EIP’s accomplishments over the last year have included forcing cleanup of coal ash pollution, reducing toxic air emissions from oil refineries, increasing scrutiny of illegal fracking, pushing states to reduce runoff from factory farms, and temporarily halting a massive incinerator project in Baltimore.
To read the Environmental Integrity Project’s 2013-2014 Annual Report, click here.
Here is the introduction, written by EIP Executive Director Eric Schaeffer:
We founded the Environmental Integrity Project 12 years ago with the conviction that all people deserve to have their health and quality of life protected through the vigilant enforcement of environmental laws.
We act as a watchdog because all too often the federal and state agencies sworn to this duty fall short. Despite their best efforts, agencies charged with protecting the environment are squeezed by limited resources and political interference from well-funded lobbyists for the industries that government is supposed to regulate. We help level the playing field by giving communities the legal and technical resources they need to claim their rights under laws that protect the air we breathe, the water we drink, and the lakes and rivers in which we swim and fish.
Political influence should play no role when the government decides whether to enforce laws that keep cancer-causing benzene out of the lungs of children, for example, or deadly coal soot particles out of the bloodstreams of the elderly.
Our dedicated team of lawyers and analysts fight for average people facing David-vs-Goliath odds against well-connected energy corporations, oil and gas drilling firms, factory farm companies, and others. We also write investigative reports that expose weaknesses
in the enforcement of environmental laws and areas where policy should be strengthened.
This report reviews what the Environmental Integrity Project (EIP) accomplished in 2013–2014 with support from our partners at the national level and in the local communities we serve:
* In April of 2013, the Environmental Protection Agency proposed the first national standards to limit toxic water pollution from power plants—prompted by a lawsuit that EIP and our partners brought against EPA for its failure to act.
* In Pennsylvania, EIP’s legal pressure on the owners of the largest ash waste pond in the U.S. forced the state in April 2014 to order closure and a $169 million cleanup of the Little Blue Run Impoundment.
* In Baltimore, we exposed permit violations that helped prompt Maryland to temporarily halt construction of a large trash-burning incinerator planned for a poor and minority neighborhood.
* To reduce pollution into the Chesapeake Bay, we filed suit against the Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission to force its water treatment plant to stop releasing millions of pounds of sediment and aluminum into the Potomac River.
We have also stepped up our efforts to keep the public and media informed, because the right kind of publicity can motivate government agencies and industry to make the right environmental choices. This year, we launched “Ashtracker” (www.ashtracker.org), an online database that makes it easy to find and interpret groundwater monitoring data for the most heavily contaminated coal ash sites. We also launched a new website and Facebook page, and hired our first Director of Communications, who has increased news coverage of our investigative reports.
The August 2014 release of our report “Fracking Beyond the Law,” which documented the illegal injection of diesel fuel at 351 wells in 12 states, attracted coverage in 150 news outlets, including The Los Angeles Times, BBC, Scientific American, ProPublica, NPR’s “Morning Edition” and “All Things Considered,” The Washington Post, Denver Post, and The Houston Chronicle. Among those interested by the coverage were Congressional staff from the U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee, who invited the report’s author, EIP Managing Attorney Mary Greene, to brief them on her conclusions.
Everyone has a right to protection by environmental laws. We are fighting hard to make sure these rights are realized, so that all people have clean air to breathe, clean water to drink, and a healthy future for their children.
Eric V. Schaeffer,
Executive Director, Environmental Integrity Project