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.


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 Emily Enderle's blog posts
26 January 2011, 12:59 PM
Cost benefit analysis flawed
Sarah McCoin stands along Swan Pond Circle Road near the TVA Kingston Power Plant.

(This is the latest in a weekly series of 50 Tr-Ash Talk blogs discussing the dangers of coal ash. Earthjustice hopes that by December 2011, the third anniversary of the TVA coal ash spill, the EPA will release a coal ash rule establishing federally enforceable regulations ensuring the safe disposal of this toxic waste.)

Today, the House Energy & Commerce Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations heard Office of Management and Budget (OMB) official Cass Sunstein speak on the Obama Administration’s view of regulatory reform. Sunstein trumpeted the economic benefits of President Obama’s new Executive Order – Improving Regulation and Regulatory Review.

President Obama’s new executive order, publicly announced in a Wall Street Journal article is widely regarded as a giveaway to industry, providing a set of economic criteria to consider when developing, changing or repealing regulations. This reinforces the administration’s stance on weighing economic costs against public health benefits using techniques like cost-benefit analysis. Cost-benefit analysis attempts to monetize the actual impacts of regulations like missed school and work days due to sickness, deaths from cancer resulting from exposure to pollution as well as economic impacts. While this is theoretically a useful tool, the analysis has a long list of shortcomings that ultimately results in uncalculated, therefore unconsidered, harm to our health, environment and wallets. In the case of the coal ash rule, the analysis was grossly inaccurate, resulting in a cost figure more than 20 times the actual number ($23 billion vs. $1.5 billion).

View Shirley Hao's blog posts
25 January 2011, 12:43 PM
Potty-training comes to CAFOs
For pig use only, please.
(Photo: raedunn)

As anyone who has been “lucky” enough to pass by a factory farm can attest, Confined Animal Factory Operations (or CAFOs) bring a certain...fragrance to the surrounding environs. It doesn’t matter if you’re downwind or up—the stench is inescapable.

The problem (of which there are many, when speaking of CAFOs), is poop. Lots of it. Large factory farms pack animals numbering in the thousands into very close quarters, all generating a lot of stinky waste, all around themselves. Day in, day out. All that accumulated waste doesn’t just smell bad; it’s literally toxic—to the animals’ health and to ours.

From southern Taiwan comes an approach every parent would nod their head knowingly to: potty training.

2 Comments   /  
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.

6 Comments   /  
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 Jessica Knoblauch's blog posts
06 January 2011, 2:57 PM
Discount parks, fishy trees, banned bags
Light pollution across the U.S. Photo courtesy of NASA.

 Americans see the light on night bright cities
Approximately 300 counties, cities and towns are beginning to see the light on excessive light pollution by enacting so-called dark-sky legislation that's supported by treehuggers and army brats alike, reports USA Today. Light pollution doesn't just keep you up past your bedtime. Over the years, studies have accused light pollution of causing everything from animal disturbances to bungled military drills and increased air pollution, not to mention all that energy that's being wasted by keeping the lights on when nobody's home.

Labor Department buries Massey Energy mine
This week the Department of Labor dug up a long-forgotten enforcement tool to use against Massey Energy, a repeat-offender of mine safety regulations that made headlines last April when an explosion at its Upper Big Branch coal mine in West Virginia killed 29 people. According to NPR, the Labor Department used a section of federal mining law known as "injunctive relief" to force a settlement against Massey's Freedom Mine #1 in Kentucky that will require the company to observe enhanced safety precautions, among other things. Check out Earthjustice's Stop Mountaintop Removal Mining campaign to find out how you can eliminate the need for companies like coal-mining companies like Massey in the first place.

View Liz Judge's blog posts
04 January 2011, 10:44 AM
Rest in peace Judy Bonds, godmother of fight to stop mountaintop removal mining

Last night we lost a true hero, Judy Bonds of Marfork, West Virginia. Judy—the executive director of Coal River Mountain Watch, Goldman Prize recipient, and friend and partner of Earthjustice—was a courageous leader in the fight to protect Americans and future generations from the poisonous pollution and destruction of mountaintop removal mining.

She was an inspiration to many in this movement, a fearless voice for her fellow West Virginians, and a righteous fighter. She fought for the health of her neighbors and all Americans, she stood up against toxic pollution, for justice, and against the greed and destruction of rich and powerful corporations. Through her persistent fight, she opened many people's eyes to the environmental injustices of mountaintop removal mining. "I don't mind being poor, and I don't mind being made fun of, but I draw the line at being blasted and poisoned," she said. She had a way with words and was a powerful orator and organizer.

"Fight harder" was often her advice to others, and despite meeting obstacles, challenges and even threats, she kept up the fight and managed to fight yet harder. She inspired so many of us to join in the fight, and even more of a gift, she made us believe that if we join together, if we really try, we can make a difference and we can win.

2 Comments   /  
View Jessica Knoblauch's blog posts
29 December 2010, 4:00 PM
Terminator vs. greens, salty roads, oil spill probes
Sharks are targeted for their fins to make shark fin soup. Photo courtesy of

Congress puts the kibosh on shark fin soup
Last week, Congress adopted legislation to curb shark finning, the practice of chopping off a shark's fins and dumping the finless shark back into the water, all so that people can dine on shark fin soup, reports the Washington Post. Though shark finning is currently banned off of the Atlantic Coast and in the Gulf of Mexico, the bill will protect sharks off of all U.S. coasts by requiring vessels to land sharks with their fins attached, helping to restore endangered shark populations.

Oil spill probe undermined by conflict of interest
The U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board has alleged that the investigation into the cause of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill has been tainted because Transocean and Cameron, two companies with a stake in the investigation's outcome, have been allowed to participate in the examination. Allowing these two companies is a bit like asking a bank thief to help investigate a robbery that he/she was involved in, but there's no word yet on whether the allegations will be taken seriously. In the meantime, Earthjustice is working hard to make sure those guilty of causing the biggest environmental disaster in the U.S. are held accountable.

View David Lawlor's blog posts
21 December 2010, 1:08 PM
City water supplies across United States contaminated with known carcinogen
Probably the best (and only) film about hexavalent chromium

The nonprofit public interest organization Environmental Working Group (EWG) this week released the results of a study that tested the water supplies of 35 American cities. In 31 of the 35 cities tested, the known carcinogen hexavalent chromium was present in the water supply.

The result of industrial manufacturing and processes, hexavalent chromium can seep into groundwater after being discharged, thus contaminating drinking water supplies. In 25 of the cities tested, the EWG study found hexavalent chromium in amounts greater than the maximum threshold the State of California has set as a safe exposure level. California is the only state that tests and regulates hexavalent chromium in drinking water.

As a result of the study, EWG is asking the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to establish a legal limit for hexavalent chromium contamination in water supplies and to conduct regular tests for the chemical compound. Similarly, Earthjustice is working to limit emissions from chrome plating facilities and is urging EPA to safeguard the health of communities exposed to hexavalent chromium.

View Liz Judge's blog posts
16 December 2010, 1:53 PM
What would a winter wonderland be without treetops glistening?
Photo: BLM

What do Dasher, Dancer, Prancer and Vixen, turtle doves, geese a-laying, calling birds, partridges in pear trees, and holly trees all have in common? They all make their home in the forest, of course.

This holiday season a coalition of environmental groups including Earthjustice is asking President Obama to give America a gift that stands the test of time: a forestry plan that safeguards our nation's woodlands for the future and protects forest creatures great and small. Join us by sending President Obama this holiday wish for our forests!

As we venture over the river and through the woods this holiday season—or along I-90, I-70, I-95, I-5, and other crowded highways we must travel—many of us will pass by some of the 200 million acres of magnificent forests that constitute our National Forest system.

2 Comments   /  
View David Lawlor's blog posts
15 December 2010, 5:21 PM
Court orders revisions to federal plan to protect the smelt

This week, following a challenge from California water districts, the state and corporate agribusiness, a federal judge ordered the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) to revise its plan to protect the delta smelt, a fish that makes its home in the brackish waters of the San Francisco Bay Delta. Earthjustice attorneys defended a biological opinion from USFWS that implemented protections for the smelt, and while the judge agreed with the majority of the biological opinion, he asked for revisions to specific sections.

The smelt, which is listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act, has been at the center of an ongoing debate about the health of the Bay-Delta ecosystem. Over the past decade, as state and federal water projects pumped huge volumes of water from the delta, the fish’s numbers have significantly decreased. The smelt now rests at the brink of extinction and its drastic decline is cause for concern. Considered a key ecosystem indicator species, the fate of the smelt is closely tied to that of salmon. We talked with Earthjustice attorney George Torgun to get the latest on the fate of the smelt and the Bay-Delta ecosystem.