Posts tagged: science

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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 Brian Smith's blog posts
28 March 2011, 4:16 PM
Human rights commission hears testimony on human impacts

When glaciers no longer provide drinking water to the communities that depend on them, what happens to those communities? For the indigenous people in the highlands of Bolivia, this is no longer a theoretical question.

Alivio Aruquipa, a farmer from Khapi, Bolivia explains:

My community and I rely on the Illimani glacier. Its waters irrigate our crops; we use it for drinking, cooking and bathing as our ancestors did. Every year the glacier melts more, so we are worried for our children-- they will no longer have water to drink, to irrigate our lands, or to sustain the animals that help us prepare our fields.

At the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights in Washington, D.C. this week, Earthjustice International Program managing attorney Martin Wagner joined Aruquipa and climate expert Kevin Trenberth to describe the impacts of freshwater loss caused by climate change.

View Liz Judge's blog posts
16 March 2011, 11:55 AM
House committee passes Dirty Air Act, while the Senate debates it
Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mi.)

As I write this, the Senate is debating an amendment to a small business bill that would block the Environmental Protection Agency from setting limits on carbon dioxide emissions from the nation's biggest polluters.

We've been making a lot of noise about this effort to cripple the EPA and obstruct health- and science-based standards for climate change pollution, but in the last couple of days, things are reaching a boil in Congress.

The engineers of this push to protect dirty energy corporations, you will recall, are Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI) and Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK). Both have introduced nearly identical companion bills in the House and Senate. But yesterday, the House Energy and Commerce Committee, on which Rep. Upton sits as chair, passed his Dirty Air Act. This means it is bound for the House floor for a full chamber vote sometime in the next few weeks, likely before the House's Easter recess.

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View Jessica Knoblauch's blog posts
11 March 2011, 1:16 PM
Tsunami-sized warnings, bullet train shout-outs, NJ fracking ban
Would you like a bag for that? Del Monte now sells single-serve bananas wrapped in plastic. Photo courtesy of viZZZual.com

Del Monte sells individually wrapped bananas
Last week, processed food giant Del Monte unveiled its latest product invention, a single banana wrapped in plastic, reports the Globe and Mail. The move, not surprisingly, drew ire from many who point out that the banana already has its own, biodegradable wrapping, the peel. Ironically, Del Monte told reporters that the new product is being marketed as a green initiative due to the plastic’s “controlled ripening technology” which will up the banana’s shelf life and reduce landfill waste—albeit not the biodegradable kind. On The Daily Show, Comedian Jon Stewart recently pointed out the absurdity of the idea by hawking his own equally absurb mock invention, the coconut-protected coconut case.
 
New Jersey lawmakers ban hydraulic fracturing
This week, New Jersey lawmakers approved a bill that bans hydraulic fracturing, a widely controversial gas drilling practice that's contaminated water supplies to the point where residents near gas wells are able to set their faucet water on fire, reports NJ Spotlight. Though no drilling is currently happening in the Garden State, the move sends a clear message that state lawmakers have "grave concerns" about the process, said Sen. Robert Gordon (D-Bergen), the bill's sponsor. Currently, Earthjustice is working to keep hydraulic fracturing out of New York where oil and gas companies are hungrily eyeing the geologic formation known as the Marcellus Shale.

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View Brian Smith's blog posts
03 March 2011, 5:56 PM
The latest cluck from clean air "Chicken Littles"
The sky is falling again

The National Petrochemical & Refiners Association put out a press statement today. As they have for the last 40 years, the pollution lobby warns that stronger standards will cause massive disruption.

"It [new ozone standards] will have a great, and again potentially very negative, impact on the prospects for job creation and retention over the next decade. And its impact on American citizens – the motorists, truckers, farmers and families that drive our great nation – will be felt for years to come."

The NPRA advises the EPA to do nothing. Keep the old standard. They promise to develop cleaner fuels without new regulations.

Just a few problems with this line of argument.

View Liz Judge's blog posts
03 March 2011, 2:45 PM
Reversing commonsense progress is the new favorite pastime of House leaders
Rep. Fred Upton

"Doh!" should be the motto of the new majority in the House, but here's one from House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) that might work as well: "The New Majority - Plasticware Is Back."

Boehner tweeted this, or should I say taunted this, on Monday, boasting about a move orchestrated by him and his GOP colleagues in the House to undo the efforts of his predecessor Rep. Nancy Pelosi to green the Capitol. As my colleague Tom Turner revealed today,  Pelosi transformed Capitol cafeterias by bringing in environmentally friendly foods and serving utensils. This week, Boehner and his buddies in Congress did away with the biodegradable dishware and brought back foam cups. The folks in Congress are now years behind most school districts and eateries in this country. Cue the applause for Mr. Boehner and his cohorts.

Another "Doh!" moment has been slowly playing out in the House for the last two months. Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI) has been leading the charge in the House to stop the EPA from limiting the carbon dioxide pollution of the nation's biggest polluters.

View Chris Jordan-Bloch's blog posts
01 March 2011, 1:34 PM
NY Times investigation uncovers more dirty secrets about fracking

The recent New York Times investigation into the dangers posed to our air and water by fracking is a must-read. The meat of the investigation deals with radioactive material in wastewater from the fracking process and its possible migration into our lakes and rivers. The paper's findings are alarming to say the least, here are just a few:

  • More than 1.3 billion gallons of wastewater were produced by Pennsylvania wells over the past three years, far more than previously disclosed. Most was sent to treatment plants not equipped to remove many of the toxic materials in drilling waste.
  • At least 12 sewage treatment plants in three states accepted gas industry wastewater and discharged waste that was only partly treated into rivers, lakes and streams.
  • Of more than 179 wells producing wastewater with high levels of radiation, at least 116 reported levels of radium or other radioactive materials 100 times as high as the levels set by federal drinking-water standards. At least 15 wells produced wastewater carrying more than 1,000 times the amount of radioactive elements considered acceptable.
View Jessica Knoblauch's blog posts
25 February 2011, 3:17 AM
Nuclear dilemmas, thin mint massacre, airborne heart attacks
Maine Gov. Paul LePage recently said that in a worst case scenario BPA exposure may give women "little beards." Photo courtesy of anthonyturducken.

EU moves forward on chemical regs while U.S. gets bearded females
The European Union recently announced that it will ban six toxic substances under its Registration, Evaluation, Authorization & Restriction of Chemicals (REACH) program, reports Chemical & Engineering News. The landmark move, which includes phasing out three plastic softening chemicals and a flame retardant, stands in stark contrast to the U.S.'s chemical romance, particularly with the controversial chemical, Bisphenol A (BPA), a plastic additive that messes with people's hormones and is found in levels twice as high in Americans than in Canadians. But not to worry, says Maine's Gov. Paul LePage. The worst that could happen is that BPA exposure might cause women to start growing "little beards." 

Breathing dirty air triggers more heart attacks than doing cocaine
This should perk you up. Researchers have found that breathing dirty air triggers more heart attacks than doing cocaine, reports Reuters, a scary notion considering that you can't exactly avoid air pollution unless you want to walk around all day in a gas mask. The U.S. EPA recently issued new rules that will limit air pollution from industrial boilers and incinerators, but we still have a long way to go in cleaning up our air. Declare your right to breathe clean air today.

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View Liz Judge's blog posts
18 February 2011, 4:15 PM
House lawmakers continue to slash essential protections for the American public

As I write this, members of the House of Representatives continue to debate and move their way through votes on hundreds of amendments to the chamber's government spending bill. The voting and debate has been a marathon process, stretching from morning through late at night for the last three days, and looks to carry on until late tonight or tomorrow.

Once the amendments are voted on and settled, the whole House will cast a final vote on the entire bill package with all the passed amendments. Then the Senate takes its turn, crafting a spending bill of its own. The two chambers must then confer and agree on one bill that funds the federal government by March 4 -- or the government must shut down until its spending and funding sources are settled.

The amendments that the House is currently considering are wide-ranging. They aim to cut government spending by cutting the funding streams of hundreds of government programs. So, instead of ending those programs through legislation and appropriate voting, many members of the House are seeking to delete the programs by wiping out the funds that keep them going.

View Patti Goldman's blog posts
17 February 2011, 6:45 AM
Amendments target wildlife, water, air, public health, natural resources

Forty years of environmental progress is under attack today by a vote in the House of Representative on a stop-gap funding measure to keep the federal government running.

Unfortunately, that measure—called a continuing resolution—is loaded with amendments and provisions that would slash the Environmental Protection Agency’s budget, and seeks to override the rule of law at every turn.

These so-called  “riders” could not pass on their own merits, so their sponsors hope they will ride the coat-tails of this must-pass budget bill. Like fleas, they come with the dog, only these are far more than irritants. They would overturn court decisions that we have obtained to stop illegal behavior and force federal agencies to comply with the law.

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View Marty Hayden's blog posts
16 February 2011, 10:38 AM
Amendments to funding bill target everything from wolves to water to health
Wolves are on the congressional hit list

House Republicans are using the oft-repeated refrain of “fiscal restraint” as their excuse for gutting several environmental initiatives that will put the public in harm’s way. But there simply is no excuse for hacking away at health protections that will leave our air and water dirtier and our children and seniors at risk.  It’s not hard to see their real agenda. In many cases their proposals are clearly designed to make it easier for some of America’s biggest polluters to dump their pollution on us rather than pay to dispose of it responsibly. 

House GOP’s Public Enemy Number 1: the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The spending legislation introduced this week slashes the EPA budget by $3 billion and blocks the agency from regulating greenhouse gas emissions. And in a symbolic dig against the White House, the bill also stymies President Barack Obama from replacing departing lead White House climate and energy advisor Carol Browner.
 
The spending plan also tries to block the EPA from fully implementing the Clean Water Act, while effectively letting major polluters foul our water. This will jeopardize drinking water for 117 million Americans and could leave millions of  acres of wetlands and thousands of miles of streams and rivers without Clean Water Act protections from pollution. But it doesn’t stop there.

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