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It's not enough that Tennessee's Clinch River was devastated by a toxic spill that dumped 1 billion gallons of coal ash into its waters last December. Now the Tennessee Valley Authority wants to systematically pollute the river (which leads to the mighty Tennessee River) to the tune of one million gallons a day of toxic pollutants. We're talking dumping mercury, selenium and other chemicals into a river which the Tennessee Valley Authority is supposed to be protecting.

How much sense does it make for your tax dollars to underwrite home loans for new homes in a place with inadequate water supplies, say like out in a desert? The realtors love it, but when the new homes drill another well for water, nearby rivers disappear undergound.

At least that's what's happened to the San Pedro River in south central Arizona. The San Pedro is one of the last free-flowing rivers in the desert southwest. The river is a lush ribbon attracting all manner of southwest wildlife, and is a major overwintering spot for migratory birds, but all this is threatened by a real estate boom. Earthjustice sued to stop government lending that was pushing ever more home construction—until builders come up with a water source that won't kill the river. So far, the builders have failed, which is why Earthjustice attorney McCrystie Adams will be back in federal court this week, arguing to protect the unique ecosystem and wildlife of the San Pedro River.

When is hazardous coal ash not considered hazardous? According to the Environmental Protection Agency, when you dump it in a landfill as opposed to a pond. This approach is currently being floated by the EPA in its plans to regulate coal ash later this year. Coal ash—the waste left over after coal is burned at coal-fired power plants—is full of dangerously high levels of arsenic, lead, mercury, cadmium and other hazardous metals. Cancer rates skyrocket near coal ash dumps that have leaked into drinking water supplies.

Today is Blog Action Day, and this year's theme is Climate Change. Here's my pitch for an immediate step that could be taken to reduce the production of greenhouse gases significantly, while promoting good health; improving the economy in rural America; and reducing cruelty to animals. In fact, this suggestion is so logical that it's a travesty that I have to suggest it. It makes Sarah Silverman's recent hunger-ending proposal look paltry in comparison. Here's my suggestion:

It is hard to imagine anyone defending the polluters that are turning Florida's waters green and slimy. But, hey, money talks.

At long last, The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is agreeing to set legal, enforceable limits on such nutrients as phosphorous and nitrogen, which are poisoning Florida's public waters. EPA's historic decision settles the lawsuit we filed in July 2008.

Today, the Savage Rapids dam—reputedly the worst killer of Rogue River salmon—died a well-deserved death at the hands of those who spent decades seeking its removal. Heavy equipment removed the last barriers, fully opening a channel for river and fish to flow through.

For Earthjustice attorney Mike Sherwood, who watched today's demolition, this is a sweet day. He spent years litigating its removal on behalf of WaterWatch of Oregon. "This is a great day for the Rogue River, and for its coho and steelhead," Sherwood said.

Here's an eyewitness report on the demolition.

 

In his final years of life, David Brower spoke of the need for Global CPR (conservation, preservation and restoration). What a shame Dave is not around to witness a few major river and stream restoration projects that are upon us.

 It is shameful that Florida Agriculture Commissioner Charlie Bronson is siding with the state’s worst polluters to fight against cleaning up algae-choked waters poisoned by agricultural runoff.

There are toxic algae blooms all over the state, water treatment plants are closing due to nutrient poisoning, and yet Bronson directs the state to work for the polluters and against the people. 

The Environmental Protection Agency has taken another positive step towards reining in the destructive practice of mountaintop removal mining.

Today, the EPA declared that all of the 79 permits it was reviewing would violate the Clean Water Act and must undergo more in-depth environmental assessment by both the EPA and Army Corps of Engineers. This is a welcome action that Earthjustice called for two weeks ago.

Now, the two agencies have 60 days to review each permit. We can't imagine that they can reach any other conclusion than that these mines will cause irreparable harm to the waterways, land and communities of Appalachia. The permits must be denied, and beyond that, the Obama administration should follow up by reinstating and enforcing clean water rules gutted by the Bush administration.

Fox News' Sean Hannity and his crew came to California's Central Valley last week to hold a rally that lambasted environmental protections for the delta smelt, Sacramento River winter-run chinook salmon, Central Valley spring-run chinook salmon, Central Valley steelhead, green sturgeon, and southern resident killer whales.

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About the Earthjustice 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.