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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 Jessica Knoblauch's blog posts
27 July 2012, 1:18 AM
Plus: London smog, EPA’s petrified politics, grocery bill blues
Greenland's ice melt from July 8th (left image) to July 12 (right image). Photo courtesy of NASA

Greenland's record ice melt blows scientists’ beakers
The ice melt happening in Greenland right now is one for the record books, reports the UK Guardian. In fact, it’s so dramatic that even the scientists who have been staring at Greenland’s ice melt for decades were so surprised at just how fast the ice is melting that they thought they made a mistake in their data. They didn't. One group of researchers even had to rebuild their research camp after the snow and ice melted beneath their feet. Within a four-day period, the area of melting ice in Greenland increased from approximately 40 percent of the ice sheet surface to 97 percent. Typically, only about half of Greenland’s ice sheet melts during the summer. The unprecedented ice melt doesn’t bode well for those living near sea level, like, say, the almost four million Americans that live within just a few feet of high tide

London smog may send athletes sprinting for inhalers
As the Olympics in London heats up, the world’s best athletes are gearing up with top-notch running shoes, high-performance energy drinks...and their best inhalers, reports the UK Guardian. Health experts are warning that London’s forecast temperature of hot weather and easterly winds this week may result in a deadly combination that spikes smog pollution in the area, triggering breathing problems and scratchy throats. Also known as ground level ozone, smog is formed when sunlight reacts with oxygen and pollutants like nitrogen dioxide, which spews out of vehicle tailpipes and industry smokestacks. Though physicians often recommend that people reduce physical activity during really smoggy days, that’s not really an option for speedy, air-sucking Olympic athletes. Last fall, President Obama withdrew the EPA’s new smog standard, which would have tightened air toxics regulations and saved thousands of lives each year. Though the president cited economic concerns as the reason for his decision, it’s unclear whether he considered the economic impact of putting a smog-filled damper on the Olympics. As for the non-athletes attending the games this year who’d like to know when air pollution spikes, don’t worry. There’s an app for that.
 

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View Liz Judge's blog posts
24 July 2012, 11:01 AM
Star adds her face and message to stop mountaintop removal mining
Daryl Hannah speaks out against mountaintop removal mining. (Pake Salmon)

Daryl Hannah is best known as an actor in films such as Splash, Blade Runner, Roxanne, Wall Street, and Kill Bill Volumes 1 and 2. But outside of the studio, she is a vocal environmental activist who dedicates herself to raising awareness of climate change, sustainable farming energy solutions, and of course, mountaintop removal.

For Earthjustice's Mountain Heroes photo petition, Daryl writes, “I believe if people in this country truly understood that we are allowing private companies to blow up our oldest mountain range and decimate our ecosystems, water and communities—it would not be legal.”

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View Liz Judge's blog posts
20 July 2012, 8:38 AM
Stand with this literary giant and become a Mountain Hero, too

Fighting against mountaintop removal, this week we’re proud to announce the support of an incredibly strong woman: writer and activist Terry Tempest Williams. We know our supporters care deeply about the welfare of animals in the wild, and saw this vividly on our Facebook page when we highlighted the animals of Appalachia in a photo album on Facebook.

The Appalachian Mountains contain some of the richest assortment of wildlife in the country, from white-tailed deer to great horned owls. When these mountains are blown up by coal mining, not only are we losing the beautiful landscape, we are also destroying the habitat of the wildlife that make their home in Appalachia.

Following her own passion for wildlife, Williams has written on the lives of a clan of endangered prairie dogs, showing how they are the creators of “the most sophisticated animal language decoded so far.” Respect for life in all its myriad forms is a topic she argues for with sensitivity and detail.

View Liz Judge's blog posts
27 June 2012, 2:03 PM
Mountain Hero continues the work of her celebrated mother, Judy Bonds

Could there be a love more unconditional and more powerful than the love of a mother for her child? Most mothers I know would say, "No, not even possible." But if you've ever observed the adoring eyes of a child looking up to his or her mother, you might think twice.

Lisa Henderson's story is a remarkable tribute to this love and bond between mother and child.

Through our Mountain Heroes campaign, Lisa tells the story of watching her mother, renowned anti-mountaintop removal mining activist and Goldman Prize winner Judy Bonds, grow into a leader of the movement to save mountains, communities and people.

Lisa Henderson. (Chris Jordan-Bloch)

View Liz Judge's blog posts
25 June 2012, 12:55 PM
Please join them and add your photo petition

Junior Walk is not a celebrity. He grew up in Whitesville, West Virginia, born into a family of coal miners and workers. When he was just a kid, the water in his family's home became contaminated with coal slurry. Though it was blood-red and smelled like sulfur, Junior, who was just a child at the time, thought that was normal. Surrounded by neighbors who all eventually dealt with the same contamination.

"I thought that's what water did," said Junior, "It just went bad."

When he grew up, the day finally came when Junior had to make a choice. Stay silent and see his family and his community continue to be poisoned, or speak out and get kicked out by his father and threatened by neighbors who were afraid to go against the coal companies.

Junior Walk did what every hero has done. He did the right thing.

Junior Walk. (Chris Jordan-Bloch)

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View Liz Judge's blog posts
19 June 2012, 11:13 AM
Congress finally addresses community health emergency in Appalachia
Mountaintop removal mining devastates the landscape, turning areas that should be lush with forests and wildlife into barren moonscapes. (OVEC)

Big news today in our fight to end destructive mountaintop removal mining: 13 congressional leaders joined to introduce legislation to protect communities and families from the dangerous health effects of our nation's most extreme form of coal mining—mountaintop removal mining.

The Appalachian Community Health Emergency Act is the first federal legislation to address the human health effects of mountaintop removal mining. More than 20 peer-reviewed scientific studies show significantly elevated birth defect rates, early mortality rates, cancer rates, and major disease rates in areas of mountaintop removal mining. There is truly a public health emergency, and these studies point the blame to mountaintop removal mining.

This bill aims to protect communities and address this health emergency: It would require the Department of Health and Human Services to conduct thorough health studies on the human impacts of mountaintop removal, and until it is proven that this form of mining is not killing, harming, or sickening families, children, and people across Appalachia, it would place a hold on all new mining permits.

View Trip Van Noppen's blog posts
18 June 2012, 2:25 PM
Earthjustice delegation focuses on fortifying oceans resilience

(Trip Van Noppen is President of Earthjustice)

More than 130 heads of state, other leaders, and some 50,000 participants from all over the globe are gathering this week in Rio de Janeiro, the most-visited city in the southern hemisphere, for the Rio+20 Earth Summit. I am here with Martin Wagner, head of the Earthjustice International program, and Erika Rosenthal, Earthjustice attorney and veteran of many international environmental negotiations, and we want to share a few glimpses into what is going on as this historic event unfolds.

The summit offers the world an opportunity to deepen and broaden the reach of environmental commitments that are fundamental to sustainable development and reducing poverty around the world, and to support and extend good work that is happening in many countries and under many other international agreements.

Unlike the grand, path-breaking outcomes that the nations accomplished at the first Rio Earth Summit 20 years ago, this summit is focused on improving implementation of existing agreements for better outcomes for the people and the planet. Some in the news media have focused on the lack of grand new treaties, but that narrative misses the point. Although political realities may preclude great leaps forward, and certainly the summit is not producing the sorts of outcomes that it should, we can still work hard for incremental change when the opportunities exist. That’s what Earthjustice is doing at home and that's what we are doing here. In particular here in Rio, we’re pressing for progress on two important issues: ocean protection and reducing fossil fuel use.

View Jessica Knoblauch's blog posts
15 June 2012, 3:41 AM
Plus: Testy turtles, gas pump fallacies and Alberta oil spills
Seaside in Victoria, Australia (Shutterstock)

Australia announces world’s largest marine reserve
Just in time for this week’s Rio+20 Earth Summit, Australia has announced its plans to create the world’s largest marine reserve, reports the BBC. The protected zone will cover more than a third of Australia’s waters (about 3 million square kilometers) and will include restrictions on fishing as well as oil and gas exploration. The announcement comes on the heels of another big environmental win, courtesy of the Australian government, which last week announced that it is putting a stop to a billion-dollar coal project that could negatively impact the Great Barrier Reef. Though this latest move to create a marine reserve didn’t quite go as far as some environmentalists groups would have liked, it’s a great first step in building resilient oceans, which are already being battered by overfishing, pollution, habitat loss, and now ocean acidification. Find out more about Earthjustice’s work to push for building resilient ocean ecosystems.

Turtle couple that’s been dating for decades calls it quits
After more than 100 years of companionship, a pair of Giant Turtles at an Austrian zoo have decided to call it quits, reports the Austrian Times. According to the zoo staff, the century-long love fest came to a seemingly sudden end after the female turtle, Bibi, attacked her partner by biting off a chunk of his shell. Afterwards, Bibi continued attacking the male turtle until he was moved to a different cage. Since there have been no apparent changes in the turtles’ routine, the zoo suspects that Bibi may simply want to be single and nothing—including “romantic good mood food” and couples —will change her mind.

View Liz Judge's blog posts
04 June 2012, 11:28 AM
Stories and inspiration from the fight to end mountaintop removal mining

Over our years of working to stop mountaintop removal mining, we at Earthjustice have met so many brave and dedicated people fighting for their communities, mountains and waters. In 2010, Earthjustice launched our “Mountain Heroes” campaign to share their inspiring stories and show that this is not just a fight for the environment—it’s a fight for justice and a fight to save communities, families and Appalachian culture.

Through this campaign, we shared the stories of a few true heroes and created a public photo petition, asking the public to share their own stories—and tell us why they want to save mountains, protect clean water, and fight for justice in Appalachia.

What we got back was astounding and inspiring.

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View Jessica Knoblauch's blog posts
25 May 2012, 8:46 AM
Cruel pizza toppings, superweed takeover, Hollywood bags the bag
(Cambridge Brewing Company)

Breweries worry that extreme gas drilling will frack their beer
It turns out that hydraulic gas drilling or fracking doesn’t just contaminate the air and water; it could also mess up your favorite brew, reports Mother Jones. Brewmasters like Brooklyn Brewery and upstate New York’s Ommegang Brewery are raising the alarm about toxic fracking chemicals like benzene making their way to America’s beers through weak fracking regulations that don’t protect an area’s water supply. After all, beer brewing takes a whole lot of water and places like the Brooklyn Brewery often get their water from local watersheds. The Brewery’s founder, Steve Hindy, says that fracking threatens the purity of his beer. New York has promised to ban high-volume fracking in areas where the city sources its water, but environmental groups like Earthjustice say that the state’s rules are weak and leave aquifers vulnerable to contamination by fracking chemicals. Find out how we’re helping breweries like Ommegang to keep their beer from being fracked.

Domino’s pizza’s meat policy makes little piggies cry
Domino’s may have recently had an artisanal makeover, but the pizza giant still isn’t budging on its policy to continue serving pork from pigs raised in gestation crates, reports Grist. For the uninitiated, gestation crates are cages about the same width and length of a pig’s body, a space so small that the pigs are unable to even turn around in the crates. Given that pigs are extremely smart animals capable of feeling fear, pain and stress, many food vendors have been successfully pressured into working with its pork suppliers to eliminate the cruel practice, but not Domino’s, which is one of the last holdouts in the industry. It looks like Domino’s new “artisan toppings,” meant for food-conscious customers, is just lipstick on both the proverbial and the literal pig.  
 

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