Tag Archives: Water pollution

Endangered Species: Quickly Dying Parts of Our Planet

Worldwide, there are thousands of beautiful species that are becoming closer and closer to extinction.  Not just animals, but plants too.  We, humans, must claim responsibility for this.

The biggest causes of extinction are pollution and lack of habitat.  Development causes natural habitats to be cleared and the animals that have been displaced must find another place to live.  This leads to competition among species for the limited habitat areas, and since a certain area can only sustain so many lives, much of the wildlife is destroyed.   Pollution contributes a lot to the extinction of aquatic organisms: when we dump into rivers and other bodies of water, the waste not only harms the creatures in that area but flows out to the ocean and harms organisms all over our planet.

Even just in North America there are approximately 2000 endangered species.  Canis lupus rufus, better known as the red wolf, is one of the most endangered but also one of the most popular! Why is it that such a beloved animal is allowed to venture so close to extinction?

Other well known, endangered species in North America include: Steller Sea Lion, California Big Horned Sheep, West Indian Manatee, Florida Panther, California Condor,  the American Crocodile, and many many other species that bring a rich diversity of life to this continent.

A more complete list of endangered North American species can be found here.

Do your part to help!

Stripping the Earth for Coal

Imagine ripping out the top layers of your skin to extract a layer underneath.  That is essentially what strip mining does to the earth.  Strip mining is the process used to extract coal and other minerals that lay close to the surface, a process which is extremely harmful to the earth, which is why we need to move away from coal energy.

The Process:

First, all the flora on the land is bulldozed, and taken to a dumping pit along with the sandy soil under it. To reach the minerals underneath, little holes are drilled into the ground and filled with explosives. The broken land post-explosion is removed to reveal the mineral underneath. Trucks and other heavy machinery proceed to break the mineral into chunks and transport it away.  This process is repeated in the adjacent strips of land: this is why the process is known as strip mining.  The waste and dirt from each strip is used to fill up the next mined strip, so all the strips from which ore was extracted are re-filled with the rest of the land that was removed.

The Effect:

This process obviously destroys the land’s eco-system and fertility, but it has a number of other adverse effects as well.  The waste that is left on adjacent lands to the mining area erodes and contaminates the land around it, as well as the water.  Run-off water from these areas soaks into the ground, contaminating the ground-water that so many people use, and flows into streams, contaminating the wildlife’s water supply as well.  Wildlife is driven away by strip mining; the process leaves no resources for wildlife to reclaim their home and destroys important regions such as breeding grounds and migration paths.

Soil and the organic matter it contains are the sustenance of life on earth; this vital layer functions as the earth’s skin and is only 8 feet deep.  Industries such as strip mining devastate the thin layer that sustains all life.  These destructive processes need to be ended-why have we kept them in use?

Urgent. Call Today for Health, Not Coal Ash.

Dear Coal Ally,
We are truly in danger of losing the coal ash fight because of two anti-coal ash amendments tacked onto the U.S. House  of Representatives budget legislation which is being considered in Congress this morning.  We anticipate that the first amendment (No. 10) will be on the floor THIS AFTERNOON.
These two amendments, Amendment 10 offered by Congressman Cliff Stearns (R-FL) and Amendment 217 offered by David McKinley (R-WV), are nearly identical and would prevent EPA from regulating dangerous coal ash as hazardous waste. 

 EPA’s only option would be to issue guidelines for states that not mandatory and that are unenforceable by EPA.  The amendments would maintain the status quo of lax (or absent) state oversight of coal ash dumping and would guarantee that polluters will have the legal right to continue to dump coal ash in unlined pits and ponds. 
Thus, we are asking you and the members of your organization to call their representatives in Congress TODAY- ASAP- and ASK THEM TO VOTE NO ON AMENDMENTS 10  AND  217.  Time is of the essence.  PLEASE SEND this email to the members of your organization to maximize our impact.
Your calls will make a difference.  Even if we lose in the House, if the margin is not great, we may be able to defeat the amendment in the Senate.
Calling is simple: Locate the telephone number of your member of Congress by using the link below – just insert your zip code.
THANK YOU for your help at this critical time.
Sincerely,  Ilan Levin, Environmental Integrity Project

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Red Sludge, Grey Sludge-Same Problem

On Tuesday afternoon, a flood of toxic red sludge engulfed several towns in southwestern Hungary. An estimated 185 million gallons were spilled when a storage tank for the sludge, a byproduct of aluminum production, burst and sent the sludge gushing into the surrounding area. Houses and streets were flooded, cars swept away, and four people lost their lives with more than 120 others injured by burns from contact with the highly alkaline substance.

Efforts to clean up the red sludge

The environmental consequence might be even more devastating. By the time it was all said and done, more than 16 square miles of farmland and countryside were buried beneath the toxic mess, and experts are worried the environmental effects will be devastating for a much larger area. Fish and wildlife in local streams have already been killed, and officials fear the sludge will be carried downstream, polluting the Danube River and affecting at least four other countries in addition to Hungary.

While red sludge is regulated by the European Union, it is not considered hazardous waste in all cases. Similarly, red sludge is not a toxic or carcinogenic substance under United States Environmental Protection Agency guidelines.

Does this situation sound familiar? It should.

In December 2008, a spill of similar magnitude destroyed a Tennessee community. The culprit that time—coal ash. Since then, through the efforts of the Sierra Club and environmental organizations across the county, Americans have begun to realize of the dangers of coal ash. Stored in huge, often unlined pits, toxins from coal ash such as lead, mercury, and arsenic can seep into ground water, ruin soil, and, in the case of the Tennessee accident, destroy entire communities and ecosystems.

Tennessee Coal Ash Spill

While we cannot do much about the tragedy in Hungary, we can do something to combat the exact same problems that exist here at home, across the nation, and perhaps in your backyard. Responding to these frightening realities, the EPA has initiated a series of hearings across the nation to receive public input in the decision to bring coal ash under federal regulation as a toxic waste. The EPA’s open comment period regarding regulation of coal ash has been extended to November 19. Visit www.regulations.gov and referenceEPA-HQ-RCRA-2009-0640” to make your voice heard. You can also take further action and learn more about the perils of coal by visiting the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal website: http://www.sierraclub.org/coal/default.aspx.

Perry’s TCEQ Commissioners Fail Yet Again to Protect Public Health

Governor Rick Perry's TCEQ Loves Coal Plants. Ignores Pleas of People for Healthy Clean Air.

Despite the wisdom of the Matagorda County medical community’s pleas in a letter signed by 30 doctors, despite its own Administrative Law Judges’ recommendations, despite the wishes of the residents of Matagorda County in the No Coal Coalition, Governor Perry’s Commissioners at the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) today granted the White Stallion coal plant permit to pollute.   

This morning,  while citizens from Matagorda County including a class of  school children watched, Chairman Shaw and Commissioners Garcia and Rubio, criticized the recommendations from the state’s administrative law judges and decided to grant the permit with special conditions.  Sierra Club once again calls on the state legislature to reform the TCEQ so that it cannot continue to ignore federal and state air quality standards during the permitting process.  

Air polution from Coal Plants is Linked to Asthma, other Respiratory Ailments, Heart Disease, Neurological Disorders, and Early Mortality.

 “Once again, the Commissioners are doing the work for the applicant and using this failed system to avoid public input.”  said Jen Powis Senior Regional Representative for Sierra Club.  “Today’s decision is another pitiful example of how Governor Perry and his political cronies ignore federal and state law and reward companies to pollute in Texas.”  

The Cronies — Perry’s TCEQ Commissioners Shaw, Garcia, and Rubinstein


“TCEQ is a failed agency and has failed the citizens of Texas again.”  said Allison Sliva with the No Coal Coalition of Matagorda County.   “The administrative law judges didn’t like this permit, elected officials in Matagorda County and Houston have raised serious questions about it, and the citizens don’t like it.  But rather than consider these criticisms, the Commissioners ignored these concerns and simply granted it.”    
Read more about what happenedMourn…then, organize!