Category Archives: Environmental Justice

In win for nature & native rights Obama halts Dakota Access Pipeline construction

Standing Rock protest
Source: http://michaelawoodjr.net
This weekend, 11,000 veterans including Cong. Tulsi Gabbard began their journey to join the Standing Rock Sioux and offer both solidarity and protection to indigenous Americans and allies who have been protesting the scheduled construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline through sacred native lands. On Sunday, Pres. Obama announced that a final construction permit for the pipeline would not be issued:

The Obama administration said Sunday that it would deny a permit needed to complete the last leg of an oil pipeline across the Midwest, prompting cheers and whoops from opponents who have camped in the cold here … (and) the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers said it would deny the company the easement it needs. The agency also called for a full environmental review and re-evaluating whether the route of the pipeline should be altered.

The Young Turks reports on the administration’s decision.

Overwhelmed protestor Katie Robinson writes with joy

This is the most amazing news!!! I’m up here in Standing Rock. Our front line is celebrating. Tears of joy are streaming down faces. It was just announced the easement for the Dakota Pipeline was denied, which basically means the Pipeline CAN’T go through their Native land!!!! The Pipeline construction has STOPPED. There’s over 4,500 veterans here currently in support of the Water Protectors and more have been arriving non-stop all night and day. I couldn’t be prouder to be standing here with my brothers and sisters.

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii)

tulsi-gabbard
Source: WikiMedia

..took to the House floor Thursday in an impassioned plea to stop the Dakota Access Pipeline… (She) is one of the .. veterans planning to join the ongoing pipeline protests … (and) blasted the Army Corps of Engineers for granting permits for the pipeline’s construction without input from the communities most likely to suffer in the event of a spill or explosion.

The pipeline issue has been settled for now but other concerns will soon need to be addressed. Angel L. Matos writes,

If indeed the #NODAPL permit has been denied, we thank the administration for yet another better late than never action. The next order of business would seem to be identifying all those in law enforcement that abused their authority and bring their asses to justice. The amount of savagery they unleashed on these peaceful demonstrators makes me ashamed and angry. The least we can do is make sure some measure of dignity is served to those that suffered at their sadistic hands.

And the WSJ cautions that President-elect Trump supports the pipeline’s construction.

More:
CNN coverage

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White land terrorists get free pass while government attacks Native Americans on their own land

Stand Strong Against DAPL graphic
Source: IndigenousRising.com

This report is from an email sent out today by the Center for Biological Diversity. Its content highlights the disturbing, pervasive and systemic racism at the heart of government practices even today, after having a Black president at the helm of our country for a full eight years:

A Stunning, Dangerous Verdict After Oregon Standoff

Like almost everyone, we were stunned by last week’s “not guilty” verdicts for the Bundy brothers and other defendants following the 41-day armed takeover of Oregon’s Malheur National Wildlife Refuge earlier this year.

“This is an extremely disturbing verdict for anyone who cares about America’s public lands, the rights of native people and their heritage, and a political system that refuses to be bullied by violence and racism,” said Kierán Suckling, the Center’s executive director. “The Bundy clan and their followers peddle a dangerous brand of radicalism aimed at taking over lands owned by all of us. I worry this verdict only emboldens the kind of intimidation and right-wing violence that underpins their movement.”

Particularly galling was the juxtaposition of the Oregon verdicts, which involved armed militants, with the brutal treatment of unarmed activists fighting the Dakota Access Pipeline in North Dakota.

Watch Kierán’s recent interview on DemocracyNow! and read Taylor’s McKinnon’s op-ed on the far-reaching implications of the Bundy verdicts.

Graphic from http://indigenousrising.org/yankton-siouxihanktonwan-to-host-government-to-government-consultation-with-us-army-corps-on-bakken-pipelinedapl/

Newark passes country’s first Environmental Justice Ordinance to protect residents

Newark Drawbridge & Skyline by Bridge Street by erodzen
Source: Newark Drawbridge & Skyline by Bridge Street by erodzen via Mapio
Newark, NJ – The City of Newark made history when the Newark Municipal Council passed a first-in-the-nation Environmental Justice and Cumulative Impacts Ordinance which will require the Board of Adjustment and Central Planning Board to receive additional information from development applicants in order to build in a healthy and sustainable way.

“I want to thank the Newark Municipal Council, Mayor Baraka and his Administration for passing the First Environmental Justice and Cumulative Impacts ordinance in the country,” said Kim Gaddy, Newark resident and Environmental Justice Organizer for Clean Water Action. “I started this fight 9 years ago with my colleagues and today I’m so proud of my City and the Leadership. Newark will be a vibrant and sustainable city. Kudos to the Newark Environmental Commission for keeping this Ordinance as a priority for the City.”

The City of Newark and urban communities face higher levels of pollution from multiple sources including toxic waste sites, industrial plants, and heavy city and port traffic. The “cumulative impacts” of these pollutants are making people, especially children, sick. In the City of Newark, asthma is the city’s biggest crime. Statistically speaking, more people die of asthma than homicides. School age children in Newark have double the state and national average rate (25%) for asthma resulting in most missed school days and unaffordable medical bills.

Newark residents face the nation’s 2nd greatest cancer risk due to diesel emissions. The city is home to the largest trash incinerator in the Northeast, which pollutes the air and costs the city over $9 million in disposal costs. The city is also the 3rd largest port in the nation with 7,000 trucks making an estimated 10,000 trips daily. Many of these toxin-spewing rigs are antiquated and pollute at least 10 times more than modern trucks.

The goal of the Environmental Justice & Cumulative Impacts Ordinance is to advance Environmental Justice, good stewardship, and sustainable economic development in furtherance of the priorities outlined in the Newark Sustainability Action Plan and the Newark Master Plan. Through this Ordinance, the City of Newark seeks to:

  1. Protect the health of all residents, regardless of race, culture or income, from exposure to pollution linked to adverse health effects, including the cumulative impacts that may be worsened as an unintended by-product of new development or redevelopment, and to ensure the enforcement of laws, regulations, and policies in a manner consistent with the principles of Environmental Justice.
  2. Take appropriate action to avoid, minimize and mitigate pollution from all sources within Newark’s jurisdiction through partnerships, innovation, and enforcement.
  3. Encourage proposals for development or redevelopment that contribute positively to Newark’s environmental, economic, and social health or, at minimum, that do not contribute net new pollution to the environment or adversely impact public health.

“As a Newark resident and parent, this legislation will protect the residents from the disproportionate health burdens experienced because of the zip code we live in,” concluded Kim Gaddy.

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Newark makes history – council passes 1st in Country Environmental Justice & Cumulative Impact Ordinance

By Envision Blue/Green
By Envision Blue/Green
Today on July 7 2016 the City Council of Newark unanimously and historically made into law the first ever Environmental Justice and Cumulative Impacts Ordinance, with their vote showing that Councilpeople value the health and wellbeing of Newark residents over commercial interests.

The law’s passage in a testimony to years of hard work by environmental justice leaders in the city and allies across the state.

Stand by for more info.

08 July 2016 see complete details about the ordinance and its passage here.

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Here’s the new EJ Green Drinks flyer – what do you think?

Here’s a flyer I made up for EJ Green Drinks in north Jersey. What do you think of it?
Green Drinks flyerAnd by the way, Newark EJ Green Drinks happened last night on 02 May at Aguilas de México. We’ll be back there next month on June 6. Here’s the schedule for the rest of May:

Hackensack EJ Green Drinks
Monday 09 May 2016 7-9pm
Villa de Colombia
12 Mercer Street, Hackensack NJ

Paterson EJ Green Drinks
Wednesday 18 May 2016 7-9pm
Sultan Restaurant
429 Crooks Avenue, Paterson NJ

Remember to check out the 2016 NJ Urban Mayor’s Conference on Urban Ag, happening this week on Thursday, May 5 in Trenton.

Port Authority seems determined to kill off Newark kids by cutting them off from clean air

ej truck count tour
Source: Clean Water Action
The Village Voice reports that Port Authority diesel trucks make, “more than 1.4 million trips a year,” through Newark’s Ironbound radiating asthma and cancer-causing vapors everywhere. The smog is especially thick in the morning hours when students are walking to school.

The Voice quotes Newark Mom Tanisha Garner:

…and a few other locals are conducting a tour of sorts, pointing out where Sandy sent toxic water cascading through the neighborhood after the Passaic overflowed. Alexi Martinez, a 25-year-old student who has lived in the Ironbound his entire life, remarks that many of his friends carry inhalers. It wasn’t until he started working with the Ironbound Community Corporation that he discovered why.

“Learning about our problem here is going to be our best hope at solving it,” Martinez says. “Just going down to the port for the first time a few months ago was mind-blowing for me. There’s just so many trucks idling, so much pollution, trucks just chilling there for hours.”

A truck replacement service that was supposed to upgrade port service trucks to a safer form of combustible fuel caused more problems than it solved and was abandoned soon after getting started in 2010.

Learn about Clean Water Action and the Coalition for Healthy Ports NY NJ’s #ZeroEmissionsNow campaign to create healthier port neighborhoods in New York and New Jersey.

Companies want to seize publicly owned water, then sell it back to us at a profit

Fresh water
Sourece: Our Water, Our Future short film, a
storyofstuffproject
As Pamela Larsen succinctly points out in the short film Our Water, Our Future by The Story of Stuff, “There are water grabs happening everywhere.” Nestlé is bleeding water out of the land in California and Oregon, bottling it and selling it back to the people they stole it from.

And in New Jersey, private companies are getting ready to buy municipal water systems out from under the people – and then make customers pay them back the money they spent to buy the systems.

Taking care of ourselves, our society and our natural resources is our obligation as earth citizens. We need to get much better at doing this than we are.

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Indigenous women in Ecuador & allies march to defend the Amazon & protest environmental & cultural genocide

PUYO, Ecuador, March 9, 2016 – In recognition of International Women’s Day, Indigenous Amazonian women leaders of seven nationalities including: Andoa, Achuar, Kichwa, Shuar, Shiwiar, Sapara and Waorani nationalities and their international allies took action in Puyo, Ecuador, in a forum and march in defense of the Amazon, Mother Earth and for climate justice. Specifically, they came together to denounce a newly signed oil contract between the Ecuadorian government and Chinese oil corporation Andes Petroleum.

Indigenous woman of the Amazon with megaphone
Source: Mike Riech/Pachamama Alliance

By plane, foot, canoe, and bus, some five hundred women mobilized from deep in their rainforest territories and nearby provinces marching through the streets of the Amazon jungle town of Puyo.

Chanting, “Defend the forest, don’t sell it!” and carrying signs reading “No more persecution against women defenders of Mother Earth,” the march culminated in a rally in which each nationality denounced the new oil threat and shared traditional songs and ceremonies. The women spoke of other methods for protecting and defending the Amazon and its vital living systems, making it known that the women of the Amazon are not just victims of environmental and cultural genocide, but rather are vital solution bearers.

In addition to highlighting the grave social and ecologic implications of this new contract and the Ecuadorian government’s plans to tender several more oil blocks in the pristine, roadless southern Amazon, the women and allies brought light to their struggles and the ongoing criminalization faced as they stand to protect and defend their territories and lifeways based upon living in harmony with the natural world. A tribute was held in honor of Berta Caceres, the Honduran indigenous environmental leader who was killed last week for her years of work defending rights and territories from privatization, plantations, and most recently, a mega dam project.

The women of the Amazon were also joined by Casey Camp Horinek, WECAN delegation member and Indigenous leader of the Ponca Nation of Oklahoma, who shared her traditional songs and stories of how her people have been impacted by fracking activity.

Indigenous women of the Amazon-2
Source: Mike Riech/Pachamama Alliance

“Right now the oil company is trying to enter our territory. That is our homeland, this is where we have our chakras (gardens), where we feed our families. We are warriors, and we are not afraid. We will never negotiate,” explained Rosalia Ruiz, a Sapara leader from the community of Torimbo, which is inside the Block 83 oil concession.

“Although we are from three different provinces, we are one territory and one voice,” Alicia Cahuiya, Waorani leader declared.

As the march unfolded, the Ecuadorian government and Andes Petroleum held a meeting in the nearby town of Shell to organize an illegal entry into Sapara territory, knowing that key leaders would not be present. Outraged, a delegation of Sapara delivered a letter to the meeting, underscoring their peoples’ opposition to the oil project and governments tactics to divide the community. They successfully thwarted the government and company plans, and returned to the streets, victorious.

International allies including the Women’s Earth and Climate Action Network, Amazon Watch and Pachamama Alliance shared messages of solidarity and calls for immediate action to keep fossil fuels in the ground in the Amazon.

“On this International Women’s Day we are reaching across borders and standing together as global women for climate justice to denounce oil extraction in the Amazon and call for attention to the struggles and solutions of local women land defenders,” explained Osprey Orielle Lake, Executive Director of the Women’s Earth and Climate Action Network, “We all depend on the flourishing of these precious rainforests, the lungs of the planet. Now is the time to keep the oil in the ground and stand with the women who have been putting their bodies on the line for years to protect the forest, their cultures, and the health and well being of all future generations.”

“Today was a historic day for indigenous Amazonian women! It was the first time that hundreds of women and their allies marched for the Amazon, Mother Earth and Climate Justice. And the power of women was so strong that plans for oil companies entering Sápara territory today were halted. This is is a signal that the collective call to defend rights and territories by keeping fossil fuels in the ground is working,” says Leila Salazar-López, Executive Director of Amazon Watch.

Indigenous woman of the Amazon with banner
Source: Mike Riech/Pachamama Alliance

Belen Paez from Pachamama Alliance declared: “It’s a unique and historical moment to have the experience of solidarity and connection between indigenous women and activists from all over the world standing up for the rights of the Amazon rainforest and its people, we have all been waiting for this moment for so long, and that moment is now.”

The March 8 forum, action and press conference will be followed by a March 9 event and report back, ‘Women of Ecuadorian Amazon and International Allies Stand For Protection of the Amazon Rainforest’ to be held on March 9 at 17:00 at the Biblioteca FLASCO, Universidad FLACSO, Quito.

A solidarity action was also held at the Chinese consulate in San Francisco, CA, to denounce the new oil contracts on Sapara and Kichwa territory and support women’s rights in Ecuador and around the world.

Breaking! EPA finalizes plan to decontaminate Newark Bay & lower Passaic River

After years of investigating safety issues involved with removing Agent Orange and other contaminants from the Newark Bay and lower Passaic River, the EPA has created a comprehensive plan to remove what is logistically feasible and cap the rest at the bottom of the waterway.

The plan includes:

  • 3.5 million cubic yards of contaminated sediment will be removed, bank- to-bank, by dredging the river bottom from Newark Bay to the Belleville/ Newark border.
  • This will result in the permanent removal from the river of approximately 13 pounds of highly toxic and persistent dioxin (2,3,7,8- TCDD), 24,000 pounds of mercury, 6,600 pounds of PCBs, and 1,300 pounds of DDT (a pesticide).

Here are highlights of the plan:

EPA Lower Passaic Cleanup Plan
Source: EPA

View the entire record of decision for the lower eight miles of the Passaic River.

Flint decision makers no-shows at today’s Congressional hearings on Flint Water Crisis. Scary situation.

Flint Water Crisis hearings
Source: C-Span live stream

The Congressional hearing on the Flint Water Crisis was live streamed this morning, 03 February 2016.

Michigan Gov. Snyder and officials he appointed who made the decision for the City of Flint to stop receiving water from the Detroit Water Company and get it from the contaminated Flint River instead, have elected not to be present at the hearings. Detroit had been Flint’s supplier of clean, fresh water for over 50 years.

After Snyder nullified Flint’s election and put former “Emergency City Manager” Darnell Early in place there, the decision was made during his term of service from 2013-2015, to change the city’s water source to the Flint River. The decision to not spend $9000 for three months of corrosion control treatment to seal the pipes carrying the water was made, even though this is an EPA requirement. Treatment would have prevented the river’s contamination from causing lead and other heavy metals to flake off from corroding pipes to enter the city’s potable water supply.

High lead levels resulting from the corrosion have caused irreversible, permanent lead poisoning to all of Flint’s children who drank the contaminated water, which is probably all of the city’s 9000 children. Lead is a neurotoxin which shortly after ingestion, causes damage which commonly includes brain damage. Resident Mrs. Leeann Walters speaks of her own child and other Flint children whom suffer from a panoply of symptoms including liver damage, slow weight gain and poor eye health. On Earth reports:

Panel testifying at Flint Water Crisis Hearing
Source: C-Span

LeeAnne Walters’ four children started getting sick around November of last year. Her 14-year-old, J.D., was in and out of the hospital, and her four-year-old twins, Garrett and Gavin, would get scaly, itchy rashes whenever they took a bath. “I could see the water line on Gavin’s stomach,” Walters says. In February, the pediatrician wrote a note to the city saying that Gavin, who has a compromised immune system, couldn’t consume the water.

City officials came out to test the Walters’ tap that same month and found lead levels at 397 parts per billion. For reference, anything greater than 15 ppb—what the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency considers an acceptable level—can result in irreversible damage to a child’s brain.

Mr. Early chose to evade service of the subpoena summoning him to the Congressional hearings and is also not present. On a side note, Early was appointed by Gov. Snyder to serve as Detroit Public Schools “Emergency Manager” at an annual salary of $221,000 after leaving Flint in Jan 2015 . But Early has announced that he will step down from that position on 29 Feb 2016.

Cong. Stacey Plaskett of the US Virgin Islands, points out that Mr. Early received $181,000 for poisoning Flint’s children, and that this situation is an example of the powerful adverse health impacts that residents of environmental justice communities may experience.

Several Congressmen have asked the EPA representative present at today’s hearing to explain why the EPA failed to notify Flint residents when the lead and copper rule failure was discovered a year before the issue became known to the public.

Flint native and film maker Michael Moore is on the ground, researching and reporting on the situation. I’m sorry to say that it looks even worse up close than it does from a distance. Moore’s first point:

While the Children in Flint Were Given Poisoned Water to Drink, General Motors Was Given a Special Hookup to the Clean Water.

A few months after Governor Snyder removed Flint from the clean fresh water we had been drinking for decades, the brass from General Motors went to him and complained that the Flint River water was causing their car parts to corrode when being washed on the assembly line. The Governor was appalled to hear that GM property was being damaged, so he jumped through a number of hoops and quietly spent $440,000 to hook GM back up to the Lake Huron water, while keeping the rest of Flint on the Flint River water. Which means that while the children in Flint were drinking lead-filled water, there was one — and only one — address in Flint that got clean water: the GM factory.

Elijah Cummings
Source: bet.com
Rep. Elijah Cummings asked the most important question of the day: he wanted to know why so much blame is being assigned to the EPA when the decisions made to poison the people of Flint. He commented:

What you all have done has given us … a platform, the basic information … to go higher. I hope that the governor (Snyder) will understand that these are people who are suffering … About the water bills: If I’m being poisoned, can’t wash with the water, can’t drink the water and then I’m being asked to pay for the water, that doesn’t make any sense. (This is) about what happened – so you can correct it and so hopefully, it doesn’t happen again.

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