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This Young Environmental Activist Lives 500 Feet From A Drilling Site

““This is personal,” says 25-year-old organizer Ashley Hernandez. “This is my home, this is my family, this is my health.”
Hernandez’s parents, immigrants who fled El Salvador’s civil war, had worked diligently to save for their own home in Wilmington by working as a truck dispatcher and a housekeeper. But their home was just 500 feet from a drilling site. As a child, Hernandez was plagued with headaches and nightly nosebleeds so intense the blood would soak through her pillow. Soot would fall in their yard, tremors shook their home, and toxic air burned their eyes.

“There really is no escaping it,” said Hernandez, who is now 25 and still lives in the same home. “I couldn’t go out or have clear air. I felt like a prisoner in my own home. I felt like I couldn’t do anything, really.” ”
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Backyard Talk

Pruitt’s Priority: Superfund Redevelopment

The Superfund program has long lacked the funding required to remediate the hundreds of languishing sites that continue to endanger communities across the country. Scott Pruitt’s answer to this dilemma? Promoting redevelopment.
At face value, incentivizing the cleanup of contaminated land through redevelopment seems to be a win-win solution that protects human health and revitalizes the economies of local communities. However, there are many reasons to be skeptical of Pruitt’s strategies to achieve this outcome.
On July 25, 2017, the EPA published its most recent Superfund taskforce report. Lois Gibbs, Love Canal community leader and ‘Mother of Superfund’, was concerned by the report’s focus on redevelopment:
“Scott Pruitt’s Superfund Task Force Report almost entirely void of public health concerns.  In fact, the report only mentions health six times with four of those in the Executive Summary. The report sounds like a blueprint to involve for bankers, investors and developers and a plan for corporations to reduce cleanup costs and increase profits at the expense of public health. Redevelopment is mentioned 39 times.”
Third party investment in the cleanup and redevelopment of sites brings about a host of liability issues. In many cases, end-users purchase sites without taking on future liability and when Responsible Party cleanup is deemed complete they are often released from liability as well. However, in the cases where containment fails or cleanup later proves ineffective, such properties are left without a liable party, and become orphaned sites which must be remediated with taxpayer money.
Another tool which the EPA plans to use increasingly is environmental liability transfer, in which redevelopers purchase sites and take on the cleanup responsibility. However, this process does not always run smoothly: last june, the company Environmental Liability Transfers Inc. attempted to back out of a remediation agreement by suing the original responsible party. The previous owner, Detrex, denies ELT’s allegations that the company failed to fully disclose the extent of the site contamination:
There are no takebacks in environmental liability transfer. This move undermines ELT’s core business model and could be a red flag for any deal they’ve done,” said Tom Mark, CEO of Detrex. “ELT was unsuccessful in its attempt to extract itself from its commitments to Detrex and has now resorted to a lawsuit full of restated history and invented facts.
Pruitt’s prioritization for Superfund redevelopment recently made Bloomberg headlines over news that the EPA’s Superfund special accounts may now be used to persuade companies to buy and clean up contaminated sites. There is about $3.3 billion in EPA’s Superfund site special accounts as of this week, about three times the amount Congress has appropriated to the Superfund program for fiscal year 2018.
If redevelopment becomes the EPA’s new solution to expedite cleanups despite Superfund budget cuts, we have to ask ourselves several questions: How do we ensure robust liability, cleanup standards, community involvement, oversight, and enforcement? Furthermore, how are we going to clean the many sites which lack redevelopment potential, yet pose a dire health risk?
In the end, the only way to both finance the cleanups of orphan sites and decentivize the use of hazardous chemicals which cause Superfund sites in the first place is to reinstate the Polluter’s Pay tax. We need the EPA to fulfill its true mission in protecting human health and the environment, not polluting corporations.

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EPA Ruled Improperly Delayed Racial Bias Probes

EPA Racial Bias
It has been ruled that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) improperly delayed investigating pollution-spewing dumps and power plants that disproportionately impact minority communities.
This follows a July 2015 suit against the EPA, where Californians for Renewable Energy and four other groups claimed that the agency ignored a decade’s worth of complaints about environmental racism under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act.
Communities surrounding sites such as ‘The Stone’s Throw’ Landfill in Tallassee, Alabama are among the minority populations citing civil rights complaints against the EPA.
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Backyard Talk News Archive


Related image  Everyone off the couch, shake the cobweb out of your brain and enjoy the coming of spring.  Sure we have had a rough winter following the elections.  And it may get rougher still.  I know at first I just wanted to crawl under the covers and go back to my pre-activist days.  Then Lois said to all of us, “don’t agonize, organize.”  Of course Lois would say that, that’s her style.
Earth Day is around the corner; I know some of us no longer see Earth Day as a big deal.  The last time I attended an Earth Day event at the Ohio State House my heart broke.  As I looked around the State House lawn and all I saw was the corporate logos on nice white 12 by 12 tents.  What happened to the students and their drum circles?  Where were all the little grassroots groups sells their buttons and tee shirts to help them survive another year?  Will we ever take back Earth Day?
On the very first Earth Day millions of Americans participated in rallies, marches along with thousands of colleges and universities where the youth helped forced the environment into a political agenda.  Senator Gaylord Nelson, an environmentalist from Wisconsin was behind the idea of Earth Day with hopes of bring the grassroots movement together with ecological awareness.
Environmental awareness is making a comeback in a big way and we see more and more grassroots groups coming together to help save the plant.  We are not too late, we can’t be.  So again I say, SPRING INTO ACTION, do what you can, find your niche, have fun, raise hell. Someone’s got to do it, might as well be you.


The Superfund Sites of Silicon Valley

Federica Armstrong discovered when she moved to Palo Alto, Calif., that Silicon Valley is not what it seems.

The world’s capital of tech innovation prefers to keep its superlatives, good and bad, under wraps. Along its Prius-choked roads, it looks like Anywhere, U.S.A.: single-family-home suburbs south of San Francisco, bordered by chain stores, auto dealerships and corporate parks — lots of beige, boxy corporate parks.

Inside these plain vanilla buildings, where C.E.O.s in hoodies and jeans stockpile more money than the G.D.P. of developing countries, newly minted techies complain that “S.V.,” the world’s largest wealth generator, is too expensive and that its exhausting work culture is toxic.

So, too, is the land beneath their feet.

From its origins as a manufacturer of silicon chips and semiconductors, Santa Clara County is riddled with 23 toxic Superfund sites, more than any county in the country. This was news to Ms. Armstrong, who lives a mile from one of the sites. Ms. Armstrong, a freelance photographer, moved to Silicon Valley eight years ago not because of tech but in spite of it — she and her husband had followed his career in agribusiness from Malaysia to the Netherlands and Japan. She could ignore the world of start-ups — until she couldn’t.

“Most people I talked to in the community seemed unaware of their presence,” she said. “Often, even the notion of Superfund sites is foreign to many people. We are used to taking for granted the safety of the environment we inhabit. I feel the need to pay more attention to it.””

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