Categories
Homepage News Archive

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.
Read more at: https://www.courthousenews.com/judge-rules-epa-improperly-delayed-racial-bias-probes/

Categories
Backyard Talk

What does Trump’s budget mean for Environmental Justice?

The Trump administration’s 2019 budget (October 1, 2018 to September 30, 2019) has serious consequences for the protection of the environment and of people. Trump’s budget plan cuts the Environmental Protection Agency’s spending by 23 percent, eliminating dozens of programs. The agency’s budget for the Office of Science and Technology is being nearly halved, while the Human Health Risk Assessment program will face reductions close to 40 percent. Other programs, such as several voluntary emissions-reductions programs and climate change research initiatives, will be eliminated.
The Superfund program, while considered to be a priority by EPA Administrator Scott Pruit, will still be subject to 25 percent cuts. Pruitt’s statement on the Superfund program emphasizes that cuts will come from administrative costs and the expedition of cleanups. The EPA’s other hazardous site restoration project, known as Brownfields, will shrink by 36 percent.
Trump’s cuts to several important EPA programs and subsequent shrinking of the agency as a whole sends a strong message about his regard for environmental health of Americans. Many environmentalists consider this move towards less health protective policies to be dangerous. The administration is instead prioritizing military and defense spending, hashing out 686 billion to the Department of Defense.
Aside from cuts, the Trump administration announced the end of the Clinton-era “once in, always in” policy on pollution. Environmental activists and lawyers are criticizing this move, warning that it could increase exposure to hazardous air pollutions, particularly among vulnerable populations. Former environmental justice head of the EPA, Mustafa Ali, said in an interview with Earther, “[The elimination of the ‘once in, always in’ policy is] really going to be killing people. You’re going to have all types of public health problems.”
These concerns being raised are valid, as the lack of funding to crucial programs mean that the most vulnerable of populations will be most affected. Considering that our president is ignoring the pressing issue of climate change, we must take matters in our own hands. More than ever, we need to work to protect our communities from the threat of pollution and toxic contamination. By supporting local groups that are putting pressure on government officials to produce life-saving policies, you can make sure that your community is safe and healthy.

Categories
Backyard Talk

An Open Letter From Pittsburgh to the President on Paris Climate Pullout

Last week, President Trump pulled the United States out of the Paris Climate Agreement. Here’s what Pittsburgh had to say about it:
“Mr. President, when you took our country out of the global agreement to stop climate change, you said you  “represent the citizens of Pittsburgh, not Paris.” As a proud native of western Pennsylvania, I strongly disagree.
You do not represent Pittsburgh. Our people overwhelmingly rejected you at the ballot box, and we have seen your brand of charlatanism before.
For generations, glorified highwaymen like you have come to exploit the people and land of western Pennsylvania, and gorged themselves on their spoils. These salesmen claimed gold would rain down on us, if only we let them dump toxins in our rivers. We didn’t buy it then, and we don’t buy it now…
[fusion_builder_container hundred_percent=”yes” overflow=”visible”][fusion_builder_row][fusion_builder_column type=”1_1″ background_position=”left top” background_color=”” border_size=”” border_color=”” border_style=”solid” spacing=”yes” background_image=”” background_repeat=”no-repeat” padding=”” margin_top=”0px” margin_bottom=”0px” class=”” id=”” animation_type=”” animation_speed=”0.3″ animation_direction=”left” hide_on_mobile=”no” center_content=”no” min_height=”none”]

800px-PittSkyline082904-768x367
Photo credit: Bobak Ha’Eri, Wikimedia Commons

Rights for workers and protections for our land and water are victories that had to be fought for and won by the people of western Pennsylvania from highwaymen like you…

Mr. President, Pittsburgh is not your punch line.  Your speechwriters probably chose us from a Google search of “cities that start with P,” but we are indeed on the front lines of climate change, and we will bear the cost of your bad choices.
If we stay the course you have set and do nothing to halt climate change, both Pittsburgh and Washington, DC will be coastal cities as New York and Boston sink below the rising tide of warming oceans.
Mr. President, Pittsburgh is proudly part of the planet we share. The people of Pittsburgh breathe the same air as the people of Paris and Poland and Palau.  You represent profits for the few, not the People of Pittsburgh.”
Read the entire letter written by Daniel Doubet of Keystone Progress on OurFuture.org[/fusion_builder_column][/fusion_builder_row][/fusion_builder_container]

Categories
Homepage News Archive

Longtime Dunmore Mayor Ousted

Lackawanna, PA –
“Borough Councilman Timothy Burke defeated Mayor Patrick “Nibs” Loughney in Tuesday’s Democratic primary by a razor-thin three-vote margin…”
One important issue brought to attention during the race was the expansion of Keystone Sanitary Landfill. Burke opposed the expansion and won the election, ousting the incumbent who had been in office for 24 years.
This story highlights the importance of running your own candidate in local elections and how every vote counts.
Read more here

Categories
Backyard Talk

Small Victory for North Carolina Residents Fighting CAFOs: Governor Vetoes House Bill 467

The Bill:
“Elise Herring has been fighting for decades against the industrial hog farm that moved in beside her family’s Eastern North Carolina property in 1986 and began spraying the fecal material of +2,000 hogs onto the field that ends eight feet outside her kitchen window.
But last Friday, when the state’s newly elected Democratic Governor Roy Cooper vetoed a bill that would protect the hog industry from lawsuits like the one Herring and about 500 others have filed against a subsidiary of Smithfield Foods, she breathed a sigh of relief- at least for the moment…
The North Carolina legislature, in which the Republicans hold a supermajority in both houses (35-15 in the Senate; 74-46 in the House), could override the veto with a 3/5ths majority vote if they take up the issue again. The House would need 72 votes to override the veto, and the Senate would need 30; during each chamber’s last vote on the bill, 74 representatives and 30 senators supported it.”
The Problem:
“In North Carolina, 6,500 industrial hog farms, known as concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs), house more than 9.5 million animals in the flat, hot eastern stretches of the state.
Together, the pigs produce 10 billion gallons of feces and urine each year, which the operations store in large, open-air pits, euphemistically referred to as “lagoons.” To make sure the pits do not overflow, the operations periodically lower their levels by shooting the fecal mixture over “sprayfields” of feed crops with high-pressure sprinklers.
Scientific studies confirm that discharging animal waste into the air damages human health in the surrounding areas. The foul-smelling chemicals the CAFOs release – namely ammonia and hydrogen sulfide – are associated with breathing problems, blood pressure spikes, increased stress and anxiety, and decreased quality of life, studies have found.”
Read the entire story about the North Carolina House Bill 467 and CAFOs here

Categories
Backyard Talk

Why Do You March?

Millions of people will come together in the next few weeks, as they have since the start of the new administration, to take part in several marches. Two of which are: the March for Science (April 22, 2017) and the People’s Climate March (April 29, 2017). Although the marches will be held in the nation’s capital of Washington, D.C., both marches (or shall we say movements) have generated such a following that satellite marches are being held around the country, and even around the world, on those days as well.
The goals for the March for Science:

  • Humanize science by showing that it is conducted, applied, and supported by a diverse body of people.
  • Partner with the public by joining together both scientists and supporters of science, as progress [fusion_builder_container hundred_percent=”yes” overflow=”visible”][fusion_builder_row][fusion_builder_column type=”1_1″ background_position=”left top” background_color=”” border_size=”” border_color=”” border_style=”solid” spacing=”yes” background_image=”” background_repeat=”no-repeat” padding=”” margin_top=”0px” margin_bottom=”0px” class=”” id=”” animation_type=”” animation_speed=”0.3″ animation_direction=”left” hide_on_mobile=”no” center_content=”no” min_height=”none”][in science and research] can only be made by mutual respect.
  • Advocate for open, inclusive, and accessible science by including in conversation and valuing the voices of all members of the global community.
  • Support scientists
  • Affirm science as a democratic value

The People’s Climate March Platform:

  • Directly and rapidly reduce greenhouse gas and toxic pollution to successfully combat climate change and improve public health
  • Mandate a transition to an equitable and sustainable New Energy and Economic Future that limits the temperature increase to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.
  • Provide a Just Transition for communities and workers negatively impacted by the shift to a New Energy and Economic Future that includes targeted economic opportunity and provides a stable income, health care, and education.
  • Demand that every job pays a wage of at least $15 an hour, protects workers, and provides a good standard of living, pathways out of poverty , and a right to organize.
  • Ensure that investments are targeted to create pathways for low-income people and people of color to access good jobs and improve the lives of communities of color, indigenous peoples, low-income people, small farmers, women, and workers.
  • Make bold investments in the resilience of states, cities, tribes, and communities that are threatened by climate change; including massive investments in infrastructure systems from water, transportation, and solid waste to the electrical grid and safe, green building and increasing energy efficiency that will also create millions of jobs in the public and private sector.
  • Reinvest in a domestic industrial base that drives towards an equitable and sustainable New Energy and Economic Future, and fight back against the corporate trade-induced global race to the bottom.
  • Market- and policy-based mechanisms must protect human rights and critical, native ecosystems and reduce pollution at source

In Stephen’s blog from last week, it was easy for him to explain a scientists’ reasoning behind the March for Science. As a newcomer in the field with much less experience than he, it took me a while to come up with a personal connection to support my reasoning behind these movements. But after thinking about it, I realized that my only reasoning is because truly care about the issues, & that’s okay. I take inspiration from people my age who are making their voices heard and standing up for what they believe in, day after day.
I do it for a sense of community and understanding that we’re fighting for something greater than ourselves. I do it for the people who are, unfortunately affected every day by things they cannot control. On these days, I will be marching for the generations before me who had a stronger connection with the Earth – who took care of it and respected it. I will be marching for the generations after me who will only be able to live healthy lives and enjoy this Earth so long as we do everything we can now to preserve and care for it. I will be marching for little, 5-year-old me, who visited family in the Philippines and could not understand why she, in extremely hot, humid weather, had to pump water from the ground and then boil it before drinking so she wouldn’t get sick…
To think that other environmental factors, global warming, and climate change has made situations much worse over the years (and will continue get worse if change is not made) is truly terrifying.


 
As a verb, the word “march” means:

  • Walk quickly with determination
  • Walk along public rods in an organized procession as a form of protest

As a noun, it means:

  • The steady and inevitable development or progress of something

Progress. That’s all we need. A little push in the right direction is still a major win, and that’s what these movements are aiming to do.
Without strong belief in scientific evidence, without environmental regulations that protect our health, without a care for the environment and the world we live in, future generations will surely suffer.
Sure, there will be people who criticize these movements- only because they feel they have no reason to stand behind them. Find your reason. March with us.
March for Science (April 22, 2017)
People’s Climate March (April 29, 2017)[/fusion_builder_column][/fusion_builder_row][/fusion_builder_container]

Categories
News Archive

Perfluorinated Compounds (PFCs) – The New Lead

Image result for pfc's in drinking water
by Stephen Lester
Will our water ever be safe? A new group of chemicals is showing up in drinking water across the country; in Portsmouth, NH, Hoosick Falls, NY, Scottsdale, AZ, Colorado Springs, CO, Decatur, AL, Bucks County, PA and Cape Cod, MA to name a few places. These chemicals are called perfluorinated compounds, or PFCs.  
PFCs are common in many consumer products including teflon pans, fabric protectors, pizza boxes and ski wax, and are used to make carpets, clothing, fabrics for furniture. They first generated headlines in the 1990s when a DuPont plant that made teflon and related products was responsible for contaminating the drinking water of 70,000 people in Parkersburg, WV. Exposure to PFCs is linked to developmental delays in children, decreased fertility, increased cholesterol, changes in the immune system, and cancer (prostate, kidney and testicular).
One recent study1 from Harvard University School of Public Health estimates millions of Americans may be drinking water contaminated with PFCs, including  perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS) and perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA).  
Drinking water contamination by PFOA and PFOS stems from two main sources: factories that formerly manufactured or used these chemicals; and locations, including military bases, where they were used in firefighting foams. According to the EPA, both PFOA and PFOS are found at very low levels in the blood of the general population across the U.S.
Earlier this year, EPA updated its Health Advisory2 for PFOA and PFOS to 70 parts per trillion (ppt) for both compounds combined. However the researchers at Harvard believe this value is not adequately protective of the public3 and that 1 ppt is a more appropriate standard.4   
CHEJ has prepared fact sheets on the toxicity of these chemicals5 and how to interpret blood levels.6 Both were prepared as part of our work with the local residents in Portsmouth, NH. Please visit our website at www.chej.org to contact us if you have questions about PFCs including how to interpret test results.

  1. http://pubs.acs.org/doi/pdf/10.1021/acs.estlett.6b00260

2.https://www.epa.gov/ground-water-and-drinking-water/drinking-water-health-advisories-pfoa-and-pfos

  1. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4187289/
  2. http://www.buckscountycouriertimes.com/news/horsham-pfos/expert-pfc-levels-in-water-should-be-part-per-trillion/article_a3064b80-3d52-5b98-b828-bb0ae92df4fa.html
  3. Read online at http://bit.ly/chejpfcs1
  4. Read online at http://bit.ly/chejpfcs2
Categories
News Archive

Perfluorinated Compounds (PFCs) – The New Lead

Image result for pfc's in drinking water
by Stephen Lester
Will our water ever be safe? A new group of chemicals is showing up in drinking water across the country; in Portsmouth, NH, Hoosick Falls, NY, Scottsdale, AZ, Colorado Springs, CO, Decatur, AL, Bucks County, PA and Cape Cod, MA to name a few places. These chemicals are called perfluorinated compounds, or PFCs.  
PFCs are common in many consumer products including teflon pans, fabric protectors, pizza boxes and ski wax, and are used to make carpets, clothing, fabrics for furniture. They first generated headlines in the 1990s when a DuPont plant that made teflon and related products was responsible for contaminating the drinking water of 70,000 people in Parkersburg, WV. Exposure to PFCs is linked to developmental delays in children, decreased fertility, increased cholesterol, changes in the immune system, and cancer (prostate, kidney and testicular).
One recent study1 from Harvard University School of Public Health estimates millions of Americans may be drinking water contaminated with PFCs, including  perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS) and perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA).  
Drinking water contamination by PFOA and PFOS stems from two main sources: factories that formerly manufactured or used these chemicals; and locations, including military bases, where they were used in firefighting foams. According to the EPA, both PFOA and PFOS are found at very low levels in the blood of the general population across the U.S.
Earlier this year, EPA updated its Health Advisory2 for PFOA and PFOS to 70 parts per trillion (ppt) for both compounds combined. However the researchers at Harvard believe this value is not adequately protective of the public3 and that 1 ppt is a more appropriate standard.4   
CHEJ has prepared fact sheets on the toxicity of these chemicals5 and how to interpret blood levels.6 Both were prepared as part of our work with the local residents in Portsmouth, NH. Please visit our website at www.chej.org to contact us if you have questions about PFCs including how to interpret test results.

  1. http://pubs.acs.org/doi/pdf/10.1021/acs.estlett.6b00260

2.https://www.epa.gov/ground-water-and-drinking-water/drinking-water-health-advisories-pfoa-and-pfos

  1. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4187289/
  2. http://www.buckscountycouriertimes.com/news/horsham-pfos/expert-pfc-levels-in-water-should-be-part-per-trillion/article_a3064b80-3d52-5b98-b828-bb0ae92df4fa.html
  3. Read online at http://bit.ly/chejpfcs1
  4. Read online at http://bit.ly/chejpfcs2
Categories
Backyard Talk

Remember to Get Out & Vote!

[fusion_builder_container hundred_percent=”yes” overflow=”visible”][fusion_builder_row][fusion_builder_column type=”1_1″ background_position=”left top” background_color=”” border_size=”” border_color=”” border_style=”solid” spacing=”yes” background_image=”” background_repeat=”no-repeat” padding=”” margin_top=”0px” margin_bottom=”0px” class=”” id=”” animation_type=”” animation_speed=”0.3″ animation_direction=”left” hide_on_mobile=”no” center_content=”no” min_height=”none”][fusion_text]Althouevery-vote-counts2gh some people have already completed their absentee ballots, the 2016 presidential election takes place on Tuesday, November 8th. That means we have exactly ONE WEEK to fully educate ourselves and make a decision on which candidate to vote for. (Make sure to take a look at the first link listed at the bottom of the page.)
Where do you stand when it comes to environmental issues and climate change, foreign policy, abortion, healthcare…? The list can go on, but don’t let others decide for you! If you have an opinion and don’t voice it, then you’re letting others decide which issues matter, and ultimately, who’s going to win the election.
Remember, every vote makes a difference! For decades, laws have been passed and people have continued to fight to make sure others have this opportunity. Our first African American president just served two consecutive terms in office, and this could not have been done without voters sending off their ballots.
[timeline src=”https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1XbWHnkb2s8wZvvVys8kBwq6c8sn0_Zf8s1Dwm4NV_-k/pubhtml” width=”100%” height=”650″ font=”Default” lang=”en” version=”timeline3″ ]
The actions of many have helped shape history. If you want to see change happen, the best way to see improvement is to take part in the process. Get out and vote in this election- make sure you leave your mark!
 


 
BallotPedia.org is a great resource! Use it for information on:

You can also stream the debates on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=855Am6ovK7s&list=PL0tDb4jw6kPzQqgYz6Ylh7CO9mnCfcQ_x[/fusion_text][/fusion_builder_column][/fusion_builder_row][/fusion_builder_container]

Categories
Backyard Talk

Grassroots Green Hero: Rev. Charles Utley

[fusion_builder_container hundred_percent=”yes” overflow=”visible”][fusion_builder_row][fusion_builder_column type=”1_1″ background_position=”left top” background_color=”” border_size=”” border_color=”” border_style=”solid” spacing=”yes” background_image=”” background_repeat=”no-repeat” padding=”” margin_top=”0px” margin_bottom=”0px” class=”” id=”” animation_type=”” animation_speed=”0.3″ animation_direction=”left” hide_on_mobile=”no” center_content=”no” min_height=”none”]

Reverend Charles Utley in his Office, Augusta, Georgia (Photo by Rev. Utley).
Reverend Charles Utley in his Office, Augusta, Georgia (Photo by Rev. Utley).

Reverend Charles Utley, born in Waynesboro, GA, is the Associate Director and Environmental Justice Campaign Director at BREDL (Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League). He spent all of his childhood and young adult life in the Hyde Park Community, set next to a toxic waste site in an industrial area of Augusta, GA. When he left for Vietnam in 1966, his parents started organizing their community to improve their neighborhood with The Hyde and Aragon Park Improvement Committee, the oldest organized community according to IRS records. They fought for public water and sewer systems, paved streets and streetlights, spearheaded by Mary L. Utley, Charles Utley‘s mother.

‘It would be years later after all of these necessary things were achieved and my parents were deceased, I succeeded my mother’s role as community president. It was in the mid-1970. We found out that there was contamination in our community from a wood treatment plant (Southern Wood Piedmont Company). From this point on we were faced with cleaning up our community’, Utley writes in our interview.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) conducted many studies in the area that resulted in seeking ways to get the community relocated. After approximately 25 years of community organizing, the Hyde Park Community is now finally being relocated. Reverend Utley helped organizing his community around this very topic.
Any movement has to deal with setbacks from time to time. The Hyde Park Community around Rev. Utley had to fight with constant disagreements of the commissioner concerning the severity of the contamination – even though it had been proven to be contaminated by Brownfield Projects by the EPA. Officials refused to take action for over 30 years. The community had not been notified about any environmental issues in their homes, so they decided to do their own investigation.

‘The local officials did very little in our fight to provide assistance with our efforts; however, the community was able to receive two Brownfields Pilot projects without the assistance of the city of Augusta. Additional assistance came from EPA and ATSDR (Agency of Toxic Substance and Disease Registrar) who provided us with a health study that was conducted by our local health department.
The city engineering department needed a place for a retention pond for water runoff and to assist the residents by using Hyde Park for the project’.

Since the community did not receive any help from the city and has been exposed to contamination for decades, there are many community members who are sick, mainly with cancer related issues and respiratory problems. Even 40 years after Utley took over as community president, issues are found among Hyde Park residents.

‘Our fight is a continuous fight because we have not reached full fruition. There are many residents who have not been compensated for their property who are homeowners. Therefore, the community has not given up but has continued to fight until all of our rights as citizens are received, which also includes long term health care’.

[/fusion_builder_column][fusion_builder_column type=”1_1″ background_position=”left top” background_color=”” border_size=”” border_color=”” border_style=”solid” spacing=”yes” background_image=”” background_repeat=”no-repeat” padding=”” margin_top=”0px” margin_bottom=”0px” class=”” id=”” animation_type=”” animation_speed=”0.3″ animation_direction=”left” hide_on_mobile=”no” center_content=”no” min_height=”none”]

Charles Utley talks about what he says is the unfair treatment he has received from the city regarding the purchase of his Hyde Park properties during a news conference in September. Utley was a major player in a decades-long fight to clean up contamination from area industries at the site. (MICHAEL HOLAHAN/THE AUGUSTA CHRONICLE)
Charles Utley talks about what he says is the unfair treatment he has received from the city regarding the purchase of his Hyde Park properties during a news conference in September. Utley was a major player in a decades-long fight to clean up contamination from area industries at the site. (MICHAEL HOLAHAN/THE AUGUSTA CHRONICLE, 09/13/16)

Media coverage was one of the primary ways the community was able to get their story out to the public. The response to the community has been one of the things that caused the relocation to take place. They have received help from local and regional organizations for their plight, which includes the book Polluted Promises by Dr. Melissa Checker, and two documentaries.
Charles Utley is the Associate Director and Environmental Justice Campaign Director at BREDL. He says that BREDL has been a supporter for his community from the beginning of their struggle. They provided assistance with their staff, community programs and workshops. They are involved until the whole community has received the justice it deserves.
For people who want to help their community, he recommends staying focused on the major issue(s) and to understand that if you do nothing, then nothing will be done for your cause. Therefore, each individual in the community must be committed to the cause. The Hyde Park Community needed assistance in getting the word out to other organizations, to tell them that the struggle is not over and that their assistance is still needed. They sent letters to The Richmond County Commissions and Mayor Harry Davis, urging that the issues still needed to be addressed. But the fight goes on as homeowners have yet to receive the just compensation that was promised by officials.

At the end of our interview, Rev. Utley said that the vision that his parents had for the Hyde Park Community was what formed his organizing ground. Community organizing has taught him that success may not come immediately but that being persistent in your work will pay off eventually.

‘Above all, you must put your trust in Jesus Christ’.

Look up BREDL at http://www.bredl.org/ and see if there is a Chapter in your area. Get the help you and your community deserve with organizations like BREDL and CHEJ!

[/fusion_builder_column][/fusion_builder_row][/fusion_builder_container]