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Mary Anne Hitt's Posts

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Congress Ignores the People When Dismantling Public Health, Environmental Protections

As a mom, I often take for granted that the water I put in my daughters sippy cup is safe, and the air that she breathes when she’s playing outside is cleaner than it was when I was a child. This is no accident – it's the result of decades of enforcement of basic health and environmental safeguards. Unfortunately, it looks like we can’t take those protections for granted anymore. Last week the House of Representatives continued its assault on public health and environmental protections by passing bills that would prevent the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) from doing its job. …

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What do banana peels and coal ash have in common?

Americans want strong protections against toxic coal ash -- that's why they submitted more than 450,000 public comments during the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) process to put long-overdue protections in place. Unfortunately, Rep. David McKinley (R-W.Va.) recently introduced the Coal Residuals Reuse and Management Act of 2011 (H.R. 2273), which would handcuff EPA's ability to move forward with strong coal ash disposal safeguards for our communities. And even worse, this bill is expected to come up for a vote this week. Believe it or not, the banana peel you throw away has more robust protections on it than coal ash …

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Texas aims to pollute the nation

It almost seems like Texas is proud of the fact that it has some of the worst air quality in the nation.  The state recently filed yet another lawsuit against the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) -- bringing the total number of recent lawsuits to more than 10 -- claiming in part that Texas should not have to comply with the common-sense safeguard known as the Cross State Air Pollution protection. Texas’s largest power provider, Luminant, has also staked out a position, claiming that the safeguard unfairly targets its three dirty, outdated coal plants all located in the Northeast corner of …

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Clean air and clean energy successes — and some rap

Who doesn't love good news? Let’s start with something catchy -- maybe a soundtrack as you read the rest of this column. This week we released a video created by DJ Steve Porter, known for his innovative "remix" videos, featuring celebrities, sports stars, and now Michael Bloomberg, philanthropist and mayor of New York City, and the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal campaign: Creative, internet-based videos are no longer something reserved for major corporations to promote products; we're now using this type of media to promote issues that the public cares about. Beyond Coal will continue to lead with cutting edge social …

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Keeping Up with the Solar (and Wind) Joneses

Earlier this year, my husband and I put up solar panels at our home – the first solar project in our historic West Virginia town. Well, just last week, inspired by our project, our neighbor installed a solar system three times bigger than ours. He expects it will generate the vast majority of the electricity his family of five uses. We heard that the town planner recently referred to our block as the town's "solar district." This is the kind of keeping up with the Joneses that I could get used to. My block was not the only place where …

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Ads that Fight Back Against Coal

The coal industry is learning to not take the Sierra Club lightly – and we're hoping our local, state and national officials are learning the same lesson. In one example - just today we released a Spanish-language television ad rejecting President Obama’s decision to delay long overdue, life-saving protections from smog, an acidic air pollutant that contributes to bad air quality days, asthma attacks and severe respiratory illnesses. The ad will run on Univision and Telefutura in Reno, Nevada. You can view it here on YouTube. Here's the text of the ad:The cruel grip of asthma attacks tens of thousands …

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The World Bank Still Can't Quit Dirty Coal

This column was co-written by Justin Guay of the Sierra Club International Program. As the New York Times recently reported, coal plants don't come dirtier than the Soviet-era relics currently in operation in Kosovo. Despite the terrible pollution these plants spew, the World Bank has decided the only option for this young country is to lock in more of it - without so much as looking at the alternatives. The Bank's relapse includes support for a new 600 megawatt coal plant and strip mine along with the rehabilitation of one of the country's highly polluting relics. Located right outside the …

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This Roller Coaster Never Stops

Waking up every morning thinking about how to move us beyond coal always comes with its share of highs and lows. But last week was an exceptionally wild roller coaster, and it left my brain spinning Last week started with an adrenaline rush as the City of Alexandria, Virginia and GenOn Energy announced plans to phase out the Potomac River Generating Station just outside Washington, D.C. This symbolic, dirty coal plant started operating in 1949 and still lacks modern pollution controls. The Sierra Club and many local activists and coalition partners had targeted this coal plant for more than a …

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Dissing coal — and the future of West Virginia

Can coal ever be clean? Wait, don't answer that. Photo: Nick HumphriesWest Virginia state leaders were in an uproar last week over a remark about coal made by Rep. John Conyers of Michigan, elder statesman and one of the longest-serving members of the U.S. Congress. Did he call us inbred hillbillies? Based on the angry reactions politicians like Sen. Joe Manchin and Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin, you might think so (oh, wait -- that came from coal industry lawyers, as reporter Ken Ward Jr. reminded us in his excellent post about this whole flap). Instead, Conyers simply had the audacity …

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Breaking: Major victory — deal reached to retire old, dirty Potomac River Coal Plant

Only a few short weeks ago, I stood on a boat in front of the ancient, dirty, and deadly GenOn coal plant in Alexandria, Virginia, and introduced Michael R. Bloomberg, philanthropist and Mayor of New York City, who then announced a game-changing gift from Bloomberg Philanthropies to the Sierra Club's Beyond Coal Campaign. Today, major news about that notorious plant is breaking -- the City of Alexandria and GenOn reached a deal to retire the Potomac River Generating Station by October 1, 2012.    This filthy coal plant started operating in 1949 and still lacks modern pollution controls, making people sick …

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