Category Archives: Youth

EPA rebates fund cleaner schoolbuses in 5 New Jersey towns and 88 fleets around the US

Healthy-Buses-Healthy-Kids
Source: http://gasp-pgh.org

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) today awarded more than $7.7 million to replace or retrofit 401 older diesel school buses. The funds are going to 88 school bus fleets in 27 states, each of which will receive rebates through EPA’s Diesel Emissions Reduction Act (DERA) funding. The new and retrofitted buses will reduce pollutants that are linked to health problems such as asthma and lung damage.

In New Jersey, the five school systems that receiving retrofit funding are Orange, Lakewood, North Brunswick, Wall and Toms River.

“Thanks to DERA funding, we are protecting our children from breathing diesel emissions as they travel to school,” said Christopher Grundler, director of EPA’s Office of Transportation and Air Quality. “Nearly 17,000 of our country’s schools are located within steps of a heavily traveled road, potentially exposing more than six million children to traffic-related pollution at a time when their developing lungs are particularly vulnerable to the harmful effects of air pollution.”

Applicants replacing buses with engine model years of 2006 and older will receive rebates between $15,000 and $25,000, depending on the size of the bus. Applicants also had the option of retrofitting school buses with engine model years between 1994 to 2006 with a Diesel Oxidation Catalyst plus Closed Crankcase Ventilation system (DOC plus CCV) to reduce toxic emissions. EPA will fully fund the cost of these devices up to $4,000.

EPA has implemented standards to make newer diesel engines more than 90 percent cleaner, but many older diesel school buses are still operating. These older diesel engines emit large amounts of pollutants such as nitrogen oxides and particulate matter, which are linked to instances of aggravated asthma, lung damage and other serious health problems. 

The full list of 2016 DERA school bus rebate recipients are:

State  City     Selectee Funding   Buses
AZ Marana Marana Unified School District #6 $465,000  20
CA Moorpark Moorpark Unified School District $25,000 1
CA Soquel Santa Cruz City Schools  $155,000 9
CA Tulare Sundale Union Elementary School $20,000 1
CO Glenwood Springs Yampah Mountain High School $20,000 1
CT Ashford Town of Ashford $20,000 1
FL  Orlando School Board of Orange County, FL $240,000 20
FL Fort Pierce The School Board of Saint Lucie County $200,000 10
IA Bondurant Bondurant-Farrar Community School District $70,000 3
IA Lawton Lawton-Bronson Community School District $80,000 4
IA Sioux City Sioux City Community School District $20,000 1
IL St. Charles Community Unit School District 303 $20,000 1
IL Frankfort Lincoln Way Area Special Education District 843 $75,000 5
IL Mt Vernon Spring Garden School District 178 $20,000 1
IN Greensburg Decatur County Community Schools $75,000 3
IN Waterloo DeKalb County Central United School District $100,000 5
IN Goshen Fairfield Community Schools $40,000 2
IN  Gary Incandescent Transportation Solutions LLC $25,000 1
IN Versailles South Ripley School Corporation $55,000 3
KS Emporia Unified School District # 253 $40,000 2
KS  Sublette Unified School District # 374 $20,000 1
KS Ottawa      Unified School District # 290 $40,000 2
LA Alexandria Rapides Parish Schools Board $100,000 5
ME Kennebunk Regional School Unit 21 $160,000 8
ME Sullivan Regional School Unit 24 $40,000  2
MI Haslett Haslett Public Schools $60,000 3
MI Hudsonville Hudsonville Public Schools $60,000 3
MI Whittemore Whittemore-Prescott Area Schools $60,000 3
MO Jamestown Jamestown C-1 School $55,000 3
MO Louisiana Louisiana RII Schools District $25,000 1
MO  Sullivan Sullivan School District $40,000 2
MO Wheaton Wheaton R III School $40,000 2
NE Arlington Arlington Public Schools $20,000 1
NE Wahoo Wahoo Public Schools $20,000 1
NJ Orange Belair Transport Inc. $145,000 7
NJ Lakewood Klarr Transport Service Inc. $200,000 10
NJ North Brunswick North Brunswick Township Board of Education $85,000 5
NJ  Wall Student Transportation of America $200,000 10
NJ Toms River Toms River Regional Schools $180,000 9
NY Brocton Brocton Central School District $40,000 2
NY Belmont Genesee Valley CSD $20,000 1
NY Huntington Station Huntington Coach Corporation  $200,000 10
NY  Huntington Station Huntington Coach LLC  $200,000 10
NY Craryville Taconic Hills Central School District $20,000 1
NY  Verona Vernon Verona Sherrill Central Schools $60,000 3
NY Whitesboro Whitesboro Central School District $30,000 2
OH Sullivan Black River Local Schools $20,000 1
OH Rawson Cory-Rawson Local Schools $70,000 3
OH Lynchburg Lynchburg Clay Local Schools $60,000 3
OH Thornville Northern Local School District  $60,000 3
OH Andover Pymatuning Valley Local School $80,000 4
OH Canton Stark County Board of Developmental Disabilities $60,000 3
OK Boswell Boswell Public Schools $20,000 1
OR  Lakeview Lake County School District #7 $40,000 2
OR Pendleton Mid Columbia Bus Co. Inc  $180,000 9
PA Carlisle Deitch Buses Inc. $80,000  4
PA Glenmoore George Krapf, Jr. & Sons, Inc. $60,000 3
PA Philadelphia School District of Philadelphia $165,000 10
SC Columbia SCDOE (For Anderson 1 School District) $100,000 5
SC Columbia SCDOE (For Charleston County School District) $200,000 10
SC Columbia SCDOE (For Chester County School District)  $40,000 2
SC Columbia SCDOE (For Colleton County School District) $140,000 7
SC Columbia SCDOE (For Dorchester 4 County School District)  $80,000 4
SC Columbia SCDOE (For Greenville County School District) $200,000 10
SC Columbia SCDOE (For Kershaw County School District) $100,000 5
SC Columbia SCDOE (For Lexington 4 County School District) $80,000 4
SC Columbia SCDOE (For Orangeburg 5 County School District) $80,000 4
SC Columbia SCDOE (For Spartanburg 3 County School District) $40,000 2
SC Columbia SCDOE (For Spartanburg 6 County School District) $80,000 4
SD Hayti Hamlin Public School District $20,000  1
TX Rockport Aransas County ISD $105,000 5
TX Uvalde Uvalde Consolidated Independent School District $20,000 1
UT St. George Washington County School District $250,000 10
UT West Haven Weber School District $100,000  5
VA Alexandria Alexandria City Public Schools $64,000 16
VA Charlotte Court House Charlotte County Public Schools $100,000  5
VA Norfolk Norfolk Public Schools $200,000 10
VA Salem Roanoke County Public Schools $215,000 10
WA Vancouver Evergreen Public Schools $235,000 10
WA Lind Lind-Ritzville Transportation Co-Op $20,000 1
WA Longview Longview Public School District #122 $95,000 4
WA Northport Northport School District $20,000 1
WA Quincy Quincy School District No. 144 $50,000 2
WA Sumner Sumner School District $20,000 1
WI Spencer Burnett Transit $40,000 2
WI Dousman Dousman Transport Co., Inc.  $200,000 10
WI Beloit  School District of Beloit Turner $40,000 2
WI Shell Lake School District of Shell Lake  $20,000 1

For more information about this rebate program, visit http://www.epa.gov/cleandiesel/clean-diesel-rebates.

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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.

1000 seedling tree giveaway in Newark Friday 29 April at Hawthorne Hawks Farm

Free Seedling Tree Distribution Newark
Source: New Jersey Tree Recovery Foundation

Newark, NJ on 27 April 27 2016 — The City of Newark and Hawthorne Avenue Elementary School students will celebrate Arbor Day on Friday, April 29 with a tree giveaway. Students will plant trees at the farm and 1000 tree seedlings will be gifted to Newark residents to beautify the city.

When Friday, April 29
1:30-2:30pm
When Hawthorne Hawks Healthy Harvest Farm in the South Ward
446 Hawthorne Avenue (Between Demarest and Dewey Streets, Entrance on Demarest Street
Newark, NJ

The tree seedling giveaway is part of the New Jersey Tree Recovery Campaign, which has set a goal to distribute over 500,000 tree seedlings to New Jersey residents over the next five years. It is a joint effort between the City of Newark, New Jersey State Forest Service, New Jersey Soil Conservation Districts, Sustainable Jersey, Arbor Day Foundation, Brothers International, BJ’s Wholesale Club, Wyndham Vacation Resorts, FedEx and local partners Greater Newark Conservancy and Newark DIG (Doing Infrastructure Green!).

Arbor Day was begun in Nebraska in 1872 by President (and New Jersey native) Grover Cleveland’s Secretary of Agriculture, J. Sterling Morton. It was part of his effort to encourage forestry and land conservation, and the planting of 1 million trees in that state. Today, unique Arbor Day celebrations are held world and country-wide, each with their own flavor and date but unified by the same theme: planting and preservation of trees and protection of the Earth’s environment.

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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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Michael Moore reports from Flint on the Flint Water Tragedy

Michael Moore on Flint Water Tragedy
Source: michaelmoore.com

Flint native and film maker Michael Moore arrived in the city a couple of weeks ago and went right to work gathering information about the origin and extended impact of what’s being nationally referred to as the “Flint Water Crisis”. He has released his article 10 Things They Won’t Tell You About the Flint Water Tragedy. But I Will.

EJ Victory: EPA agrees to expand neurotoxin ban to agriculture after court order

Farm worker Olivia Flores
Florida farm worker Olivia Flores. Foto courtesy Dave Getzschman for EarthJustice

15 years after the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) banned chlorpyrifos from residential use, the agency has agreed to expand the neurotoxic pesticide ban to agricultural fields as well. Exposure to to this health and memory harming drug has continued for farmworkers, their children and rural residents. Field workers have direct contact with the pesticide drug when they are forced to return to recently sprayed fields … it drifts easily into neighboring yards and farms … and over time, it has entered water sources from which local dwellers drink. Drinking water contamination is particularly harmful to infants.

The announcement was a response to an EarthJustice petition. Calling EPA’s delay in regulating chlorpyrifos “egregious,” the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ordered the agency to take meaningful action by October 30 2015 on the 2007 legal petition to ban the chemical. The EPA had postponed the agriculture ban because of a flawed study by its manufacturer, Dow Agrosciences, which argued that the chemical was not toxic in agriculture environments.

“This is what we have been seeking for years. EPA’s and other independent findings show that chlorpyrifos causes brain damage to children and poisons workers and bystanders,” said Patti Goldman, the Earthjustice attorney handling the case. “At long last, the agency is signaling its intention to protect children, workers and their families by banning this hazardous pesticide. It is imperative that EPA move quickly to protect workers and children by finalizing this important rule.”

“Given the incredibly strong science on the health harms of this pesticide, it’s absurd that EPA has taken so long to act,” said Dr. Margaret Reeves, Senior Scientist at PAN. “A ban will finally ensure that children, workers and families in rural communities are safe from this drift-prone, bad actor pesticide.”

In December 2014, EPA acknowledged the extensive body of peer-reviewed science correlating chlorpyrifos exposure with brain damage to children, including reduced IQ, delayed development, and loss of working memory.

Ordered by a court to take regulatory action based on its scientific reviews, EPA is now proposing to completely ban chlorpyrifos. This would end all uses of chlorpyrifos that result in residues on food, contamination of drinking water, or drift to schools, homes, and other places people are located.

“It’s a step forward on the path to environmental justice,” said Virginia Ruiz of Farmworker Justice. “Farmworkers and their families, who are predominantly poor and majority people of color, bear the brunt of poisonings from pesticides and pesticide drift.”

If you would like to support Earthjustice’s work please make a donation.

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Study links sugary drinks to a staggering amount of deaths per year

Sugar Loaded Drinks posterStudy links sugary drinks to a staggering amount of deaths per year, with low and middle-income countries bearing the brunt of the burden.

Harvard has plenty of bad stuff to report about sugary drinks too and cautions, “Fruit juice is not a better option. Even though it has more nutrients, it contains as much sugar (though from naturally occurring fruit sugars rather than added sugar) and calories as soft drinks.” Here are some of the heavy facts:

Two out of three adults and one out of three children in the United States are overweight or obese, (29) and the nation spends an estimated $190 billion a year treating obesity-related health conditions. (30) Rising consumption of sugary drinks has been a major contributor to the obesity epidemic. (31) On any given day, half the people in the U.S. consume sugary drinks; 1 in 4 consume at least 200 calories from such drinks; and 5% drink at least 567 calories—equivalent to four cans of soda. (32)…

The role of marketing
Sugary drinks (soda, energy, sports drinks) are the top calorie source in teens’ diets (226 calories per day), beating out pizza (213 calories per day). (34)

From 1989 to 2008, calories consumed in the form of sugary beverages increased by 60% in children ages 6 to 11, and the percentage of children consuming them rose from 79% to 91%. (35)

Can demand for ethically produced chocolate reduce child labor on cacao-chocolate farms?

child harvesting huge cocoa bean
(Photo: Make Chocolate Fair U.K.)
Forced child labor is common in the agriculture industry, including in the United States where about half a million children often underage workers labor in harsh conditions. Forced child labor also happens on cacao farms, where the beans that make chocolate are grown. TakePart’s Food editor Willy Blackmore, reports:

Unlike many global commodity crops, cocoa is predominantly grown on smallholder farms, and sometimes the child labor abuse happens when a young family member is put to work for free instead of hiring a paid employee. And while that might seem relatively benign—and not all that different from how farm labor is treated in the United States—there are stories like Letiefesso’s, where children are trafficked into working in the industry, and others where children are doing highly risky labor.

As such, there’s a shifting definition for child labor that changes with age and the work being conducted. Children between five and 11 cannot work at all under International Labor Organization standards; children between 12 and 14 can do up to 14 hours of light work a week; the maximum number of hours climbs to 43 per week for kids between 15 and 17. Then there are the “worst forms of child labor,” the hazardous and forced-labor scenarios, which are disallowed for children of any age.

Until brutal and dangerous child labor can be put behind global civil society, Blackmore suggests actions which can help by creating more demand for ethically produced chocolate:

Look for single-origin or “bean-to-bar” chocolate, or chocolate bearing a label that promises ethical (and third-party-verified) production.

Louisiana Reps vote to ban schools on waste sites

Campaign to ban construction on toxic waste NOLAThe Campaign for Toxic-Free Schools in New Orleans and Louisiana reports that the Louisiana House of Representatives voted unanimously in favor of House Bill 180, which would prohibit the construction of new schools on waste sites. The bill now goes to the Louisiana Senate – let’s all pray that it passes!

An April 2015 Times-Picayune article provides background on this issue.

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Wei Family recognized for help with Fair Lawn Green Fair

Fair Lawn Green Fair
The Fair Lawn Green Fair was bustling this year
Just noticed that The Wei family was recognized in this writeup for our help with the Fair Lawn Green Fair on 04 March 2015.

FL Green Fair 2015 flyerI created a flyer and spearheaded the publicity team, and my sons Ivan and Ari brought in a rain barrel and demonstrated how they work.

The Fair Lawn High School’s Environmental Club took charge of getting our flyers posted all over town.

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