More than 141 millions Americans lived in areas with unhealthy air pollution levels in 2015 to 2017 — an increase over the previous two years, as ozone pollution worsened across much of the country, according to a new report released Wednesday. Read more here.
Roberson and Joel Gilbert, a powerhouse lawyer with Balch & Bingham, had fought off environmental rules before. But for this campaign they needed a public face, someone with credibility both with the state government in Montgomery and the black communities in north Birmingham.
Someone who could persuade the people living on contaminated land to protest not the pollution, but the cleanup.
By early 2014, they had chosen Oliver L. Robinson Jr. (D), an African American state legislator and former University of Alabama at Birmingham basketball star. Read the entire story.
Every day, Ron Baptiste’s home in West Long Beach is invaded by dust and ash. If he cleans it in the morning, his shelves and furniture are coated again by the afternoon. Read more here.
We get calls from community leaders seeking information that they think will convince their state or local officials to take action. I wish I had a dollar for every person that told me over the years that if they could just get the right information in the hands of the politicians or government officials that those decision makers would do the right thing. If only that were true.
As a scientist, I provide technical assistance to grassroots community groups. People send me testing data to review, whether it’s the chemicals found in their drinking water, the air behind their child’s school, or the soil in the park where their children play. They ask me to do this primarily because they want to know what the test results mean. But they also believe that information is where they will find answers to the many questions about the contamination in their community.
To be clear, science and information is important. People need to understand the facts, to know what they can about a situation, and to use information as the basis for their arguments or their demands. But equally important is understanding the limitations of the information and recognizing the fine line between facts and opinion. Science and information are critically important, but it is not enough to convince the decision makers to take action. It’s not the information by itself but rather what you do with it that matters.
Just gathering data and sharing information no matter how important or impactful will not likely change a bureaucrat’s or a politician’s mind. But if you use the information as part of a strategic plan, it can make all the difference in the world. If you use the information to educate your community and then go to the bureaucrats and politicians with a set of demands that meet the needs of your community, you have a much greater chance of success.
So, don’t get trapped into believing you can win over the bureaucrats or your politicians by just gathering information, or become frozen into inaction until you gather every little bit of information. Science and information alone will not solve your problems. What really matters is what you do with the information you have and how it fits strategically into your organizing plan. Don’t hesitate to reach out to CHEJ to further discuss this.
Senators Cory Booker (D-New Jersey), Tammy Duckworth (D-Illinois), and Tom Carper (D-Delaware) announced the formation of an environmental justice caucus on Monday. Read more here.
Nevada ranked first nationally in the release of toxic chemicals per square mile in 2017, the most recent year for which data is available, and the state’s mining industry was the reason why. read more here.
The study suggests that as the Portland Harbor Superfund site is cleaned-up, salmon recovery efforts in the Willamette will get a major boost. Read more here
EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler’s history of lobbying for International Paper Co. and Xcel Energy Inc., among other companies, means he is recused from working on 45 Superfund sites, according to new agency data. Read more here.
By Maia Lehmann. The ever-tenacious Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez unveiled her Green New Deal (GND) on February 7th amidst great anticipation. The non-binding resolution, co-sponsored by Massachusetts Senator Ed Markey, sought to provide the United States with a comprehensive vision to combat climate change using a holistic approach. Excitement was widely felt by those who have been waiting decades to see public health, climate change, and environmental justice seriously addressed by federal legislation. But, what did Ocasio-Cortez’s plan actually lay out? And what’s happening to it now?
The goal of the Green New Deal (GND) was to reach net zero greenhouse gas emissions and 100% renewable power use by 2030. This objective was met by broad support from the American public, with 87.2% of citizens polled saying that they strongly agreed with the statement. Adapting the U.S. energy portfolio is an essential step, seeing as in 2017 petroleum, natural gas, and coal accounted for 77.6% of U.S. energy—a direct disconnect from what Americans say they want from their energy sector.
The 14-page GND begins with a preamble that describes the policy issues as seen by Ocasio-Cortez: one-part climate crisis, one-part economic crisis. The preamble is followed by five goals, 24 projects, and 15 requirements that intend to lay a framework for how to address these problems. Rather than laying out concrete steps however, the GND uses a broad brush to advocate for an energy efficient electrical grids, updating infrastructure, and overhauling the transportation sector. While critics say that it is ignoring the most integral questions, it is strategically opening a space for disagreement and discussion.
The GND faces plenty of hurdles, especially since it includes several social and economic oriented projects, such as, “Guaranteeing a job with a family-sustaining wage, adequate family and disability leave, paid vacations, and retirement security to all people of the United States.” Whether you agree with these issues or not, including them could make the reality of passing the bill even more difficult than climate legislation is already. And the difficulty of climate legislation is highlighted by the co-sponsorship of Senator Markey, who was a leader on the American Clean Energy and Security Act in 2009. The 2009 bill had a much narrower focus but still failed to pass even when both houses of Congress and the presidency was held by Democrats. However, rather than letting that cast a shadow upon the GND, perhaps it speaks to the need for radical changes to the status quo. In fact, 69.8% of Americans polled supported the intertwined social and environmental goals. And due to the inseparable nature of these policy issues it may be advantageous to craft a vision of how they could be developed in tandem. If previous incremental policy efforts have failed, and the opinions of the public are not being reflected by our lawmakers, then it is time to embrace an innovative comprehensive approach.
On March 26th the Senate voted the resolution down in a vote of 57-0, with the majority of Democrats voting “present” in protest to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell bringing the bill to the floor without hearings or debate. If anything, Senate Republican’s refusal to even discuss the most pressing issues of climate change demonstrate the necessity for dramatic policy change. The halt of the GND in the senate did not stall the zeal for the overall project of the GND. Representative Ocasio-Cortez is now refocusing her efforts by writing a series of small bills that will target both social and environmental issues in a more individualized method. The GND has successfully reinvigorated and rallied the efforts and public spirit for tackling the current climate crisis and provided a vision for what a sustainable and equitable America could look like. All of the Senate Democrats running for the presidency in 2020 have endorsed the GND, signaling that its vision will continue to permeate and inspire environmental legislation. This will not be the end of a green future that will support all of America.
A portion of Libby’s asbestos cleanup has been completed, with the EPA removing that area from the list of federal Superfund sites. Read more here.