Category Archives: Justice

Christie OKs lead testing for school water but what about repairs?

drinking water
Source: app.com
In the almost eight years Christie’s been New Jersey’s governor he’s done more harm than good. Probably why his popularity rating is about 12% – OK, wait, I just checked that statistic and it’s actually 18%.

So now, Christie is desperately doing what he should have been doing all along – moving projects forward to help the people of the state he governs, including giving attention to lead in schools’ drinking water. But with his history of blatant lies, it’s hard to figure out what he actually intends to do, until he’s actually done it.

Now Christie, destroyer of everything public education in the Garden State, is suddenly concerned with lead in the pipes of the same schools he refused to release repair funds for. Concerned about testing, that is. What are the chances that between now and the end of his term, the governor will actually give over the money schools need to get lead out of our public school students’ drinking water?

I’m not holding my breath.

In 2nd agreement, Volkswagen recalls 83,000 diesel vehicles & settles on emissions cheating scandal

No more lies
Source: GreenPeace via Twitter
WASHINGTON – In a second partial settlement announced today by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Department of Justice (DOJ), and the State of California, automakers Volkswagen AG, Audi AG, Porsche AG and related entities (collectively referred to as Volkswagen), have agreed to recall 83,000 model year 2009 through 2016 3.0 liter diesel vehicles sold or leased in the U.S. that are alleged to be equipped with “defeat devices” to cheat emissions tests, in violation of the Clean Air Act and California law. For the older vehicles, Volkswagen is required to offer to buy back the vehicles or terminate leases, and must also offer an emissions modification to substantially reduce emissions if one is proposed by Volkswagen and approved by regulators. For the newer vehicles, if Volkswagen demonstrates it can make the vehicles compliant with the certified exhaust emission standards, it will have to fix the vehicles and will not be required to buy the vehicles back. Volkswagen is also required to spend $225 million to fund projects that will reduce emissions of nitrogen oxide (NOx).

Today’s partial settlement does not resolve any pending claims for civil penalties, nor does it address any potential criminal liability. The settlement also does not resolve any consumer claims, claims by the Federal Trade Commission, or claims by individual owners or lessees who may have asserted claims in the ongoing multidistrict litigation. The state of California has secured a separate resolution for the 3.0 liter violations that addresses issues specific to vehicles and consumers in California.

The affected older vehicles (referred to as “generation 1” vehicles) are the 2009 through 2012 Volkswagen Touareg and Audi Q7 diesel models. The affected newer vehicles (referred to as “generation 2” vehicles) are the 2013-2016 Volkswagen Touareg diesels, 2013 through 2015 Audi Q7 diesels, 2013 through 2016 Porsche Cayenne diesels, and 2014 through 2016 Audi A6 quattro, A7 quattro, A8, A8L and Q5 diesel models.

“EPA has a public health imperative to hold Volkswagen accountable and remedy the illegal pollution their cars put into the air,” said Cynthia Giles, EPA’s Assistant Administrator for Enforcement and Compliance Assurance. “From the start, our team vigorously pursued this case to ensure these cars were fixed or taken off the road. Today we’ve secured another important settlement that delivers on EPA’s essential public health mission.”

“The settlement marks another significant step in holding Volkswagen accountable for cheating Americans out of the promise of cleaner air by selling vehicles equipped with defeat devices,” said Assistant Attorney General John C. Cruden. “This consent decree provides a remedy for every affected vehicle which will be removed from the road or meet enforceable standards that will reduce emissions, and will also require VW to provide additional funding to address the harmful impacts to human health and the environment from VW’s violations.”

“This settlement highlights the fact that cheating to get a car certified has consequences for air quality and the public’s health — and that cheaters will be caught and held accountable, said CARB Executive Officer Richard Corey. “Because California is able to enforce its vehicle regulations, CARB was instrumental in uncovering the cheating in the 3-liter, and before that, in the 2-liter diesel engines. The mitigation in this settlement will now help California address its serious air quality and climate challenges with a focus on putting the very cleanest vehicles in disadvantaged communities where they are needed most.”

According to the civil complaint against Volkswagen filed by the Justice Department on behalf of EPA on January 4, 2016, and amended on October 7, 2016, Volkswagen allegedly equipped its 3.0 liter diesel vehicles with illegal software that detects when the car is being tested for compliance with EPA or California emissions standards and turns on required emissions controls only during that testing process. During normal driving conditions, the software renders these emissions control systems inoperative or reduces their effectiveness, resulting in increased emissions. This is known as a defeat device. By using a defeat device, these cars meet emissions standards in the laboratory, but emit up to nine times or more above the EPA-compliant levels for NOx during normal on-road driving conditions. The Clean Air Act requires manufacturers to certify to EPA that vehicles will meet federal emissions standards. Vehicles with defeat devices cannot be certified.

Because Volkswagen cannot modify the affected 2009 through 2012 Volkswagen Touareg and Audi Q7 generation 1 diesel vehicles to meet EPA-certified exhaust emissions standards, the settlement requires Volkswagen to offer owners of generation 1 vehicles the option to have the company buy back the car and to offer lessees a lease cancellation at no cost. If a plan is proposed by Volkswagen and approved by EPA and CARB to substantially reduce emissions from the generation 1 vehicles, Volkswagen will also have to offer that as an option for consumers.

For the generation 2 vehicles, Volkswagen will recall and fix these vehicles so they meet their certified exhaust emissions standards, after the technical solution is approved by regulators. If after extensive testing the solution does not perform as expected and is not approved, Volkswagen must offer to buy back the vehicles. In that case, the company can also seek approval of an emissions modification plan to substantially reduce emissions and, if approved, can offer that as an additional option for generation 2 vehicles.

Under the terms of the settlement, Volkswagen must achieve an overall recall rate of at least 85% for each of the generation 1 and generation 2 vehicles recall programs or pay additional sums into the mitigation trust fund. The buyback and lease termination program for generation 1 vehicles will begin within 30 days following court approval of the settlement. Vehicle modifications will become available to eligible owners and lessees once the modifications are approved by regulators.

Vehicle owners and lessees will receive updated information from Volkswagen, Audi, and Porsche concerning their available buyback or modification options after today’s settlement is approved by the court, and can also obtain information about these options at: www.VWCourtSettlement.com and www.AudiCourtSettlement.com.

The settlement requires Volkswagen to pay $225 million to fund projects across the country that will reduce emissions of NOx where the 3.0 liter vehicles were, are or will be operated. This funding is intended to fully mitigate the past and future NOx emissions from the 3.0 liter vehicles. That money will be placed in the same mitigation trust to be established under the partial settlement for the 2L vehicles. This $225 million is in addition to the $2.7 billion that Volkswagen is required to pay into that trust under the prior settlement. The mitigation trust will be administered by an independent trustee. Beneficiaries, which may include states, Puerto Rico, the District of Columbia, and Indian tribes, may obtain funds for designated NOx reduction projects upon application to the trustee.

The emissions reduction program will help reduce NOx pollution that contributes to the formation of harmful smog and soot, exposure to which is linked to a number of respiratory- and cardiovascular-related health effects as well as premature death. Children, older adults, people who are active outdoors (including outdoor workers), and people with heart or lung disease are particularly at risk for health effects related to smog or soot exposure. NO2 formed by NOx emissions can aggravate respiratory diseases, particularly asthma, and may also contribute to asthma development in children.

The provisions of the settlement are contained in a proposed consent decree filed today in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, as part of the ongoing multi-district litigation, and will be subject to public comment period of 30 days, which will be announced in the Federal Register in the coming days.

For more information: https://www.epa.gov/enforcement/volkswagen-clean-air-act-partial-settlement

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/

Wind electricity kills many less birds than do windows, coal and cats

What's killing birds
Source: Climate Reality Project
The Climate Reality Project e-book Wind Energy Myths points out that while wind turbines do kill birds, apparently they kill many less of them than do windows in tall buildings, the coal industry … and cats.

The Washington Post reports that “Outdoor cats kill between 1.4 billion and 3.7 billion birds a year.”

Friends, it’s getting hotter: snapshots of the globe from 1850s till now

Ed Hawkins globe snapshots
Source: Ed Hawkins. Watch out – the full map is 10MB!
University of Reading, England scientist Ed Hawkins built this graphic of snapshots of the globe’s heat temperatures from the 1950s through today with a dataset from the
UK’s Met Office, which concerns itself with meteorology. It shows global warming trends quite clearly.

Additional information here and here.

If you don’t want Monsanto to own the world’s apples and apple trees, submit a comment

GMO apple
Source: Inquistr
Monsanto and companies like it that produce GMO (aka GE) seed want to own all the food produced in the world. They are working towards this goal bit by bit, using GMO seeds as an inroad to accomplish it. Don’t let them! If you believe in people owning our food supply as opposed to major corporations owning it and deciding when, where and how much we can eat then you need to submit a public comment saying so by 12 Sept 2016.

Submitting a public comment has become a very easy process and is fast. You can feel free to speak from your own heart or to use any part of my statement that you like. Additional information and facts are also available at Food Safety News.

Submitted by Kimi Wei on 27 August 2016:

Dear Sirs and Mesdames,

It’s absurd to even think of giving in to the whims of a public which, due to ignorance, concern themselves more with appearance than their own health and the consequences of being deprived of the right to eat good, healthy food and build communities around this simple human need.

GMO products give control over food sources to major corporations, as they control the sales of GMO seed and eventually, can even prevent farmers from using traditional seed – this is happening in several countries around the world. GMO seed also is much costlier than traditional seeds are.

While people may choose to be ignorant of the facts, there’s no excuse for government officials to fail in this area. You need to ensure that Americans continue to enjoy food sovereignty; that we not risk planet and personal health crises by using GMO products which may cause unforeseen negative long-range impacts; that food production is not turned over to entities concerned with profit at the expense of humanity; and that the planetary and natural protections offered by small-holder farmers who practice natural planting and growing are not replaced with Big Ag monoculture crops that are always highly destructive to planet and people.

Furthermore, in the United States GMO seed and plant producers have used GMO seeds as an excuse to steal away smaller farmers’ lands by claiming that seeds that invade adjacent farms by the wind or birds carrying them over are in fact being stolen by the smaller farmers. Successful legal claims have been made stating that the only remedy for this theft is for the GMO planters to take possession of farmers lands that were invaded by their seed. The fact that the farmers didn’t want GMO seed and were advocating for it to be blocked from invading their land, meant nothing to the GMO plant growers, or the courts.

To submit a comment by USPS mail (snail mail), send to:
Docket No. APHIS-2016-0043
Regulatory Analysis and Development
PPD, APHIS, Station 3A-03.8
4700 River Road Unit 118
Riverdale, MD 20737-1238

Thanks Howard Vlieger for sharing the opportunity to comment.

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Biofortification (golden rice, corn) is another tool GMO producers use to destroy food sovereignty

Biotech crop test
Source: Natural News
Biofortification is just another term for GE (aka GMO) crops that put the power and control of growing in the hands of corporate giants. GE crops are being used as a wedge to destroy soil and more importantly, to take control of growing away from small-holding farmers.

Today, GE producers are pushing “golden” corn and rice, that have been manufactured and promoted at great expense. They say the Vitamin A they are engineered to create will solve a dietary deficiency in certain countries. But we can also think about how differently food growing would be in poor regions of the world if billions had been invested to bring knowledge and valuable resources, such as water, to growers in poor communities. Why, they might be able to solve their Vitamin A deficiency problems in so many different ways.

Here are some additional problems with “orange” crops like corn and rice:

  • The Vitamin A ingredient in them derives from carrots, and it breaks down in storage.
  • People who consume orange crops may not have in their diet other nutrients needed to absorb Vitamin A.
  • The seeds are owned by the GE companies that manufacture them. They’re not giving up their patents, or control over them.
  • Growers still lack sufficient water to grow.
  • The unintended consequences of using GE crops like these, has not been mapped.

Additional information at http://www.gmwatch.org/news/archive/2013/15045-golden-rice-not-so-golden

Find your National Park & enjoy nature, Black History or general interest historical sites for free Aug 25-28

Great Falls Historical Park
Source: NPS

Find your National Park
Source: NPS
National Parks will celebrate 100 years of operation by opening their gates to visitors 25-28 August 2016 without an admission charge. National Parks aren’t just pretty places to commune with nature. They’re also sites of national historic interest or local significance, like Paterson’s Great Falls Historical Park and the Brown v. Board of Education National Historic Site in Kansas which offers tours and a study guide to honor this legendary amalgam of lawsuits which began in South Carolina but resulted in United States schools becoming segregated throughout the country.

African American Experience Fund
Source: AAEF of the NPS

The National Park Service (NPS) has a special fund set up to honor Black History in America, which supports 26 sites of historical significance:

The mission of the African American Experience Fund of the National Park Foundation is to preserve African American history by supporting education programs in National Parks that celebrate African American history and culture. There are 26 National Parks identified by the African American Experience Fund.

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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