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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 Liz Judge's blog posts
08 April 2010, 7:43 AM
And why we still need all we can muster to take on climate change
Sen. John Kerry, co-author of a forthcoming Senate climate bill

Last week was a rollercoaster for the environment. One minute it was down, the next it was up. First came Obama's announcement of offshore drilling, then came the new EPA policy clamping down on mountaintop removal mining, new clean car standards were finally finalized, then came the adoption of a key household energy efficiency standard that makes a big difference, then a major setback for public lands with an Obama announcement to stick with a Bush-era policy.

Many of us wonder, will a good environmental decision one day make way for a bad decision the next? And with our eyes on the bigger picture, we ask, What does this all mean for the upcoming climate bill?

Newsweek's Daniel Stone posits that this flip-flopping signals that the Obama administration is willing to make some big sacrifices in order to get a climate bill passed. One big sacrifice, and a very wasteful one, would be a Senate bill that strips the EPA of its authority to fight climate change by regulating greenhouse gas emissions under the Clean Air Act.

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View Jared Saylor's blog posts
31 March 2010, 3:48 PM
Obama administration sends mixed signals on drilling
The Chukchi Sea. Photo: Florian Schulz / visionsofthewild.com

Today, the Obama administration sent a mixed signal on offshore oil drilling, a move guaranteed to raise concerns from native groups, environmentalists, and communities living near some of the most sensitive and biologically diverse coastal areas. Obama and Department of Interior Secretary Ken Salazar announced a plan to halt oil and gas leasing in Bristol Bay off Alaska's southwestern coast and to postpone future lease sales in the Chukchi and Beaufort seas, off Alaska's northern coast, while needed missing information is gathered.

We agree that Salazar made the right move on Bristol Bay—home of the world’s largest salmon fishery—and on postponing future oil and gas lease sales in the Chukchi and Beaufort seas, sensitive areas of America's Arctic Ocean that are undergoing dramatic shifts due to climate change and about which large gaps in basic scientific information remain. These proposals give the administration the chance to use sound science and smart planning in future decisions about new leasing in the Arctic.

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View Liz Judge's blog posts
27 March 2010, 6:01 AM
It's time for this label to grow some teeth
A GAO image of a fraud item that earned the Energy Star label

A government report today exposed some startling problems with the federal Energy Star labeling program. In a secret audit, the Government Accountability Office found that several preposterously inefficient and even laughable fake appliances were able to earn the government's gold-standard label intended for exceptionally efficient products.

According to this New York Times article, the fictitious appliances included a gasoline-powered alarm clock and an "air purifier" that was nothing more than a space heater with a feather duster attached on top. They were submitted to the EPA and DOE, who jointly run the Energy Star program, by the Government Accountability Office under the guise of made-up company names and addresses.

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View Jim McCarthy's blog posts
19 March 2010, 3:16 PM
Will Big Agribusiness Listen?

A National Academy of Sciences review panel today announced findings that federal protections for salmon and other fish in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta are scientifically justified. The determination by the panel comes after months of controversy sparked by the plan’s modest restrictions on massive pumps in the Delta. These huge pumps export water to farms and cities south of the Delta, but also cause Delta rivers to run backwards, pulling large numbers of baby salmon and other fish to their deaths.

The new federal plan, won by Earthjustice attorneys, requires the pumps to run below maximum capacity from January to June when baby salmon migrate through the Delta to the sea. Before the plan was put in place, unrestricted pumping not only contributed to the collapse of threatened Central Valley salmon runs, but helped drive the population of non-threatened, commercially-valuable Sacramento River king salmon to such low levels that ocean salmon fishing along one thousand miles of coastline was completely closed for the first time in history during 2008 and 2009. Sacramento king salmon have traditionally formed the backbone of sport and commercial salmon fishing in California and Oregon, and the closure cost thousands of jobs and hundreds of millions of dollars of lost economic activity in both states.

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View Liz Judge's blog posts
23 February 2010, 2:44 PM
The drama comes to a boil in Congress this week
EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson

Today, EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson came out swinging in EPA's battle to defend its December 2009 endangerment finding against the likes of Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Alaska's oil- and coal-embedded senator, and Jim Inhofe (R-OK), Congress' most notorious climate change denier.

The showdown took place in Jackson's testimony before the Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee on EPA's 2011 budget proposal, which includes funds—chump change in relation to the agency's overall budget—to implement the endangerment finding.

In her opening remarks at today's hearing, EPW committee chair Barbara Boxer drove home just how behind the United States is on climate change legislation. "While the whole world is going green, the one place we can't seem to address climate change legislation is the Senate."

Even more potent were Bernie Sanders' comments on the validity of the science used to inform the EPA finding, a 200-page synthesis of major scientific assessments by all the leading U.S. scientific agencies:

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View Tom Turner's blog posts
11 February 2010, 4:35 PM
Politicians succeed where scientists fail

This is just too delicious. The Utah House of Representatives has just passed a resolution (by 56 to 17), which declares that global warming science is a conspiracy and urges the Environmental Protection Agency to halt any and all carbon-reduction activities it may have underway and withdraw its recent “endangerment finding,” which declares that carbon dioxide is harmful to humans.

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View Tom Turner's blog posts
09 February 2010, 6:15 PM
Is snow inconvenient truth about the end of climate change?

Scott Ostler of the San Francisco Chronicle often titles his sports column, "Deep Thoughts, Cheap Shots, and Bon Mots," which always makes me smile and which I'm stealing just for today.

The huge storm that has buried DeeCee under multiple feet of snow is proof that global warming is a hoax.

The fact that we've had a great deal of rain here on the left coast also proves that if the climate is changing it's all for the better and that the drought is over. Or maybe not.

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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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View Trip Van Noppen's blog posts
18 December 2009, 5:36 PM
Senators try to stop EPA from reducing global warming pollution
Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK). Photo by AFP.

Today, as world leaders, led by President Obama, struggled deep into the night on a plan to fight climate change, a handful of U.S. senators at home were trying to sabotage U.S. climate action. In league with long-time climate science deniers in Congress, they launched an effort to keep the EPA from regulating greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act.

Led by Alaska's Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R), this politically motivated attack targets an "endangerment finding" announced by the EPA on Dec. 7. Sen. Murkowski, aided by Sen. Lindsay Graham and others, are trying to pass a resolution that would nullify this finding.

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View Trip Van Noppen's blog posts
18 November 2009, 12:26 PM
An ocean continues to wait for change
The Chukchi Sea. Photo: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

In the Arctic waters surrounding Alaska, George W. Bush is still president, but Interior Secretary Ken Salazar has the chance to inaugurate a new regime.

Shell Oil recently got the green light from the Department of Interior to drill next summer just off the shores of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, in waters that are an important migratory route for endangered bowhead whales. With numerous decisions on offshore drilling in the Arctic still pending, the looming question is, will Sec. Salazar chart his own course—using science as a guide—or will he continue to make decisions as though Bush were still in charge?

Last summer, Salazar told the magazine American Cowboy, "The science is fundamental to decisions we make. Ignoring the science will imperil important priorities to the United States and our world. Unfortunately, the last administration often ignored the science to get to what it wanted to get to. We will not do that."

On the Arctic, science has spoken, and I hope Sec. Salazar meant what he said.

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