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unEARTHED. The Earthjustice Blog

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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.

Learn more about Earthjustice.

View Liz Judge's blog posts
29 April 2011, 11:38 AM
Movement to stop mountaintop removal and protect Appalachians is building
A billboard of Mountain Hero Karen Woodrum at a busy intersection in Washington, D.C.

The faces of Earthjustice's Mountain Heroes, those courageous people from the coalfields whose lives are afflicted by mountaintop removal mining and who are standing up against it, are now staring down politicians in Congress and their staffs, as well as White House and agency staff, reminding them that they are allowing this abuse to continue. 

For several months, billboards of these Mountain Heroes—Sid, James, Karen, Ken and Donetta—have been positioned in all three D.C.-area airports to face elected officials, policy makers and the general public as they arrive and depart on their travels. They have also appeared on the pages of INC., Fast Company and Mother Jones magazines.

And now the Mountain Heroes have officially come to the streets of D.C. The billboards pictured here are all over the nation's capitol, especially in high-traffic areas and all around federal government buildings.

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View Liz Judge's blog posts
25 April 2011, 3:17 PM
A cartoon, a jammin' new tune and some fine-art photography tell the story
A screen shot of Mark Fiori's site and mountaintop removal cartoon animation

Well, it's true that here on a blog, the currency is words. We're supposed to tell stories through our prose. But today I'm going to go easy on the blog and yield the storytelling to a small collection of witty, beautiful, foot-stomping and surreal art by people who are mastering other mediums to talk about mountaintop removal mining:

View Jessica Knoblauch's blog posts
22 April 2011, 3:51 AM
Hint: It’s everywhere! Plus, meaty bugs and fresh air in Times Square
A recent study found that roughly one out of four packages of meat and poultry in the U.S. contained multidrug resistant staph. Photo courtesy of comprock (flickr).

Bacteria-resistant meat leaves beef lovers nauseated
A recent study found that nearly half of all beef, chicken, pork and turkey purchased at grocery stores across the country contained drug-resistant bacteria, reports Wired. Even worse, 52 percent of the meat contaminated with the common pathogen Staphylococcus aureus was resistant to at least three antibiotics commonly used by both doctors and vets, which means that “roughly one out of every four packages of meat and poultry across the United States contained multidrug resistant staph.” The researchers believe that the pathogens came from the livestock, which are routinely fed antibiotics to promote growth, but have the major downside of creating antibiotic resistant bacteria. This latest study is just one of many that have shed light on government’s flawed food safety system, which critics believe is in need of a major overhaul.  
 

Ditching cars in Times Square improves air quality
Back in the 1980s, Times Square was known for crime and prostitution. By the 1990s, after city officials cleaned up the place, it became a magnet for tourists and theatergoers enthralled with the bright lights of the big city. Now, thanks to NYC Mayor Bloomberg’s PlaNYC, Times Square may soon be known for its green attributes, like cleaner air and more public spaces. Grist reports that the city’s new pedestrian plazas—traffic-free areas throughout the square—are unsurprisingly, improving air quality. So far, nitrogen oxide and nitrogen dioxide levels have gone down 63 and 41 percent, respectively. This latest measure makes it clear that New Yorkers feel they have a right to breathe. Do you?

 

View Liz Judge's blog posts
12 April 2011, 3:02 PM
"Once you love something, you are willing to fight for it," says Earthjustice's Preso
Earthjustice attorney Tim Preso

(This is the fourth in a series of Q & As with Earthjustice staff who work to protect our nation's forests and their critical natural resources and wildlife. Protecting our national forests, in particular, is essential for the future of our nation. The Obama administration recently proposed new planning rules that may leave our national forests in peril. National forests are the single largest source of clean drinking water in the United States, serving 124 million Americans. Visit our Forests For Our Future campaign site to learn more. Tim Preso is attorney based in Earthjustice's Northern Rockies office in Bozeman, Montana.)

EJ: How did your fight to protect our forests begin, Tim?

TP: I walked into the Earthjustice office in Bozeman, Montana for my first day of work in March of 2000 and immediately became involved in a controversy over the federal regulation protecting our last national forest roadless lands. That marked the beginning of an 11-year campaign during which I have worked as part of a team of Earthjustice lawyers to defend the Roadless Rule against a variety of challenges. But outside the legal context, protecting our national forest lands has been close to my heart since I developed a love for wild places and wild creatures amid the rugged mountains and canyons of northeast Oregon's Wallowa-Whitman National Forest, near where I was raised. I had the now-all-too-uncommon privilege of growing up near big, open wild country filled with impressive wildlife. I want to make sure that opportunity remains for future generations instead of becoming something that kids can only read about in history books.

View Liz Judge's blog posts
08 April 2011, 3:03 PM
Earthjustice legislative counsel explains why she's dedicated to the fight
Rebecca Judd and her beloved greyhound Shooter

(This is the third in a series of Q & As with Earthjustice staff who work to protect our nation's forests and their critical natural resources and wildlife. Protecting our national forests, in particular, is essential for the future of our nation. The Obama administration recently proposed new planning rules that may leave our national forests in peril. National forests are the single largest source of clean drinking water in the United States, serving 124 million Americans. Visit our Forests For Our Future campaign site to learn more. Rebecca Judd is legislative counsel for Earthjustice, based in Washington, D.C.)

EJ: Were there any formative moments in national forests that set you about this path to fight for them?

RJ: In the summer of 2003, I clerked for Sierra Club after my first year of law school and assisted with a case challenging the logging and burning of over 5,000 acres of the Eldorado National Forest in California. A group of us was able to hike in an area slated for timber removal, and it was eerily disturbing to witness firsthand how many trees were marked for destruction. That experience motivated me to continue my work to advocate for the protection of our environment, our cherished landscapes and natural habitat, and the species that depend upon them. 

View Liz Judge's blog posts
08 April 2011, 1:22 PM
Tell Mr. Boehner and his House majority: "Hell No You Can't!"
House Speaker John Boehner

[Update: Amid hurried negotiations late Friday to avoid a government shutdown, House sources indicated that a possible deal has been reached to prevent weakening the government's regulation of mountaintop removal mining and climate change emissions. The uncertainty of this deal makes it all the more important for citizens to contact the White House and their congressional representatives to demand hands off of the Environmental Protection Agency.]

We've all seen the reports that say what is carrying our federal government quickly toward a total shutdown is not a difference over spending cuts but rather some costly ugly ideological demands by House leadership. First, we heard they were demanding blocks on clean air protections, and now we are hearing that a rider making mountaintop removal mining easier may be at the center of this political bargain.

If this is true, House leadership has managed to sink to an even lower level, by trying to use the innocent people, mountains and waters of Appalachia as their political bargaining chip -- just so the leadership can tell an extreme faction of the party that they secured a political "win."

Using this budget negotiations process as a way to help coal companies blow up mountains and dump their toxic waste into Appalachian streams and water supplies is an abomination. The White House and the Senate must not even consider sacrificing the people of Appalachia and their mountains and waterways for this political deal.

View Liz Judge's blog posts
06 April 2011, 3:14 PM
Squashes attempts to favor big corporate polluters over American citizens
Sen. James Inhofe

The Senate just voted to reject four—count 'em 1-2-3-4—bad amendments that would strangle and block the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency from being able to limit dangerous carbon dioxide pollution from the nation's biggest polluters.

These Dirty Air Acts went down in the upper chamber today because enough of the Senate still obviously believes that the well-being, future and health of Americans are more important than corporate special interests.

The amendments were offered on an unrelated small business innovation bill (S.493) by Sens. Rockefeller (S.AMDT.215), McConnell and Inhofe (S.AMDT.183), Baucus (S.AMDT.236), and Stabenow (S.AMDT.265).

Read Earthjustice's statement on today's Senate win for Americans, our health, and our future.

Now that the Senate has secured a victory for all Americans who breathe and whose businesses, families, and livelihood depend on a secure future for this country, eyes turn to the House, which is debating a Dirty Air Act of its own at this very moment.

View Liz Judge's blog posts
06 April 2011, 10:27 AM
Attorney Tom Waldo explains why our National Forests are worth fighting for

(This is the second in a series of Q & As with Earthjustice staff who work to protect our nation's forests and their critical natural resources and wildlife. Protecting our national forests, in particular, is essential for the future of our nation. The Obama administration recently proposed new planning rules that may leave our National Forests in peril. National forests are the single largest source of clean drinking water in the United States, serving 124 million Americans. Visit our Forests For Our Future campaign site to learn more. Tom Waldo joined Earthjustice in 1989 and is a staff attorney in the Juneau, Alaska office.)

EJ: Tell us about your work to protect national forests.

TW: In a couple dozen cases or more, I have represented a wide variety of clients in lawsuits and administrative appeals seeking to protect the old growth of the Tongass National Forest in southeast Alaska as well as pristine roadless areas in all the national forests. The main threat we have countered is clearcut logging and its associated road construction, though this work sometimes encompasses mining operations, proposed highways, and the like. Besides the litigation, we work closely with our clients in administrative and Congressional advocacy, ensuring that our legal and political strategies are integrated.

EJ: How did this work begin?

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View Liz Judge's blog posts
05 April 2011, 1:44 PM
Earthjustice attorney Kristen Boyles speaks of her efforts to help national forests
Kristen's son, Henry, at Shi Shi Beach in Olympic National Forest.

(This is the first in a series of Q & As with Earthjustice staff who work to protect our nation's forests and their critical natural resources and wildlife. The Obama administration's recently proposed planning rule for our national forests may leave our waters and wildlife in peril. Kristen Boyles is a staff attorney in Earthjustice's Northwest office in Seattle.)

EJ: Tell us about your work to protect forested areas in the U.S.

KB: One of my first cases when I came to Earthjustice in 1993 (then called the Sierra Club Legal Defense Fund) focused on the six “salmon” national forests in Idaho—the Boise, Challis, Nez Perce, Payette, Salmon, and Sawtooth—and getting them to adopt consistent, protective standards for threatened and endangered salmon and steelhead. A large part of the wonder of learning about those fish and forests stays with me even today—that salmon, these salt-water, ocean-cruising sea creatures, swim upstream some 600 miles to return to their natal streams thousands of feet above sea level. Or that the young salmon fry are swept backwards toward the ocean with the spring currents, eyes locked on their inland past.

View Liz Judge's blog posts
30 March 2011, 11:12 AM
Senate votes tomorrow on whether to block EPA action on carbon pollution

The Senate votes tomorrow on four pieces of legislation that all aim to block or delay Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) action to reduce the carbon dioxide pollution of the nation's biggest polluters. These polluters have convinced their friends in Congress to author a wave of bills exempting them from strong air pollution limits—they are the Dirty Air Acts we've been warning you about for months.

These Dirty Air Acts will give polluters free rein to dump carbon dioxide pollution and other climate change pollutants into the air—at the expense of public health and the American quality of life. Please, call your senators and tell them to oppose these Dirty Air Acts!

The legislative measures up for a vote today are offered by Senators Rockefeller (S.AMDT.215), McConnell and Inhofe (S.AMDT.183), Baucus (S.AMDT.235), and Stabenow (S.AMDT.265) as amendments on an unrelated small business innovation bill (S.493).

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