Category Archives: Policy

Mayor Baraka appoints Nathaly Agosto Filion as Newark’s Chief Sustainability Officer

newark sustainability
Source: City of Newark NJ

nathaly-filion
Source: Pinterest
The awesome Nathaly Agosto Filion has been appointed by Mayor Baraka to the position of Newark’s Chief Sustainability Officer. Big congratulations! We can look forward to exciting and impactful new innovations from this impressive young Latina.

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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/

Watch DiCaprio’s Before the Flood film on saving the planet from climate change for free via NatGeo

leonardo_dicraprio_before_the_flood_watch_full
Source: still from Before the Flood
Academy Award winner Leonardo DiCaprio is a UN Messenger of Peace and now a producer of the documentary Before The Flood. In this film, DiCaprio takes us on a journey to see how climate change is evolving due to human actions, and he reveals how we are empowered to act to prevent it from permanently and chaotically disrupting life on our planet for nature and people.

Before the Flood debuted on the NatGeo channel on 30 October 2016 and is available free for viewing on the National Geographic Channel and YouTube.

Talking about #BeforeTheFlood across Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram will earn donations to Pristine Seas and the Wildlife Conservation Society (up to $50K each)

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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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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New US ivory law gives elephants stronger protection against poachers

Kenya Wildlife Services (KWS) ranger stands guard next to illegal stockpile of elephant tusks and ivory figurines before their destruction
Source: Lawyer Herald
New ivory trafficking regulations issued on Thursday by the Obama Administration will make the import and sale of African elephant’s ivory much more difficult in the United States. The International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) reports:

It is clear that the status quo wasn’t doing enough to protect elephants from American trade: The US market has consistently ranked among the world’s largest – an (up until now) largely unregulated, multi-million-dollar black box where ivory could be bought and sold with almost no oversight, whether it was old or freshly poached. We believe that the new rules are a crucial step towards bringing the poaching crisis under control, though much still depends on the unglamorous next steps: implementation, enforcement, and diplomatic follow-through to ensure that this momentum doesn’t stop at America’s borders.

While the changes are a big improvement, they’re not perfect. The regulations still permit sales of documented antiques and certain older items with a small amount of ivory. But the documentation requirement is only loosely defined, putting pressure on FWS (and groups like IFAW) to ensure that ivory buyers and sellers uphold the spirit and the letter of the law. We also have to make sure that law enforcement agents get the tools and funding they need to keep illegal imports from slipping into the black market.

Additionally, the rule limits trophy hunters to importing “only” two dead elephants (per hunter) annually. IFAW lobbied hard to close this loophole even further and we will continue to press the issue, especially as new studies call the conventional wisdom on trophy hunting further into question. However, even this represents an improvement, as there had been no numeric limit on trophy imports at all prior to the change.

The third element I mentioned above – diplomatic follow-through – is just as important as what we do here at home. Other major ivory-consuming countries like China and Vietnam have begun to steer their ivory laws in the right direction; US/China negotiations have already resulted in a pledge from President Xi Jinping to shut down the Chinese ivory market, although tangible progress has been slow in coming and it remains vital that the US continue to set an example.

The New York Times reported on the rule-making process:

In accordance with the rule-making process under the Endangered Species Act, the Fish and Wildlife Service opened the proposed changes for public comment, and it became the second-most-commented-on rule in the agency’s history. People wrote letters, children drew pictures and thousands of petition signatures rolled in — mostly in support of the more restrictive law.

The next phase of the fight against ivory poaching will happen next week, when a delegation from the United States goes to Beijing for a round of strategic and economic talks with Chinese officials, who have also agreed to further restrictions on the ivory trade.

if you buy ivory you kill people
Source: Elephant Advocacy League
Elephants are being slaughtered for their ivory at the rate of 96 per day. Do you know that the ivory trade is a people killer too?

Lead graphic from the Lawyer Herald.

 

Pres. Obama is making a flower highway for butterflies (really)

tagged monarch
Source: Anna Barnett on flickr
I know this headline sounds more like the title of a fantasy novel than a project the federal United States government is implementing. But it’s real – a real 1500 mile project that will connect Minnesota with Texas with habitat areas for Monarch butterflies all the way down the middle of our country. That’s the path these butterflies take on their way to winter in fir forests outside of Mexico City, Mexico. It will run north-south along Route I-35, pretty much the entire vertical length of the United States.

butterfly highway
Source: mexiconewsdaily.com

The Christian Science Monitor explains the plan:

The Xerces Society has already been working with the Federal Highway Administration to develop best practices for roadside management, including incorporation of flowering plants and milkweed and adapting mowing schedules to migration patterns… but the president’s plan is much broader than that.

“The idea is to use it as this iconic pathway to work with schools, farmers, ranchers, and park districts to improve habitats for 50 to 100 miles on either side of the I-35 corridor,” Dr. Black says.

North Carolina has a Butterfly Highway of its own. And, there are other Monarch protection projects coming to life in different parts of the United States – check out Monarch Joint Venture for details.

In May 2015 the Washington Post reported on Obama’s National Strategy to Promote the Health of Honey Bees and Other Pollinators.

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Speak up for NJ law to use only environment-saving native plants for state roadway areas

Native Plant legislative alertA proposed law would help clean New Jersey waterways by requiring all new Jersey roadway authorities to use ONLY native plants for landscaping, land management, reforestation and habitat restoration.

Plant and grass fertilizers are a huge source of pollution for natural waterways, but native plants need no fertilizers. Native plants are also hearty and drought resistant, so they tend to thrive even when water becomes scarce – so they can keep on doing their job well: growing deep roots that retain topsoil and keep plants healthy. Those roots help stormwater seep into the ground where it gets channelled to the underground aquifers that

Please write or call your State Senator and Assemblyperson. Consult this handy guide to find your New Jersey State legislators.

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Aussie MP lights a river on fire – it’s that full of fracking gas

River being lit on fire
Source: Jeremy Buckingham via YouTube
Australian Greens MP Jeremy Buckingham introduces this video on YouTube:

Gas explodes from Australian river near fracking site. I was shocked by force of the explosion when I tested whether gas boiling through the Condamine River, Queensland was flammable. So much gas is bubbling through the river that it held a huge flame.

More coverage from:
The BBC
Buckingham’s web page
RT News

Matt Smith, Dr. WhoHat tip to Matt Smith for the share! By the way, our sharer is not the eleventh Dr. Who.

 

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