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 Jessica Knoblauch's blog posts
15 December 2010, 4:37 PM
Extensive shoreline development stalled by court victory
Lake Tahoe photo courtesy EPA

As a child, Earthjustice client Michael Donahoe spent many early mornings waterskiing along the west shore of Lake Tahoe. The lake was so clear that he could see a hundred feet down into its depths.

"It was a glassy, beautiful, blue lake," said Donahoe. "The boulders that were down there, it looked like you could reach out and touch them."

Today, Lake Tahoe's famed clarity has been clouded by increased human activity and urban development that has degraded the lake's air and water quality. Though the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency's duty is to protect and restore the lake, it has instead acquiesced to private developers by downplaying existing regulations.

3 Comments   /  
View Jessica Knoblauch's blog posts
19 November 2010, 12:32 PM
Plastic parody, sewage-sucking trees, smog baby wipes
California recently adopted a law that requires cleaning companies to reduce their smoggy ingredients.

Plastic looks not so fantastic in parody rap video
On the heels of LA's new law banning single-use plastic bags, spiritual advocacy group Green Sangha recently released an anti-plastic bag rap video parodying Jay Z's "Empire State of Mind," reports Grist. Here's one tidbit that's musically on message: "Skip the bag, the cup and the spork, dude, convenience can kill you…ban bags made of plastic." See the rest of the video below.


Trees step in to suck up nation's sewage problem
Anyone who's spent time in New York knows that the city, well, stinks. But it's not just the overflowing garbage and mass of sweaty, hurried people. During heavy rainstorms, Manhattan's decrepit sewage system often discharges untreated storm-water and sewage into local waterways, a problem that's mirrored across the country, reports The Economist. But instead of building more pipes, NYC and other cities are planting trees and rooftop gardens to help suck up rainfall, green the city and raise property values, all under a lush canopy of leaves.

Window sprays and toilet bowl wipes to clean up smog
California recently adopted a regulation that requires about 2,000 household cleaning products, which contain smog-producing compounds known as VOCS, to be reformulated to help clean up the state's smogginess, reports Environmental Health News. The new law's effects are expected to reverberate across the nation, much like New York's recently enforced healthy cleaners law, which requires household cleaning companies to come clean on the health effects of their chemical ingredients. With any luck, Mr. Clean may soon look more like Mr. Green.

View Trip Van Noppen's blog posts
04 November 2010, 4:49 PM
A new and hostile congressional leadership is not new to Earthjustice

There is no reason to beat around the bush: Tuesday's election results are a setback in our progress towards a cleaner, healthier, more sustainable planet.

At a time when the world desperately needs leadership from the United States, voters have installed in the House of Representatives those who have vowed to do all they can to obstruct progress in cleaning up dirty coal-burning power plants, reducing health-destroying and climate-disrupting pollution, and protecting wild places and wildlife.

Yet, while the news is bad, we can take heart that the election was not a referendum on the environment. Voters still want clean water, healthy air, protected public lands, and action on transitioning from dirty power plants to a clean energy economy.

38 Comments   /  
View David Lawlor's blog posts
27 October 2010, 3:46 PM
Scientists warn large run is an anomaly, not the harbinger of a trend

Ever throw a nice little dinner party for a few close friends and have it balloon into a full-blown, packed-house rager? Well, for British Columbia’s Fraser River, this year’s sockeye salmon run has exceeded all expectations and a migratory soiree of mammoth proportions is in full effect.

Scientists are estimating this year’s run to be in the neighborhood of 34 million sockeye. That’s an incredible number considering last year saw very few sockeye in the Fraser with numbers hovering around 1 million. The anadromous species, which breeds in streams and rivers, but lives the majority of its life in the ocean, has seen its populations decline precipitously over the past century.

Speculation abounds as to why the sockeye migration has swelled so unexpectedly.

View David Lawlor's blog posts
27 October 2010, 11:42 AM
Study says hydraulic fracturing of Marcellus shale pollutes water

Bombs, nuclear power plants and groundwater. What do they all have in common? Well, according to a new study published by the University at Buffalo (UB), the answer could soon be uranium.  

The study conducted by UB geologist Tracy Bank shows that hydraulic fracture drilling, or fracking, in the Marcellus shale deposit on the East Coast of the United States will result in the pollution of groundwater with uranium. Bank found that naturally occurring uranium trapped in Marcellus shale is released into groundwater following hydraulic fracturing, a practice of pumping high-pressured water and chemicals into rock formations to break up and release elements; in this case, natural gas.

Explains Bank:

"We found that the uranium and the hydrocarbons are in the same physical space...that they are not just physically—but also chemically—bound. That led me to believe that uranium in solution could be more of an issue because the process of drilling to extract the hydrocarbons could start mobilizing the metals as well, forcing them into the soluble phase and causing them to move around."

Bank’s hypothesis proved correct once samples of Marcellus shale were tested in the laboratory. The implications of the study are significant.Polluting groundwater with uranium, a toxic metal and radioactive element, could cause serious human health impacts if the uranium made its way into municipal drinking water systems or emitted toxic radon gas near communities.

It seems the oil and gas drilling industry would rather not acknowledge the water pollution associated with hydraulic fracturing. Which is why Earthjustice is fighting on Capitol Hill to close a loophole exempting the industry from the Safe Drinking Water Act, challenging backroom deals between government regulators and the oil and gas industry, and fighting for the strongest possible regulations to protect clean air and water supplies.

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 Guest's blog posts
18 October 2010, 11:51 AM
They ask EPA to delay cleaning Florida waterways
Green slime caused by polluted waters

The EPA committed to set these new limits after Earthjustice, representing Florida Wildlife Federation, Sierra Club, Conservancy of Southwest Florida, Environmental Confederation of Southwest Florida, and St. Johns Riverkeeper, sued in 2008.

It turns out that these former secretaries are at drastically at odds with public opinion. The EPA reports that it has received 22,000 public comments on the proposed new nutrient pollution standards, and 20,000 of those comments were in support of the standards.

People want clean water! Sadly, Florida is rock bottom in the U.S. in terms of protecting its waters from pollution. Across the United States, scientists report that 30 percent of bays and estuaries and 44 percent of streams have unsafe water. But in Florida, it is much worse—more than 98 percent of the state's bays and estuaries, and more than 54 percent of its streams, are unsafe to swim and/or fish in. The BP oil spill disaster this summer showed us that even the possibility of pollution can chase away Florida's number-one economic engine—tourism.

View David Guest's blog posts
11 October 2010, 3:15 AM
Earthjustice convinces court to let state abandon reservoir project
Grinning for good reason...

Earthjustice won a key victory at summer's end in our long-running fight to restore the Florida Everglades. A court-appointed Special Master recommended that the state be allowed to abandon a $700 million reservoir project in the southern Everglades Agricultural Area.

Why is this good news? The reservoir was once an important part of Everglades restoration, but the giant public works project was mothballed—and rightly so—when Florida negotiated a deal to buy large swaths of Everglades land from the U.S. Sugar Company. The U.S. Sugar land holdings are a better alternative to store and filter polluted runoff as it runs down the peninsula into Everglades National Park and Florida Bay.

View Terry Winckler's blog posts
08 October 2010, 12:32 PM
There are chilling similarities among these toxic triplets
Hungary's red sludge aftermath

As my colleague Raviya Ismail described yesterday, the flood of toxic red sludge in Hungary is ominously similar to the toxic coal ash flood two years ago that swept out of a ruptured reservoir into a Tennessee town. But, the comparisons don't stop there.

The size and toxicity of the red sludge are also being compared to the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. They are roughly the same volume and can be harmful in high concentrations. They both have had immediate lethal effects on human and animal species, and are expected to have long-lasting harm. Moreover, in both cases, the governments involved have downplayed their impacts.

Hungarian officials are declaring the red sludge menace to be under control and without the feared consequences, even though at least seven people have died and aquatic life in various rivers and creeks have been wiped out. Read the following three graphs from a news report today and ask yourself if they sound familiar:

View Jessica Knoblauch's blog posts
08 October 2010, 9:28 AM
Cul-de-sac merry-go-rounds, chemical-free cow juice, classroom meddling
A strip of houses in southwest Florida. Image courtesy of Google and The Boston Globe.

BP greases the facts
As if writing California's environmental curriculum wasn't enough, BP is back to meddling in the school system, this time to "dispel myths" about oil and chemical dispersants, reports ProPublica. Among the myths being dispelled is the idea that the chemicals are mostly harmless to people and wildlife, a claim that Earthjustice is currently disputing in court.

Court ruling makes milky waves
Milk fans who don't like their cow juice coming from animals pumped with growth hormones and full of pus won a major victory earlier this week after an appeals court overturned an Ohio ban on labels that identify whether milk products were produced with or without growth hormones, reports Grist. The decision could have repercussions beyond the pasture by establishing a standard that altered foods (i.e. genetically engineered) can be labeled as such.