Posts tagged: water

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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 Liz Judge's blog posts
14 November 2011, 2:17 PM
Will the Senate defeat a Dirty Water Amendment this week?
The Barrasso/Heller Dirty Water Amendment would wipe out pollution limits for streams, brooks, wetlands, lakes and other waters in every state.

From early morning tadpole pursuits to sunset creek walks, my summer days started and ended in the creek that ran behind my home. My dad built a bridge across the creek, but for our neighborhood gang of rascals, well, there was no use for such bridges when we could splash and wade right through that water. Whether we were forging the stream or sitting cross-legged in it with our heads above the water, exploding with impish giggles, this creek was as much our home as our bedrooms 50 yards away. And when we outgrew the shallow waters of our backyard creek, my siblings and I took our energies to nearby Lake Erie, where we swam in deeper, more mysterious waters.

Many people have memories of swimming, fishing, wading, visiting, or skipping rocks in waters during their youth—whether those ran through their hometowns or were the destinations of family travels. That these waters were safe for recreation—or even drinking water—was no accident. Our nation’s Clean Water Act is the force that has allowed us to fish and swim and sip our water without ill consequences.

But today, the Clean Water Act and 59 percent of our nation’s streams and headwaters are in peril. The danger facing our nation’s waters, along with all the little kids who want to play in them, has arrived in an amendment by Senators John Barrasso (R-WY) and Dean Heller (R-NV).

3 Comments   /  
View Jessica Knoblauch's blog posts
03 November 2011, 2:16 PM
dust rule despisers, spill dodgers, Cracker Barrel car chargers
Photo courtesy of quinn.anya

Republican dust up over phantom environmental regulation
Conservative Republicans are so intent on eliminating “unnecessary” environmental regulations that they recently set their sights on eliminating a rule that doesn’t even exist, reports the Washington Post. The so-called “dust rule” regulates farm dust, which is mixed with things like dirt and dried cornstalk bits and is technically considered pollution by the U.S. EPA. The agency does limit how much of this particle pollution can be in the air, but just two states—Arizona and California—require farmers to take some dust control measures. Though EPA administrator Lisa Jackson has said that she’s unlikely bring on stricter dust rules, regulation-wary Republicans aren’t taking any chances and have already proposed three new bills to prevent a rule that does not (and probably will never) exist. Unfortunately, the zealousness with which Republicans have attacked this rule is just the latest in a spate of attempts to cut the EPA off at its knees for trying to regulate environmental health hazards like coal ash, power plant pollution, and mountaintop removal mining.
Exxon punts financial responsibility on Valdez spill
While the oil continues to linger on the shore of Alaska’s Prince William Sound—twenty some years since the Exxon Valdez oil spill—the company who caused this mess is quietly trying to get out of paying to clean it up, reports Mother Jones. To date, Exxon has paid about $900 million over 10 years for cleanup costs, but when the government asked for an additional $92 million in 2006 to address existing problems, Exxon said no way, arguing that it is only responsible for “restoration projects” and not costs associated with cleanup. Of course, none of this matters to the people affected by the spill, who are too busy trying to move on with their lives to argue over semantics.

View Liz Judge's blog posts
26 October 2011, 3:09 PM
Office of Surface Mining merged into Bureau of Land Management
OSMRE's accomplishment to date

Today Interior Secretary Ken Salazar announced a major agency reshuffling that will affect how the government enforces laws on mountaintop removal and surface coal mining.  He will fold the Office of Surface Mining, Reclamation and Enforcement (OSMRE) into another Department of Interior subdivision, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM).

OSMRE is the agency that oversees the enforcement of the nation's surface coal mining laws, and BLM is the agency that oversees the federal government's management of public lands. Most mountaintop removal mining happens on private lands, not public lands, in Appalachia.

Press coverage of the agency reshuffle managed to ask an important question: Will this make a difference in the enforcement of coal mining laws? Will this change the landscape at all? 

2 Comments   /  
View Stephanie Maddin's blog posts
20 October 2011, 10:02 AM
Sick citizens and ravaged environment equal healthy economy?
Rep. Eric Cantor (VA-7)

This week, President Obama has conducted a bus tour through my home state of Virginia and North Carolina. The tour focused on job creation and the state of our economy.

Unfortunately, Republican leadership in Congress thinks weakening our clean air and water protections is the foundation of economic renewal.

Since returning from August recess, the House of Representatives has passed some of the most anti-environmental and anti-public health legislation in its history. These bills—which indefinitely delay air pollution standards for power plants, industrial boilers/incinerators and cement plants—passed as key provisions in Majority Leader Eric Cantor’s “Jobs Agenda.”

2 Comments   /  
View Liz Judge's blog posts
30 September 2011, 8:46 AM
Here are the videos and statements they don't want you to see
Maria Gunnoe: "When the coal industry destroys Appalachia’s water it’s said to be in the best interest of our homeland security."

“They are blowing up my homeland,” said West Virginia coalfield resident Maria Gunnoe on Monday morning, in her sworn testimony on the impacts of mountaintop removal mining before the House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources.

I feel the vibrations of the core driller in the floors of my home; and the impacts of the blasting near my home are horrendous. This is absolutely against everything that America stands for.

When someone destroys water in a foreign country it is called an act of war. When the coal industry destroys Appalachia’s water it’s said to be in the best interest of our homeland security.

My nephew reminds me of what surface mining looks like from a child’s eyes. As we were driving through our community, he looks up and says, ‘Aunt Sissy, what is wrong with these people? Don’t they know we live down here?’ I had to be honest with him and say, ‘Yes, they know. They just simply don’t care.’

Maria’s powerful and moving testimony was a part of the House Subcommittee’s field hearing in West Virginia entitled “Jobs at Risk: Community Impacts of the Obama Administration’s Effort to Rewrite the Stream Buffer Zone Rule.”

3 Comments   /  
View David Guest's blog posts
21 September 2011, 5:31 PM
Earthjustice fights to stop epidemic sliming of state waterways
Slime-choked waterway

<Editor's Note: this op-ed by David Guest, managing attorney of Earthjustice in Florida, recently appeared in newspapers throughout Florida. Also, view multimedia interview with David Guest.>

At the end of August, a large, disgusting algae outbreak slimed Old Tampa Bay. Two months earlier, an algae outbreak in the Caloosahatchee River near Fort Myers turned the river bright green, smelled like raw sewage, and made thousands of fish go belly up. Water with algae outbreaks like this is so toxic that health authorities say you shouldn’t touch it, much less drink it or swim in it. It can give you rashes, respiratory problems, and even kill you.

U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe, R-Oklahoma, found that out the hard way. He swam in the same type of toxic algae outbreak in Grand Lake, Oklahoma in June and said he became “deathly sick” that night with an upper respiratory illness. “There is no question,” Ihhofe told the Tulsa World, that his illness came from the toxic algae in the lake. Oklahoma health officials had warned people not to touch the water, swim in the popular lake, or eat fish from it. Like Florida’s outbreaks, the one in Grand Lake was fueled by the so- called “nutrients,” nitrogen and phosphorus, which come from inadequately treated sewage, fertilizer, and manure.

2 Comments   /  
View Jessica Knoblauch's blog posts
19 September 2011, 2:10 PM
EJ90 brings you the latest news in Earthjustice litigation
Photo courtesy of derrickkwa

Hello, unEarthed readers! I’d like to introduce you to a new Earthjustice production designed to keep you up-to-date on the latest Earthjustice litigation news. It’s a podcast called EJ90. And the best part is that it’s only 90 seconds, so you can quickly get updates on wildlife protection, natural resource conservation, and environmental health and safety news, all before you start your day. You can also subscribe to EJ90 on iTunes and make it part of your daily podcast listening routine. 

So far, EJ90 has covered everything from Arctic drilling to Obama’s decision to undermine the EPA’s ozone standards.  Here’s a roundup of the latest EJ90 podcasts:

1 Comment   /  
View Trip Van Noppen's blog posts
16 August 2011, 12:05 PM
New poll finds voters of all stripes disapprove of the destructive mining practice

A major new poll released today reveals some shocking truths about public opinions on mountaintop removal mining in Appalachia.

The polling, conducted by the Democratic Lake Research Partners and Republican Bellwether Research & Consulting and funded by Earthjustice, Appalachian Mountain Advocates (formerly the Appalachian Center for the Economy and the Environment), and the Sierra Club was done between July 25 and 28 and sampled the opinions of 1,315 registered voters in Kentucky, West Virginia, Virginia and Tennessee on the practice of mountaintop removal coal mining and clean water protections.

The poll reveals beyond the shadow of a doubt that the people of America’s coal country—West Virginia, Kentucky, Tennessee, and Virginia—don’t like mountaintop removal mining and they don’t want it to continue at the expense of their homes, health, communities, families, and future.

The strong majority of Appalachians opposes mountaintop removal mining—57 percent, compared to 20 percent who support the practice—and this opposition soars no matter the political party. Independents, Democrats, Republicans and Tea Partiers alike have shown intense disapproval of this destructive form of mining. The will of Appalachians is transcendent: people from all education levels, political orientations, and all four states oppose mountaintop removal by strong margins.

12 Comments   /  
View Jessica Knoblauch's blog posts
04 August 2011, 2:22 PM
Koch-sponsored legislation, toxic drinking water, News Corp. climate scandal
Energy companies to taxpayers: "Money, please." Photo courtesy of

Dirty energy industry takes handouts despite record profits
Last week, oil and gas companies announced billion-dollar profits in their second quarter, reports the New York Times, even as they continue to receive government subsidies. BP, the infamous oil company that wrecked the Gulf’s economy and environment last year with an unprecedented oil spill, reported about $5.6 billion in profits, and Exxon Mobil earned about $10 billion in April, May and June. While these corporations are busy laughing all the way to the bank, this week President Obama signed a debt deal that won’t cut oil and gas subsidies but will cut about $500 billion from “nondefense discretionary spending,” which includes funds for investments in health and environmental protection, among other things. No need to worry, though. The American Petroleum Institute assured the American public that, “When our industry does well, much of America does well also.” What a relief!

Corporations secretly writing anti-environmental bills for legislators
A number of mega corporations and politicians have secretively been collaborating on ghostwriting “model” legislative bills that legislators then introduce in state capitols across the country, reports the Center for Media and Democracy. Many of the bills pushed by the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) target environmental regulations, like forbidding local governments from limiting pesticide use, opposing uniform rules on hazardous coal combustion, and putting the regulation of fracking in the hands of the states rather than establishing federal safety and environmental standards. Despite its nonprofit status, which limits its ability to lobby, ALEC members regularly hand bills to legislators, which some argue is the very definition of lobbying. Add that to the fact that the Koch brothers are very big fans and funders of ALEC, and it’s not hard to see that this is a recipe for environmental and democratic disaster.

View Trip Van Noppen's blog posts
22 July 2011, 4:05 PM
Hijacking our democracy to attack our environment
Part of The Procession of the Trojan Horse in Troy (1773) by Domenico Tiepolo.

If you've ever suspected that Congress thinks of corporate polluters first and the polluted public last, the debacle unfolding in Washington, D.C. this week should leave you with little doubt—and a bitter taste. Many of our elected leaders have hijacked the process by which we fund government agencies to sack the environment like Odysseus did Troy.

The Trojan Horse that is the federal appropriations bill is filled with an unprecedented number of anti-environmental "riders"—provisions added to a piece of legislation that have little to no connection with the subject of the bill itself. And just as the Greeks sought to extinguish the fires of life in Troy, these riders are meant to run down the bedrock environmental protections that were created to keep our environment clean and our imperiled wildlife safe from extinction.

One egregious effort—dubbed the Extinction Rider—would paralyze the nation's ability to protect hundreds of species and turn the decision-making about endangered wildlife into a one-way street where protections can only be weakened, never strengthened.

This is an absolutely inappropriate way to set new policy. It demeans the democratic process and indicates that such extreme measures can't stand on their own—instead, they have to be slipped as stowaways into a must-pass bill.

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