Category Archives: Coal Mining

Earth Guardians 3/9/2016 Hearing on lawsuit to stop climate change

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Earth Guardians

All 21 youth plaintiffs in the landmark federal climate lawsuit will attend the hearing before Judge Coffin in federal district court in Oregon on Wednesday, March 9, as their attorneys argue against the effort by the U.S. government and fossil fuel industry to dismiss their constitutional case.

On this momentous day, the claims of the youth plaintiffs, as well as Dr. James Hansen representing the interests of future generations, will be challenged. The issues are crucial: When it comes to our climate, do we have fundamental constitutional rights? Does our federal government have public trust responsibilities? As with the Civil Rights Cases, this March 9 hearing presents the best opportunity for the federal judiciary to take the first step to preserve our climate-oriented constitutional rights and to safeguard youth and future generations from the severe harms caused by the government’s role in effecting climate change.

Based on the best available science, there is no question youth and our Posterity will shoulder the severe consequences of continued increases in carbon dioxide concentrations in our atmosphere. Yet the federal government has no effective plan to protect our future, such as no governing scientific standard to determine which projects will be permitted, how much pollution will be allowed, or why fossil fuel development will continue to be tolerated. Rather, our government continues its fossil fuel-dominated strategy to power our nation, even when that strategy inflicts irreversible damage and feasible, economical alternatives exist.

These brave youth simply ask the court to let the factual record speak for itself. They want a court order that is reasonable and realistic, while protecting their fundamental rights. Our young plaintiffs hope the court requires the federal government to promptly develop and implement a national climate recovery plan, rooted in science, to preserve our atmosphere, to stabilize our climate system for present and future generations, and to cease new fossil fuel projects (such as those geared to infrastructure and extraction) that will inflict irreversible damage. These youth ask that their fundamental constitutional rights and their futures not be subordinated to corporate dollars. They ask that our government do what is legally and morally right and scientifically sound.

Please fight with these youth plaintiffs. Tell your friends about this historic day in court, a day that will impact the futures of all of our children and grandchildren. If you haven’t already, please make a donation today to back these young leaders as they use the courts to confront the federal government and the fossil fuel industry and secure a scientifically sustainable future for all.

Thank you for your incredible support!

Southern Ute Tribe Declares Disaster Over Mining Spill in Animas River

Courtesy La Plata Office of Emergency Management
The Animas River as it appeared on August 6, 2015, a day after a contractor working for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) accidentally let loose three million gallons of toxic sludge. The river flows through the Southern Ute Tribe reservation.
8/13/15

The Southern Ute Indian Tribe, the first to watch a 100-mile-long plume of toxic mining sludge flow through their reservation in the Animas River, has declared a state of local disaster.

“The cost and magnitude of responding to and recovery from the impact of the water contamination from the Gold King Mine Animas River Spill, caused by the EPA on August 5, 2015 is far in excess of the Southern Ute Indian Tribe’s available resources,” the tribe said in its declaration.

The spill, unleashed accidentally on August 5 by U.S. Environmental Protection Agency workers trying to remediate contamination at the Gold King Mine in Colorado, sent three million gallons of wastewater into Cement Creek, which flows into the Animas River and from there to the San Juan River, then to the Colorado River in Utah. Before making its way to the Navajo Nation, the plume containing heavy metals including arsenic and lead wound through the 1,059-square-mile Southern Ute reservation in Colorado.

RELATED:Video: Toxic Mining Wastewater Spill Turns Animas River Lurid Orange in Colorado

The EPA has been sampling the water up and down the spill route, but test results were still pending as of Wednesday August 12. Southern Ute tribal officials are also monitoring the situation, the tribe said in a statement, coordinating responses with other jurisdictions as well. Drinking-water testing is available to tribal members who live in the Animas watershed, the statement said.

“The environmental and economic consequences of this disaster will not be known for some time, but the Tribe is doing everything in its power to respond to this terrible situation and safeguard the health of our tribal members, the aquatic life, and other affected natural resources,” said Tribal Chairman Clement J. Frost in the statement.

Classifying it as a local disaster activates the response and recovery aspects and enables aid to be released. The worst of the plume of toxic sludge has already passed, but the lasting effects on water quality and wildlife is not yet known. Tribal officials said the river will be closed until at least Friday August 14.

Meanwhile, EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy visited Durango, Colorado and said the spill had passed and the water had returned to the condition they were in before it happened, theDenver Postreported on August 12. But she did not specify when it might be safe, or advisable, to reopen the river.

Read more athttp://indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com/2015/08/13/southern-ute-tribe-declares-disaster-over-mining-spill-animas-river-161377

The Universal Declaration of the Rights of Mother Earth

This is an international declaration, and law in the making, that is very much relevant to the EPA disaster. One of the approaches to identifying claims is standards. This is one. It is also Navajo fundamental law.

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America’s Youth File Landmark Climate Lawsuit Against U.S. Government and President

Earth Guardians Our Children trust

For Immediate Release: August 12, 2015 For inquiries or interview requests, please contact: Julia Olson, 415-786-4825, julia@ourchildrenstrust.org Philip Gregory, 650-697-6000, pgregory@cpmlegal.com

America’s Youth File Landmark Climate Lawsuit Against U.S. Government and President

Eugene, OR – Today, on International Youth Day, 21 young people from across the United States filed a landmark constitutional climate change lawsuit against the federal government in the U.S. District Court for the District of Oregon. Also acting as a Plaintiff is world-renown climate scientist Dr. James E. Hansen, serving as guardian for future generations and for his granddaughter, and Earth Guardians, representing young citizen beneficiaries of the public trust. The Complaint asserts that, in causing climate change, the federal government has violated the youngest generation’s constitutional rights to life, liberty, property, and has failed to protect essential public trust resources.

The Complaint alleges the Federal Government is violating the youth’s constitutional rights by promoting the development and use of fossil fuels. These young Plaintiffs are challenging the federal government’s national fossil fuel programs, as well as the proposed Jordan Cove LNG export terminal in Coos Bay, OR. Plaintiffs seek to hold President Obama and various federal agencies responsible for continued fossil fuel exploitation. The Federal Government has known for decades that fossil fuels are destroying the climate system. No less important than in the Civil Rights cases, Plaintiffs seek a court order requiring the President to immediately implement a national plan to decrease atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide (“CO2”) to a safe level: 350 ppm by the year 2100.

In describing the case, one of the teenage Plaintiffs and Youth Director of Earth Guardians, Xiuhtezcatl Tonatiuh Martinez, stated: “The Federal Government has known for decades that CO2 pollution from burning fossil fuels was causing global warming and dangerous climate change. It also knew that continuing to burn fossil fuels would destabilize our climate system, significantly harming my generation and generations to come. Despite knowing these dangers, Defendants did nothing to prevent this harm. In fact, my Government increased the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere to levels it knew were unsafe.”

Another Plaintiff, 18-year-old Kelsey Juliana, said: “Our nation’s top climate scientists, including Dr. Hansen, have found that the present CO2 level is already in the danger zone and leading to devastating disruptions of planetary systems. The current practices and policies of our Federal Government include sustained exploitation and consumption of fossil fuels. We brought this case because the Government needs to immediately and aggressively reduce carbon emissions, and stop promoting fossil fuels, which force our nation’s climate system toward irreversible impacts. A key example is approval of LNG pipelines and export terminals in Oregon. If the Government continues to delay urgent annual emissions reductions, my generation’s wellbeing will be inexcusably put at risk.” Based on the Fifth Amendment to the U.S.

Based on the Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, the Complaint argues that, despite knowing CO2 emissions cause dangerous climate change and ocean acidification, the Federal Government failed to restrict those emissions and continues to authorize fossil fuel projects that amplify the danger and foreclose the opportunity to stabilize the climate system. The lawsuit specifies the Jordan Cove Energy Project as one egregious instance in which the Federal Government intensified that danger to Plaintiffs’ life, liberty and property. Plaintiffs seek judicial action no less important, from a strictly legal basis, than Brown v. Board of Education (right to equal educational opportunity) and Obergefell v. Hodges (right to marry). This case places indisputable climate science squarely in front of the federal judiciary, requesting an order forcing our government to cease jeopardizing the climate system for present and future generations.

“We uncovered shocking admissions by the White House and the Environmental Protection Agency: they have known for decades of the extreme dangers of fossil fuels,” noted Philip Gregory of Cotchett, Pitre & McCarthy, of Burlingame, CA, counsel to the Plaintiffs. “The Complaint explains how Defendants have known since at least 1965 that CO2 emissions from fossil fuels would create perilous climate change, with enormous and harmful impacts for future generations – including our children. These disclosures also arose in the 1980’s when Congress worked with the EPA to develop a national plan to keep atmospheric carbon dioxide levels at 350 ppm. Despite the government’s extensive knowledge of the dangers of CO2 emissions, and draft plans to reduce these emissions, Defendants continued to authorize and promote fossil fuel extraction, production, consumption, and all their associated emissions – to the grave detriment of future generations.”

“By 2020, the Jordan Cove Energy Project will be the largest emitter of greenhouse gases in the whole state of Oregon,” stated 18-year-old Alex Loznak, one of the eleven Oregon youth plaintiffs. “Science tells us we must sharply cut back on CO2 emissions, but my Federal Government has given the green light to massive LNG exports from this terminal. If constructed, the terminal would process one billion cubic feet of natural gas per day, locking us into dependence on fossil fuels at a time when we should be transitioning toward a renewable energy economy. My family has owned a farm near the proposed pipeline route for almost 150 years, and I’m worried about the impacts that increased drought and wildfire will have on the farm unless we act now on climate change.”

The Complaint includes each Plaintiff’s individual story and the ways in which they are harmed by climate change now and will be in the future if the Court does not order the Federal Government to decrease atmospheric concentrations of CO2 to a safe level. For example, Youth Plaintiff Tia Hatton, from Bend, OR, has experienced record low snowfall for the past three years, threatening her water supplies and winter sports. She knows carbon pollution confronts her and her generation with the specter of severe water shortages, and is concerned she will be forced to stop skiing competitively. Levi Draheim, an 8-year-old Plaintiff from Indialantic, FL lives with his family on a small barrier island between the Atlantic ocean and a lagoon. Sea level rise is already seriously impacting their island, and Levi is worried he will have to move if it becomes worse. Plaintiff Journey Zephier, a 15-year-old who lives in Kaua‘i, Hawai‘i, is watching the island’s beaches erode away. The island’s decreased rainfall is resulting in lower river water levels, and his community is faced with serious water quality problems because saltwater is intruding upriver from sea level rise.

“This bold action by youth in the United States challenges federal government actions that are causing and exacerbating, rather than abating, the climate crisis,” said Roger Cox, attorney for URGENDA who recently secured a court order in the Netherlands ordering the Dutch government to decrease emissions. “Like the court found in our Dutch case, the U.S. government also has a duty to safeguard the climate for present and future generations, but when the government fails to do so, plaintiffs must be able to rely on the judicial branch to remedy the grave injustice being perpetrated by their own government.” Cox added that “What the U.S. courts do in this case will have implications for the rest of the world, and for the degree of climate change we will all face in the years to come.”

Dr. James Hansen, director of the Climate Science, Awareness and Solutions program at Columbia University, stated: “We have a global climate emergency. Earth is out of energy balance, there is more energy coming in than going out. That energy drives warming of the ocean, ice sheet disintegration and sea level rise, stronger storms, more intense heat waves, droughts, fires and floods. Our Constitution guarantees young people equal protection of the law and the rights to life, liberty – including the pursuit of happiness – and property. These rights may not be denied by government action without due process of law.”

According to Dr. Hansen, “Sensible means exist to rapidly phase down CO2 emissions, to wit, a rising carbon fee collected from fossil fuel companies with funds distributed to the public. Instead, our President proposes ineffectual actions, demonstrably short of what is needed, and persists in approving fossil fuel projects that will slam shut the narrowing window of opportunity to ensure a hospitable climate system. I aim to testify on behalf of young people. Their future hangs in the balance.” “

The purpose of this case is to obtain an order from a federal court requiring the United States government, including the President and specific federal agencies, to develop a national plan to protect our atmosphere and stable climate system. These youth, as well as future generations, have constitutional due process and equal protection rights to be free from governmental harm to those resources,” said Julia Olson, Executive Director and Chief Legal Counsel for Our Children’s Trust, and lead counsel on the litigation. “This lawsuit asks whether our government has a constitutional responsibility to leave a viable climate system for future generations. The Federal Government has consciously chosen to endanger young people’s right to a stable climate system for the short-term economic interests of a few. In light of the established science, federal approval of the Jordan Cove LNG Project cannot stand. This administration must no longer consign future generations to an uninhabitable planet.”

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The case is part of a global legal campaign led by Our Children’s Trust, a nonprofit organization that is coordinating a federal, state, local and global human rights and environmental justice campaign to secure the legal right to a healthy atmosphere and stable climate. As a result of OCT’s work, courts around the U.S. and in other countries are beginning to accept arguments to secure that right, in accordance with science and on the behalf of present and future generations. Top legal scholars, international scientists, national security experts, faith leaders, cities, NGOs and others support this effort, including, most recently, a Seattle court that ordered the Washington State to consider the science in establishing emissions standards. Similarly, in March, the N.M. Court of Appeals that the atmosphere is entitled to constitutional protection as a public trust resource. The case filed today builds on these cases and others. Our Children’s Trust and its team of lawyers from around the country is also advancing cases in Massachusetts, Colorado, Washington, Oregon, and North Carolina, and will soon file actions in Florida, Hawaii, Pennsylvania, Montana, Alaska and Maine, and in several other countries. To learn more, go to www.ourchildrenstrust.org and to view the Complaint, go to www.ourchildrenstrust.org/US/Federal-Lawsuit.

Earth Guardians is a Colorado-based nonprofit organization with youth chapters on five continents, and multiple groups in the United States with thousands of members working together to protect the Earth, the water, the air, and the atmosphere, creating healthy sustainable communities globally. We inspire and empower young leaders, families, schools, organizations, cities, and government officials to make positive change locally, nationally, and globally to address the critical state of the Earth. www.earthguardians.org

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5/24/2012 ALEC Exposed: Peabody Energy

5/23/2012 The Durango Herald: Five groups ask court to halt coal mining Environmentalists say feds failed to consider cumulative impacts

5/23/2012 The Durango Herald: Five groups ask court to halt coal mining- Environmentalists say feds failed to consider cumulative impacts By Emery Cowan local environmental group is one of five organizations suing the federal government over its approval of a proposed expansion of the coal mine that supplies the Four Corners Power Plant in northern New Mexico. The lawsuit, filed last week, challenges the U.S. Office of Surface Mining, Reclamation and Enforcement’s approval of a 714-acre expansion of the Navajo Coal Mine in northern New Mexico. The plaintiffs argue the federal agency did not evaluate the indirect and cumulative impacts of the mine expansion.

The extraction, combustion and waste disposal of the additional coal will cause the release of significant amounts of air and water pollution that will adversely affect the Four Corners and beyond, the lawsuit claims.

Coal ash disposal, dust accumulation, traffic and contamination of water sources are other potential environmental impacts, said Mike Eisenfeld, the New Mexico energy coordinator at the San Juan Citizens Alliance, one of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit.

The office of surface mining “put on blinders to the cumulative reality of coal operations at the mine and the power plant,” Eisenfeld said.

The approval “hides the true magnitude of the damage caused by coal mining and combustion in our region and the risks of green-lighting more of the same with no change,” he said.

The groups argue the federal agency should pursue a more-detailed analysis of the environmental impacts of mine expansion.

Mine operator BHP Billington is willing to discuss with the environmental groups the cumulative environmental impacts, said Jac Fourie, president of BHP Billiton’s New Mexico Coal operations, according to news reports.

The 714-acre expansion is a scaled-down version of the company’s 2010 proposal to strip mine 3,800 acres on the same site.

A Colorado district judge ruled the Office of Surface Mining’s analysis of that proposal insufficient.

The current expansion proposal permits the company to extract 12.7 million tons of coal that will be burned at the Four Corners Power Plant.

“The two facilities are inextricably connected,” Eisenfeld said.

The mine needs the expansion permit to fulfill its contract with the power plant, he said.

The Four Corners Power Plant provides electricity to California, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas.

It is the largest coal-fired power plant and the largest single source of nitrogen oxides in the country.

Recent regulations proposed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency that target toxic pollutants would reduce the plant’s emissions by 87 percent.

ecowan@durangoherald.com

5/22/2012 Grist: Peabody Coal buys coal from U.S. taxpayers for cheap, sells it abroad for huge profit

Peabody Coal buys coal from U.S. taxpayers for cheap, sells it abroad for huge profit By David Roberts  Yesterday, I wrote about the issue of public land in the Powder River Basin being leased to coal companies for cheap, so they can strip-mine it and sell the coal abroad at an enormous profit.  Also yesterday, the feds held a “competitive lease sale” for the South Porcupine Tract, which contains almost 402 million tons of mineable coal.

Guess how many companies bid in this “competitive auction”? One: Peabody Coal, the company that filed the original application [PDF] for the lease.

This was actually the second auction for the tract. The first ended with no sale because BLM rejected Peabody’s lowball offer of $0.90 a ton. The winning price in Thursday’s sale? $1.11 per ton.

Again: $1.11 per ton.

The price of a ton of Powder River Basin coal on U.S. spot markets? $9.15 per ton, as of May 11.

The price of a ton of coal exported to China? It averaged $97.28 per ton [PDF] in 2011. It’s now up to $123 per ton.

And exports are only likely to go upEIA: coal exports

So, to summarize: You, the U.S. taxpayer, just leased another huge chunk of your land to Peabody Coal at $1.11 per ton of coal. Peabody will strip-mine that land and take the coal to China, where it will sell it for over $100 per ton. Peabody pockets enormous profits*, the U.S. taxpayer gets devastated land, and China accelerates global warming.

And it’s all being pushed through by the Obama administration.

Happy Friday.

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* Now, obviously, $1.11 per ton is not the sum total of Peabody’s costs. They also pay BLM some production royalties and rental fees. And of course it costs them money to mine the coal and ship it to China! Nevertheless, the notion that $1.11 per ton is “fair market value” for coal that Peabody is going to tell for over $100 a ton is a sad joke.

 

5/19/2012 Bonnie Whitesinger to Mr. James Anaya, OHCHR on Human Rights Violations in Big Mountain, Black Mesa HPL

5 19 2012 Bonnie White Singer to Mr. James Anaya, OHCHR“>

5/9/2012 Sara Saunders to Mr. James Anaya: Request for emergency intervention and investigation in Black Mesa, HPL

5 9 2012 Sara Saunders Letter to James Anaya.“>