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 Jared Saylor's blog posts
15 July 2010, 7:47 AM
Request for coal ash hearings goes ignored

For once in this coal ash fight, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is doing something early. Unfortunately, what they're doing isn't good.

On June 21, the EPA published their two-option proposal for regulating coal ash. One option sets strong, federally enforceable safeguards for coal ash and will do much to protect public health. The other option keeps the status quo of ineffective state regulations that put the public and our environment at dangerous risk. When the EPA published these options, it said, "EPA will provide an opportunity for a public hearing on the rule upon request. Requests for a public meeting should be submitted to EPA's Office of Resource Conservation and Recovery by July 21, 2010." I added that emphasis on July 21, because that's important.

So today, July 15, six days before the deadline to request public hearings, the EPA published the location of its public hearings. We and hundreds of other groups requested public hearings in Washington, D.C., Chicago, Tennessee (the site of the biggest coal ash disaster in history), Pittsburgh (where nearby drinking water supplies are poisoned with coal ash), Texas (which is one of the biggest coal ash producers in the country) and Atlanta (a city with a strong commitment to environmental justice; many coal ash dumps and landfills are located in low income areas and communities of color).

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View Brian Smith's blog posts
14 July 2010, 4:12 PM
Public has the right to know

Under the federal Toxics Substances Control Act, chemical manufacturers are required to submit health and safety studies to the EPA. Other federal law requires manufacturers of the oil dispersants being used by BP to submit data on the toxicity and effectiveness of the dispersants.

Earthjustice went to court today representing the Gulf Restoration Network and the Florida Wildlife Federation to get that information.

While the EPA has disclosed the secret ingredients of the two chemical dispersants, the agency has not released the health and safety studies. The lawsuit also seeks to uncover what's in other chemical dispersants approved for use by the EPA on oil spills.

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View Raviya Ismail's blog posts
14 July 2010, 10:57 AM
Companies embrace sustainable fish practices as overfishing affects business

I used to love the taste of Filet ‘O Fish sandwiches. That scrumptious tartar sauce and the delectable white fish flakiness coupled with deep fried crunchiness—and let's not forget the chewy bun. Oh so yum.

But then I noticed that the fish started tasting a little differently. Turns out McDonald’s used to only use North Atlantic cod for its sandwiches but had to change to a different supplier in the late 1980’s after cod-fishing grounds became so overfished. Now the sandwiches are made from a motley mix of five different whitefish species.

The depletion of fish from our oceans is the result of an increased appetite for fish—as well as advances in technology to catch seafood. The result has been detrimental to our ecosystem. The Wall Street Journal writes that restaurants are now galvanizing and moving toward more sustainable fishing practices due to the effects of overfishing on business. These measures are way overdue: according to a recent United Nations study, nearly all commercial fisheries will produce less than 10 percent of their potential by mid-century—unless something changes. And since the article states that the annual seafood demand will rise to at least 150 million metric tons in two decades—something’s got to change fast.

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View Tom Turner's blog posts
13 July 2010, 2:44 PM
Industry insists bottled water is good for economy; forget the environment

I wondered what was up when this press release popped up in my in box. It's head reads "Bottled Water Companies Applaud Virginia Governor for Reversing Ban on Commonwealth’s Purchase of Bottled Water for Official Functions," and goes on to outline how many people are employed in the bottled water industry in the commonwealth.

Many studies recently have indicated convincingly that tap water in most places is as safe as and tastes every bit as good as bottled water, and the number of plastic water bottles thrown away each year is simply staggering—upwards of thirty billion bottles a year in the U.S. alone. My guru on all things water is Peter Gleick of the Pacific Institute. His recent book, Bottled and Sold, lays it all out in simple and compelling terms. Putting water in plastic bottles creates jobs, sure, and enriches the people behind the International Bottled Water Association. But mining and burning coal creates jobs, as does cleaning up oil spills. Job creation is important, but the kind of jobs created is pretty important as well.

View Brian Smith's blog posts
13 July 2010, 1:21 PM
Call to Shut Down Washington State's Biggest Climate Polluter

Four mothers from the Seattle area will Climb Against Coal this weekend.

Their voyage up Washington's iconic Mt. Rainier will be a protest of sorts to call for the closing of the TransAlta coal plant by 2015.

TransAlta is the state's largest single source carbon dioxide emissions. Besides global warming pollution, the plant also emits toxic mercury that fall directly on Rainier's snowfields which feed the entire Puget Sound watershed.

If you live in the Seattle area, please join us in send off celebration on Wednesday, July 14 from 5:00-7:00pm at Ella Bailey Park, 2601 W Smith St, Seattle (Magnolia neighborhood).

Click here for a YouTube introduction to the moms who are climbing for a greener future, or meet Genevieve below:

Earthjustice wishes these brave souls a safe and inspiring climb.

View Tom Turner's blog posts
13 July 2010, 10:04 AM
Here's a long-range strategy for reforming agriculture

Wes Jackson, a plain-spoken Kansan, has been preaching agriculture reform for at least 30 years—and not only preaching but also doing ground-breaking (pardon) research at his Land Institute near Salina. Wes's basic observation is that a system such as ours, heavily reliant on wheat and corn and other grains, which requires plowing and starting from seed every year, needs fixing. It requires heavy doses of pesticides, which contaminate water and sicken field workers. It squanders topsoil, losing it to erosion and the wind.

2 Comments   /  
View Jared Saylor's blog posts
21 June 2010, 9:06 AM
Agency offers two options for coal ash: one good, one very, very bad

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency started the 90-day clock for public comments on its plans to set federal safeguards for millions of tons of dangerous coal ash wastee currently being stored in dry dumps and waste ponds. This means we've got three months to set the EPA on a straight course towards the first ever strong, federally enforceable safeguards for coal ash. And judging from the current proposal, it seems like the EPA can use our help.

The EPA has set two separate options for regulating coal ash. The first option classifies the nasty byproduct of coal-fired power plants as a "special waste," with strong, federally enforceable requirements for water monitoring and cleanup of the hundreds of dry dumps and wet waste ponds across the country. The second option, which is the favored approach by the polluters and companies responsible for the coal ash, offerws only guidelines that leave many communitites at risk of exposure to the toxic pollutants found in coal ash.

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View Jim McCarthy's blog posts
04 June 2010, 12:10 PM
Earthjustice fights back in court
Bone dry stretch of the Scott River. Photo: Klamath Riverkeeper

Northern California's Shasta River was once the most productive salmon stream for its size in the Golden State. But just nine Shasta coho salmon made it home last year to spawn. Even worse, all of the returning fish were male. Talk about a tough dating pool.

There wasn't much water in the river to greet the few fish that showed up. Local ranchers had withdrawn so much water that stretches of the river went completely dry.

Scientists now believe that two out of the three year-classes of Shasta coho have become functionally extinct. Next door in the Scott River, only eighty-one coho returned last year. Illegal dams, water withdrawals, and unchecked livestock grazing in streambeds are destroying these rivers.

3 Comments   /  
View Jared Saylor's blog posts
24 May 2010, 1:14 PM
Groups work to push power company shareholders on coal ash resolutions
Massive coal ash-spill in Tennessee

Power companies generate millions of tons of coal ash every year, enough to fill train cars that stretch from the North Pole all the way to the South Pole. EPA recently introduced a mish-mash plan for coal ash, one that was heavily influenced by lobbyists from coal and power companies who forced a plan that includes no preference from the EPA. Earthjustice and dozens of other groups have been pushing on the EPA to establish federally enforceable safeguards that truly protect public health and the environment.

And while we take on the EPA and the coal and power industry lobbyists, some other groups have been quietly and effectively working on the inside of these companies to push for recognition of the collosal problems of coal ash dumping and contamination.

Boston-based Green Century Capital Management proposed a resolution to be voted on this Wednesday at the annual meeting of Southern Company, one of the biggest power companies in the South. The resolution asks Southern to report on efforts and information about the company's coal ash dumps and waste ponds by August, which should run right during the EPA's public comment period on their proposed regulation.

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View Jared Saylor's blog posts
04 May 2010, 1:38 PM
Agency offers two plans: one good, one bad
Cleaning up after the TVA coal ash spill in Tennessee, December 2008. Photo:

It's been a long time coming, but they're finally here: the EPA announced today plans to set the first ever federal safeguards for coal ash, one of America's most dangerous wastes. But what they really did was announce two plans: one good and one bad. The agency will accept public comment on both plans and then decide which to pursue.

The good plan classifies coal ash as hazardous waste, a move we've been pushing the EPA to make for some time. The agency also proposed, however, to classify coal ash as non-hazardous (the bad plan), a move that will not yield strong protections for communities and won't get at the problems associated with coal ash ponds and landfills.

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