. It highlights in many ways the future of the nation’s energy supply, and unfortunately the Paiute Indians themselves know the industry’s cloudy past.

Just next to the reservation is the Reid Gardner Power Station. This coal-fired power plant generates more than just electricity; it produces more than 4,000 tons of toxic, arsenic-laden coal ash every year. This waste is stored in landfills near the power station, but often it does not stay there. On bad days, the wind sends the ash sweeping into the reservation, a condition some tribal members compare to a sandstorm. Locking the doors and staying inside is the only recourse on these bad days, and even that has not protected the Moapa Band of Paiutes. The locals have plenty to say about their health, ranging from headaches and dizziness to asthma and even serious heart conditions. The almost-50-year-old belching coal plant has plenty to answer for.

Still, the Moapa Paiutes are determined to show the world that there is a better way forward.