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.

Learn more about Earthjustice.

View Liz Judge's blog posts
22 April 2010, 9:41 AM
Thanks for all you've done

“The battle to restore a proper relationship between man and his environment, and between man and other living creatures, will require a long sustained political, moral, ethical, and financial commitment far beyond any commitment ever made by any society in the history of man. Are we able? Yes. Are we willing? That’s the unanswered question.” – Gaylord Nelson, founder of Earth Day.

When Earth Day was born 40 years ago, there were “spumes of pollution pouring out of smokestacks, people spraying children in parking lots and at picnics with DDT, air pollution in major cities that was basically unbreathable, rivers catching on fire, lakes dying,” says one of Earth Day’s original organizers, Denis Hayes, in this Washington Post video. “It was just deteriorating very rapidly, but what addressed those problems was a wave of legislation immediately after Earth Day.” (For more on Earth Day’s storied history, read this.)

As we celebrate 40 years of Earth Day, we’re also celebrating 40 years of Earthjustice victories – check out 40 of our favorite victories along with stunning photos in this new slideshow made for Earth Day 2010.

We're also celebrating our army of supporters, activist members, and concerned citizens. We have you to thank for each of these major victories, and the many victories and wins in between.

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View Trip Van Noppen's blog posts
20 April 2010, 10:30 AM
EPA embraces science and the law in two strong actions

In Appalachia, moving mountains is easy. What's hard is keeping them where they are. Coal companies have used dynamite's muscle to blast hundreds of the earth's oldest summits into neighboring valleys, permanently altering the landscape. But two recent developments are shaking the foundations of mountaintop removal mining, signaling that perhaps, at long last, what's moving is the mountain of science and law that compels the end of this destructive practice.

In late March, the Environmental Protection Agency took dramatic action in proposing to veto a permit issued by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for the Spruce No. 1 mine in West Virginia—one of the largest mountaintop removal projects ever approved—on the grounds that mine operations would violate the Clean Water Act. The action was presaged by an Earthjustice lawsuit filed in 2007 that challenged approval of a Clean Water Act permit for the mine for failing to follow science and the law.

If the EPA does veto the permit, the agency's invocation of the Clean Water Act to curtail operations at the Spruce mine will be an important victory. It could have broader repercussions on mountaintop removal in general. (The agency is currently accepting public comments on the veto proposal. You can take action by telling EPA to follow through with the veto and enforce the Clean Water Act.)

But the good news doesn't end there.

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View Jared Saylor's blog posts
01 March 2010, 3:45 PM
Streams, rivers & lakes are polluted; here's what we can do to stop it.

The New York Times today reported in the next chapter of their exceptional "Toxic Waters" series that:

"Thousands of the nation's largest water polluters are outside the Clean Water Act's reach because the Supreme Court has left uncertain which waterways are protected by that law, according to interviews with regulators.

"As a result, some businesses are declaring that the law no longer applpies to them. And pollution rates are rising."

The saddest part of this legal debacle is that the streams, lakes and rivers losing federal protection also provide drinking water for approximately 117 million (or more than 1 in 3) Americans, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Polluters are free to dump carcinogens, bacteria and even oil directly into our waters with little or no recourse. This all stems from two misguided rulings by the Supreme Court that cast doubt upon what waters should be protected under federal law. Their ruling on "jurisdiction" left thousands of streams, lakes and rivers unprotected; EPA officials estimate that "as many as 45 percent of major polluters might be either outside regulatory reach or in areas where proving jurisdiction is overwhelmingly difficult."

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View Brian Smith's blog posts
28 January 2010, 3:54 PM
Canadian mining projects should not proceed
The Flathead River.

Last week, we got a bit of good news.

Earthjustice and our allies in British Columbia and Montana convinced a UN committee in 2009 to come investigate serious environmental threats facing the Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park which lies on both sides of the U.S and Canadian border.

After sending a team to investigate last fall, the UNESCO World Heritage Committee will recommend a moratorium on mining in the Flathead Valley of southeastern British Columbia and the development of a conservation and wildlife management plan for the region. (Video after the jump.)

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View Kathleen Sutcliffe's blog posts
28 January 2010, 1:31 PM
Is there something strange in your drinking water?

Okay, so technically the name for EPA's new hotline isn't Gas Busters. It's the 'Eyes On Drilling' Tipline. But with all the scary stuff happening in the gas fields these days, I couldn't resist. 

Folks in the oil and gas fields: if you see suspicious activity related to oil and gas drilling, call EPA at 1-877-919-4EPA (toll free number) or email eyesondrilling@epa.gov (This is the non-emergency number. For emergencies, stick with 911.)

Why does EPA need a hotline for suspicious gas drilling activity? Good question: These days, the gas industry has a new method for drilling gas. It's called horizontal hydraulic fracturing. And if it sounds scary, that's because it is. They take millions and millions of gallons of clean water, spike it with toxic chemicals, then blast the water thousands of feet beneath the ground into horizontally drilled wells, blasting the gas out of the rock pores. Some of the polluted water comes back up through the well. The rest stays in the ground, migrating who knows where.

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View Jared Saylor's blog posts
22 January 2010, 4:09 PM
RFK Jr.'s passion for environmental protection carries the day
Photo: Lawrence Pierce, West Virginia Gazette

People began filing into the University of Charleston's auditorium nearly two hours before the debate began. Charleston police, county sheriffs, state troopers and UC police lined the hallways and entrances. There were rumors of activists chaining themselves to trees and coal miners planning a huge rally. Television cameras were stationed along the walls and in nearly every corner of the auditorium.

It was the hottest ticket in town. All 950 seats in the main auditorium sold out in a few days, and an overflow room holding 2,000 more was expected to be fill. The biggest debate of the century was happening: Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship against Waterkeeper founder Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.

The UC dean, Dr. Edwin H. Welch, moderated. He walked onstage 15 minutes before the debate began, telling the audience that "it does not happen very often in our society to have people who disagree so much come to speak together…we're going to try and recapture the art of argument tonight."

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View Molly Woodward's blog posts
21 January 2010, 5:04 PM
Salmon, false killer whales, mercury, water pollution
Scene from the San Francisco Bay Delta

Some top stories from the past week at Earthjustice…

It’s a rainy week here in Oakland, as a storm system bestows California with some much-needed H2O. Our short supply of water has meant trouble for salmon. A new video by Salmon Water Now illuminates startling alliances between big agribusiness and the political interests controlling water and the fate of salmon in the San Francisco Bay Delta.

A wholly different marine creature in peril will get some help at last. The NMFS announced it will take measures to protect false killer whales from the commercial longline fishing industry, following years of Earthjustice litigation. Rarely seen by humans, false killer whales are close relations of dolphins.

Mercury pollution is a big problem for aquatic life (and people who eat fish), and a lot of it comes from medical waste incinerators. In September, the EPA set groundbreaking rules that significantly reduce air pollution from this source, but now these rules are being challenged in court. Earthjustice has intervened in the lawsuit.

And, the toxic green slime clogging Florida’s waterways might finally loosen its hold, thanks to a historic first step by the EPA to limit fertilizer, animal waste and sewage pollution in the state. While the proposed limits aren’t as stringent as they could be, they’re a big improvement.

View Trip Van Noppen's blog posts
21 January 2010, 12:25 PM
Focus is on clean energy, natural heritage, and health

Last year, the U.S. government started taking environmental protection seriously again, but as 2010 dawns, we continue to see political and economic interests preventing or stalling critical environmental solutions.

In the face of this opposition, this year Earthjustice is targeting key issues with our legal and advocacy work. Our focus is on three core priorities: building a clean energy future, protecting our natural heritage, and safeguarding our health.

To avoid global warming's worst impacts, we must build a clean energy future. Reducing demand through efficiency and increasing supply from renewable sources of power are cornerstones of the foundation. But these steps are obstructed by the political stranglehold of the fossil fuel industry. Earthjustice is using the law to help break our national reliance on fossil fuels, which we continue to extract, burn, and subsidize heavily with taxpayer money, despite the destructive impact on people and the planet.

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View Ted Zukoski's blog posts
20 January 2010, 10:22 AM
Oil shale boosters' claims still don't hold water
Wyoming badlands on the block for oil shale. (c) Erik Molvar. Used with permission.

Why should we develop oil shale? Or, more precisely, what are the best arguments for scraping tens of thousands of acres of public land and using billions of gallons of scarce water and uncounted gigawatts of electricity to bake oil from rocks? 

Jeremy Boak, of the Colorado School of Mines, has two answers. Both are wrong. 

Some background on Mr. Boak. He's director of Mines' Center for Oil Shale Technology and Research, cutely known as "COSTAR." As the school proudly announced when COSTAR was born, the center "is funded by three major oil companies, Total Exploration and Production, Shell Exploration and Production, and ExxonMobil Upstream Research Company." So you see who he has to please.

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View David Guest's blog posts
19 January 2010, 2:36 PM
Limits on nutrient pollution will quell waterways scourge

The EPA has taken a historic first step toward cleaning up Florida's waters by proposing limits on pollution which costs the state millions of dollars and triggers toxic algae outbreaks. Every time it rains, phosphorous and nitrogen run off agricultural operations, fertilized landscapes, and from septic systems.

The poison runoff triggers slimy algae outbreaks which foul Florida's beaches, lakes, rivers and springs more each year, threatening public health and closing swimming areas.

The proposed limits on nutrient pollution aren't as stringent as we would like, but they are a huge improvement. All you have to do is look at the green slime covering lakes, rivers, and shorelines during our warm months to know it is worth the investment to reduce fertilizer runoff, control animal waste better, and improve filtration of sewage. The most cost-effective way to handle this problem is to deal with it at its source.

This is the first time the EPA has been forced to impose such limits on a state.The change in policy comes more than a year after Earthjustice filed a major lawsuit to force the EPA to set strict limits on nutrient poisoning in public waters.

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