The Latest On: Congress
After the summer we have had, my mind is on climate change, what more Earthjustice can do about it, and what’s at stake in this election.
I experienced the effects of climate change this summer during a trip through Colorado. Heat, drought and fire set an almost apocalyptic tone for the trip. There was no snow on the peaks, stream flows were down, and smoke filled the air. Similar impacts afflicted 60 percent of our nation and spread over three continents; sea ice coverage in the Arctic was at a record low.
Last week we spoke about the weaknesses in the current law protecting Americans from toxic chemicals. Today we submitted comments to EPA urging the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to move forward with health protections that would regulate polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) which are a group of toxic flame retardants.
There are some straight spines left in the U.S. Senate, which today voted down a resolution from Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-OK) that would have effectively exempted coal-fired power plants—the nation's worst air polluters—from Clean Air Act controls that limit mercury and other toxic emissions. This is a critical victory in the decades-long effort to protect communities from the egregious amounts of health-damaging pollutants that coal plants put in our air.
It’s Groundhog Day in the House of Representatives. Once again, coal company allies are leading a charge to pass a symbolic vote that would reinforce their disdain for any plans to clean up coal ash ponds and landfills with federal minimum safeguards. But the symbolism has real-world impacts: nearly 200 coal ash sites have already contaminated nearby lakes, rivers, streams and aquifers with dangerous chemicals that cause cancer, organ damage and even death.
Big news today in our fight to end destructive mountaintop removal mining: 13 congressional leaders joined to introduce legislation to protect communities and families from the dangerous health effects of our nation's most extreme form of coal mining—mountaintop removal mining.
Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-OK) is spearheading an egregious effort in the Senate to exempt the nation's worst air polluters from the Clean Air Act. He is floating a resolution that would block recently finalized limits on the amounts of mercury, arsenic and other health-damaging pollutants that coal- and oil-fired power plants can emit. It's up for a vote on Wednesday.
Over our years of working to stop mountaintop removal mining, we at Earthjustice have met so many brave and dedicated people fighting for their communities, mountains and waters. In 2010, Earthjustice launched our “Mountain Heroes” campaign to share their inspiring stories and show that this is not just a fight for the environment—it’s a fight for justice and a fight to save communities, families and Appalachian culture.
Through this campaign, we shared the stories of a few true heroes and created a public photo petition, asking the public to share their own stories—and tell us why they want to save mountains, protect clean water, and fight for justice in Appalachia.
What we got back was astounding and inspiring.
Sometimes an all-in strategy can tarnish the entire package.
Take for example President Obama’s recent decision to tout an “all-of-the-above” approach to achieving energy independence and lowering gas prices. It’s a catchy, feel-good campaign slogan perfect for banners and sound bites, but it’s a hollow energy strategy. Worse yet, it opens America up for destructive practices by painting the administration into a fossil-fuel corner.