Success stories show why weakening the National Environmental Policy Act would harm America

The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) requires that government agencies understand the environmental, health, and other impacts of their actions before they spend our tax dollars, and that the American public be involved and informed. NEPA is designed to ensure that agencies analyze risks and alternatives, and make decisions based on the facts. NEPA studies have improved decision making, prevented many misguided and ill-informed actions, and saved untold numbers of American lives.

Unfortunately, NEPA is under attack by the Trump Administration and the Congress. Donald Trump recently called NEPA studies, “nonsense’, and is proposing to weaken NEPA protections.  These two articles provide a good snapshot of the challenges NEPA faces:

Conservatives pitch environmental rollbacks in highway package, E&E News (June 19)

To Speed Up Infrastructure Projects, Trump Revisits Environmental Regs, Governing (March 13)

NEPA is not ‘nonsense’. NEPA studies have led to better government decision-making that has protected our environment, prevented the Federal government from spending money on ill-conceived projects, and improved the health and safety of virtually every American citizen.  

While NEPA does not guarantee that agencies make the right choices, NEPA processes give them the information to make better decisions – and sometimes to avoid disaster.

Among the many NEPA success stories are the protection of radioactive wastes at Los Alamos National Laboratory from vulnerability to fire that could have spread radioactivity for hundreds of miles when a recent forest fire overran the lab, and the abandonment of a misguided plan to dredge a pristine lagoon – an action that would have cost over $100 million and damaged the lagoon it was intended to protect.

To learn more about the amazing success of the NEPA process, check out these stories.

Trump trashes environmental studies but they stave off disaster, The Hill

Never Eliminate Public Advice: NEPA Success Stories, NRDC 

NEPA Success Stories, Henry M. Jackson Foundation

mark! Lopez of EYCEJ wins Goldman Environmental Prize!

Photo: Courtesy EYCEJ: Mark! Lopez, Dr. Robert Bullard, Taylor Thomas, and Zully Juarez

mark! Lopez, executive director of MFN member East Yard Communities for Environmental Justice (EYCEJ) was awarded the 2017 Goldman Environmental Prize yesterday.

mark! is a third generation resident of East L.A, and member of a family with a long history of community activism.  His grandparents cofounded Madres del Este de Los Angeles Santa Isabel (Mothers of  East LA Santa Isabel – MELASI), and he has continued that tradition through years of work with the EYCEJ.

The Goldman Environmental Prize is widely viewed as the highest environmental accolade possible.  It “honors grassroots environmental heroes from the world’s six inhabited continental regions: Africa, Asia, Europe, Islands & Island Nations, North America, and South & Central America” for “sustained and significant efforts to protect and enhance the natural environment…”

To learn more, check out the video and linked news articles below, and read about his award at The Goldman Environmental Prize.

Congratulations mark! Lopez!!

Estadounidense Mark López gana el premio ambiental Goldman 2017 por liderar lucha contra la contaminación de plomo y arsénico en Los Ángeles, Univision

 Goldman Environmental Prize winners work hard to protect planet, SFGate

Margaret Gordon and other EJ speakers at Oakland Voices for Trade Justice: A NAFTA Town Hall – April 20

One of the founders of the Moving Forward Network and most accomplished EJ activists in the U.S., Margaret Gordon, is going to speak on Thursday, April 20 in Oakland about the pollution caused by freight transportation in communities of color, and share lessons learned on how to improve community health.  Her presentation and talks by three other outstanding speakers makes this a “must-attend” event.  Sign up today!

Received by email:

ANNOUNCED! Youth, Public Health, Enviro Justice Speakers @
4/20 Oakland Voices for Trade Justice: A NAFTA Town Hall 

 CaptureWe’re excited to announce a powerful line-up of multi-generational speakers at our April 20 trade justice forum, including activists from the immigration rights, youth, environmental justice, and public health communities.

 

“Migration is Beautiful” butterfly graphic courtesy of Favianna Rodriguez.

RSVP Today! Don’t miss these dynamic presenters:

  • Margaret Gordon, a veteran African-American environmental justice organizer with the West Oakland Environmental Indicators Project. She’ll speak to the pollution impacts of trade-related freight transport through low-income communities of color and share about opportunities to improve community health.

  • Joell Echevarria, an African-American youth social justice organizer with Hip Hop for Change and Rooted in Resilience. He will speak on the economic insecurity faced by young adults of color in Oakland.

  • Gerardo Omar Marín, who serves as Co-Director of Rooted in Community and Youth Program Director of The Pollination Project. Rooted in traditional Mexican healing art, agriculture, and music, Gerardo has dedicated his service to boost the power and unity in inter-cultural youth, social justice, and Mother Earth and will speak to the impacts NAFTA has had on Mexico.

  • Malinda Markowitz, Co-President of the California Nurses Association, the state’s premiere organization of registered nurses and a leading advocate of guaranteed healthcare by expanding and updating Medicare to cover all Americans. Malinda will speak about the threats to affordable medicines posed by new monopoly patents that corporations are seeking through new trade schemes.

EVENT SUMMARY: NAFTA has failed people across North America, and unless working people and communities are at the table, Trump’s renegotiation plans could make it even worse. Join the California Trade Justice Coalition for an engaging discussion of the devastating impacts NAFTA has had on workers, migrants, and the environment, hear from local leaders fighting for economic justice, and learn how we can take action to make sure NAFTA renegotiations truly benefit people and the environment.

WHERE: Citizen Engagement Lab, 1330 Broadway, 3rd Floor, Oakland

WHEN: Thursday, April 20th from 6:00 – 8:00 pm

RSVP: Click here to secure your spot!

Cosponsors: California Nurses Association, California Trade Justice Coalition, Citizens Trade Campaign, Friends of the Earth, Global Exchange, Rooted in Resilience, Sierra Club, California Labor Federation

Toward a more just, vibrant, and sustainable future for us all,

Aaron Lehmer-Chang
Director
California Trade Justice Coalition
A Citizens Trade Campaign affiliate
Will Wiltschko
Lead Organizer
California Trade Justice Coalition
A Citizens Trade Campaign affiliate

 More About California Trade Justice News & Alerts

California Trade Justice News is a quarterly publication of the California Trade Justice Coalition (CTJC), a project of Earth Island Institute, and proud affiliate of the Citizens Trade Campaign. The CTJC is a new coalition of labor, environmental, family farm, public health, immigrant rights, human rights, pro-democracy, and socially conscious business leaders — all committed to building a strong California economy that works for all.

PUBLISHER: Aaron Lehmer-Chang, ED

CONTRIBUTORS: Will Wiltschko, Lead Organizer, Jake Soiffer, Social Media & Communications Intern

Like us on Facebook! | Follow us on Twitter! | Support our efforts today!

CONTACT INFO:

California Trade Justice Coalition
436 14th Street, Suite 1216
Oakland, CA  94612
Web: www.catradejustice.org

West Oakland Environmental Indicators Project research reveals dangerous pollution hotspots

As the Moving Forward Network members that do air pollution monitoring know from on-the-ground experience, EPA regulatory air monitors may show an area to have low levels of particulate matter from diesel exhaust and other air pollution when in fact, nearby hot spots can have high and dangerous levls of air pollution.

For example, while the city’s only EPA regulatory monitor showed air was relatively clean, monitoring by the Diesel Health Project around the BNSF Argentine Rail Yard in Kansas City, Kansas revealed dangerous levels of elemental carbon (an indicator of Diesel Exhaust pollution) in nearby resident’s yards, very likely from a nearby locomotive maintenance yard at which as many as 50 locomotives at a time, many running, await load testing.

Currently, measuring air pollution in overburdened neighborhoods at a high enough level of granularity to comprehensively identify hot spots is very difficult and expensive, and beyond the capabilities of most environmental justice and other community organizations.  

However, research published this week shows how this can be done – and that the results are of great value.  A study carried out by MFN member West Oakland Environmental Indicators Project (WOEIP), the Environmental Defense Fund, Aclima, and the University of Texas at Austin using data collected by Google Street View cars produced findings that were concerning and surprising.

Most significantly, the data shows pollution variations within single blocks in Oakland of as high as 5X, and revealed hotspots that were often very persistent and stable.  

The wide range of pollution levels and the persistence of hotspots tells us something else – in many cases workers and residents are being exposed to much higher levels of pollution and hence higher health risks than they or anyone else knows. We need to build on this research to develop the capability of community-based groups to conduct this level of monitoring in overburdened neighborhoods throughout the U.S.  There are children growing up in these neighborhoods who will sooner or later suffer from underdeveloped lungs, asthma, heart disease, cancer, and other health problems.  The sooner we identify and clean up these hot spots, the more people we can save from air pollution’s health effects, misery, and in some cases, premature death.  

To learn more, view the excellent video with commentary by WOEIP founders Margaret Gordon and Brian Beveridge or read the news articles linked below.  For a deeper dive, click the last link to read the entire journal article.

Google collects air pollution data using Street View cars and offers it to scientists, VentureBeat

Google shares Street View pollution maps, Left Lane News

Tracking Air Quality Block By Block, California Healthline

High-Resolution Air Pollution Mapping with Google Street View Cars: Exploiting Big Data, (complete study) Environmental Science and Technology

New study adds more evidence that diesel exhaust can damage your heart

Image: Northwestern University

Even as the current U.S. presidential administration is slashing regulations and funding for reducing air pollution and protecting public health, a new English study found that long-term exposure to diesel exhaust particulate matter at levels far below EPA standards can cause enlargement of the heart, which is associated with increased heart disease and deaths.

“There is strong evidence that particulate matter (PM) emitted mainly from diesel road vehicles is associated with increased risk of heart attack, heart failure, and death” Dr. Nay Aung, Queen Mary University of London

Lead researcher Dr. Nay Aung said that reducing diesel emissions should be a public health priority.  She recommended that people with cardiac and respiratory diseases limit time spent outside during rush hour and that everyone reduce their exposure to diesel exhaust by bicycling and walking on less-polluted routes and as far from traffic as possible.  

 

For more information, see:

Study: Diesel Pollution (PM 2.5) Tied Directly To Heart Damage, CleanTechnica

Diesel pollution linked to heart damage, European Society of Cardiology

Comite Civico and Loma Linda University Medical Center train and empower students to be citizen scientists and monitor air pollution

The Brawley, California community organization Comite Civico Del Valle has tremendous accomplishments under its belt, including installation of a very robust set of fixed air pollution monitors throughout the region, and establishment of the IVAN environmental reporting system, used by residents in the Imperial Valley and communities across the state.

Working with long-time partner Loma Linda University Medical Center. Comite Civil and other partners are now expanding their services. They are training high school students to be citizen scientists, and encouraging residents to install Purple Air monitors to measure air quality in real-time outside of their homes to ensure the air they breathe is safe before engaging in outdoor physical activities.  This will be especially valuable to children and others with asthma. To learn more, check out the resources below and the article that follows.  

In California’s Imperial Valley, Residents Aren’t Waiting for Government to Track Pollution, Yes! Magazine

AIResiliency on Twitter     

I.V.A.N., Identifying Violations Affecting Communities, IVAN Online                                                                                                                                                                 

Read More

Tell EPA how to improve the powerful Environmental Justice tool EJSCREEN

EJScreen is a very powerful tool that puts capabilities previously available only to mapping experts in the hands of environmental justice groups and others.  

If you or your organization have used EJScreen, please let EPA know how they can improve it by filling out the EJScreen User Survey.  Just follow the instructions below.   

To learn more about this great tool, check out the links at the end of this blog post.

Read More

Moving Forward Network members and friends at People’s Climate Marches across the US!

The Moving Forward Network is composed of over 40 member organizations, and virtually every organization participated in the People’s Climate Marches in Washington, DC, or at a sister march in another city.  Check out a few examples:

Chicago IL

Concord NH

 

Kansas City, MO

Long Beach CA

2017-04-29 - 12 - LA Climate March, Tesoro

Los Angeles CA

This photo was provided by Comite Civico del Valle, one of many MFN members who marched in the Wilmington neighborhood of Los Angeles to call attention to an urgent regional issue – the expansion of the Tesoro Oil Refinery.

New York City NY

 

NRDC at the NYC peoples climate march 2017

Marching with NRDC Executive Director Peter Lehner and NRDC colleagues and members

Oakland CA

Sierra Club at the Oakland Climate Change march

No coal in Oakland

In the San Francisco Bay Area, several thousand people converged on the shores of Oakland’s Lake Merritt for a rally that included indigenous leaders and local environmental justice groups. There, 70-year-old Margaret Gordon, an organizer with a group called No Coal in Oakland, summed up the crowd’s concerns with a fiery one-minute speech from the stage. “Keep the fossil fuels in the ground. Clean up our air, water, and soil,” she said.  (Source http://www.sierraclub.org/sierra/indigenous-communities-lead-massive-peoples-climate-march-dc)

Portland OR

Neighbors for Clean Air Portland Peoples Climate March

Neighbors for Clean Air marched in Portland!

The Portland Peoples Climate March was a great event with frontline communities voices front and center.

NeighborsforCleanAir PCM

San Diego CA

Washington, DC

NRDC at the DC climate march

NRDC Marching to defend the Paris Agreement

 

 

Zero emissions truck manufacturers working to run dirty diesel off the road

Photo: East Bay Express.

Zero emissions Class 8 heavy-duty Class 8 18-wheelers are a reality today.  The innovative Kansas City company Orange EV is the first and only company to make all-electric big rigs commercially available.  Their electric terminal trucks are operating throughout the country.

However, over-the-road electric Class 8 trucks are another story – to date only prototype and demonstration zero emissions Class 8 trucks capable of operating on public highways have been produced.

But, the marketplace is changing rapidly, and other companies, some established and some new, are jumping into the fray.  As a result, within a few years we may see a strong shift from dirty diesel to zero-emissions trucking on public highways.  A few examples, followed by references for more information:

As we reported late last year in Nikola announces “The end of diesel engines”… electric Class 8 heavy-duty trucks using power generated by hydrogen fuel cells will be truly zero-emissions if the hydrogen is generated by solar energy.  Nikola Motors has an ambitious and innovative plan to do that on the national level by 2020, with solar-powered refueling stations on major truck routes throughout the country.  Their solution has a number of other innovative features, and they have produced a very impressive demonstration vehicle.

By the end of 2016, Nikola reported that they had received over 7,000 preorders worth over $2 billion.

“Say goodbye to the days of dirty diesel…” 

                                                             Trevor Milton, CEO of Nikola Motor Company

Mercedes-Benz is also moving into this market, and has promised to deliver prototypes of its all-electric mid-range (124 miles) Urban eTruck this year, and produce it commercially in 2020.

Last week, two more firms joined the zero emissions trucking race – Tesla announced that they have an electric semi under production, and Toyota developed a prototype hydrogen-electric drayage truck for use at the Port of Los Angeles.

For the latest news, check out the articles below.

Rail Management Services Orders 9 More Orange EV T-Series All-Electric Yard Trucks, CleanTechnica

Big Rigs to Pickups — Toyota Could Develop Full Hydrogen Fuel Cell Truck Line, Trucks.com

Mercedes’ electric Urban eTruck will hit the road this year, Road Show

Toyota Rolls Out Hydrogen Semi Ahead Of Tesla’s Electric Truck, Forbes

Morgan Stanley likes the idea of a Tesla semi-truck, Business Insider

New evidence links particulate matter air pollution to breast cancer

Image source: National Breast Cancer Foundation

The linkage between particulate matter and cancer is well established.  For example, in 2012, the World Health Organization identified diesel exhaust, one of the chief sources of particulate matter in many cities, as a carcinogen,  and a study last year associated exposure to fine particulate matter with “sharply higher mortality rates from cancers of the breast, the upper digestive tract and other organs.”

New research by University of Florida scientists strengthens the science behind the linkage.   Their study of over 250,000 women living in the U.S. found that those with very dense breast tissue, a well-established and strong breast cancer risk factor, are about 20 percent more likely to live in areas with high levels of particulate matter. 

According to Lusine Yaghjyan, the lead author of the study, this may be caused by toxins delivered by the particulate matter. “Chemical components in particulate matter could influence breast density by interfering with normal tissue growth, thus increasing the amount of fibroglandular tissue in the breast and, subsequently, breast density.”

Learn more about the study here:

Higher air pollution exposure linked to denser breast tissue, University of Florida

Link between air pollution and breast cancer discovered, International Federation of Gynecology and Obstetrics

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