Posts tagged: technology

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.


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 Tom Turner's blog posts
18 January 2011, 12:00 PM
New studies—and many blogs—outline yet another benefit of cycling

Everyone is in favor of bikes and biking, or almost everybody. Riding a bike is good for your health, keeps you fit and slender, gives you that important aerobic exercise, plus it’s fun. And it saves gasoline, thus reducing dependency on foreign (and domestic!) oil. And it helps in a small way in the fight against global climate disruption (aka global warming or climate change, take your pick). What’s not to like?

One notable exception is the new Speaker of the House, Mr. Boehner, who is quoted in Grist  thusly, “I think there's a place for infrastructure, but what kind of infrastructure? Infrastructure to widen highways, to ease congestion for American families? . . . But if we're talking about . . . bike paths, Americans are not going to look very kindly on this.”

View David Lawlor's blog posts
11 January 2011, 5:29 PM
New university study is a how-to guide for achieving a clean energy future
The Challicum Hills Wind Farm near Victoria, Australia.

By now, we all know the refrain. Sure, politicians and pundits tell us, it would be swell to make the switch to clean energy, but such a move is infeasible at any time in the near future. No, they say, we must not stray from our well-hewn path of environmental destruction paved by fossil fuels. Maybe one day solar, wind or geothermal energy will make sense, but when it comes to power generation—unless you’re a misguided hippie or you live in Reykjavic—we’re sticking with coal and natural gas.

Well, apparently a contingent of patchouli-scented Icelandic expatriates at Australia’s University of Melbourne isn’t going along with the fossil fuel industry’s talking points. As JP Siegel reports on the TriplePundit blog, a group affiliated with the university, Beyond Zero Emissions (BZE), has developed a comprehensive plan to meet the nation’s energy needs with 100 percent renewable sources by 2020.

2 Comments   /  
View Liz Judge's blog posts
05 January 2011, 3:33 PM
The fuss over bulbs and the bright and dim ideas of Congress and pundits

Energy efficient light bulbs have come to symbolize the promise of smarter, greener, cost-saving technologies. The image of the coiled CFL (compact fluorescent lamp) reminds us that we can save money while saving energy. And for good reason: The federal government's Energy Star program found that if every American home replaced just one light with a CFL that's earned the Energy Star rating, we could save enough energy to light 3 million homes for a year, or reduce our electric bills by $600 million annually while preventing 9 billion pounds of greenhouse gas emissions per year, equivalent to the annual emissions from about 800,000 cars.

An energy-efficient CFL can save more than $40 in electricity costs over its lifetime compared to the old incandescent bulbs. It uses about 75 percent less energy and lasts 10 times longer.

The free money from these kinds of commonsense energy efficiency gains is why Congress passed the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007, a landmark bill that mandated a host of efficiency standards for cars, lighting, and appliances. Now Congress doesn't always use logic and foresight, but this bill was smartly based on a few very logical premises that employed some solid forward thinking.

Among them, two major premises:

View David Lawlor's blog posts
09 December 2010, 5:54 PM
More than 1 million sign petition to block BASF’s Amflora potato
Must destroy genetically engineered crops. Grrrr...

Plain and simple: people do not want Dr. Frankenstein getting into the business of agriculture. Sure, the good doctor built one fine specimen of a monster, but when it comes to sugar beets and potatoes it seems most folks would rather stick with nature and forgo the jigsaw-puzzled gene mash of genetically engineered crops.

This week, the European Union’s European Commission was presented with a petition bearing the signatures of more than 1 million citizens asking that the commission stop approving genetically engineered crops, and convene a scientific body to study the modified organisms and implement regulations.

The petition will put the “European citizens' initiative” to the test, a new rule in the EU’s constitutional treaty allowing 1 million or more citizens to request a legislative redress. The petition comes in response to the EU’s March 2010 approval of cultivation of the Amflora potato produced by BASF Plant Sciences. The Amflora potato exclusively produces a waxy starch utilized in industrial applications, although the New York Times reports that the potato’s pulp may also be used as an animal feed.

The petition follows on the heels of a major legal victory last week when a federal judge sided with Earthjustice attorney Paul Achitoff and ordered genetically engineered sugar beets, which had already been planted, to be destroyed.

View David Lawlor's blog posts
06 December 2010, 5:32 PM
Google Earth Engine tracks environmental destruction in near real time

There is a common misconception concerning the environmentally destructive actions of governments and corporations. And, unfortunately, Google’s new Earth Engine application—with good intentions paving the way—falls prey to the fallacy.

When governments or corporations sanction or engage in ecologically harmful practices, such as clear cutting forests, people who believe the ecologically harmful practices in question are bad ideas often wonder at why governments or corporations would authorize such obviously destructive actions.

1 Comment   /  
View Jessica Knoblauch's blog posts
24 November 2010, 1:15 PM
Idling laws, inconvenient climate truths, radiating trees
Wi-Fi radiation may be making trees sick. Photo courtesy of, Auro Queiroz

California's chemicals law gets tangled in toxic debate
With toxic chemicals regulations set to go into effect in January, manufacturers and advocacy groups are going head to head over how California should implement the landmark law, according to the Washington Post.

Advocates of the law say the regulations are too weak, while industry claims otherwise—a similar predicament that's also found in New York, where Earthjustice litigation recently resulted in state legislators requiring household cleaner manufacturers to begin disclosing their products' chemical ingredients and health risks.

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View Jessica Knoblauch's blog posts
05 November 2010, 1:49 PM
Compostable Canadians, childish owl snatchers, mainframe mind games
Owls are being targeted by Harry Potter fans in India. Photo courtesy of stock.xchng

BP's negligence could prove to be explosive, again
Maintenance of BP's Alaska operations is woefully neglected, according to an internal maintenance document reported on by ProPublica. The document shows that almost 150 BP pipelines on Alaska's North Slope got an F from the company and that many of the pipes are "worn to within a few thousandths of an inch of bursting." Based on this most recent report, it's not hard to see why Earthjustice is working to keep BP and others from drilling even more in the Arctic.

FritoLay Canada bites back at complaining consumers
Last month, amid consumer backlash and 50,000 plus Facebook fans who couldn't hear anything over a noisy SunChips compostable bag, SunChips owner Frito Lay buried its compostable chip bag, replacing it with the original, everlasting bag. But Frito Lay Canada stood its ground, according to Grist, launching a consumer awareness program that includes an offer for free earplugs, which is good news for those who can't hear the environmental concerns of an unrecyclable bag over their own self-interest.

View David Lawlor's blog posts
22 October 2010, 1:50 PM
Project will extract minerals at 1,600 meters below the ocean's surface

Following the oil spill disaster in the Gulf of Mexico, the idea of continuing deep water drilling sounded more than dubious. But, Interior Sec. Ken Salazar apparently found the idea perfectly sensible when he lifted the deep water drilling moratorium earlier this month, just weeks after the gushing BP well was finally shut down.

So, it hardly comes as much of a surprise that the government of Papua New Guinea (PNG) similarly gave the thumbs up this week to a plan to mine minerals from the ocean floor off the island nation’s coast.

1 Comment   /  
View David Lawlor's blog posts
06 October 2010, 12:05 PM
SunChips discontinues green packaging following complaints

SunChips, the solar-inspired snack with an environmental conscience, has announced it will discontinue its new compostable bag at the behest of consumers who complained the packaging housing the snack with “18 grams of whole grain delicious!!” unleashed a cacophonous assault upon the ears of unsuspecting gastronomes. 

Frito-Lay North America, Inc., the folks who produce SunChips, say sales of the snack chip are down 11 percent over the past year as a result of displeasure with the bags. SunChips is now at work on the next generation of quieter compostable bags, although the company’s website makes no mention of when such bags will be available. Sometimes, trying to do the right thing isn’t so easy.

While SunChips deserves praises for its compostable bag attempt, the company takes a somewhat peculiar perspective when it comes to greening its practices. For example, its website touts the new solar panels at its Modesto, Calif., production facility (good), but with language that belies an environmental naiveté (not so good).

1 Comment   /  
View Tom Turner's blog posts
05 October 2010, 10:52 AM
White House meanwhile will reinstall solar collectors on the roof

You may have seen pictures of hundreds of huge fuel transport trucks stranded on the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan. The border was closed by the Pakistani government following a drone attack that killed several suspected terrorists. The trucks are a handy target for marauding insurgents, who sneak in and torch them under cover of darkness.

There may be something of a silver lining, however.

The Pentagon has just announced that it is hurrying to test portable solar-electric gadgets—generators, low-energy lights, and so on—to replace the diesel and kerosene generators the convoys were sent to resupply with fuel. It's all here in The New York Times.