Archives for the month of: January, 2011

Bitter Harvest was a 1981 television docudrama about an accidental poisoning of cattle feed in the Midwest in the 1970s.Its plot is based on the 1973 Michigan PBB contamination incident.

You can watch the rest of the movie in 10 more parts under the jump.

Read the rest of this entry »

Advertisements

From desmogblog.com:

In the United States and beyond, governments are praising the “clean, plentiful fuel” that is natural gas, and tout it as a viable alternative to oil and coal.  According to Abrahm Lustgarten at ProPublica, its advocates are calling natural gas a step toward a greener energy future due to the fact, they assert, that natural gas produces 50 percent less greenhouse gases than coal.

Josh Fox’s critically-acclaimed documentary Gasland tells quite a different story about the natural gas industry and its extraction process, called hydraulic fracturing, or fracking.  As he journeys across the United States, he discovers the devastating environmental and health impacts of humans and animals in close proximity to gas wells, and realizes that the so-called “Saudi Arabia of natural gas” is causing more pain than it is worth.

After the release of Fox’s documentary, an oil and gas lobby group calling itself “Energy In-Depth” launched a public relations offensive against the film (apparently they didn’t like the footage of people lighting their tap water on fire).  As it turns out, the website of the lobby group was registered to a Washington, DC public relations firm called FD Americas Public Affairs (formerly FD Dittus Communications) whose clients included oil and gas lobby groups including the American Energy Alliance, run by former Republican staffers Eric Creighton, Kevin Kennedy and Laura Henderson.

More. . . .

Read more about hydraulic fracturing on Upstream Blog:

Peggy Shepard

Peggy Shepard is executive director and co-founder of WE ACT for Environmental Justice. Founded in 1988, WE ACT was New York’s first environmental justice organization created to improve environmental health and quality of life in communities of color.

In this portion of my interview, she discusses the environmental justice movement as she responds to the prompts listed below.

(Duration 6:29)

Contents

  1. How would you summarize the connection between environmental health and environmental justice? 00:40
  2. Can you say more about the role of race in determining exposure levels to environmental toxins? 01:15
  3. Why is it that environmental toxins disproportionately burden communities of color? 02:40
  4. In general terms, what do those exposures mean for health outcomes? 04:30

Other Portions of Peggy Shepard Interview

Title Duration
Part 1 – Early Career 10:30
Part 2 – The Origins of WE ACT 8:24
Part 3 – The Work of WE ACT 11:02
Part 4 – Environmental Health & Justice 6:29
Part 5 – Collaborating with Scientists 7:51
Part 6 – Policy Reforms 10:15
Part 7 – Environmental Activism 14:22
Part 8 – Five Favorites 5:45
Full Interview 66:41

Visit Peggy Shepard’s main Upstream page.

From Youtube:

Environmental activist Erin Brockovich faces the press prior to a public meeting in the Palm Beach County Conference Center regarding the high cancer levels at The Acreage in Loxahatchee, Florida on Oct. 8, 2009

From The Boston Channel:

With two-thirds of Americans now overweight or obese, new research suggests there may be more to it than poor diet and not enough exercise. Hidden chemicals, called obesogens, are the building blocks of everyday household items.

Researchers say they’re wreaking havoc on our bodies by disrupting our hormonal systems, which affect fat cells and gene function.

“Certain cells that would normally differentiate into cells that would develop into, say, muscle tissue, or connective tissue, would change and develop into fat tissue or fat cells,” said Dr. Theresa Piotrowski, medical director of Lahey Clinic’s Medical and Surgical Weight Loss Center.Obesogens include now infamous bisphenol-A, or BPA, phthalates, which are synthetic chemicals found in plastics, and Perfluorooctanoic acid, or PFOA, which is found in non-stick and stain resistant products. Obesogens are also found in plastic shower curtains, canned goods and cosmetics.

More . . .

Vodpod videos no longer available.

From Unnatural Causes:

Eboni Cochran and her neighbors in Louisville have organized to demand that chemical companies in their area do a better job of monitoring and containing hazardous materials that seep into the soil and air. Across the country, polluting industries are concentrated in communities where the poor and people of color live.

From The Green Grok Blog:

You’ve heard of a wolf in sheep’s clothing… Get a load of these water “advocates.”

On January 13, 2011, the Environmental Protection Agency revoked the permit for one of the country’s biggest mountaintop-removal coal-mining projects — namely, Arch Coal’s Spruce No. 1 Mine in West Virginia. EPA used its revocation authority under Section 404(c) of the Clean Water Act, arguing that the proposed mine “would use destructive and unsustainable mining practices that jeopardize the health of Appalachian communities and clean water on which they depend.”

More specifically, the agency cited concerns over environmental and water quality resulting from blasting thousands of acres of mountain tops that would have, among other things, sent “110 million cubic yards of coal mine waste into streams, buried more than six miles of high-quality streams in Logan County, … [and] buried more than 35,000 feet of high-quality streams under mining waste.” In short, after years of trying to negotiate a less damaging, more sustainable way to mine the area, the agency nixed the permit, as is its right under federal law and as its duty in protecting waterways, wildlife, and human health.

Of course, such action has been construed by some as controversial because EPA revoked a permit it had already issued — reportedly an action taken just once before in the Clean Water Act’s four decades. Not surprisingly, protests have erupted from expected quarters, including the National Mining Association, the pro-coal campaign called “FACES,” and leading West Virginian politicians.

But what surprised me were the objections from a group called the Waters Advocacy Coalition, which sent President Obama’s Council on Environmental Quality a letter asking chairwoman Nancy Sutley to oppose EPA’s decision, warning that the revocation would “chill investment and job creation by creating an uncertain regulatory environment in which businesses and citizens will no longer be able to rely on valid Section 404 permits.”

Wow, how strange that a group putatively advocating for water would object to a decision aimed at protecting clean water. Who is this coalition, I wondered. So I went online to find out.

On the group’s Web site — protectmywater.org — I found messages to “support” the Clean Water Act for the many great protections it has afforded. I thought, so far, so good. Its members, the site says, are “made up of diverse organizations representing numerous individuals and businesses that depend on our nation’s clean water resources.” Great.

But then the waters got pretty murky.

More . . .

From MPRNEWS:

Families in 16 Ramsey County neighborhoods have begun receiving letters urging them to take part in the largest and longest study of children’s health ever conducted in the United States.

The National Children’s Study will look at what factors contribute to autism, asthma, attention deficit disorder and other serious childhood ailments.

105 counties nationwide were selected to participate in the study. Ramsey County was chosen because of the diverse background of its residents.

More than 100,000 U.S. kids, including 1,000 from Ramsey County, will be recruited for the study. Researchers will examine how air quality, food, neighborhoods and family history affect kids’ health.

“In the last two decades we’ve been seeing increasing prevalence of certain conditions, like autism, like diabetes, like obesity in kids,” said University of Minnesota public health professor Pat McGovern, who also is the project’s lead investigator in Ramsey County. “And what scientists think — but they’ve never really had enough kids followed long enough to figure out — is, is that a gene/environment interaction?”

It will be years before scientists gather enough data to test their genetic and environmental theories. In the meantime, their most challenging task will be recruiting enough pregnant women to join the study and stick with it for 21 years following the birth of their babies.

In addition to the letters that are being sent to 32,000 households in Ramsey County, study organizers are attending community baby showers and health fairs to spread the word about the study.

At a recent event with 15 representatives from schools, social service and health agencies, Deb Hendricks, Director of Community engagement for the Ramsey County study, explains the project.

“What we are really doing is looking at where children live, where they play, where they go to school, where they spend their time, how they spend their time, what they eat to see what we can find out over the long-term about children’s health,” she tells her audience.

More . . .

From the Documentary Website:

A Chemical Reaction, is a 70 minute feature documentary movie that tells the story of one of the most powerful and effective community initiatives in the history of North America.  It started with one lone voice in 1984.  Dr. June Irwin, a dermatologist, noticed a connection between her patients’ health conditions and their exposure to chemical pesticides and herbicides.  With relentless persistence she brought her concerns to town meetings to warn her fellow citizens that the chemicals they were putting on their lawns posed severe health risks and had unknown side effects on the environment.

From The Independent:

The world’s deadliest pollution does not come from factories billowing smoke, industries tainting water supplies or chemicals seeping into farm land. It comes from within people’s own homes. Smoke from domestic fires kills nearly two million people each year and sickens millions more, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO).

A new UN project has now been set up to try to reduce this appalling toll. It aims, over the next nine years, to put 100 million clean cooking stoves into homes in the developing world.

The WHO ranks the problem as one of the worst health risks facing the poor. In low-income countries, such as those in Africa and Asia, indoor smoke from cooking has become the sixth biggest killer. Globally, it kills more people than malaria, and nearly as many as Aids – and far more insidiously than either.

The problem is partly the fuels used, partly the lack of ventilation. Cooking on open fires and stoves without chimneys, using basic fuels such as wood, animal dung, crop waste and coal, emits hazardous smoke that causes irreversible ill health and killer diseases. Small soot or dust particles penetrate deep into the lungs, causing lung cancer, child pneumonia and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Women and children, whose traditional place is in the kitchen, are the the most common victims.

Stoves and open fires are the primary means of cooking and heating for nearly three billion people. In India, some 400,000 people die each year from the toxic fumes. In Africa, 500,000 children under the age of five die from pneumonia attributable to indoor air pollution, according to the WHO. And in Afghanistan, smoke from cooking and heating fires killed 20 times as many people in 2010 as did the ongoing conflict.

More . . .

Vodpod videos no longer available.

From Unnatural CausesEpisode 5:

Why is your street address such a good predictor of your health? Increasingly, Southeast Asian immigrants like Gwai Boonkeut are moving into neglected urban neighborhoods where African Americans have long suffered, and now their health is being eroded too. What can be done to create a neighborhood that promotes rather than destroys health?

From SELCVA (Southern Environmental Law Center):

Southern utilities say coal is “cheap,” but this argument doesn’t add up when you factor in the costs to our environment and health.

From Washington Post:

Shareholder groups have filed resolutions with major oil and gas companies urging them to disclose their plans for managing water pollution and financial risks associated with hydraulic fracturing, a technique used to extract natural gas from shale.

The resolutions announced Friday, filed with companies such as Chevron and Exxon Mobil, take aim at an increasingly common industry practice that has been blamed for tainting water supplies and land with chemicals.

Under hydraulic fracturing, known as fracking, high-pressure water, chemicals and particles are injected deep underground to break up shale formations and release natural gas. Companies are turning to fracking because more-accessible deposits of natural gas have dwindled.

* * *

The shareholder groups include the New York state pension fund, Domini Social Investments, Trillium Asset Management and The Sisters of St. Francis of Philadelphia. The resolutions called on the companies to recycle waste water, disclose the type of chemicals used in the operations and lessen their toxicity.

“This is really about enhancing the long term-value of these companies,” said Andrew Logan, director of the oil and gas program for Ceres, a coalition of investors and environmental groups that works with companies to improve their business practices.

“They want to see these companies succeed,” Logan said. “The industry’s ability to continue to develop shale gas reserves depend on the public’s acceptance of fracking that it’s safe.”

More . . .

From NRDCflix:

NRDC partnered with StoryCorps and Bridge the Gulf to record, share, and preserve the stories and experiences of those living through the BP oil disaster. Find out more at http://www.nrdc.org/storycorps.

Peggy Shepard

Peggy Shepard is executive director and co-founder of WE ACT for Environmental Justice. Founded in 1988, WE ACT was New York’s first environmental justice organization created to improve environmental health and quality of life in communities of color.

In this portion of my interview, she discusses the goals and accomplishments of WE ACT as she responds to the prompts listed below.

(Duration 11:02)

Contents

  1. As community activists, how do you measure your own success in helping to create a healthy community? 00:40
  2. Please briefly describe WE ACT’s “8 Indicators of a Healthy Community.” 01:40
  3. Is there one environmental problem that stands out as most important to WE ACT? 04:40
  4. What sorts of things have you done to promote improved air quality? 06:20
  5. Please briefly describe some of your work to create open and green spaces in the community. 07:00

Other Portions of Peggy Shepard Interview

Title Duration
Part 1 – Early Career 10:30
Part 2 – The Origins of WE ACT 8:24
Part 3 – The Work of WE ACT 11:02
Part 4 – Environmental Health & Justice 6:29
Part 5 – Collaborating with Scientists 7:51
Part 6 – Policy Reforms 10:15
Part 7 – Environmental Activism 14:22
Part 8 – Five Favorites 5:45
Full Interview 1:06:41

Visit Peggy Shepard’s main Upstream page.

%d bloggers like this: