Even when fully complying with federal clean-air laws, refineries are nasty operations, spewing tons of hazardous pollutants into the air of neighboring communities. But under a regulatory loophole, refineries, chemical plants and other industrial facilities have been allowed to pollute even more during an equipment malfunction, or when shutting down and starting back up following a malfunction.
Maybe it's a good thing that Bush has kept Earthjustice so busy these last eight years, fending off unrelenting assaults on the environment. The experience is proving invaluable as we face, in these final weeks of the administration, a frantic effort to roll back some of the nation's most significant protections. We also are encountering a barrage of last-minute attempts to convert America's wild, public treasures into private, commercial commodities.
We tend to think of ships as an environmentally friendly way to travel and transport goods. Measured by miles per gallon per a given amount of weight, they can't be beat. There's the not-so-little problem of air pollution from ships docked at various ports, of course, and Earthjustice is working with Friends of the Earth and other groups to do something about that.
It’s a conundrum: how can you reduce your carbon footprint without giving up all of your nifty electronic gadgets? And, if this isn’t your conundrum, it’s surely your spouse’s, or your kid’s or your cousin’s, right?
At the just-concluded U.N. climate negotiations in Poznan, Poland, Earthjustice attorneys Martin Wagner and Erika Rosenthal advocated for rapid action to reduce emissions of black carbon, now considered one of the most effective strategies to slow near-term global and Arctic warming.
This could prevent catastrophic, irreversible tipping points such as the melting of Arctic sea ice and the Greenland ice sheet, and buy time for implementation of critical strategies to cut long-lived greenhouse gas emissions.
Recent studies identify black carbon, a component of ultrafine particulate air pollution, as a critical climate warming agent both in the atmosphere and when deposited on snow and ice. Technologies exist to rapidly reduce black carbon emissions from diesel and coal sources, and fast-track mitigation efforts will have an immediate cooling effect. As black carbon is a leading cause of mortality from air pollution and accelerates the melting of glaciers that provide fresh water for millions, controlling these emissions is critical to promote sustainable development, improve human health and save lives.
A miracle, just take a look around: this inescapable earth.
– Wislawa Szymborska, Polish poet and Nobel Laureate
Yes, we can.
As Martin wrote earlier in the week, the negotiations that just concluded in Poznan fell short of expectations. But take heart – the talks did deliver on the fundamental objective of providing a negotiation blueprint for an agreement that can be signed next year in Copenhagen.
The world is now meeting in Poland to tackle global warming - and Earthjustice is there. Read our daily dispatches.
The Federated States of Micronesia, one of the leading voices of the Alliance of Small Island States – countries whose very existence are threatened by global warming-induced sea level rise – has called on the governments assembled in Poznan to take urgent action in light of potential catastrophic tipping points in the Earth's climate system.
Motorists heading to Colorado ski resorts are being confronted with images of the state not found in tourist brochures: Pollution-spewing oil and gas rigs looming over wildlife habitat, ranchland and neighborhoods.
The billboards are part of a campaign by the Colorado Environmental Coalition to tell Coloradans and out-of-state visitors that there's a dark side to the state's vast petroleum industry.