Statewide Focus Programs

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Granted Right To Know -Oil Trains Through Your Community

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This Order is issued to all railroad carriers that transport in a single train in commerce within the United States, 1,000,000 gallons or more of UN 1267, Petroleum crude oil, Class 3,[1] sourced from the Bakken shale formation in the Williston Basin (Bakken crude oil). By this Order, DOT is requiring that each railroad carrier provide the State Emergency Response Commission (SERC) for each state in which it operates trains transporting 1,000,000 gallons or more of Bakken crude oil, notification regarding the expected movement of such trains through the counties in the state. Read More.

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Healthy Child Safer Pregnancy

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Women thinking about having a baby should read this new book for ways to keep you and your child safe from chemical exposures.

http://healthychild.org/saferpregnancyebook/

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Enough is Enough President Obama

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Somehow the American people have to find a way to give President Obama a wake up call.  It’s getting so bad that it’s seems like a new disaster every single week, because or no regulations, or no enforcement, no one caring what happening to people, to families who work, play and pray in this country.  I’d love to hear some ideas about how we can help Obama hear the alarms.  It’s just too much. It’s like going back in time when river caught fire, clouds of smoke filled the air and people living in industrial areas did not live very long lives. Today the rivers don’t burn but do run full of chemicals that if you touch it your skin would burn. The sky is not black with smoke it brown with dust storms because of the poor usage of water an climate changes. People of low wealth who live in the extraction zones are sick and dying at an alarming rate.  Let’s just look at the last several recent crisis.

  • West Virginia chemical spill sent a clear message about the dangers of extraction industries and it’s not over just because the media is no longer covering the problem. People still have chemicals in their air of their homes and some in the water pipes. Schools are still being closed because of vapors.
  • Soon after the West Virginia spill came the North Carolina spill of coal wastes? That too is far from being over. Clean up is going to take years to restore the river.
  • This week came the five confirmed earthquakes that have hit the Mahoning Valley in Ohio within a 25-hour period. The Columbia University’s Earth Observatory said there have been actually 11 shocks in the area in one week, from March 4 to 10.
  • We’re not done yet, a new story about radioactive wastes and fracking made headlines when Rachel Maddow detailed the highly radioactive wastes being illegally dump on Native American lands and abandoned buildings in North Dakota.
  • Workers have found more nuclear waste leaking between the walls of a nuclear storage tank on the Hanford Nuclear Reservation. The waste was found in a new place between the walls of one of the 28 double shell tanks at the site.
  • And today as I write this someone sent me a picture of a wall of dust as tall as 1,000 feet and 200 miles wide that roared across parts of West Texas and New Mexico due to the lack of rain and water.  Yet Texas continues to allow fracking which requires million and millions of gallon of water.

These are the stories that made headlines.  Behind those headlines are rural farmers with contaminated well water from hydro-fracturing; household family pets and live stock getting sick and dying because of gas and oil processes.  Children, women and men gasping for air due to pollution. Our federal oversight agencies, the Department of Interior, Environmental Protection Agency and Center for Disease Control have let all Americans down — turned their backs on the people they are suppose to protect . . .well all Americans except the industries involved in extreme energy.

Enough is enough. So many people’s lives, livelihoods, property and futures have been destroyed with so little regard from the very government agencies that are responsible for protecting, the American people.

When the events in West Virginia came to light, I as a non-scientists knew that just not drinking and bathing in the toxic water was not enough. The chemicals evaporate into the air and every toilet was a point source of toxic vapors. Boiling water after the pipes were flushed was yet another hazards as along with the bacteria was residue chemicals. As the water vapor rose from the boiling water so too did the chemicals into the air of unsuspecting families with small children, pregnant women and other vulnerable populations. One resident calling CHEJ’s offices talked about all the homes that were elevated on top of a hill still had water and air that smelt like licorice. Her concern was that homes and schools that were located on a hill somehow weren’t flushed properly. That same day two schools were evacuated because the children were experiencing health related symptoms. Both schools were on elevated land.

I’m not sure what it is we can do. I would love ideas from you. Recently, more than 1,000 doctors and nurses wrote to President Obama urging him to stop shale gas extraction pending detailed study of its health effects. Many others have asked to revoke the exemptions clean water, air and so on fracking. Stop the exports of gas and coal was another message to Obama with a positive angle America could really become energy independent.

Let’s explore what we all might do to get the Presidents attention. All of us are in this struggle together and it is together that we will find the answer.

20th Anniversary Environmental Justice Order

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This February 11, 2014, will mark the anniversary of the historic Environmental Justice Executive Order signed by President Clinton.


Alonzo Spencer CHEJ's BOD Member


Although the Executive Order was signed by President Clinton nearly 20 years ago, it has never been fully implemented. Yes, there have been many changes in understanding and the beginnings of addressing the issues environmental justice communities face and suffer from daily, but quite honestly, I feel it’s a big disappointment. There was so much hope when leaders from all 50 states came together in 1991 to create the voice and the platform for a mulch-faceted program that would begin to recognized and address the issues faced by low-wealth and communities of color.

Dana Alston, working at that time for the Panos Institute in D.C. described the gathering and enthusiasm this way. “Joined by delegates from Puerto Rico, Canada, Central and South America, and the Marshall Islands, those present at the October 24-27 meeting in Washington, D.C., set in motion a process of redefining environmental issues in their own terms. People of color gathered not in reaction to the environmental movement, but rather to reaffirm their traditional connection to and respect for the natural world, and to speak for themselves on some of the most critical issues of our times. For people of color, the environment is woven into an overall framework and understanding of social, racial, and economic justice. The definitions that emerge from the environmental justice movement led by people of color are deeply rooted in culture and spirituality, and encompass all aspects of daily life—where we live, work, and play. Read more >

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This Year in Activism: Grassroots Movements against Industrial Pollution Around the World

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By Samantha Stahl

Coming Together: Grassroots Organizing

This year marks the 35th anniversary of the victory at Love Canal, where Lois Gibbs awoke global consciousness of the harms of toxic pollution and led the relocation of over 800 families out of a toxic Niagara Falls neighborhood.  Since then, organizations have been forming all over the world to protest industrial contamination in their communities.  This year alone there are countless campaigns for a healthy future taking place under the radar and they deserve our attention.

Read more >

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Sierra Club Blasts New Plan To Improve Fracking

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“We know that our continued reliance on dirty, dangerous fossil fuels, like natural gas, will not solve the climate crisis, even with the best controls in place,” said Deb Nardone, a Sierra Club campaign director, who called the new plan “akin to slapping a Band-Aid on a gaping wound.” Read more.

Toxic Dump

Health Study at Huge Toxic Spill

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After forty years, the NYS Department of Health is finally launching a health study of people who lived in an area affected by a huge toxic chemical spill south of Rochester, NY. About 35,000 gallons of trichloroethene, or TCE, was released during a 1970 train derailment in Le Roy, Genesee County, creating a 4 ½-square-mile plume of contaminated groundwater.

People in several dozen homes drank and bathed in private well water containing TCE for two decades until officials finally provided public water. Others inhaled indoor air containing trace amounts of the solvent until recent action to alleviate that problem.

Two state health surveys done years ago found nothing out of the ordinary. But public attention has re-focused on the derailment spill site in recent months, and some residents have asserted that people who lived above the plume did suffer a higher-than-normal rate of cancer. The study will examine the Le Roy-area site and eight other lightly populated locations around the state where TCE have been found. Data for the nine sites will aggregated, so the sample size being analyzed is larger and thus more statistically meaningful.

The other locations are in Cayuga, Cattaraugus, Dutchess, Greene, Rensselaer, Ulster and Washington counties. The study will look at cancer incidence and also at birth weight, birth defects and pre-term births among people living at those sites as far back as the early 1980s. (Source, Rochester Democrat & Chronicle, 9/8/12)

lets make a deal

EPA Caving To The Chemical Industry-Election Year Posturing?

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I can’t help but wonder if President Obama is posturing for re-elections trying to appease the all powerful oil, gas and chemical industries. It’s been over two years since the USEPA released their preliminary clean up goals for dioxin. These are clean up goals or levels that can be left in soil, and were based upon scientific studies that looked at non cancer effects. Health effects like birth defects, learning disabilities, miscarriages and more.

After EPA published the clean up goals they went to the Office of Budget and Management (OMB) where they sat for nearly two years. I had the opportunity to meet with OMB staff working on the dioxin goals and walked away angry and frustrated. I rename the agency the Office of Mannequin Bodies because no one would say anything–literally.

Today, EPA announced that they have withdrawn the clean up goals from OMB and will essentially abandoning them. This means that every state will use the scientific report, released in February of non-cancer dioxin effects to set their own guideline. Unbelievable, since today EPA has the scientific report (released in February) to support their proposed clean up goals. What this means is in each state the corporations will come to the table ready to play Monty Hall’s “Let’s Make A Deal!

So states with big corporations ruling the governance will deal a whole lot different than those with stricter regulations and public support. Some sites could be cleaned up to protective levels, and others well . . . who knows.

In the simplest format of Let’s Make A Deal, a trader is given a prize of medium value (such as a television set or in this case a almost good clean up), and the host offers them the opportunity to trade for another prize. But a poorer state with little money and political influence could get “Zonked” an unwanted booby prizes, which could be anything, fake money, fake trips or something outlandish like a fake clean up.

Communities deserve equal protection from dioxin, one of the most toxic chemicals on the planet. We know the chemical industry has invested significant resources lobbying against EPA’s proposed cleanup levels. Is EPA caving into the chemical industry during an election year? What is going on here? All of a sudden EPA has withdrawn them from OMB review, without any public notice or participation.

We call on EPA Administrator Jackson to move swiftly to finalize and release final dioxin cleanup guidelines once and for all, especially now that the non-cancer health assessment is complete. Infants and young children are already being exposed to dioxin levels higher than what EPA considers acceptable.

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Protesters Arrested Vermont Yankee Nuclear

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Vermont Yankee Plant Dozens of protesters are being arrested for trespassing on the property of the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant in a demonstration against the continued operation of the reactor. Protestors and monks chant and protest at the gates of the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant. The plant’s original 40-year operating license expires Wednesday. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has issued a 20-year license extension, but the state of Vermont has moved to shut the plant down. A federal court judge has allowed the plant to continue operating while the legal battle over its future continues.

White Plains, NY A group of 5 Vermont anti-nuclear activists calling themselves the Green Mountain Delegation (GMD) were arrested after attempting to occupy the Entergy Nuclear headquarters in White Plains, NY Thursday morning as an act of solidarity with the hundreds of citizens taking similar nonviolent action Thursday back home in Brattleboro, Vermont. Simultaneously another small group of New England activists attempted a similar solidarity move to occupy Entergy’s corporate offices in New Orleans, Louisiana. The GMD will be arraigned for criminal trespassing charges at 2PM at the White Plains City Court in White Plains, NY. The GMD group in White Plains delivered a 6 point list of demands focused on why the company should close its 40 year old reactor operating in southern Vermont. Entergy executive refused to meet with the group, however the group reached the twelfth floor offices of Entergy Nuclear and read their demands until police arrived and arrested all five of them.

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Niagara Falls Won’t Treat Drilling Wastewater

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Niagara Falls has gone on record against treating wastewater from hydraulic fracturing, with elected officials saying they don’t want the city that endured the Love Canal toxic waste crisis to be a test case for the technology used in gas drilling operations.
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