Statewide Focus Programs

Wangari Maathai

Women Make The Difference In Action on Climate Change


Greenbelt Movement in Africa

I just spent the last three days in St. Louis, Missouri with the group, Just Moms STL to help them develop a plan to put pressure on the elected representatives with the power and ability to help move families away from a horrible situation and clean up the burning radioactive dumpsite. This Superfund site and emergency situation has been ignored by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for decades. In brief the recent study done by the State Attorney General’s office said they community could experience in 3 to 6 months a Chernobyl like event exploding and releasing radioactive wastes throughout the area.

The leaders are women with children, jobs, homes to care for that are leading this fight. But then most of the groups CHEJ works with are led by women 80% at our last count. Yet there is so little recognition of the women in the environmental moment, a frustration that I’ve felt for decades. Yes, my friend and fellow Goldman Prize winner rightfully received recognition but she’s the exception and her work, which continues today is critical to addressing climate change.

Returning home from my work with Just Moms STL, checking my e-mails I came across the article that was written by Tracy Mann from Earth Island. It’s worth a read because it says everything I would have said. Strange it came when it did, fate maybe. Below is an excerpt but the entire article is worth the read.

“In fact, women organizing to protect natural resources and develop community resilience is not a new phenomenon. In the 1970s a group of peasant women in the India threw their arms around trees to prevent the destruction of forests in Northern India in an action that came to be known as the Chipko, or Treehugger Movement. Led by Nobel Laureate Wangari Maathai, the Kenya-based Green Belt Movement mobilized rural women to plant trees to restore plundered forests, generate income and serve as an engine of empowerment. In the 1980s, American Lois Gibbs led the famous Love Canal protest in upstate New York to expose and rectify the toxic waste dump over which her town had been constructed. Her years-long struggle inspired her to organize women and people of color around the common interest of climate justice. Canada’s Tzeporah Berman has been on the frontlines of community-based movements against environmental threats since the 1990s when she was in the forefront of the Clayoquot Sound protests against the unconscionable clearcutting of temperate rainforest in Western Canada. More recently she has led acts of civil disobedience against the transnational pipeline and tar sands expansion.

The women mobilizing for September 29 may not yet be known as leaders or heroes, but the Global Women’s Climate Justice Day of Action is one more potent opportunity to tell their stories. It’s an opportunity for global women to join hands, just as my mother and sister and I did 45 years ago, and take their rightful place at the front of the parade, as essential catalysts to solutions to our greatest of all challenges.”

To read the full article click here:

There Can Be No Meaningful Action on Climate Change Without Women


Where In The World Is Gina McCarthy?


Has EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy totally written off oversight and action in contaminated communities and the Superfund program? Is she just turning a deaf ear to the cries for help?

McCarthy did visited Colorado after and EPA cleanup accidentally released a million gallons of toxic wastewater into the Animas River, a tributary of the Colorado River turning the water orange color. That was so big, so bad, she just couldn’t ignore it.

McCarthy said about the accident, “It is a heartbreaking situation.” I can’t disagree with that but what about all the on-going toxic waste sites where children, hardworking tax paying families live and can’t even get a simple response or acknowledgement from her office?

I’ve never seen so many community being treated so poorly by EPA. This past week in Springfield, Ohio over 700 people turned out at a meeting to tell EPA “NO.” Even the Chamber of Commerce (not always standing with us) paid for buses to help people get to the EPA meeting to show EPA people are serious. State Senator Chris Widener (R) also called on EPA to remove hazardous. Quite loudly they said, “Dig it up and take it out!”  Did that get McCarthy’s attention?

EPA wants to dig up more than 2.8 million gallons of wastes that sits over the drinking water aquifer and put it into an adjunct hole, which also sits above the aquifer that provides drinking water to county families. The community has been fighting for years to get the wastes away from their drinking water source.

Ohio not alone. A deaf ear was turned to the folks in Birmingham, Alabama a low wealth community of color. Instead of listening to a very strong assessment by the federal health agency (ATSDR) that children are at serious risk in North Birmingham stating:

  • Past and current exposure to arsenic found in surface soil of some residential yards could harm people’s health.
  • Children are especially at risk. past and current exposure to lead found in surface soil of some residential yards could harm people’s health.
  • Swallowing this lead‐contaminated soil could cause harmful health effects, especially in children and in the developing fetus of pregnant women. long‐term exposure to PAHs found in the surface soil of some residential yards is at a level of concern for lifetime cancer risk.

EPA’s response is to tell parents to not let their children into their homes until they have taken their shoe and clothes off.

Does Administrator McCarthy really think this is the answer? Has she even talked to her staff about why they are handling this situation or others so poorly? I doubt it.

Missouri joins Ohio and Alabama in being ignored. St. Louis, MO almost every politician from federal Senator Blunt (R) to most recently the County Executive, has asked EPA and McCarthy personally to address the concerns of the burning landfill moving toward the radioactive waste landfill and cluster of childhood cancers. Yesterday a new report from the Attorney General’s office said the groundwater and, yes the trees around the site, are radioactive.

The community leaders Just Moms STL raised money through bake sales and traveled to Washington, D.C. to meet with the administrator this past spring and she closed her door to them. She was there in her office and choose to ignore the mothers who came to talk with her.

I understand that Administrator Gina McCarthy has a full plate with Climate Change, Air Standards and so on but people are literally dying. Her office has only suggested that concerned public should look to the regional offices for help.  Unfortunately, regional offices don’t have the authority to open a Record of Decision or relocate temporarily or permanently families at risk.

Many are advocating a federal investigation on EPA and Gina McCarthy’s response or better the lack of response to serious toxic waste crisis. If you are interested in helping to advocate an investigative hearing let us know and we’ll connect you with others.

Gina McCarthy, enough is enough, please pay attention.

Mary at Cin Park

I’m Dying of Cancer … It Was Preventable


Mary has terminal lung cancer. She never smoked. But what she did do is walk around the local park every morning 24 laps. She believed that she was doing a good thing for her health, getting exercise and fresh air.

Unfortunately, the park that she walked daily was found to be contaminated with radioactive materials. It’s all part of the St. Louis historical work on the Manhattan Project. Mary attended the local meeting this past week about the cleanup of the radioactive wastes. Officials told her that they were not going to close the park that she once walked around daily because the children are back in school. The children, they believe wouldn’t spend much time in the park because of school so they didn’t need to take any  action.

Outraged that no one would close the park, the park she believed was the root cause of her now death sentence, Mary decided to do something about it.  Mary stood in front of the park with a sign that asked people to ask her why she was there, so she could tell them her story. How her grandson will never really know his Nana because she will be gone before they can do much together.

Today the park that Mary once walked laps around  is closed, because Mary wouldn’t leave the entrance with her yellow sign “Park Closed,”  until it was officially closed to innocent children and families. Thank you Mary.

The unfortunate truth is that it took a victim of radioactive exposure, a mother and grandmother to take a stand and protect the innocent from known harm. Where are our health protectors?  Where are the local, state and more importantly federal health authorities that have jurisdiction  and decision making powers when such decisions are needed. Who are they afraid of?

I’m am so tired of the federal government who has investigated and defined the cleanup and testing of this site and so many other sites, turn their heads when it comes to making a decision about protecting the public health. This is not the case when the public is placed at risk from food poisoning or a drug that proved to be more harmful than thought. Why are people exposed to radioactive wastes or toxic wastes the abandoned child? Why is there No Protection or Unequal Protection under government authorities when it comes to working class or low wealth families?

Time and time again we at CHEJ have seen that families are ignored when it comes to the real life threat of exposures to materials that will cause cancer and other diseases. It is well past time that the health professionals who took an oath “to do know harm” to step up to the plate and protect innocent families in the same manner, in the same time frame, as they do families exposed to food related or drug related health impacts.

To hear Mary speak to this issue you can connect to the Youtube video and begin at 1:59, but be sure to have a box of tissues handy to wipe your eyes because the personal testimony is very powerful and sad.


EPA Can Map Environmental Justice Communities – Can They Stop The Poisoning?


Today we know how to identify Environmental Justice communities but what is the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) doing to relieve their community burdens? A new mapping tool created by the EPA, called EJSCREEN was recently released. This tool is great for academia or researchers but how does it help environmentally impacted communities? Why is generating information, that community already know because they are living with the pollution and associated diseases daily, more important than helping them?

CHEJ, for example, has worked for over thirty years with Save Our County in East Liverpool, Ohio This community in the 1990’s was defined by EPA as an Environmental Justice community, through their evaluation process which is the same as the mapping categories. Yet nothing has changed as a result of this definition.

  • The hazardous waste incinerator, WTI, still operates and remains for most of the time in violation of air and other standards.
  • Other industries continue to pollute with little enforcement.
  • An elementary school was closed due to the air emissions from the WTI Incinerator stack which is almost level to the school windows (incinerator is in the valley) stack peeked over the embankment. The City was force to shoulder the costs of relocating students and staff.
  • In the past several years new wells were drilled for natural gas extraction and infrastructure.
  • The community has the highest number of cancers in their county than other similar counties in the state.

    Nothing, absolutely nothing, has changed in East Liverpool, Ohio as a result of being defined an environmental justice community.

  • No decision to stop new polluting industries from setting up shop.
  • No action on denying permits, when they have been a significant repeat violator of the laws and regulation, when up for renewal permit.
  • No fee data and information when requested under the freedom of information requests.
  • No additional public comment meetings for new or existing permits. Absolute nothing changed in East Liverpool, OH and so many other communities.

    Thank you EPA for providing a tool for academics, for communities to say yes our community qualifies (although they already knew) and for real estate and banking institutions to provide information that will make it more difficult for families in Environmental Justice communities to secure a home improvement loan or sell their property.

    Now can you spend some time and money on reducing the pollution burdens and assisting with the medical professionals for disease related injuries.

  • earthquakes

    NIMBY Versus NIMIC


    Not In My Backyard vs Not In My Insurance Company

    For many decades community leaders were called NIMBY (Not In My Backyard) when opposing a facility that would cause environmental and public health damages. They were told that they were reacting emotionally, stifling progress and or the waste/facility needs to go somewhere. Or local leaders hurting the economy, we need the jobs and so stop complaining about public health hazards or environmental destruction that community leaders are being just selfish.

    There were full out attacks on innocent people trying to find a way to protect themselves from environmental chemicals and to convince corporations to look beyond the dinosaur aged technology and moved to other safer ways to provide the same goods or services.

    Today the insurance agencies are working hard to stop, “to exclude” coverage from earthquakes in Pennsylvania caused by fracking. NIMIC stands for Not In My Insurance Company. The contrast in reactions from the public is striking with the exception of the State of Pennsylvania Insurance Department (PID) who is opposing such exclusions. Those with money and don’t live near such destructive practices say the insurance industry must protect themselves from huge liabilities. It make sense that they would want to create an exclusion in their policies.

    Nationwide Mutual Insurance Co. has become the first major insurance company to say it won’t cover damage related to a gas drilling process that blasts chemical-laden water deep into the ground. Their memo reads: “After months of research and discussion, we have determined that the exposures presented by hydraulic fracturing are too great to ignore. Risks involved with hydraulic fracturing are now prohibited for General Liability, Commercial Auto, Motor Truck Cargo, Auto Physical Damage and Public Auto (insurance) coverage.”

    Yet when innocent people with no stake in the leasing or process say it is too great of a risk to frack in or around our community they are dismissed as NIMBYs. The insurance industry did their studies assessed the risks and said no. Community leaders including the community in TX who banned the process entirely from their borders. State legislation was introduced to allow local bans on fracking only to be overturned by Republican Gov. Greg Abbott who signed a law that prohibits bans of hydraulic fracturing altogether and makes it much harder for municipal and county governments to control where oil and gas wells can be drilled.

    This is a blatant contradiction that once again demonstrates the bias against the American People and for the corporate polluters and their associated family of corporations. There was no law passed that says insurance companies must provide coverage for associated damages from earthquakes, poisoned water, air and public health impacts. Maybe just maybe we should make a rule, decision or law that says if an insurance company does their risk assessment and finds that the risks are too great for them to participate or provide coverage then the facility, process . . . thing cannot move forward at any costs.

    Since the majority of our stae and federal health departments or departments of environmental regulations can’t ever find a risk they can’t explain away, then we should follow the risk assessments of the Lloyd’s of London. If Lloyd’s of London says it’s too risky then it is. A simple way to protect the American People.


    EPA Laws & Regulations Really Don’t Matter


    How can ordinary people win justice from an agency that seems to care little about their own laws and regulations? Take for example the recent report that the hazardous waste incinerator (WTI) in East Liverpool, OH. It stands tall next to the Ohio River and has released toxic substances above allowable limits 195 times over 175 days. This is not new for this facility. In fact CHEJ years ago went all the way to the Supreme Court in the state of Ohio to have the incinerators permit revoked. At that time the incinerator was only within compliance (legal limits) two quarters over a number of years.

    The area surrounding the incinerator was defined as an Environmental Justice community, by the Environmental Protection Agency. As such the community should have seen tighter enforcement, more access to information and new polluting industries proposed would be weighed against the already high pollution in the area before allowed to be built.

    None of that happen. In fact, a freedom of information request was made on several occasion for information because no one would provide the information through a simple request. Those freedom of information requests were able to be fulfilled but not without the low wealth community paying about $1,500. EPA refused to waive the fee for compiling the information. Fracking and injections wells were welcome in the area and operating today with little regard to the existing community toxic burden.

    When CHEJ fought in court for the renewal permit to be revoked the local group Save Our County, filled the court room with local people. Three judges sat in the front of the room and listened to arguments from both sides. The community argument was clear, the company is breaking the law and have been for years and no one will do anything about it except collecting on a small number of fines and penalties. To WTI those fines are predictable and just the cost of doing business. The community is suffering from a multitude of adverse health impacts.

    Ohio has this regulatory system that allows innocent people to be poisoned. The court ruled against the community when CHEJ helped them to appeal the permit. The judge said he had nothing to hang his hat on and said he understands why his court room is full of unhappy people. The judge said that because according to Ohio regulations, if a company is out of compliance – but has a plan to come into compliance – than they are considered in compliance.

    What if that was the rule for everyday people and laws. For example, if you were found to be driving while drunk (DUI), but have a plan to go to alcohol anonymous, then you are not considered in violation of the law – worst you can continue to drive while under the influence, possibly killing innocent people—just like WTI.

    EPA and the state of Ohio among other states need to right this wrong. It is the innocent victims that suffer the diseases and taxpayers who are burdened with the cost of those diseases and destruction of the environment and all living things.

    Danger chemicals image 2

    25 Organizations Petition EPA Fracking Waste Disposal Program



    For Immediate Release:  April 29, 2015

    For additional information, contact Teresa Mills, Center for Health, Environment and Justice at:





    75% of Ohio’s Disposal Wells for Fracking Waste are in Low-Income Appalachian

    Areas That Receive “Comically Inadequate” Public Participation Opportunities and No Meaningful Enforcement

    COLUMBUS:  A large coalition of Ohio environmental and community groups sent a detailed, fifteen page demand to U.S. EPA’s Office of Environmental Justice today documenting that Ohio’s program for approving “injection” wells that dispose of highly contaminated wastewater from oil and natural gas “fracking wells” has an overwhelmingly disparate impact on low-income Ohioans in violation of a federal directive requiring that such impacts be identified and given specific safeguards.  74.9% of the 237 active injection wells in Ohio are concentrated in the state’s 32 officially recognized “Appalachian” counties due to their low-income status where just 17.4% of all Ohioans live.  Injection wells disposed of over 1 billion, 46 million gallons of highly toxic fracking wastes in 2014 deep underground where it is supposed to be isolated from drinking water – but the serious problems in the program detailed in the letter place the injection well program’s claims to safety into deep doubt.

    The groups charge that Ohio’s injection well regulator, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (“ODNR”), is a “captive regulator” controlled by Ohio’s politically potent oil and gas industry and has neither the effective public input nor reliable enforcement programs that states with disparate impacts on low-income communities are required to have under a 1994 Executive Order signed by Bill Clinton addressing “Environmental Justice.”  The groups document that the Ohio program has not been updated since it was established in 1983 and has not been changed to address either the rapid growth in waste volume since fracking became common or the requirements of the 1994 Environmental Justice Order despite the obvious disparate impact.

    The Environmental Justice Executive Order is enforced by U.S. EPA’s Washington DC-based Office of Environmental Justice where the demand letter was sent.  The injection well program is the only component of oil and gas production where federal oversight exists through the U.S. EPA.  The Executive Order requires that all federal agencies address “disproportionately high and adverse human health or environmental effects” of federal programs “on minority and low-income populations in the United States” through insuring 1) full access to relevant information, 2) meaningful opportunities for public participation in the permitting process, and 3) effective enforcement.

    The groups list evidence that ODNR fails badly in all three areas.  It calls ODNR’s current public participation policies established in 1983 “comical but for the profound injustice they cause” due to eight separate defects including that the Department provides only fifteen days to comment on these complicated deep well proposals, routinely refuses to hold public meetings to discuss the permitting process and respond to public concerns, and even claims that citizens have no right to contest its injection well siting decisions in court.  Citizens making public records requests to ODNR routinely wait over two months for a response.  ODNR’s enforcement program is virtually non-existent with not a single fine collected and only a single example where ODNR authorized the state Attorney General to take an injection well to court.  When ODNR inspects injection wells, many violations are ignored while those cited are seldom followed up on to insure compliance.  The injection well program is severely understaffed with only four dedicated inspectors, most of whose time is spent insuring that the wells receive their permission to operate.

    For proof of ODNR’s “regulatory capture,” the groups point to the disclosure in February, 2014, of a “communications plan” prepared by ODNR to promote fracking in state parks that proposed aggressively partnering with the oil and gas industry and its lobbyists to overcome resistance from what the Department scornfully called “eco-left pressure groups” which included many of the nation’s most respected environmental groups and even two state legislators.

    “With ODNR, it’s everything for the oil and gas industry and nothing for the public. They act just as biased toward the industry as their own secret communications plan revealed them to be,” says Teresa Mills of Citizens for Health, Environmental and Justice who coordinated the letter’s release.  “They treat Appalachian Ohio as the fracking industry’s dumping ground whose people are too poor to resist taking the lion’s share of Ohio’s waste and that from surrounding states.”

    The groups also take U.S. EPA to task for its inadequate oversight role over ODNR.  The last oversight report in 2009 was virtually a cut and paste of the previous 2005 report with no mention of ODNR’s severe staff deficiencies or lack of enforcement.  The groups also believe U.S. EPA is just as apathetic toward the public as ODNR citing a 2013 episode where, after ODNR refused to hold public meetings, Ohio’s citizens groups held their own to take testimony; the results were sent to U.S. EPA – who never responded.

    The groups have asked U.S. EPA’s Office of Environmental Justice to conduct an investigation of both ODNR’s and U.S. EPA’s injection well programs to determine how they should be reformed to satisfy the 1994 Executive Order and to order that the necessary reforms be implemented to insure that the concerns and health of Appalachian Ohioans are taken into account in the injection well program.  “The industry has effectively blocked all reform in Ohio and in Washington DC,” concluded Ms. Mills.  “This petition is about the only step left to instill some basic fairness into this miserably corrupt system.”

    See attached letter.Tejada 4-27-15

    Barack Obama

    Greenpeace Starts Countdown Clock Asking: Why is Obama Letting the EPA Slow-walk Chemical Plant Safety?


    By Rick Hind, Greenpeace — When he was a Senator, President Obama championed legislation to prevent chemical disasters. On the Senate floor in 2006 he warned, “these plants are stationary weapons of mass destruction spread all across the country.”

    As a candidate for in 2008, Obama made it an issue in his campaign platform, Change We Can Believe In

    As President he sent representatives from the Department of Homeland Security and EPA to Capitol Hill to testify in favor of the same prevention policies that he had championed in the Senate. After the legislation was blocked by the chemical lobby in 2011 a coalition of over 100 organizations urged the President to use EPA’s long standing authority under the Clean Air Act to prevent future disasters by requiring safer alternatives.

    Two years ago on April 17th, following the deadly chemical fertilizer disaster in West, Texas President Obama spoke at the memorial service of the fifteen victims of that preventable calamity, most of whom were first responders, saying, “we’ll be there even after the cameras leave and after the attention turns elsewhere.” Obama video:

    On August 1, 2013 the President appeared to put those words into action when he issued an executive order directing federal agencies to modernize their safety rules. Last May the EPA committed to finalizing new safety requirements by 2016. But two years after the disaster in West, Texas we’re still waiting for the EPA to begin the rule-making process. In the meantime there have been more than 350 additional chemical accidents. And there are still 466 chemical plants that each pose a catastrophic hazard to 100,000 or more people – 88 of which put one million or more people at risk.

    Because the EPA rarely finalizes new rules in less than 18 months, our Coalition has urged them to start as soon as possible. If they don’t finish by June 2016 a new President or Congress could kill it by using the Congressional Review Act (CRA), as President Bush did to important workplace safety rules in 2001.

    Unfortunately, the EPA has chosen to wait until sometime in September to start this process.

    To track their progress Greenpeace created a Countdown Clock on our web site. If the President and the EPA are serious about prioritizing disaster prevention, they must move up their start time to June 1st of this year so they can finalize a new rule by June 2016. After that, any new rule will be more vulnerable to the CRA.

    The safety of millions of people depends on the administration finishing what they started. The EPA has been “considering” this issue on and off for 20 years. We finally have a President who knows how and what to do.

    If he’s serious and wants this to be an important part of his legacy, he needs to ensure that the EPA acts as soon as possible. He’s hearing from the chemical lobby so please let him hear from you today by clicking here.

    ——– ***Chronology of the EPA “Considering” Chemical Disaster Prevention***

    1995 “EPA does not favor inclusion of a specific requirement in the initial program for an analysis of the inherent safety of processes…EPA is considering further study of this issue with all stakeholders and requests comment on this issue.”

    2002 Following the 9/11 attacks, EPA Administrator Christine Todd Whitman proposed regulations in 2002 following the 9/11 attacks but they were scuttled by the Bush White House. She has since urged Obama to issue new safety rules.

    2009 Peter S. Silva, EPA Assistant Administrator for Water, testified in favor of requirements to use inherently safer technologies (IST) also known as safer chemical processes.

    2010 Cynthia Dougherty, EPA’s Director of the Office of Ground Water and Drinking Water of the Office of Water testified in favor of requirements to use inherently safer technologies (IST) also known as safer chemical processes.

    2011 Rand Beers, Department of Homeland Security Undersecretary testified in favor of requirements to use safer technologies (IST) also known as safer chemical processes.

    2012 EPA’s National Environmental Justice Advisory Council recommended that the “EPA use its authority under the 1990 Clean Air Act section 112 (r) to reduce or eliminate these catastrophic risks, where feasible, by issuing new rules and guidance…”

    2012 EPA says they will address a petition from 54 organizations urging that they use their Clean Air Act authority to require inherently safer technologies (IST).

    2013 President Obama issued Executive Order 13650 giving federal agencies such as the EPA, DHS and OSHA nine months to propose ways to modernize their chemical facility safety and security policies.

    2014 In a multi-agency report to the President the EPA pledged to complete new regulations by 2016 including possible requirements for inherently safer technologies (IST)

    2015 EPA plans to issue “proposed” regulations in September 2015 with the expectation of completing them in 2016.

    Gibbs Ohio

    Board of Directors Announce Lois Gibbs Shifting Energy To Field


    The Board of Directors of the Center for Health, Environment & Justice (CHEJ) is pleased to s, our founder and Executive Director, has accepted the opportunity to shift the focus of her work to our newly created Leadership Training Academy program.

    To maintain our momentum in supporting community-based environmental health and justice work, we have begun the formal search for the next grassroots leader with excellent training and management skills and a vision of powerful action – our successor Executive Director. To support the Board in the search process, CHEJ has engaged Democracy Partners. Our process of outreach and selection begins very soon. Questions or suggestions should be directed to Cheri Whiteman by e-mail at

    Lois Gibbs will shift her full-time attention away from her current day-to-day administrative responsibilities with the engagement of our next Executive Director, which is expected to occur this summer. “I’m excited to spend more time in the field to build the advocacy base for change!” said Lois, “and it’s a great opportunity for one of the emerging community leaders out there to take CHEJ to the next level!”

    CHEJ has launched the Leadership Training Academy program to strengthen and sustain the infrastructure of fledgling environmental health and justice organizations in the United States.

    CHEJ recently completed a strategic review and refocus of our work. We were aided as a Board in this process by a group of allies and advisors, and our retreat was facilitated by Jim Abernathy. In examining our work, the following important findings led CHEJ’s Board to take those steps to reshape the organization to meet the increasing demand from the field for Leadership Training Academy program services:

    • There are more local, state and regional groups emerging than in the past. This is due primarily to energy-related proposals and activities such as pipelines, extraction wells, export terminals and associated waste disposal.

    • Established groups are growing and looking for advice on long-term organizing, establishing collaborative efforts, Board development and establishing a three-year strategic organizational plan.

    Lois describes the Academy program this way: “The Leadership Training Academy is a training center ‘without walls.’ It provides a distinctive brand of leadership skills-building training and mentoring of local group leaders around the country to build the base of the environmental health and justice movement. This program is based on a proven, time-tested methodological framework that is grounded in CHEJ’s 34 years of grassroots leadership and coaching experience, campaign strategy knowledge and the tactics of successful grassroots victories. A special focus of the training activities is with thousands of women leading grassroots groups on a range of environmental health and economic justice issues. People of color, young people and women together comprise what many call the ‘emerging American electorate,’ and it is they who will both determine environmental and economic policy, and live with the consequences of the decisions.”

    I personally am excited to “free Lois” to spend more of her energy in the field, and the Board of Directors looks forward to working with new leadership. We’ve always known that success comes when we learn from the past and step boldly into the future. With a new CHEJ Executive Director and our legendary friend and teacher, Lois Gibbs, we will have the best of both worlds!

    Thank you,

    Peter B. Sessa
    CHEJ Board Chair


    Stop Poisoning The Children


    When will we stop poisoning our children?  What is a child’s life worth? I can’t help but ask those questions today as I click through my e-mail box and see the story on fracking related health effects, around birth defects and infertility and another on cancer, respiratory disease and more. As I scroll down there’s a new story by the Center for Public Integrity focused on a study finding childhood leukemia related to the petrochemical industry.

    “Children, developing fetuses, they’re especially vulnerable to environmental factors,” says Ellen Webb, the study’s lead author and an energy program associate at the Center for Environmental Health. “We really need to be concerned about the impacts for these future generations.”

    The Center for Public Integrity story is almost a mirror image of the story about Woburn,  Massachusetts. Parents in that community in the late 1970’s discovered a cluster of childhood leukemia while taking their children into the hospital for treatment. For those who are familiar with the Woburn story just read the paragraphs below for the article and see the similarities.

    “It was December 29, 1998, six years after Jill McElheney and her family had moved next to a cluster of 12 petroleum storage tanks. Jill was escorting her son Jarrett, then 4, to the doctor again. He had spent the day slumped in a stroller, looking so pale and fatigued that a stranger stopped her to ask if he was all right.

    It was an encounter Jill couldn’t shake. For the previous three months, she had noticed her once-energetic preschooler deteriorating. He complained of pain in his knee, which grew excruciating. It migrated to his shoulder and then his leg. His shins swelled, as did his temples. At night, Jarrett awoke drenched in sweat, screaming from spasms. Jill took him to a pediatrician and an infectious-disease specialist. A rheumatologist diagnosed him with anemia.

    Doctors identified a common form of childhood leukemia. “I heard the words,” Jill recalled, “and I only knew the bald heads and the sadness.”

    In the waiting room, family members heard more unsettling news: A neighbor’s child also had developed leukemia.

    Days later, Jarrett’s doctor penned a letter to federal environmental regulators about the two cancer patients, highlighting their “close proximity” to Southeast Terminals, a group of 10,000-gallon tanks containing gasoline, diesel and fuel oil.

    “Could you please investigate,” the doctor wrote, “whether high levels of chemicals could have contaminated the water, possibly contributing … to the development of leukemia?”

    I can remember like it was yesterday, talking with mothers from Woburn literally telling the same story. Why are corporations allowed, now over thirty five years later, to continue to poison our children? These children have parents, grandparents, sisters, brothers, names and personalities. They are not just numbers in a report or statistics in someone’s research they are little people and are helpless. It is well past time to stop this madness and protect the most vulnerable among us. Enough is enough our children matter.