Here, There and Everywhere

Posts tagged ‘EPA’

Hazel and Goliath

johnsonExcerpt from Don’t Just Sit There, Do Something! Grief’s Wake Up Call. Interview with Hazel Johnson (Born: January 25, 1935 Died: January 12, 2011). Photo of Ms. Johnson holding her Presidential Medal of Freedom.

It started with her husband. Hazel Johnson’s sweetheart of seventeen years died an early death from lung cancer. Within ten weeks of diagnosis he’d passed away. As Mrs. Johnson began to look for answers she discovered she wasn’t alone, a significant number of people in her Southeast Chicago neighborhood were and had been dying from the disease. A high percentage of infants were born with tumors and defects. It wasn’t genetics, it wasn’t lifestyle, it was the very air they were breathing, the water they drank and the homes in which they lived. The environment was silently altering the very bodies within which they lived.

After educating herself about pollution, toxins and contamination, she put her new found knowledge to work and started PFCR (People For Community Recovery). With her leadership, things started to change. Surrounded by toxic dumps, incinerators and disposal sites, PFCR galvanized the community and successfully challenged some of the largest corporations and politicians in America to take notice and clean up the area they’d been ignoring for years.

HAZEL JOHNSON:

Let me start from the beginning. How I really got involved was my husband had died of lung cancer and at the time they didn’t know what was the cause of it. hen a few years later I heard that our area had a high incidence of cancer and I wanted to know why. We had a lot of people being ill and I knew there was something wrong. I didn’t know what it was at the time.

I started making telephone calls to the health department and was fortunate enough to get in touch with Dr. Reginald Jones. He was well abreast about the area. He explained to me what was going on in the South East side of Chicago . . . about all the contaminants and things. He told me of an organization that was dealing with the environment. I made numerous calls and found out about the Environmental Action Foundation. At that time they had a young man whose name was Kent Silva. I questioned him on a lot of things, about different types of chemicals. He sent me a lot of literature so I could read up on it.

PCR (People for Community Recovery) really started in my bedroom. I did a lot of studying to see what the problem was that we were dealing with out here. When I first started a lot of people thought I was crazy. People said I didn’t know what I was talking about, because this was something new to everybody. They weren’t talking about the environment then like they do today.

In our apartment, in the attic, we have what I call angel hair. I called for them to remove the angel hair from the attic of our apartment. The kids would climb up in there and come out crying and stinging, you know, from the fiberglass. We had that removed.

After that we started fighting against Waste Management across the street because the odor was horrible . . . you had the garbage smell. I started doing a little research on Waste Management and learned how they were dealing with chemicals with the incinerator; how they were burning chemicals from many parts of the United States.

And the garbage . . . I’d never been concerned about the garbage before, until I really got involved with the environment and what was going on. This was all in the early eighties. You know, you put your garbage out and you don’t think about it no more. After I got involved dealing with the environment I got to be more concerned about the garbage and the whole recycling bit of it.

The Waste Management over there. (Nods outside.) I waited until my fifties, in July of eighty-seven, before I went to jail for stopping the trucks that were going in there. We had the media . . . we had a lot of people. In fact we had over five hundred people participating with this stopping the trucks from coming in. We had planned it. We had big garbage cans. Some people were out their barbecuing, with sandwiches and stuff. We had a party. After all the media left Waste Management called the police on us and seventeen of us decided to go to jail for “trespassing”.

When it came to court the judge didn’t know what to do, because he complimented us on what we were doing. Then he called the lawyer and talked to her in the back, in the chamber and when he came back he just said, “Stay away from the property for six months.” After that, we were next door to the property, on the expressway, with big signs and truckers and cars passing by were honking, blowing their horns and carrying on. We really had a lot of excitement going along the expressway. Waste Management called the police on us again, but there was really nothing they could do. We weren’t on their property.

We were saying how we didn’t want another landfill right across the street from a high school and everything, because of how it would affect the people.

And at Miller Manor they had some well water, which was so contaminated you couldn’t even drink it. It smelled just like a rotten egg. It was horrible! And they’d been paying taxes for water they couldn’t even use. There were about six families of older people. A lot of people didn’t believe the city of Chicago had wells, because everybody thought they had all the new system. When the EPA came to check they find out the city has over two thousand wells! After they got so much publicity for that the mayor came in and helped those people out. They didn’t even have a hydrant. If they had had a fire the place would have burned down automatically. So they went in and installed a water system and a hydrant and stuff and they started getting regular water, which they didn’t have to pay for since they’d been paying all those years before and couldn’t even use it. It made a big difference.

The media really picked up a lot of things I’ve been doing. I think that’s made a lot of these success stories that I talk about. The media participated a lot in it too. One little girl, I like her very much, her name is Deborah Nargent and she’s on ABC. She was a great help with the asbestos problem and gave me little tips of what to do and how to be successful with what we were doing.

Sometimes it gets frustrating getting folks to do what they should have in the first place. Like I’m telling my daughter and everybody right now, I am worn out. I am tired. At one point I’d never get home until ten or eleven o’clock at night. I’m working here during the day, then in the evenings we’d have meeting after meeting. Now I’m exhausted. I’m an older woman. At one point I was in the air two or three times a month, going to universities and speaking to meetings or before congress talking about the environment.

I’m on the CSI (Common Sense Initiative), dealing with the industry people in Washington. I asked my daughter Josephine if she’d like to be on the board for that because I’m tired. I don’t want to do no more running around here and there. A lot of people think that’s pleasure. To me it’s not because when I come back I’m worn out. I have to rest two or three days returning from wherever.

But I’m fortunate to say that the majority of the things I’ve fought for are real successful. When I first started a newsman from the local ABC came and asked me, “How do you think a small minority group like yours can buck up against a Multi-million dollar corporation?” I said, “You never know what you can do until you try.” About a year or two later I wrote him a letter outlining all my accomplishments, but he never returned or called saying he’d received the letter. Later on, when we were having a protest about the airport they were talking about building, he was there. I asked him, “Did you receive my letter?” He said, “Yeah, I received it.” But he made no comment on it.

Then we fought for the lagoons to be cleaned up and they cleaned up three of them. They had over 30,000 contaminants in them. Some of the stuff that was put in there had been in so long that they couldn’t tell what it was. A few barrels had paint solvent; some had baby sharks and baby pigs that had been used for medical research, that were in formaldehyde. They had problems trying to clean it all up because whatever was down there was such a mess it would clog up the trucks taking it out. They had to go back and get more money because it took a lot longer than they’d expected. The South side of Chicago was a forgotten area. Nobody was saying anything about the South East side until I got involved.

I’ve discovered that there are more waste sites and dumps around people of color and in poor areas than in other communities; not just here, but all around the country. We’ve brought this issue to national and international attention. I went to the world summit in Brazil. e had women from around the world discussing the problems in our communities. They had people from more than a hundred and twenty five countries. It was the first time they’d ever gotten so many dignitaries from different countries to sit down and take a picture together.

Complete profile of Ms. Johnson and others at Don’t Just Sit There, Do Something! Grief’s Wake Up Call

Fracking Water Contamination

Fracking Linked to Contamination

When I’m not playing a superhero, I do my best to help out the real superheroes who are fighting to keep our water clean. That’s why I started a petition to President Barack Obama and EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy, which says:

“Preliminary studies by the EPA linked fracking to water contamination in three communities: Dimock, Pennsylvania; Parker County, Texas; and Pavillion, Wyoming. But the EPA abandoned its own findings and stopped these investigations. President Obama and new EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy must reopen these fracking investigations and provide residents with safe drinking water.”

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I first got involved in the fracking fight years ago when I traveled to Dimock, Pennsylvania, to meet families who were suffering serious health impacts from using water contaminated from fracking operations. I met many people whose children and pets were suffering from skin lesions, hair loss, vomiting, severe headaches, dizziness and pain throughout their bodies—and they could light their tap water on fire!

When the going got rough, a group of concerned citizens and I stepped in to help these people get safe drinking water. Thankfully, the Environmental Protection Agency came to the rescue and delivered families water while conducting an investigation. But when the EPA abruptly closed the case, stopped water deliveries to the residents and deemed the water safe to drink, we knew something was wrong.

Thanks to EPA whistleblowers, the Los Angeles Times was recently able to report that the fracking investigation in Dimock was shut down despite evidence from the EPA’s water tests showing that Dimock’s drinking water was severely impacted by fracking. Since that time, many residents have not had access to safe drinking water.

That’s why I started a petition to President Obama and EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy calling on them to reopen the investigations into water contamination from fracking. We’ll deliver the petition signatures to the EPA headquarters in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday this week to show the public demand for action.

Can you add your name to my petition, and then share it with your friends?

The EPA has also shut down investigations in Wyoming and Texas. Early results of all three investigations showed that the EPA had evidence linking gas drilling and fracking operations to groundwater contamination. Yet instead of protecting people in these areas, the EPA ignored its own scientific data and abandoned the investigations.

It’s time for the EPA to do its job and protect the drinking water of the American people from toxic fracking. Join me in calling on the new EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy, and President Barack Obama, to reopen the EPA investigations in Dimock, Pennsylvania; Pavillion, Wyoming; and Weatherford, Texas; and provide safe drinking water to the residents of these communities during the investigations.

Click here to add your name to this petition, and then pass it along to your friends.

Thanks!

Mark Ruffalo
MoveOn.org

Honey Bee Crisis

Gabriel,

Since 2006, our honey bees have been dying off in droves. Billions of bees have disappeared in the U.S. with losses estimated at 30% per year.

And if the destruction of a species is disturbing enough on its own, the collapse of honey bee populations also threatens the security of our food supply since honey bee pollination is crucial to the cultivation of a full 1/3 of our food here in the U.S.

Urge the EPA to stop dragging its feet and take steps NOW to stem the collapse of honey bee colonies across the country.

Scientists have been scrambling to figure out what is behind this crisis – termed Colony Collapse Disorder – and believe it is probably the result of many interacting factors, including one widely used class of pesticides called neonicotinoids.

One such chemical, called clothianidin, is produced by the German corporation Bayer CropScience. It is used as a treatment on crop seeds, including corn and canola which happen to be among honey bees’ favorite foods.

Unfortunately, the EPA is refusing to make any changes until it completes its review of the safety of clothianidin in 2018 – but our honey bees (and bee keepers, rural communities and farmers) can’t wait that long.

Tell the EPA: Ban the use of this pesticide that may be wiping out our honey bees before it’s too late.

Shockingly, no major independent study has verified the safety of this pesticide. While clothianidin has been used on corn – the largest crop in the U.S. – since 2003, it was officially approved by the Environmental Protection Agency in 2010 on the basis of a single study, conducted by Bayer.

But leaked EPA documents2 expose a more sordid story. Agency scientists who reviewed Bayer’s study determined that the evidence was unsound and should not have been allowed as the basis for an unconditional approval of the pesticide.

Additional independent studies have shown that neonicotinoid pesticides like clothianidin are highly toxic to honey bees, providing compelling evidence that they should not continue to be approved by the EPA.

France, Italy, Slovenia, and Germany have already banned clothianidin over concerns of its role in Colony Collapse Disorder.

The stakes are far too high to continue the use of this chemical without independent science verifying that it is safe to use.

Thanks for helping to protect our bees.

Mike Town
Director, SaveOurEnvironment.org

Energy Sources & Polar Bears

Dear Gabriel,

The rise of carbon pollution doesn’t just wreck havoc on the air we breathe, which is certainly bad enough. It wrecks havoc around the globe. So pollution from a power plant in California can have a lasting impact on life as far as Hudson Bay in the North Atlantic, where polar bears rely on the ice in summer months for hunting.

But the EPA is working on a common-sense rule that will limit how much carbon pollution new power plants can emit. Join me in supporting the EPA’s work to limit carbon dioxide emissions from power plants.»

For the past century, coal-fired power plants have been the dominant source of American electricity. It has powered our homes, our communities… and our politics. Big Coal has a vested interest in not changing the way it does business, but it’s time that American power shift.

This rule won’t change emissions overnight, but it will move us in the right direction to tackle global warming and stimulate innovation in clean energy technologies.

The future of our environment, wildlife, our children’s health and our clean energy economy depend on forward-thinking changes like this EPA rule. Sign the petition now to stand up to the dirty air lobby and support clean air standards!»

Natasha
Care2 and ThePetitionSite Team

Drought Compounded by Law

Dear Gabriel,

We’re in the middle of the worst drought in more than 50 years. American farmers are ringing warning bells: their crops are dying by the acre.

The US is the world’s largest exporter of corn, wheat and soybeans – so when our crops suffer, the world pays higher food prices and families go hungry.

What’s making matters even worse? The EPA’s mandate for corn ethanol – a rule that requires a large portion of US corn crops to be used to make ethanol. Instead of being eaten by hungry families, those crops are burning up in our gas tanks.

Higher food prices could cause severe food crises, like the current one in the Sahel, to spread to other regions of the world. We can’t wait any longer to take action! Join us in calling on the Obama Administration to waive this mandate.

We need your voice: Tell the Obama Administration to waive the mandate for corn ethanol NOW.

With a shrunken harvest this year in the United States, global food prices could skyrocket. As food prices continue to rise, people in poverty around the world – many of whom already spend a majority of their income on food – won’t be able to buy enough food to eat. Climate shocks are destroying crops simultaneously in multiple parts of the world, creating a perfect storm for hunger.

Last year, 40 percent of the corn produced in the US was made into ethanol because of this mandate. We’re burning up millions of bushels of corn for fuel – and what’s left over to meet demand is so expensive that millions of poor families can no longer afford to feed themselves. That’s just plain wrong.

By waiving the mandate for corn ethanol to allow more of this year’s harvest to be used as food, we can take some of the pressure off the global food market and stop food prices from rising out of control. Will you ask the Obama Administration to stop a global food crisis?

Send a message to The White House: Tell President Obama to waive the mandate for corn ethanol now so the world can afford to eat.

Thank you for standing with Oxfam’s GROW campaign. Together, we’re helping to fix our broken food system to ensure that everyone on the planet has enough to eat, always.

Sincerely,

Vicky Rateau, GROW Campaign
Oxfam America

The Clock Is Ticking

Dear Gabriel,

The EPA has yet to issue a decision on Shell’s last minute bait and switch on the air pollution rules it agreed to for its arctic drilling rigs.

But the clock is ticking. Final approvals must come by the 15th of August.

That means either the EPA will be pressured to cave before then and let Shell write its own rules, or — if we can create enough pressure for EPA to draw a line — we could stop Shell from drilling in the Arctic this summer.

Please make a call right now to urge EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson to stand strong for the protection of our Arctic. Click here for a simple script and number to call.

Given the recent history of deepwater offshore drilling, and Shell’s track record so far — which includes losing control of one of its drilling rigs2 — the stakes for the pristine Arctic Ocean are all too real.

In a twist of irony, even as most of the country suffers from the hottest summer on record, Arctic sea ice has been slow to melt this year.3 The condition of the sea ice, combined with Shell’s repeated backtracking on its commitments, including on its oil spill response plan and with EPA and the Coast Guard, have prevented Shell’s final approval from moving forward.

If the Obama Administration approves drilling this summer, Shell will be especially rushed to drill before the sea ice forms again in October. But if the EPA draws the line now, we can protect the Arctic for at least one more year.

What happens in the next few days will shape EPA’s decision. Please make a call now.

Thank you for defending the Arctic.

Elijah Zarlin, Campaign Manager
CREDO Action from Working Assets

Spill Baby Spill – Arctic Oil

Dear Gabriel,

Weeks away from starting the first major offshore oil drilling operations in the Arctic, Shell is pulling a major bait and switch — telling the EPA it can’t meet the air pollution rules the company had already agreed to in order to get a drilling permit.

Shell has known since 2010 it would have problems meeting the rules for nitrogen oxide and ammonia emissions. But officials still told the EPA they could. Now Shell wants the EPA to weaken the rules at the last minute?

It’s clear that Shell simply cannot be trusted. The company’s request gives the EPA the option to cancel Shell’s permit. That’s exactly what EPA must do.

This is our last, best opportunity to block Shell from drilling in the Arctic this summer.

Tell EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson: Reject Shell’s permit to drill in the Arctic. Click here to automatically sign the petition.

This bait and switch is the latest in a long list of broken promises, walk-backs and mishaps which should serve as clear signs to the Obama Administration that allowing Shell to drill in the Arctic is a recipe for disaster.

Just this weekend, Shell literally lost control of its Discoverer drilling rig, which either ran aground or very nearly did so, when its anchor broke while harbored a thousand miles south of the Arctic. Moderate winds are being blamed — yet these winds are mild compared to what it will encounter in the Arctic. The rig, one of the oldest in the world, had a similar anchor malfunction just last year, while it was stationed in New Zealand.

Shell is also having problems with its nearly forty-year-old oil spill recovery barge. While Shell promised the Coast Guard it would upgrade it substantially to withstand stronger weather, Shell now says those upgrades aren’t necessary. The Coast Guard hasn’t yet decided if it will weaken these standards for Shell.

And of course — while we’ve known for some time that the Obama Administration was being hoodwinked by Shell’s hopelessly inadequate oil spill response plan — now Shell has come out and admitted its initial spill response claims were overstated. Shell initially said it could “recover” 95% of oil in the case of a major spill. Now Shell is saying that what it actually meant is “encounter” 95% of the oil — whatever that means.5

Tell EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson: Reject Shell’s permit to drill in the Arctic. Click here to automatically sign the petition.

Shockingly, the Department of Interior has put the probability of an oil spill in the Arctic at 40%.

That is simply unacceptable. With Shell in the driver’s seat, it’s clear that it would be unwise to even bank on those unacceptably high odds.

Shell’s request to EPA is a major opportunity for President Obama and the EPA to revisit the undeserved trust they have put in Shell thus far. It’s time for EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson to be a hero, and draw a line to stop the next major drilling disaster in the Arctic.

With Shell hoping to start drilling as soon as the Arctic sea ice clears in the coming weeks, EPA’s response could come any day. Click here to automatically add your name to the petition now.

Thank you for defending the Arctic from reckless offshore drilling.

Elijah Zarlin, Campaign Manager
CREDO Action from Working Assets

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