Tag Archives: environmental justice

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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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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Join EJ rally Aug 11 on Energy Master Plan or comment at a BPU hearing

On Tuesday August 11 from 1-3PM please join Newark residents, the Ironbound Community Corporation (ICC) and allies at a peaceful rally and protest outside of Seton Hall Law School (1109 Raymond Blvd, Newark, NJ) where the Board of Public Utilities will be hosting a public hearing to review the NJ State Energy Master Plan created in 2011, which is in the process of being updated. Some community activists will wish to attend the hearing and possibly, to comment – which is an activity rallying protestors wholeheartedly endorse.

The Sierra Club comments,

The Board of Public Utilities (BPU) is putting together the 2015 Energy Master Plan (EMP) which will help determine where we get our energy from in New Jersey. The plan decides New Jersey’s priorities for clean AND dirty energy and can also set limits on how much energy we waste.

Compelling statements from environmental justice (EJ) and environmental groups were made before the 2011 plan was adopted. But community voices were ignored, with operation of existing dirty fossil fuel and incinerators not only continuing unabated, but expanding. A new 655 megawatt natural gas plant was situated in Newark’s already heavily polluted Ironbound neighborhood; and several other dirty fuel facilities were located around the state.

Let’s not allow community demands for clean energy to lose impetus because New Jersey state has recently opted to label as “clean energy” both nuclear energy and fracked natural gas – which are anything but … are also dangerous to the environment and cause health issues too.

Since the facilitators of public hearings do not listen to the community anyway, the EJ community is taking their objections, concerns and demand for real solutions to the street and demanding JUSTICE across the board, including: Energy Justice, Environmental Justice, Climate Justice. Stefan Ali of the ICC writes,

The last time there were public hearings on the Energy Plan, industry was allowed to speak first and concerned residents spoke at the end when the media had left. We want to make our voices heard by protesting and rallying.

The August 11 action will not be about standing around listening to an endless roster of speakers. Instead, there will be activities, performances, music and some fun street puppets as well. Please join in and support #actonclimate!

Please email or phone Molly Greenberg at 973.817.7013 x217 or 218 for additional information.

Should you wish to comment on the New Jersey Energy Master Plan 2015 and the state’s energy future, you can do so in person or electronically. Here are your options:

  • Comment in person at one of the three public hearings taking place on August 11, 13 and 17; or
  • Submit a public comment electronically through the Sierra Club’s website. Please feel free to edit any information which already appears in the Sierra Club’s form by adding to it or you can entirely replace their wording with your own.
  • Send your comment directly to the State of NJ. Written public comments on updates to the 2011 Energy Master Plan can be submitted by close of business on Wednesday, August 24, 2015 to EMPupdate@bpu.state.nj.us

Resources:

  1. BPU Hearing Schedule for the NJ Energy Master Plan 2015
  2. NJ Spotlight article looks at some issues the BPU needs community feedback on
  3. Download English & Spanish language fliers for the August 11 rally

Free EPA webinars on safe chemical waste disposal

Chemical disposalWe should all be aware by now that many of the chemicals we use are poisonous. Bottle labels from pesticides to paint thinners carry skull-and-crossbones and “dispose of properly” warnings. Repair facilities and manufacturing businesses work with many dangerous chemicals that, obviously, need to be discarded after use.

The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)’s job is protecting the environment in which we all live, work, and play. This charge includes regulating the manufacture, handling, and disposal of useful but dangerous chemicals. President Clinton’s executive order in 1994 made environmental justice part of the EPA mission. The EPA Web site explains:

Environmental Justice is the fair treatment and meaningful involvement of all people regardless of race, color, national origin, or income with respect to the development, implementation, and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations, and policies. EPA has this goal for all communities and persons across this Nation. It will be achieved when everyone enjoys the same degree of protection from environmental and health hazards and equal access to the decision-making process to have a healthy environment in which to live, learn, and work.

The EPA is holding two webinars this month on reducing the risks of the use of chemicals that are recognized as having a high impact on environmental justice communities.

You must register to attend EPA webinars. Registrants have the option of just listening in but can also ask a question, share information or make a statement.

Environmental Justice Public Consultation on trichloroethylene (TCE) Webinar
Date: 27 May 2015
Time: 1-2pm EDT
Register

Environmental Justice Public Consultation on paint removers NMP and methylene chloride Webinar
Date: 27 May 2015
Time: 1-2pm EDT
Register

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EPA Administrator and Mayor Baraka Launch Newark’s New Community Air Pollution Project Today

Newark Ironbound Air PollutantsOn Friday, US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Gina McCarthy will join community members at Newark, New Jersey’s Ironbound Neighborhood Family Success Center (East) to launch a new community air monitor, a first of its kind citizen science project. Administrator McCarthy will discuss the agency’s work on air quality and how citizen science plays an important role in scientific analysis.

Fri 13 March 2015 @ 10:15 am
Ironbound Community Corporation (ICC)
Family Success Center – East
29 Cortland Street
Newark, NJ 07105

In 2010, A collaboration between Drew University and the ICC used GIS mapping technology to prove the need for air quality control in Newark. With support from an EPA CARE grant, student Zoe Crum mapped data the ICC helped gather to show, “industrial chemical emissions, Brownfield sites, and Superfund sites in conjunction with demographic analyses for the Ironbound.”

Twenty-five percent of Newark children suffer from asthma, three times the state average, and asthma accounts for the leading cause of absenteeism for Newark’s school age children. Accurate and timely information on air pollution is critical to protecting public health. With data in hand, residents have a better chance of taking effective action to keep themselves and their families safe and healthy.

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March Green Drinks & Sustainability Events in 3 North Jersey EJ Cities

GreenDrink logo with wordsGreen Drinks is about Environmental Justice and Sustainability, not green colored drinks – Green Drinks is just our name! We usually meet monthly in three north Jersey Environmental Justice (EJ) cities. Our informal gatherings are held in friendly spaces so people can come together over food and chat about the green and sustainable issues relevant to our lives and communities.

But, this is Mix It Up March! Instead of holding to our usual Green Drinks schedule this month, we’re going visiting … Take a look at our schedule below.

Green Drinks/Issues in 3 EJ cities every month

Green Drinks Newark 1st Mondays | 7-9pm
Mon 03 Mar 2014 7-9pm
This month, Green Drinks be at the Newark Mayoral Candidates Forum for the “Good Jobs, Healthy Neighborhoods, & Clean Environment” debate, which is being co-sponsored by Clean Water Action, the Coalition for Healthy Ports and other organizations. This is an important topic, as Newark residents suffer the brutal environmental impact of ports that produce billions in revenue but don’t share locally. Free and open to the public.
Newark Mayor Healthy City/Green Jobs Forum

Green Drinks Hackensack 2nd Mondays | 7-9pm
Mon 10 Mar 2014 7-9pm
This month, Green Drinks will be at Ramapo College for a panel discussion on the impact of local farms, the creation of a sustainable food system and to discuss and celebrate the creation of the Bergen County Education Farm at Saddle River County Park in Fairlawn, New Jersey. Free and open to the public, but your RSVP is requested.

Green Drinks Clifton-Paterson (this location has no fixed date or spot for now)
TBA (Check back here for this month’s date) | 7-9pm
Sultan Restaurant
429 Crooks Avenue, Clifton NJ (on the Paterson border)
Safe street parking

Discussion themes this month

  1. If your business or non-profit relies on the internet, you will definitely want to help Save the Internet before your internet service provider shuts down access to your website.
  2. How does Big Money in general elections impact the environment? We’ve partnered with Represent.Us in a campaign to get Big Money out of politics and end corporate domination of general elections!
  3. Time to start your seeds for this year’s crops. Where and what are you going to grow?
  4. How can we make environmental justice communities healthier through green jobs and pollution controls?
  5. Preventing school closures in Newark and other NJ EJ communities.

Other green/sustainable activities & events

People’s Organization for Progress (POP) meets weekly in Newark
The People’s Organization for Progress meets every Thursday | 6:30pm
Abyssinian Baptist Church
224 West Kinney Street, Newark NJ

Sign to stop elephant slaughter
More than 30,000 elephants were slaughtered last year for their tusks, which are used to make ivory trinkets and carvings, which are sold in black markets around the world, including in the US. But it’s important to stop this illegal trade. There may be only 250,000 elephants left in the wild. Sign to show you care!

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Green Drinks in 3 Environmental Justice cities in January. And sustainable activities.

GreenDrink logo with wordsGreen Drinks is about Environmental Justice and Sustainability, not green colored drinks. Green Drinks is just our name! We meet monthly in three north Jersey cities. Our gatherings are informal and held in friendly spaces to bring people together to chat over food about green and sustainable issues relevant to our lives and communities.

Green Drinks meetings are open. Everyone is welcome and there is no admission fee. Discussions are ultimately shaped by the attendees who are sitting around a table chatting together, but each month we propose certain topics to get the conversations going. Admission is free – you just pay for the food and drinks you order at the locations where we meet. We scout out friendly places with good food at moderate prices. More info at greendrinks3.org.

Discussion themes this month

  1. Is there room for a community garden in Hackensack?
  2. How does Big Money in general elections impact the environment?
  3. How are proposed development changes in downtown Hackensack going to affect the overall community?
  4. How Green can you or your business get?
  5. Preventing school closures in Newark and other NJ EJ communities

3 EJ Green Drinks every month

Green Drinks Newark 1st Mondays | 7-9pm
January: Mon 06 JAN 2014
Agave Mexican Restaurant
118 Pacific St, Newark, NJ | 973-732-4168
Street parking

His dad was 1st signer on Brown v Education. He'll talk about his family's experience. Great speaker! Hope you can make that. 10:54 PM +13132694551: Unbelievable. That will be a great evening 10:58 PM
Green Drinks Hackensack July 2013

Green Drinks Hackensack 2nd Mondays | 7-9pm
January: Mon 13 JAN 2014
Villa de Colombia
12 Mercer Street, Hackensack, NJ
Parking if restaurant lot is full:
Weekdays after 7 across street in jewelry business parking lot
Weekends in Salvation Army lot on the corner of Mercer & State Streets

Green Drinks Clifton-Paterson (this location has no fixed date or spot for now)
January: Wed 22 JAN 2014 | 7-9pm
Sultan Restaurant
429 Crooks Avenue, Clifton NJ (on the Paterson border)
Safe street parking

Other green/sustainable activities & events

Tu B’Shvat (New Year for the Trees)
Wed nite 15 JAN 15 – Thurs eve 16 JAN 2014
ABCs of Tu B’Shvat

MLK Jr. Day of ServiceMartin Luther King Jr. Day of Service Activities
Around Mon 20 JAN 2014
mlkday.gov
We’ll let you know which activities we’re participating in. Feel free to find an activity on your own through the search tool on this page.

Newark Councilman Ras Baraka convenes
a mass community meeting to stop school closures

Wed 15 JAN 2014 | 6:30 pm
Hopewell Baptist Church
17 Muhammad Ali Avenue, Newark NJ
(Entrance on corner of Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd & Muhammad Ali Ave)
https://www.facebook.com/events/192985397571982/
Panel Discussion Moderated by Councilman Ras Baraka with questions and answers from the Community. Councilman Ras Baraka wants to bring everyone to the table to organize, discuss, and plan a strategy to fight against and stop the Closures of 15 Newark Public Schools … for more information call 973-733-3794 or 973-803-8233

Sign to stop elephant slaughter
More than 30,000 elephants were slaughtered last year for their tusks, which are used to make ivory trinkets and carvings, which are sold in black markets around the world, including in the US. But it’s important to stop this illegal trade. There may be only 250,000 elephants left in the wild. Sign to show you care

Nate Briggs of Brown v. Education comes to Bergen Community College
Thu 20 FEB 2014 | 12:30-2 pm
BCC NAACP brings to speak at BCC for Black History Month. Mr. Briggs’ father was the first signer on the lawsuit that became Brown v Education. He will talk about his family’s experiences, and he’s a great speaker!

People’s Organization for Progress (POP) meets weekly in Newark
The People’s Organization for Progress meets
Every Thursday | 6:30pm
Abyssinian Baptist Church
224 West Kinney Street, Newark, NJ

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Support Stop FreshDirect at 05 Dec court hearing

Boycott Fresh DirectBoycott FreshDirect has a COURT DATE for a hearing to Stop Fresh Direct! They need a good showing of support to be present and ask:

Sisters and brothers, help defend the South Bronx from economic and environmental exploitation and stop the $127 million in subsidies to a polluting corporation that has never made a profit and never consulted the local community. We need people there! 
FreshDirect is a parasite on the public: they use public dollars to aggravate public streets with noise, exhaust, and waste.

Court Hearing to Stop Fresh Direct!
Thurs 05 Dec 2013 | 1:45 pm
27 Madison Ave, Manhattan NY
(between 25th and 26th Streets)
Supreme Court-Appellate Division is:

Mark your calendar, bring a friend, be on time if you can. If you cannot make it get someone or a group to attend!mLet us know if you can make it.

It is extremely important that the courts, the city and the next administration see that people of consciousness and conviction are standing together, tall and proud against environmental and social racism that’s taking place in the South Bronx. 

Please come if you can. We can help with transportation $ if you get there. Together we stand, divided we fall. In peace, for justice.

South Bronx Unite Stop Fresh Direct on Facebook

Cap & Trade – an emissions reduction strategy

The Environmental Defense Fund wrote the cap-and-trade approach to sulfur emissions into the 1990 Clean Air Act. A similar program has become law in California to limit carbon emissions, where implementation will begin in 2013. The cap part of the program is an incrementally rising cap on the legally allowable limits for carbon emissions factories produce. The trade portion allows companies that reduce their emissions to a lower level than the legal mandate to use the difference as a credit that a company exceeding the legal limit can buy to bring itself into the compliant range of emissions output.

The EDF explains the history of cap-and-trade, which started in 1990

Traditional, top-down government regulation would have simply directed every plant owner to cut pollution by a specific amount in a specific way. But this method, critics said, would cost too much, impede innovation and ignore the knowledge and initiative of local plant operators.

The way forward, EDF experts argued, was to harness the power of the marketplace. Our cap-and-trade approach, written into the 1990 Clean Air Act, required that overall sulfur emissions be cut in half, but let each company decide how to do it. And power plants that cut their pollution more than required could sell those extra allowances. A new commodities market was born.

Under this market-based plan, sulfur emissions have gone down faster than predicted and at one-fourth of the projected cost. By 2000, scientists were documenting decreased sulfates in Adirondack lakes, improved visibility in national parks and widespread benefits to human health. The Economist called it “the greatest green success story of the past decade.”

EDF explains that the California cap-and-trade market for greenhouse gases addresses is modeled after their plan.

In October 2011, the California Air Resources Board voted to create a cap-and-trade market for greenhouse gases, as required by AB32, the state’s landmark bipartisan 2006 climate bill, which EDF cosponsored and defended in court.

AB32 aims to cut greenhouse gas emissions in California, the world’s eighth largest economy, to 1990 levels by 2020, while generating one-third of its electricity from renewable sources like solar and wind.

The cap-and-trade market alone, which begins operating in 2013, will slash the state’s warming emissions by an amount equivalent to taking some 3.6 million cars off the road.

The LA Times reports

Environmental justice groups oppose aspects of the program, arguing that cap-and-trade’s market allows refineries, power plants and other large-scale facilities to continue polluting poor neighborhoods as long as they purchase credits or offsets ..

and gives details about how the carbon cap-and-trade program will work in California

Emissions caps were established by collecting three years of emissions data from the state’s largest industries. Those businesses were grouped into sectors and assigned an average emissions benchmark. Businesses are allowed to emit up to 90% of that amount in the first year. Companies that operate efficiently under the cap may sell their excess carbon allowance on the market; companies whose emissions are above the benchmark must either reduce their carbon output or purchase credits or offsets.

Offsets are a way of turning carbon “savings” into tradable equities. For instance, a forestry company may change its practices so that its forests store more carbon. That increase in carbon storage can be turned into a marketable credit. An independent entity would verify that the carbon savings are real. That additional storage must be maintained for at least 100 years. No carbon offsets may be purchased from non-U.S. sources.