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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 Lisa Evans's blog posts
16 February 2011, 7:53 AM
Theft of protections against toxic coal ash is on House agenda
Aerial view of coal spill in Kingston, Tennessee

The highwaymen of the 112th Congress are trying to take away the authority of the EPA and rob the will of the people on a variety of critical public health and environmental issues by attaching riders to the House budget bill (the Continuing Resolution). The spending legislation introduced by the House Appropriations Committee this week would not only slash billions of dollars from programs protecting public health by ensuring clean water and air, but it would also undo or block key environmental initiatives.

While belt-tightening is a necessity, the special interest giveaways and legislative earmarks protecting big polluters are no less than highway robbery. Their attempt to pillage vital health protections guaranteed by our federal environmental statutes threatens the quality of our air and water, and places our most vulnerable communities and citizens at great risk.

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View Terry Winckler's blog posts
15 February 2011, 3:53 PM
Legislative amendments target air, water, public lands and wildlife

Teabag by teabag, the anti-environment faction in the House of Representatives has filled its federal government spending bill with amendments that will cripple protections for our water, air, natural resources, wildlife and public health. 

Not since the darkest days of the Bush administration have we seen such an onslaught on the environment—and the hits are still coming. By mid-day today (Tues., Feb. 15), the list has grown to include attacks on a number of endangered species, including wolves and salmon, and on the power of the Environmental Protection Agency to keep lethal pollutants out of the air we breathe and the water we drink. Some amendments are outright handouts to our nation’s worst polluters.

The spending bill will fund the government so that it can continue operating after March 4, but first the Senate must pass the bill. Today, Pres. Barack Obama warned that he would veto the bill as constructed.

The following is a list of the most harmful provisions and amendments proposed so far:

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View Liz Judge's blog posts
11 February 2011, 12:09 PM
Obama's draft plan for forests is well-intentioned, lacks real protective measures

Anyone who likes to hike, camp, fish, hunt, or view wildlife in our national forests—or anyone who wishes to do any of this anytime in the future—should be aware of a proposal for managing our national forests by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and U.S. Forest Service, released yesterday.

Yesterday afternoon, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and Forest Service chief Tom Tidwell announced and released their new draft rule for protecting our national forests and grasslands, approximately 191 million acres of critical watersheds and wildlife habitat across the United States.

The importance of this rule can't be overstated.

View Jessica Knoblauch's blog posts
11 February 2011, 6:37 AM
Radiated bird brains, Clorox cleaning, peak oil Wikileaks
A recent USDA decision allows farmers to plant genetically modified sugar beets. Photo courtesy of Uwe Hermann.

USDA gives Big Ag some sugar in GE beet decision 
In a move that directly contradicts the finding of a U.S. federal judge, last week the Department of Agriculture said that farmers could start planting their genetically modified sugar beets, reports the New York Times, despite concerns raised over GE crops by environmental and organic groups. The decision to allow farmers to plant the beets before a (legally required) environmental impact assessment was conducted was most likely brought on by fears that blocking the crops’ planting would result in a sugar shortage, an odd concern for a country who's known to have a bit of a sweet tooth

Clorox freshens up stance on ingredient disclosure
Hooray! This past Tuesday, cleaning company Clorox announced it would allow consumers to know just what’s in all of those cleaners and cleansers, reports the LA Times. The announcement comes after sustained pressure by environmental and health groups, including Earthjustice, which argue that consumers have a right to know what’s in their toilet bowl cleaner. After all, sunlight is the best disinfectant.

View Jessica Knoblauch's blog posts
04 February 2011, 2:54 PM
Snowstorm pickles, nuclear fallout, Frankenfeed
An EPA proposal suggests that humans should no longer be used as guinea pigs in pesticide experiments. Photo courtesy of Jean Scheijen.

EPA proposes strict rules on pesticide testing
The EPA recently proposed strict rules meant to keep pesticides manufacturers from paying people to eat or drink pesticides, enter pesticide vapor "chambers," or have pesticides sprayed in their eyes, reports FairWarning. The proposal, spurred on by a 2010 court settlement between Earthjustice clients and the EPA, will essentially make it harder for the chemical industry to use people as guinea pigs, hopefully resulting in fewer of these tests occurring in the first place.

Multiple "Snowmageddons" put cash-strapped cities in a pickle
As New England and the Midwest shovel their way out of the latest snowstorm, penny-pinching government employees are coming up with unusual ways to de-ice their roads. This past week, administrators in Bergen County, New Jersey have started using pickle juice to combat the ice and snow, reports Time magazine. It turns out that the salty solution is much cheaper than road salt and works just as well at keeping cars from sliding off the roads. Meanwhile, the city of Boston continues to pile up with so-called "snow farms," basically huge piles of snow dumped in vacant lots.

View Liz Judge's blog posts
28 January 2011, 5:50 PM
Senators introduce bills to weaken environmental protections
Sen. Barrasso, friend of big polluters

(A powerful faction in the new Congress has allied with industry to weaken our nation’s most basic environmental laws. Earthjustice will report on this expected barrage of legislative attacks as they occur.)

<<<Update 6 p.m., Monday, Jan. 31: Sen. John D. "Jay" Rockefeller has introduced his own “Dirty Air Act.” Like Sen. Barrasso's bill (see below), Sen. Rockefeller's bill blocks the Environmental Protection Agency’s ability to limit carbon dioxide emissions for two more years.

In 2007, in its landmark Massachusetts v. EPA decision, the Supreme Court ruled that greenhouse gases are covered by the Clean Air Act. The Environmental Protection Agency is required to regulate them if found to endanger public health and welfare. The EPA made such a finding in 2009, relying on decades of evidence, research by hundreds of the world's leading scientists, and numerous other sources.>>>

View Liz Judge's blog posts
26 January 2011, 10:44 AM
But is our idea of "clean energy" the same?

Last night in his State of the Union address, President Barack Obama rightly spoke about the importance of growing a clean energy economy. Dedicating a chunk of his speech to the promise of the clean energy sector of the economy and the necessity for us as a nation to invest in this sector, the president issued a promise to America's scientists and engineers: If they innovate and come up with clean energy solutions, our government will invest in them and scale them up.

The president called this the "Sputnik moment" of our time. With that analogy, he hit it out of the ballpark. Our ability to invest in and dedicate ourselves to the clean energy economy of the future will guarantee our nation the global edge. It will make us world leaders, and it will guarantee Americans jobs and job security for decades to come. The president tackled this potential in his speech with inspiration and wisdom.

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View Liz Judge's blog posts
21 January 2011, 12:48 PM
Movement to stop the destruction picks up after historic EPA action on MTR
A photo mosaic of the late Judy Bonds, a crusader to stop MTR, made up of 650 Earthjustice photo submissions.

Yesterday, The New York Times published an excellent editorial on mountaintop removal mining in support of the EPA's decision to veto the water pollution permit for the largest proposed mine in West Virginia, Arch Coal's Spruce No. 1 mine.

It issues a strong reproach of the antics of certain friends of coal in Congress:

The mine received a final permit from the Army Corps of Engineers in 2007. The E.P.A. has long had the power to veto such permits but has used it only once before. This decision provoked predictably outraged responses from industry and its political friends, including West Virginia’s two Democratic senators, John Rockefeller IV and Joe Manchin III, a former governor ...

Arch Coal has vowed a court fight, which Mr. Manchin says he will support. A far better use of their energies would be to find a less destructive way to mine coal.

This moral reinforcement comes after a monumental and whirlwind week in the movement to stop mountaintop removal mining.

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View Jessica Knoblauch's blog posts
21 January 2011, 10:35 AM
Canned mercury, dirty Apples, pollution-seeking sweatshirts
Protesters against hydraulic fracturing in the Marcellus Shale. Photo courtesy of Marcellus Protest.

Celebrity disses hydraulic fracturing
Forget traipsing around a creepy island with Leonardo DiCaprio. Actor Mark Ruffalo recently went on a much more daring crusade in his latest roll as a passionate environmental advocate speaking out against the practice of hydraulic fracturing, according to HuffPo. After attending an NYC event called "Fracking and Its Effects: A Panel Discussion," Ruffalo told HuffPo in an exclusive interview that risky technologies like fracking will lead to "greater degradation…and greater catastrophes," urging people to speak out on the issue. Visit Earthjustice's Web site to see how you can help put the brakes on fracking.

High-tech sweatshirt detects air pollution
A pair of NYU grad students with a flair for combining fashion and science have created a high-tech sweatshirt that features an image of pink lungs whose veins turn blue after coming in contact with air pollution, reports the NY Daily News. A tiny carbon monoxide sensor embedded in the shirt can pick up air pollutants from a range of sources, like cars and second-hand smoke. At $60 a pop, it's unlikely that the shirts will be mass produced any time soon, but in the meantime the shirts make quite the fashion statement.

View Liz Judge's blog posts
13 January 2011, 12:07 PM
Coal mine finally stopped as EPA rejects Spruce No. 1 Mine
Site of the proposed Spruce mine (green valley to right). Photo by Vivian Stockman of OVEC, Flyover courtesy SouthWings.

Today, after a generation of blasting its way virtually unhindered across Appalachia, the coal industry has been defused. The EPA announced its veto of what would have been the largest mountaintop removal operation in West Virginia -- Arch Coal's Spruce No. 1 Mine.

The EPA's unprecedented action spares the land, protects those in the area of the proposed mine, and must be seen as a huge victory for communities across Appalachia. They have hope at last that this most destructive form of coal mining is finally being reined in. It is a huge victory for them and for all Americans joined in the struggle to protect our air and water from industrial pollution.

The impacts of this decision are profound:

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