Tag Archives: ban

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.


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.

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.

Ban on (styrofoam) polystyrene containers spreads to NYC

polystyrene defined by Wikipedia

On Jan 1, New York City’s polystyrene foam ban went into effect, joining the city to the ranks of Rahway, Secaucus and the Verona public school district in New Jersey and dozens of other cities across the country. NYC is the country’s largest city and last year collected 28,500 TONS of the stuff, a material which the city has determined is practically impossible to recycle. Because styrofoam lasts for 500 years, the ban will start reducing environmental impact in the year 2515.

The 7th grader responsible for pushing the ban in Verona schools is Lucas Konrad-Parisi.
“Styrofoam never degrades, it has dangerous chemicals in it, they can leach out – and it seemed they were throwing so many of these out each day,” Lucas explained to a reporter at the time. “They have a recycling bin in the cafeteria, but you can’t recycle Styrofoam.”

The Northern Illinois University Department of Biological Sciences published a paper cautioning students about the dangers of foam containers:

What happens when we add hot food or drinks to Polystyrene?

Polystyrene contains the toxic substances Styrene and Benzene, suspected carcinogens and neurotoxins that are hazardous to humans. Hot foods and liquids actually start a partial breakdown of the Styrofoam, causing some toxins to be absorbed into our bloodstream and tissue.

Polystyrene food containers leach the toxin Styrene when they come into contact with warm food or drink, alcohol, oils and acidic foods causing human contamination and pose a health risk to people. Avoid drinking tea with lemon, coffee with dairy cream, fruit juices, alcoholic beverages and wine from Styrofoam cups. Red wine will instantly dissolve the Styrene monomer. Do not eat oily foods from Styrofoam containers.

Do not microwave food in Polystyrene containers

Over 100 US and Canadian, as well as some European and Asian cities, have banned polystyrene food packaging as a result of the negative impacts to humans and the environment.

And offers this suggestions on what to do if polystyrene is still being used where you live or work:

What can we do?

1. Be aware of the harmful effects of using polystyrene products and tell others.
2. Use reusable cups instead of foam cups.
3. When shopping for groceries, select items that are unwrapped, or wrapped in non-
polystyrene materials: (e.g. vegetables, eggs, meat)
4. Ask local takeaway restaurants and food suppliers to use a more environmentally
friendly form of food packaging other than Styrofoam. Many alternatives are now available made from materials such as post-consumer recycled paper and corn- plastics.

Ask (for a ban on) polystyrene in food packaging. There are many alternatives that will have less impact on the environment.

If you want to know more about how bad styrofoam is, take a gander at the Sierra Club’s testimony to the Massachusetts legislature on its harmful effects and Harvard’s Polystyrene Fact Sheets.

New York county legislators ban fracking waste

No Second Chance from Grassroots Environmental Ed on Vimeo.

In this video clip, several New York county legislators talk about why they believed it necessary to ban fracking waste from use, storage or transportation across their counties. Since states haven’t shown much willingness to limit fracking or reject its waste, it’s great to see municipalities and county legislators taking action. I have several questions after watching the clip, though:

  • Are the New York county legislators shown in this clip part of a unified coalition?
  • How many New York counties have banned fracking waste? Is there a list somewhere?
  • How do New York county legislators stand on the topic of fracking itself?
  • Is the position of legislator on the Board of Legislators equivalent to a NJ freeholder?
  • Has New York State itself taken a position against fracking waste?

Can anyone help me out?

fracking waste
A fracking (hydraulic fracturing) waste pit

GMO apples will begin the end of real food. Tell Feds NO.

wicked witch says trust me GMO apple is safeSubmit your comment to the US federal government saying why you stand against the approval of GMO apples. The time to act is now! Here’s some scientific background on GMO apples are so bad, even McDonalds and Gerber doesn’t want them. After you post your comment, please share it with us. Here’s mine:

Private companies cannot be allowed to put in claims to own nature or our food supply. It’s time to radically head off manufacturers of GMOs from attempts to take over society by stopping them from selling their products, ever. The US government must act immediately to make the GMO process and the sale of GMO seeds, illegal.

GMO products and patented seeds, are responsible for the killing of bees, natural ecosystems, and ring the death knoll for small farms around the world.

Our food system relies on bees for pollination. Ecosystems rely on a diversity of plant and animal life to thrive, much in the same way that human bodies do. Small farms are being seized and eradicated by GMO distributors through a variety of nefarious and underhanded moves.

GMO producers are dishonest and extremely dangerous.

You cannot allow them to continue harming the earth, our food supply and the people of the United States. GMO incursion is bad for people and the natural world that God created, which it is the fundamental and inalienable right of US citizens and all people, to enjoy.

The myth is being sold by self-serving producers of mono-culture crops that our societies will be better, or safer, if we allow them to take over the growing process, beginning with seed alteration and patenting, but this is the reverse of true. Mono-cultures are exactly the opposite of good, and the results GMO companies bring into the world are disastrous over both the long and short terms.

The approval of GMO apple seeds will open the door to other varieties of patented seeds being brought into the food supply chain. In the short run, family farmers and small farms will be ruined. In the long term, GMO producers want to make sure that only their eco-system destroying apples can be planted and sold. They want to make natural seeds illegal and own the growing process from start to finish.

GMO crops which contain pesticides also produce pesticides resistant super-insects that cannot be controlled by normal strength pesticides. The GMO crops are directly responsible for the super-insects wiping out natural crops (grown by family/small farmers) in regions where the GMO crops that create them are grown. We can only imagine how bad the pesticide-based crops will reveal themselves to be for human health.

GMO companies seek to replace good, healthy food grown by loving hands which shares a beneficial, symbiotic exchange with nature … with chemically altered food that destroys nature, ecosystems, the natural pollination process (and bees), health, family farms and world society as we know it.

They cannot be allowed to continue to operate in society. There must be NO place for them at all. Please, cast a vote for the wellbeing of United States residents and the world at large, by banning GMO seeds from entering the world.

Bottled water is soooo bad – for health, environment, budgets & waste streams

Ban the BottlePeople have no idea how bad bottled water is – for the health of the world, their communities and their bodies. Bottled water is also a social justice issue.

Let’s start with the health issues: single use bottles contain BPA which leeches into water, especially when stored in hot temperatures. Plus, bottled water contains more bacteria than tap water. Stop Corporate Abuse explains,

Bottled water is often sold with images of snowy peaks and pristine rivers with slogans boasting the “pure fresh taste.” Through marketing that presents bottled water as somehow cleaner or safer than tap water, the bottled water industry has effectively cast doubt on the quality of America’s tap water. In 2003, a Gallup poll found that one in five people was drinking only bottled water, largely because of such doubts.

However, the “alternative” sold by these corporations is often a matter of perceived quality rather than an actual substantive difference. In reality, close to half of all bottled water is basically bottled tap water – sold back to consumers for thousands of times the price.

What’s more, bottled water is subject to far less independent regulation and oversight than our public water systems. The Environmental Protection Agency has jurisdiction over public water systems, while the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is responsible for overseeing bottled water quality. Both agencies use a similar set of quality standards. While these standards are similar on paper, the FDA lacks adequate capacity to effectively monitor the industry, and largely relies on bottlers to police themselves.

Next, consider the environmental impact to manufacture plastic bottles; spend the energy to put it into bottles and ship it to distributors, then transport it to stores and refrigerate it until a customer spends up to $2 to buy a bottle. Pablo Pastër of Triple Pundit calculated the natural resource cost to be close to 7 times the amount of water actually contained in the bottle, plus a bunch of fossil fuel.

Taxpayer cost: even small towns spend hundreds of thousands of dollars a year to buy bottled water, instead of investing in tap water infrastructure, and the management and treatment of stormwater. Is this how you want your taxpayer dollars being spent?

We’re not done yet. Empty bottles still need to be thrown out! Stop Corporate Abuse tells us that according to the US Government Accountability Office (GAO),

… about three-quarters of the water bottles produced in the United States in 2006 were discarded and not recycled. Each year more than four billion pounds of PET plastic bottles end up in landfills or as roadside litter … Waste generation has a huge monetary impact on municipalities… Assuming the average national tipping fee of $35 per ton, these four billion pounds of plastic waste cost US cities at least $70 million annually, not including the costs of collection, trucking and litter removal.

Finally, people have begun to fight back against bottled water abuse.

Concord, Massachusetts has become one of the first communities in the U.S. to ban the sale of single-serving plastic water bottles … Octogenarian Jean Hill lead the charge, telling The New York Times in a 2010 interview, “The bottled water companies are draining our aquifers and selling it back to us.” She declared, “I’m going to work until I drop on this.”

And you can fight back too. Try a campaign in your own town or school. Here are some resources to get you started:
Ban the Bottle
The Water Project

Diabetes kills. Support NYC’s huge sugar drinks ban.

I’m really happy Mayor Bloomberg is pushing to ban on huge sugary drinks in New York City. Publicity about this alone will increase consciousness about just HOW bad these drinks are. They’re killing people! Stress on the body’s insulin producing system and being overweight are important factors contributing to the onset of Type 2 diabetes and sugary drinks are big contributors to obesity and exaggerated sugar consumption.

Although designer healthy food is annoyingly expensive and the elitist marketing scheme around it totally disgusts me, don’t let the marketers fool you: deals for good food can be found, or made, with a little effort. Growing some of your own fruits and veggies is one way to go. My family has a community garden plot that gives us fresh veggies all summer long, and we are learning to can and pickle extra produce to see us through colder months. A friend of ours grows edible plants in the windows of his home. A truly healthy diet is a low-cost diet too, since the ingredients for slow-cooked meals costs relatively little compared to processed foods, which anyway are unhealthy from the get-go. We think that we’re in such a big rush to get (where exactly?) that we have no time to cook and good food. Let’s not be rushing off to an early grave. We can dial down the speed of our lives, eat well in the company of friends, family and work colleagues: and change our habits, lives, health and futures, forever.

As one Facebook friend pointed out today, there are plenty of yummy foods out there. Making healthy choices means getting used to different tastes, not less delicious ones.

Diabetes today is an epidemic in poor urban neighborhoods

Harvard professor Frank Hu writes for the American Diabetes Association

… studies and randomized clinical trials show that type 2 diabetes is largely preventable through diet and lifestyle modifications. Translating these findings into practice, however, requires fundamental changes in public policies, the food and built environments, and health systems. To curb the escalating diabetes epidemic, primary prevention through promotion of a healthy diet and lifestyle should be a global public policy priority.

CBS news reports, “Since 1980, obesity in children has almost tripled to more than 12 million … Only 17 percent of students get the recommended one hour of moderately vigorous physical activity a day.” And the Daily News tells us, a “study published … in the (medical journal) Pediatrics, found that the percentage of adolescents age 12 to 19 with Type 2 diabetes or pre-diabetes nearly tripled from 9% in 1999 to 23% in 2008.”

And it’s an intentionally created epidemic

Are there unscrupulous businessmen out there planning to make sure children get less exercise and worse food in school, who are looking at the best ways to addict our kids to fat-making fast food and insulin blowing/tooth rotting sugary drinks so they will become diabetics at an early age? You can bet your bottom dollar those people are out there en force; and also that they’re extremely good at their jobs. The goal? To make very rich the pharmaceutical and medical equipment companies selling the medicines and paraphernalia diabetics need: monitoring supplies, leg stockings, wheelchairs, prosthetic limbs, special shoes and hospital beds. The market is vast, and we haven’t yet considered the revenue this disease produces for the medical professionals and institutions who treat it.

In These Times author Susan J. Douglas writes

Type 2 diabetes is caused by excess weight, lack of exercise and poor diet, and is directly related to poverty … Diabetes is the leading cause of blindness and kidney failure in the country; it often leads to amputation. It’s the sixth leading cause of death in the United States and costs us $132 billion a year. And it’s preventable, save for the enormous financial interests involved in its preservation. “Bad Blood” brought together three American scandals–poverty, our morally bankrupt for-profit health care system and the practices of our nation’s fast food joints.

Combined, they make up an illness-industrial complex, in which big players in the food industry, insurance industry and medical establishment profit wildly. But they need more raw materials to keep them going, more fodder for their assembly lines. Poor people of color are that fodder, and very few of the rest of America seems to care.

Act For a Permanent Ban on Delaware Basin Fracking

Groups instrumental in advocacy against Marcellus Shale fracking suggest future action towards achieving a permanent ban.

The vote on fracking the Delaware Basin was postponed when Delaware Governor Jack Markell announced before the Trenton rally on November 21, 2011 that Delaware would vote No on the proposal, and New York’s Governor Cuomo had already decided to cast a No vote too. Because there weren’t enough votes to win, the vote was postponed.

The Food & Water Watch Group, which wants fracking banned in New York, asks that people, “please keep the pressure on President Obama to oppose fracking in the basin and urge Governor Cuomo to maintain his opposition by calling

President Obama: 866-586-4069
Governor Cuomo: 866-961-3208

The group has produced a movie exposing false claims that fracking would produce a landslide of jobs in the region. And, they invite people to join a protest against fracking in Manhattan on Wednesday, November 30 at 4:30 pm at the DEC hearing.

The other message was sent out by Environment New Jersey:

Last Thursday, Environment New Jersey helped to deliver an important victory to protect the Delaware River and our drinking water from dangerous gas drilling—and we couldn’t have done it without your ongoing involvement and support.

After months of deliberation, a little-known agency called the Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC) delayed a proposal to open the Delaware River Basin—and our drinking water —to harmful gas drilling. Why the delay? Because there weren’t enough votes to approve drilling.

It looks like we won by the skin of our teeth—representatives from the Obama administration joined the governors of New York and Delaware to voice their disapproval for any proposal that would put our Delaware River at risk.

But we’re not done yet. President Obama holds the deciding vote on the commission.

Please, “>Email President Obama today, and tell him to stand up for the 15 million of us who get our drinking water from the Delaware.

Fracking protests around New York