Posts tagged: water

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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.

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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 David Guest's blog posts
18 July 2013, 10:16 AM
Ag giant Lykes Brothers snubbed in attempt to fill creek, ban public access
A swimming hole at Fisheating Creek. (B A Bowen Photography / Flickr CC)

I’m happy to announce that we won the latest legal skirmish in our 23-year quest to keep one of South Florida’s wildest waterways open to the public.

On July 5, an administrative law judge in Tallahassee upheld the public’s right to boat, fish and picnic on the wonderful Fisheating Creek in Glades County, south of Lake Okeechobee. That right was imperiled by agribusiness giant Lykes Brothers, which owns most of the land on both sides of the creek. Lykes planned to provide the state with 3,300 truckloads of free sand, and had proposed that the state use the sand to close off the creek to ordinary folks.

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View Seth Johnson's blog posts
17 July 2013, 9:41 AM
Dam allowing sediment to dirty Chesapeake Bay
Conowingo Dam. (Michael Jewel)

The Lower Susquehanna Riverkeeper, Stewards of the Lower Susquehanna and Waterkeepers Chesapeake today asked to be included in the relicensing proceedings for the Conowingo Dam, about 50 miles northeast of Baltimore. The dam affects water quality up and down the Susquehanna River and throughout Chesapeake Bay, and the groups plan to push the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to require the dam’s owner to take action so that the dam doesn’t harm waters in Maryland, Pennsylvania and beyond.

Only 10 miles from where the Susquehanna pours into the Bay, Conowingo Dam is an ecological time-bomb. Behind the dam lies a massive amount of sediment, a water pollutant that clouds the waters of the Chesapeake Bay, harming underwater vegetation and the animals that rely on it. The dam has been trapping about 55 percent of the incoming sediment in the Susquehanna, but according to predictions by scientists the dam is running out of room to store sediment. And as it runs out of room, more and more sediment pours into the bay. The current plan to clean up the bay doesn’t have a plan to address this problem—and neither does the request for a 46-year permit from the dam’s owners, Exelon Generation.

What’s more, major storms scour sediment that’s built up behind the dam, leading to giant influxes of sediment, phosphorus and other pollutants into the bay. Tropical Storm Lee, in 2011, swept a 100-mile-long plume of sediment—visible from space—from the Susquehanna into the bay.

Sediment Clouds the Chesapeake Bay. (Jeff Schmaltz / MODIS Land Rapid Response Team, NASA GSFC)

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View Allie Eisen's blog posts
24 June 2013, 2:20 PM
Bill could dramatically worsen already contaminated waters
The Progress Energy power plant, viewed across Lake Julian. (zen Sutherland)

There is a running joke in my hometown about the glowing green fish and three-headed salamanders in Lake Julian. Nestled in the center of Arden, North Carolina, and surrounded by the Blue Ridge Mountains, this lake was once the picturesque centerpiece of the quaint Southern town. But thanks to the pollution from Progress Energy’s nearby coal ash pond, these jokes aren’t far from the truth.

Unfortunately, the North Carolina Legislature is debating a bill to make this type of coal ash contamination increasingly prevalent throughout local waterways. NC Senate Bill 612, sponsored by Republican leaders in both the House and Senate, seeks to “provide regulatory relief to the citizens of North Carolina” by creating a fast-track process to obtain environmental permits. The bill, which has already passed in the Senate and is currently moving through the House, would allow coal-fired power plants to contaminate groundwater up to and past their property lines—eliminating all current boundaries.

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View Shirley Hao's blog posts
21 June 2013, 4:38 PM
And there's a surfer among them
Beaver lodge. (USDA)

The San Pedro, the last free-flowing river of the Southwest, has had an unusual cast of champions. Ecologists, birders, an emergency room physician—and yes, even attorneys—have fought to save the desert oasis's wealth from being wholesale diverted to indoor plumbing and lawncare.

Then, at the turn of the century, came a group of misfits, putting their hairy paws in service to the San Pedro. They were Castor canadensis—the industrious engineer known as the American beaver.

Beavers were once found across North America in such ubiquity that the famed 18th century surveyor David Thompson was given to remark that "this Continent … from the Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean, may be said to have been in the possession of two distinct races of Beings, Man and the Beaver."

View Lisa Evans's blog posts
18 June 2013, 1:15 PM
Congressional Research Service decides new bill is foul play

In advance of an upcoming vote in the House Energy and Commerce Committee this week, the nonpartisan think tank, Congressional Research Service (CRS), delivered a frank memorandum evaluating HR 2218, the latest effort by Rep. McKinley (R-WV) to prevent the EPA from completing its coal ash rule. CRS exposes HR 2218’s superficial “fixes,” concluding that the bill still fails to establish federal health and environmental standards and cannot guarantee nationwide protection from toxic contamination.

View Raviya Ismail's blog posts
11 June 2013, 12:58 PM
NJ Sen. Frank Lautenberg’s death a blow to all Americans
Sen. Frank Lautenberg.

There was a time that airline travel exposed passengers to a deadly peril: secondhand cigarette smoke. Not so for more than 25 years now, thanks to the dogged persistence of Sen. Frank Lautenberg, who pushed for and successfully passed a smoking prohibition on flights which led to smoke-free workplaces and other areas.

Last week Sen. Lautenberg died after a long illness and Americans lost an unwavering champion who also went to bat for clean air, water and land. Sen. Lautenberg championed Superfund, passed vital laws that kept NJ’s drinking water clean, combatted climate change, and aimed to keep our communities, oceans and waterways clear from toxic waste. His passing is a blow to all of us.

One of Sen. Lautenberg’s final efforts was overhauling the weak and outdated Toxic Substances Control Act of 1976. Lautenberg aimed to breathe new life into what he called “a long-dead statute” by proposing that the EPA be empowered to get tough on toxic chemicals. The senator spent nearly the last 10 years on this issue. Sen. Lautenberg said of the issue:

Chemical safety reform is not a Democratic or Republican issue; it is a common-sense issue.

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View Lisa Evans's blog posts
07 June 2013, 12:55 PM
HR 2218 harms public health, environment

Reps. David McKinley (R-WV) and John Shimkus (R-IL) are on a mission to ram through an anti-public health, anti-public safety and anti-environmental coal ash bill.

After filing their trifecta on the evening of June 3, the House Subcommittee on Environment and the Economy voted on June 6 to pass HR 2218, the Coal Residuals Reuse and Management Act of 2013 (“CRRM”), a complicated bill designed to prevent the EPA from ever regulating coal ash.

View Doug Pflugh's blog posts
16 May 2013, 10:00 AM
Lawsuit seeks to protect San Pedro River from huge development
The upper reaches of the San Pedro River.  (Melanie Kay / Earthjustice)

Earthjustice has worked with our partners for more than a decade to sustain the San Pedro River of southern Arizona. Our attorneys have taken legal action—a series of cases challenging inappropriate groundwater depletions by the U.S. Army’s Fort Huachuca—to keep water in the river until a balance can be struck between the needs of the river and the local communities. While we have had success through the years, the San Pedro is unfortunately one of those places where the effort to achieve a lasting solution has been difficult.

Champions of the San Pedro now have a great opportunity to change that tide and secure meaningful protection for the river into the future. A challenge was filed this week to a 7,000-unit suburban development planned for the upper San Pedro valley which had been given the go-ahead by the state of Arizona. This development would be fueled by groundwater pumped from the San Pedro watershed and will, if built, drain the remaining flows from the river. The challenge seeks to deny the planned groundwater pumping, force the state to acknowledge the authority of water rights granted to the San Pedro Riparian National Conservation Area and, by doing so, keep the river alive.

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View Terry Winckler's blog posts
03 May 2013, 11:00 AM
When the town's toilets flush, guess what ends up in African-American yards
Nine residents of Rochelle, GA are suing their city government for discharging the city's raw sewage onto their properties.

Alisa Coe and Bradley Marshall—attorneys in our Florida office—took off on a two-hour drive last month and ended up 60 years away in the rural Georgia town of Rochelle, where black people live on one side of a railroad track and whites on the other.

You’ve heard of this place if you pay attention to news; last weekend the national media was reporting on the local high school’s first interracial prom … ever.

But even as the media focused on the prom, Alisa and Bradley faced up to the town’s mayor and chief of police, who bullied the two attorneys as they investigated claims that the city’s sewer system routinely dumps raw sewage into the streets and yards of the black community (but not the white community). The mayor used his car to block the attorneys’ car when they drove into a black neighborhood, and then screamed and threatened them with arrest. The chief of police pulled up with his lights flashing and told the duo to call him before coming back to Rochelle.

Those fellas obviously didn’t know who they were messing with.

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View Liz Judge's blog posts
24 April 2013, 9:48 AM
Unanimous panel of judges rule for EPA in coal industry lawsuit

Great news!

Yesterday, citizens in Appalachia celebrated a huge victory in their fight to protect their families and communities from harmful mountaintop removal mining. In a sharp 15-page ruling, a panel of three Republican-appointed judges in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit unanimously upheld the Environment Protection Agency’s veto of the permit for the Spruce No. 1 mine, the largest proposed mountaintop removal mine in West Virginia. Earthjustice, along with Appalachian Mountain Advocates, represented a handful of community and citizen groups in this case.

This court decision comes after 15 years of court challenges by community groups whose members were in fallout zone of the proposed mine. It’s a precedent-setting decision and historic: The Spruce Mine permit is the first mountaintop removal mining permit ever challenged in courts.

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