Posts tagged: water

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.

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View Liz Judge's blog posts
27 January 2012, 5:07 AM
Their water protections are strong, wildlife safeguards need to be stronger

Today, the Obama administration’s Forest Service revealed final rules for managing of our national forests. These rules typically last 15-30 years, and they serve as the blueprint for how 193 million acres of our most important watersheds are managed. Their impact is sweeping.

My own memories from time spent in national forests remind me of why Earthjustice’s fight for strong protections is so important. Whether it was hiking and camping with my younger brother in the Monongahela National Forest of West Virginia or touring the Custer and Gallatin national forests in Montana with my family, my time in the forests will remain among my best memories.

Although we were just a couple hours from the big city by car, it seemed like we were a world away. The jaw-dropping views, clear piney air, crystalline streams, and glimpses of precious and rare wildlife gave us perspective on what’s at stake for our country, for our people and wild places, and for future generations.

View David Lawlor's blog posts
25 January 2012, 4:36 PM
Jaw-dropping beauty from the comfort of your desk
The Hetch Hetchy Valley. (Photo: Sam Edmondson)

Everyone knows that Yosemite National Park is one of America’s most beautiful places. Half Dome, El Capitan, Yosemite Falls, and a host of other natural wonders make Yosemite an iconic symbol of the American West. And while many of us have hiked in Yosemite or camped in the picturesque valley, a new video reveals a deeper layer of beauty and awe.

Videographers Sheldon Neill and Colin Delehanty have collaborated to create a stunning time-lapse, high-definition look at Yosemite. The video, titled Project Yosemite, captures sunrises and sunsets, stars swirling about the night sky, and trees trembling in high mountain winds.

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View Liz Judge's blog posts
19 January 2012, 3:34 PM
The story of one woman's fight to save her homeland

To date, mountaintop removal coal mining has buried more than 2,500 miles of streams and leveled an area of Appalachia bigger than the state of Delaware. Perhaps even scarier than the outright wasteland it leaves are the health impacts it levels against the people of Appalachia. More than 19 peer-reviewed health studies detail these problems--from significantly higher rates of birth defects in areas of mountaintop removal mining to higher rates of major diseases like cancer and lung disease.

In spite of all of this, coal companies and their lobbyists are pushing for more than 100 new permits for mountaintop removal mine in Appalachia. President Obama and his administration showed a strong commitment to the law and science when the EPA vetoed one of the largest mountaintop removal mines ever proposed: Spruce No. 1 Mine in West Virginia. But citizens throughout Appalachia are still left unprotected.

One of those residents is Donna Branham, of Mingo County, West Virginia. She’s already been through the nightmares of mountaintop removal mining, and now she could watch it happen to her daughter’s family as well.

View Jessica Knoblauch's blog posts
13 January 2012, 12:22 PM
The oceans' acid test, playing with wildfire, raising a glass to climate change
Napa Valley vineyards in autumn. (tibchris)

Transit riders run over by reduced tax breaks
Thanks to a lack of action by Congress before the holidays, mass transit commuters will have to pay an additional $550 in taxes this year, reports the New York Times, while those who commute by car will benefit from an increase in pre-tax benefit for monthly parking. In addition to encouraging the number of cars with single occupants, the move will no doubt clog already congested streets and increase carbon emissions. It also takes a jab at people who, for the most part, already deal with enough aggravation (think late bus arrivals, screaming babies and the person who insists on practically sitting on your lap despite the availability of other seats.) Maybe when Congress gets back in session, they’ll consider making the tax benefit, at the very least, apply equally to car and transit users.

Acidic oceans threaten entire food chain
Sharks are already stressed by the public’s taste for shark fin soup and warmer weather meddling with their dating habits. Now it looks like they will have to add acidic oceans to their list of worries. Increasingly acidic waters thin the shells of their main food source, tiny marine creatures, reports MSN. But it’s not just sharks that rely on these species for food. Virtually every creature from salmon to seals to even humans will be affected, thanks to a little thing we like to call the marine food web. Scientists already know that as oceans absorb more carbon, the waters acidify, which makes living conditions very uncomfortable for any animal with a shell, and creates food scarcity for everyone else. Add this to the already overwhelming threats of pollution, habitat loss and overfishing, and it’s clear to see that the oceans—and the people who work to save them-- including Earthjustice—have their work cut out just trying to keep their heads above water. 

View Liz Judge's blog posts
06 January 2012, 4:16 AM
The no-brainer decisions the president must make this year

President Obama won the White House on a platform of hope and change – promising an end to dirty corporate influence over our political system and a beginning to an era in which our energy choices lead us to a clean, sustainable future, or at least don’t kill us or make us sick.

So far, the president’s performance has been mixed – with some deliveries on the promise and some disappointments. His last year, whether in office or in his first term, will be crucial in righting his spotty record and making good on his campaign promises to the American people.

Leading up to his fourth year in office, and making sure the new year got off to a good start with supporters, he handed the country a solid. His EPA, led by Administrator Lisa Jackson, finalized a strong rule to protect Americans from mercury poisoning and toxic air pollution from power plants.

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View Jessica Knoblauch's blog posts
09 December 2011, 2:53 AM
Tiny plastic problems, “green” tanning, dry-clean druggies
New Mexico's dairy farms must clean up their act. (USDA)

New Mexico dairies forced to clean up their cow pies
New Mexico recently passed some of the most progressive water regulations for dairy farm operations in the West, reports High Country News. Large dairy operations create huge waste problems—each cow produces about 145 pounds of solid and liquid waste per day—so when Texas transplant Jerry Nivens found out in 2007 that a large dairy was planning to set up shop near his town, he and a band of allies teamed up against the powerful dairy lobby, and won. Four years later, after countless hours of grassroots organizing, New Mexico citizens have done what others in Idaho, Washington and California—all big dairy states—haven’t yet been able to: stop dairy farms from polluting their groundwater with nitrates, antibiotics and deadly bacteria like E.coli and salmonella. The new rules may inspire citizens in other states to follow suit by taking matters into their own hands when Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations of any kind—whether they house chickens, cows or pigs—poison their community.

Oceans get fleeced by clothes with microplastic
Polyester yoga pants may seem harmless with all of their comfy-ness and warmth, but every time you wash them you may be polluting the ocean, reports Grist. According to a new study by Environmental Science and Technology, approximately 2,000 polyester fibers are released for each piece of polyester clothing thrown the wash. And since the home appliance industry doesn’t filter out these tiny fibers, they end up in the world’s oceans where they can potentially harm marine life. Though most of the attention to date has been on plastic giants like the garbage patches found in the Atlantic, Pacific and elsewhere, these tiny microplastics worry scientists because they can be eaten by bottom feeders like clams and mussels, eventually making their way up the food chain, to us.

View Wendy Lau's blog posts
05 December 2011, 1:52 PM
Study critics refuse to accept obvious connections
Aftermath of mountaintop removal mining in the Appalachians

Climate change skeptics, industries in denial, regulators avoiding environmental cleanup… They all sound alike when it comes to evidence of environmental harm. They argue there isn't enough data. They insist the data is skewed. They see no reason to take action on some of the most obvious negative impacts of industrial activity.  

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View Liz Judge's blog posts
22 November 2011, 4:16 PM
So this is what you mean by EPA's "War on coal" and EPA's "job-killing regulations"?
The jig is up: New data shows coal mining regulations are creating jobs, not killing them.

A little-covered news item from Nov. 18 bears much more attention. The Charleston Gazette's Ken Ward reported on some new data that blows the top off two years of coal industry lies and spin: Obama's so-called "job-killing regulations" and "war on coal" are not actually killing jobs, they are CREATING JOBS! We've been saying it all along, but here's the proof.

Since the Obama administration has taken initial steps to crack down on the coal industry's rampant pollution, which is contaminating waters and air across the nation, exposing families and communities to carcinogenic and poisonous toxic pollution, coal mining jobs have increased. By 10 percent! Since Obama's EPA began increasing mountaintop-removal-related protections on streams and waters!

View Jessica Knoblauch's blog posts
18 November 2011, 3:17 PM
Fake farmers, BPA thanks, flooding NYC
The CIA has a secret about climate change. Photo courtesy of AJC1.

CIA shouldn’t be keeping secrets about climate change
A new report by a U.S. government agency known as the Defense Science Board says that the CIA needs to stop being so secret about its climate change research, reports the UK Guardian. Though climate denialism in government seems to be all the rage these days, the CIA has seen the invisible ink on the wall -- that climate change is happening -- and has decided to start preparing for it. Enter the CIA’s Climate Center, established in 2009 to gather intelligence on climate change and its potential national security implications. Unfortunately, in typical CIA fashion, the agency has so far refused to disclose its valuable data to the public or even other government agencies, which could go a long way in preparing the nation for the inevitable destabilization that will occur in around the world as sea levels rise and fresh water resources dry up.

Fake “farmers” abound at local farmers’ markets
The next time you visit your local farmers’ market you may want to keep an eye out for unscrupulous vendors masquerading as local farmers, reports E: The Environmental Magazine. As the popularity of farmers’ has surged, so have the number of markets, from less than 2,0000 in 1994 to more than 7,000 in 2011. Though greater access to farmers’ markets is a good thing, the increased access has also left the door wide open to non-local, corporate vendors looking to cash in on the typically higher priced goods. In response to these fakers, some markets have begun adopting strict regulations to ensure that their farmers are the real deal. Before paying $2 for a local, organic Red Delicious apple, shoppers should look into the screening practices of their own farmers’ markets to find out whether they’re getting the real deal.

View Jessica Knoblauch's blog posts
17 November 2011, 3:27 PM
“A lot of people have no idea that many of these ocean species are so badly depleted.”
Steve Roady speaks about Earthjustice's oceans litigation.

Intro: This is the first in a series of Q and As on Earthjustice’s oceans work, which works to prevent habitat loss and overfishing, as well as reduce the impacts of climate change on the ocean. Earthjustice’s Oceans Program Director Steve Roady has been litigating cases that help protect our oceans for more than a decade. Check out earthjustice.org/oceans for more information.

Jessica Knoblauch: What first drew you to oceans management work?
 
Steve Roady: I was first exposed to the oceans while growing up on Florida’s Gulf coast. I spent a lot of time on the beaches as a child and was always fascinated by the shrimpers. But I really first became aware of the key problems in the environment in middle school where we were all forced to read Rachel Carson’s classic book, Silent Spring. The idea that birds were dying because of DDT was just amazing to me and it really got me thinking about environmental issues.
 
JK: How does Earthjustice use the law to protect oceans?
 
SR: Earthjustice is one of the leading groups to begin looking at oceans’ problems through the lens of potential federal litigation. Basically, we work with three or four of your standard environmental laws. There’s the Magnuson-Stevens Act, the main federal fisheries act, which directs the federal government to prevent overfishing and to minimize bycatch, to protect habitat and to rebuild overfished fish populations. There’s also the National Environmental Policy Act, which mandates the federal government to carefully study the environmental effects of their actions before they take them. And we also invoke the Endangered Species Act to protect species like sea turtles, which are protected under the ESA but often killed as so-called bycatch in trawl fisheries around the country.
 
We invoke all of these statutes in an effort to try to curb the unrestrained fishing practices going on in federal fisheries and do our best to make sure the federal government is complying with the basic thrust of the laws that protect the ocean resource. Since we started the Ocean Law Project back in 1998, we’ve had a number of significant wins in the courts that set some significant precedents with respect to how the federal government manages ocean resources in a sustainable way. And typically we’ll have a case that we’ll bring on behalf of other groups, so if a case is won the precedent goes to everybody’s benefit.

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