At the close of 2012, we looked back at a year of victories. Earthjustice with our partners and clients won broad victories on a number of fronts.
Read about three of these far-reaching achievements—and look back on the dozens of other victories for the Earth that you helped us achieve that year.
Coal-fired power plants are America's worst toxic polluters. Their air pollution is linked to asthma, heart problems and thyroid problems. It sends people to the hospital, and causes them to miss work and school.
Worst of all, it leads to thousands of premature deaths every year—especially among vulnerable populations like children and the elderly.
Each year, coal-fired power plants emit thousands of tons of toxic pollutants like mercury and arsenic into the air. Yet, for decades, the pollution from these plants has been exempted from the Clean Air Act.
After more than a decade of Earthjustice's determined litigation on behalf of community, environmental and public health groups, the EPA released protections that will clean up toxic air emissions from power plants across the country.
The new Mercury and Air Toxics Standards will save thousands of lives and prevent more than 100,000 heart and asthma attacks each year. In addition, the regulations will result in reduced emissions of sulfur dioxide and fine particles, which will further clean up the air.
Instead of looking at this as a cost-benefit thing, you can look at it as a cost-cost thing. There's a cost to cleaning up the air, that's true—that's say one dollar.
And there's a cost to not cleaning up the air—let's say that's 30 dollars.
Which one of those costs do you want to pay? You're going to pay one of them.
Children die of asthma. I'm a parent. I just can't imagine losing your child to asthma.
I can't imagine losing your child at all, but losing a child unnecessarily because we can't be bothered to clean up pollution? That's just incredible to me.
It can cause late-term miscarriages, thyroid disease and brain damage. Scientists consider it to be one of the most toxic chemicals on Earth. And yet, in 2007 the Bush administration approved the widespread use of methyl iodide in agricultural fields across the country.
California, which requires a separate review of new pesticides before they can be used on crops within its borders, soon followed suit after intense lobbying pressure from the manufacturer.
The state's approval opened the door for millions of pounds of methyl iodide to be applied to many of California's prolific produce fields, including 38,000 acres of strawberry fields.
In March 2011, Earthjustice petitioned the EPA to cancel its registration of methyl iodide. Earthjustice also sued California for illegally approving its use.
This legal pressure, coupled with an intense national outcry over the fumigant's approval, led pesticide manufacturer Arysta LifeScience to pull the toxic chemical out of the U.S. market in March 2012. Eight months later, the company cancelled federal registration of the pesticide, ensuring that methyl iodide will no longer be used in the U.S. by 2013.
This is a chemical that never should have been allowed in the first place. All Americans are safer today because
of the removal of the cancer-causing farm chemical methyl iodide.