EPA to conduct goods movement pilot projects with MFN member Harambee House & others

Since its inception, the Moving Forward Network (MFN) has worked to advance environmental justice as a priority within the EPA and other agencies.  Thanks to the hard work of the network and its members to bring together community organizing, media, and science, we have seen some great advances by the EPA, including a stated intent in the EJ 2020 plan and elsewhere to reduce goods movement air pollution and improve public health in overburdened communities.

Among the initiatives in which our members are involved is a project by the EPA Office of Transportation and Air Quality (OTAQ) to develop a series of guides intended to help port communities build capacity and for ports and port communities to engage and reduce air pollution  – the Ports Primer, Community Action Roadmap, and Environmental Justice Primer.

The guides are now in draft, and the EPA has selected three organizations or partnerships with which to test and refine the guides, enhance community skills, develop action plans, and address community needs.  Among those selected is an MFN member, Harambee House, Inc. of Savannah, Georgia.  

The MFN and its members have been effective in moving the agency when we organize, and are willing to collaborate and work with the EPA when it furthers our agenda of protecting overburdened communities.

To review the draft guides and learn more about these projects, see the following, received last week from the EPA:

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New research shows traffic-related air pollution may lead to dementia in older women

Image: USC School of Gerontology

Scientists at the University of Southern California published research yesterday that shows that Particulate Matter air pollution from power plants and vehicles may greatly increase the risk of Alzheimer’s Disease and other forms of dementia. Their work indicates that air pollution may be responsible for over 20 percent of dementia cases.  Their study was published in the Nature journal Translational Psychiatry.

Over 5 million Americans suffer from Alzheimers Disease, and it is estimated that almost 14 million people will be afflicted by 2050.  To learn more, see the video or references below.

The USC Research

The surprising link between air pollution and Alzheimer’s disease, LA Times

Air pollution linked to Alzheimer’s disease, study says, Press Enterprise

Air pollution may lead to dementia in older women, USC School of Gerontology

Background

Diesel exhaust linked to magnetic particles in our brains and Alzheimer’s Disease, Moving Forward Network

Air Pollution May Be The Cause Of Alzheimer’s Disease, Innotrendz

2016 Alzheimer’s disease facts and figures, Alzheimers and Dementia Journal

Scientists say exercising in heavy air pollution is bad for your heart

A European study of 16,000 people found that air pollution impairs the function of blood vessels in the lungs, and that exercise could cause lung damage and heart failure. The lead scientist in the study, cardiologist Jean-Francois Argacha said: “Our main advice is to limit physical activities during heavy air pollution.”

 Despite numerous studies showing strong links between air pollution and cardiovascular disease, this study is the first to demonstrate the effects of air pollution on pulmonary vascular function.

Our main advice is to limit physical activities during heavy air pollution.

For more information, check out the press release from the European Society of Cardiology, or the two other linked articles, provided for background.

Air pollution impairs function of blood vessels in lungs, European Society of Cardiology

For background

Air Pollution and Heart Disease, Stroke, American Heart Association

How Air Pollution Contributes to Heart Disease, Physicians for Social Responsibility

 

Fostering Environmental Literacy in Kansas City

Share Leticia DeCaigny’s conversation with Richard Mabion and support the #ZeroEmissionsNow campaign.

Richard Mabion is president of the Kansas City, Kansas branch of the NAACP and a board member of the Kansas Sierra Club. He created Building A Sustainable Earth Community to draw more people of color to the environmental sustainability movement.

Leticia DeCaigny, leader of the Argentine/Turner Good Neighbor Committee and Diesel Health Project community organizer, spoke with Richard Mabion about how he began advocating for his community around environmental issues and his hopes for the future. Here are excerpts from their conversation, which you can hear on StoryCorps.me.

 

LETICIA DECAIGNY: What in your life experience prepared you to be a changemaker?

 

RICHARD MABION: You’re getting all my little trade secrets, aren’t you? (Laughs) My mother was the last president for the PTA for the “Negro school system” in the state of Kansas. When they had the Brown vs. Topeka court settlement my mother was president … So when you grow up in that kind of environment, you have an emphasis on education in your face every day, and you have an emphasis for change, and you grow up with one of those “can do” attitudes. And so actually it’s like being a Christian. I didn’t have a choice in the matter. We went to church on Sunday and we were raised to be changemakers.

 

LD: So how does the pollution in our community impact you and others.

 

RM: The portion of the population that we represent is the low-income community. And the problem with pollution in the low-income community is lack of education. No one has really taken the time to stop and education the public about what it is that they’re even dealing with. And that’s what makes what you and I do very special. Because … we’re in a position to make sure the everyday person can learn environmental literacy, can learn about pollution. And it doesn’t have to end up like it was in Flint, where the people were totally out of the loop when it came to their own water.

 

LD: What is your greatest hope for positive change in your lifetime and how can we all be a part of that change?

 

RM: Harmony. Being able to live as an American public. I think that that’s another thing the environmental movement can produce … That’s what David Korten was talking about with the Great Turning. That if we all start working for the benefit of this planet then we’ll all be working for the benefit for each other. And that’s the ultimate that I’d like to see this planet become.

 

I don’t know how many more years of life I have. I’d like to think 100. But realistically what I’m doing is to assist and pass some wisdom on to your age group, so that you’ll be able to use it as stepping stones to take us where we need to go as a human race.

PLEASE JOIN Leticia and Richard in the #ZeroEmissionsNow campaign to reduce diesel emissions in our communities. Share their conversation using the social media buttons above to show your support for #ZeroEmissionsNow.

LEARN MORE about the work they are doing to improve the quality of life in Kansas City, Kansas by following the Diesel Health Project.

LISTEN to other conversations in our StoryCorps project, with people who are fighting for #ZeroEmissionsNow in their communities across the United States.

Protecting Kids from Traffic and Polluted Air

Share Carolina Martinez’ conversation with Yesenia Ceballos and support the #ZeroEmissionsNow campaign.

Yesenia Ceballos had long been concerned about her children’s safety negotiating the traffic and toxic paint vapors coming from the auto body and repair shops in her neighborhood near the port in Old Town National City, California. She was intrigued when she met up with friends who were celebrating a hard-won victory to have street lights and crossing signs to protect children from the traffic. She asked them why their t-shirts all said “EHC,” and that began her involvement with the Environmental Health Coalition.

Carolina Martinez, Policy Advocate with Environmental Health Coalition in National City California, spoke with Yesenia Ceballos, environmental justice promoter in Old Town National City about what motivates her to improve quality of life in her neighborhood. Here are excerpts from their conversation, which you can hear on StoryCorps.me.

YESENIA CEBALLOS: Tenemos los talleres de mecánica, talleres de carrocería y pintura, talleres de soldadura, tenemos muchos contaminantes, tenemos el freeway 5 que está muy cerca de aquí de nuestras escuelas, de nuestras casas. Entonces tenemos revuelto lo que son casas y negocios, entonces eso es una bomba constante para nuestros niños … Por ejemplo, yo vivo a dos calles, a dos casas de ahí de ahí de uno de estos talleres, en donde pintan barcos. Entonces, todo ese olor de pintura sale, diariamente están pintando carr—barcos, igual carros también hay muchos talleres cerca. Entonces, a tres casas más está la escuela, entonces todo esto lo están respirando nuestros niños cuando salen a hacer su deporte, ellos están respirando todo esto. Entonces, si juntamos lo del freeway, lo del puerto, porque también tenemos un puerto cerca. Entonces, si juntamos todos esos contaminantes, es algo que está dañando nuestros niños, sus pulmones, que puede causarles asma, son muchos factores que tienen ellos.

 

YESENIA CEBALLOS: There are mechanical workshops, paint and body shops, welding shops, and there are many contaminants, and on top of that Freeway 5, which is very close to our schools and our houses. Therefore, we lived on top of each other, houses and businesses scrambled together, which was a ticking bomb for our children … For example, I live two blocks away, two houses from one of these repair shops, where they paint ships. Every day, all that paint odor comes out, because of all the paint they use for ships, and there are also many paint shops for cars nearby. Three blocks after, there is the school. So all our children are breathing this when they go out and play sports, they are breathing all of this. Then, if we combine the pollution from the freeway and the port–because we also have a port nearby–, well, if we combine all these, it is really harming our children. Damaging their lungs, which can cause asthma, there are many factors involved.

 

Es una lucha constante hacer que estas industrias y negocios tengan en cuenta nuestro bienestar. El puerto tiene un gran impacto en la salud de nosotros, y debe tomar responsabilidad con sus vecinos. Pero esto no pasa si nosotros no estamos ahí, luchando, participando para que este cambio se pueda hacer. Nosotros también tenemos derecho a vivir en una comunidad saludable. 

 

It is a constant struggle to make these industries and businesses aware of our wellbeing. The port has a major impact on our health, and we should take responsibility for our community. However, this will not happen if we are not there, fighting and participating to make this change happen. Because we also have the right to live in a healthy community.

PLEASE JOIN Carolina and Yesenia in the #ZeroEmissionsNow campaign to reduce diesel emissions in our communities. Share their conversation using the social media buttons above to show your support for #ZeroEmissionsNow.

LEARN MORE about the work they are doing to improve the quality of life in San Diego County by following Environmental Health Coalition.

LISTEN to other conversations in our StoryCorps project, with people who are fighting for #ZeroEmissionsNow in their communities across the United States.

Nikola announces “The end of diesel engines”, promises zero-emissions semi-truck with 1200 mile range by 2020

On December 1, Utah start-up Nikola Motor Company unveiled a fully operational truck they say spells the end of diesel-powered trucking – the Nikola One – a zero-emissions Class 8 semi-truck with sleeper cab that will carry a full load for a very long distance.

“Say goodbye to the days of dirty diesel…” 

                                                             Trevor Milton, CEO of Nikola Motor Company

This is truly a zero emissions truck, with solar-generated hydrogen used in a fuel cell under the hood to charge batteries that power electric motors on each wheel.  The only emissions are water vapor. The truck will generate over 1000 horsepower (twice that of most production trucks), and have a range of 1200 miles and a huge amount of torque.  The specifications for the truck are nothing short of amazing – check them out here.

To provide the national infrastructure needed, Nikola plans to build a network of almost 400 solar-powered hydrogen generating and refueling stations, and to lease the trucks through the Ryder System, which will also provide maintenance and other services.  The cost – just $5-7,000 per month to lease a truck, with free fuel for the first million miles.

 

The truck promises many other advantages – including faster acceleration and a shorter stopping distance than diesel-powered rigs, and an in-cockpit computer system that will allow owner-operators to book freight while on the road. Nikola is also offering a ‘day cab’ version of the truck called the Nikola Two. View the video above for more on that topic and others.

As an added bonus, the refueling stations will sell hydrogen to any customers, which could lend impetus to the development and sale of Zero Emissions cars based on the same hydrogen-electric technology.

Will this really happen? Things look promising.  The company claims to have pre-orders for over $3 billion in trucks.  It plans to announce the location of their $1 billion manufacturing plant in 2017, and to begin construction of the refueling stations in January 2018.

For more information, check out the articles below, and the Nikola Motor Company website.

Hydrogen Could Help Heavy Trucks Clean Up Their Act, NBC News

Nikola Motor Company Unveiling — Details On “Zero Emissions” Semi Truck, CleanTechnica

A Tesla-Inspired Truck Might Actually Make Hydrogen Power Happen, Wired Magazine

Nikola Motors Introduces Hydrogen-Electric Semi Truck, Fortune Magazine

New electric Class 8 truck: 1,000 hp, 1,200-mile range, Overdrive

Toxic Dust, Love and Asthma: A Mother’s Story in the Imperial Valley

Share Onyx and Humberto’s conversation and support the #ZeroEmissionsNow campaign.

Onyx Bazulto lives in the Imperial Valley in Southern California, where air quality is poor and one in five children has asthma. Her community of Brawley is located between the Salton Sea and the border crossing at Calexico-Mexicali, along a heavily traveled freight corridor.

Humberto Hugo, policy advocate with Comite Civico Del Valle, spoke with Onyx about what motivates her to do community health and education work. Here are excerpts from their conversation, which you can hear on StoryCorps.me.

ONYX BAZULTO: I decided to take that step to change my community because I, for one, care for my family and their health. Both my daughter and I and my mom have asthma and ever since we moved to the Imperial Valley we’ve had many issues of allergies — having to go to the hospital plenty of times because of symptoms of asthma.

 

The first step I took to do something in our community was research and speaking out to family, friends and neighbors who were dealing with the same issues.

 

We live in a dust bowl, below sea level. Every other coastal area — all their pollution surrounds us and sinks in, as well as the incoming diesel contamination from the international exchange of goods.

 

Where I live, not even 10 feet away … trucks have found our nearby gas station to be a truck stop. Every day, every night, you’ll see a long row of semis idling their vehicles for long periods of time. And you know I live right next to the gas station. So I can see a lot of dust enter my home. And then you can smell the smog. So I never have my windows open. And it causes a lot of coughing for my daughter. I always have to be careful. She can’t even play outside.

 

I frequently have to dust, sweep, mop my home to lift the dust and dirt. I have to change AC air filters more than two times a month. It’s a rare joy to open my door and windows. When I do, a lot of dust comes in.

 

I would really love to have our community become more aware of their surrounding environmental justice issues and have them advocate to defend themselves.

PLEASE JOIN Onyx Bazulto and Humberto Hugo in the #ZeroEmissionsNow campaign to reduce diesel emissions in our communities. Share their conversation and show your support.

LEARN MORE about the work they are doing to improve the quality of life in the Imperial Valley by following Comite Civico Del Valle.

LISTEN to other conversations in our StoryCorps project, with people who are fighting for #ZeroEmissionsNow in their communities across the United States.

A Grandson Returns to East L.A. to Fight For Clean Air

Share mark!’s conversation with his grandparents and support the #ZeroEmissionsNow campaign.

mark! Lopez was born into a family of organizers and is driven by an early memory of a community march when he was just a toddler in a stroller. He majored in Environmental Studies and earned a masters degree in Chicano studies and returned to the community where he grew up, to work for Communities for A Better Environment and then East Yard Communities for Environmental Justice, where he is now the executive director.

mark! was interviewed by his grandparents, Juana and Ricardo Gutierrez. Here are excerpts from their conversation, which you can hear on StoryCorps.me.

JUANA GUTIERREZ: Cual fue el primer paso que tomaste para convertirte en un agente de cambio en nuestra comunidad y que te motivo para dar ese paso?

JUANA GUTIERREZ: What was the first step you took to become a change agent in your community and what motivated you to take that step?

MARK! LOPEZ: Pues no fue un paso creo que uno de los recuerdos que tengo ni de un ano o dos anos creo fue una marcha. Anduvimos en una marcha en 6th street u otro bridge pero estábamos cruzando y yo andaba en un stroller. Y recuerdo la danza Azteca, el tambor y pues ahí con toda la familia y la comunidad marchando. Y me imagino que fue por el prison, pero ese es uno de mis primer recuerdos de mi vida. Ese recuerdo me motivo y es como un guía para ensenarme que es funcionar en comunidad y creci haciendo este trabajo de la comunidad entonces siempre pense que este era algo normal que tenia que hacer.

MARK! LOPEZ: It was not a step. One of my first memories when I was one or two years old was when we were in a march. This march on 6th street, or another bridge, but we were crossing it and I was in my stroller. I remember the danza Azteca, the drums and being there with family and the community marching. This memory is my motivation and my guide as to how to be part of a community. Since I grew up doing this community work, I thought this was the norm and something I had to do.

RICARDO GUTIERREZ: Puedes compartir un tema importante que estás trabajando y tu visión para un futuro mejor?

RICHARD GUTIERREZ: Can you share one important thing you are working on right now and what your visión for a better future looks like?

MARK! LOPEZ: Pues creo que algo que hemos aprendido mucho en el movimiento el que nosotros tenemos que ser los que luchan, nadien va a venir a nuestro rescate. Entonces por ese nosotros tenemos que tener una visión para lo que queremos. Porque si solo les decimos que no queremos solo van a traer mas ideas que nos afectan y no va ha ser algo de beneficio para la comunidad. Entonces en todo el trabajo que hacemos tenemos que empezar con entender el problema, como nos impacta y averiguar que es lo que podemos hacer, que hay de opciones, que es lo que están haciendo otras comunidades y si no hay ejemplos ver lo que podemos crear o pensar. Entonces eso creo que estamos haciendo con el freeway 710, con la alternativa comunitaria 7, es lo que estamos haciendo al nivel nacional.

En anos pasados quien creía que podíamos tener trocas sin contaminación y ahorita estamos en esa lucha que empieza con nosotros. Las comunidades cerca de los puertos ya tienen muchos anos con mucha contaminación entonces esas platicas, ese movimiento que los puertos para asegurar que los puertos no tengan contaminación en el futuro empieza con nosotros. Como ustedes empezaron a luchar aquí en Boyle Heights y en el este de Los Angeles y yo la siguiente generación de la familia y ahora la generación tercera viendo a Xole y a Luna que vienen después de mi y los demás creo que nos aseguramos que la comunidad va estar en buenas manos.

MARK! LOPEZ: I think one thing we have learned from the movement is that we have to be the ones that fight for ourselves, no one is coming to our rescue. This is why we need to have a vision of what we want. Because if we only tell them what we don’t want they will only bring more projects/ideas that will negatively impact us instead of being a benefit to the community. So in the all the work that we do we must first understand the problem, how it will impact us, and figure out what we can do about it. What are the options, what are other communities doing to fight back and if there are no examples we need to figure it out ourselves. This is what I think we have done with the 710 freeway, with Community Alternative 7. This is also what we are doing at the national level.

Before no one could image we could have trucks without pollution and right now we are in that struggle, but it starts with us. Communities living close to ports have a long history with pollution and its impacts so those conversation around making sure the Ports no longer pollute starts with us. Just like you started the fight here in Boyle Heights and East LA, I am the next generation in my family and now the third generation seeing my daughters Xole and Luna that come after me we are making sure that our community is in good hands.

PLEASE JOIN mark! Lopez and his family in the #ZeroEmissionsNow campaign to reduce diesel emissions in our communities. Share their conversation and show your support.

LEARN MORE about the work they are doing to improve the quality of life in East L.A. by following East Yard Communities for Environmental Justice.

LISTEN to other conversations in our StoryCorps project, with people who are fighting for #ZeroEmissionsNow in their communities across the United States.

The next generation of environmental justice leadership: Juan Parras talks with Yudith Nieto

Share Juan and Yudith’s conversation and support the #ZeroEmissionsNow campaign.

Yudith Neito was born in Mexico and grew up in Manchester, an east Houston neighborhood surrounded by oil refineries and other heavy industry. She first became involved with environmental justice organizing when she attended public meetings to translate for her grandmother. She learned about environmental causes for the asthma, heart disease and other ailments that plagued her family and community. The more she learned, the more deeply committed she became to improving the quality of life in Manchester and addressing the larger systemic problems at the root of her community’s suffering.

Yudith was interviewed by her mentor and friend Juan Parras, Director of Texas Environmental Justice Advocacy Services, about what motivated her activism and what hopes she has for the future. Here are excerpts from their conversation, which you can hear on StoryCorps.me.

 

YUDITH NIETO: We first got here in 1995 or ’96. We emigrated from Mexico. So Manchester is one of the cheapest places in Houston to settle, to live, actually for newcomers or immigrants or low-income people.

 

The best of my community is that it’s a very tight-knit community. I grew up with a lot of my friends, and a lot of their families still live there. We are very connected in the sense that my whole family is there. The worst part of it, of course, is all the pollution that surrounds it. We’re surrounded on all sides — from petroleum refineries to metal-crushing facilities, to water treatment plants. So that’s the worst of it. We get a lot of the contamination and the pollution in our air, and even our soil, our water is polluted. So the worst is also being pushed to the margins, where a lot of political people do not come in to do anything or talk about the issues in our communities.

 

In our community people get used to certain things. They often say that you get used to the smells. But that apathy that I was confronted with sometimes, when I asked questions, sort of inspired me to do something about it.

 

One of the big things we’re working on right now is the Zero Emissions campaign, where we’re talking about eliminating emissions from certain facilities and adopting zero emission technology to help communities deal with the pollution and take a step into a better way of making energy. So that’s one of the things that our communities are a part of right now. I’m actively working on getting more people involved – more young people. So that we can have a strong, youth-based organization that can lead the way in finding better solutions.

PLEASE JOIN Juan Parras and Yudith Nieto in the #ZeroEmissionsNow campaign to reduce diesel emissions in our communities. Share their conversation and show your support.

LEARN MORE about the work Juan Parras and Yudith Nieto are doing to improve the quality of life in Houston by following T.E.J.A.S.

LISTEN to other conversations in our StoryCorps project, with people who are fighting for #ZeroEmissionsNow in their communities across the United States.

Diesel exhaust linked to magnetic particles in our brains and Alzheimer’s Disease

Photo: From the Smithsonian article linked below, “Diesel fumes, like the ones emitted by trains, vehicles and industrial operations, are thought to be to blame for magnetite in the human brain. (Stuart Wainstock (Flickr/Creative Commons))”

Last week’s blockbuster bad news about diesel exhaust is research showing that large amounts of magnetite – a dangerous component of diesel exhaust (and other sources) associated with Alzheimer’s Disease  – are getting into human brains.

magnetite-by-barbara-maher

Photo by researcher Barbara Maher shows natural magnetite in brain on left, magnetites in the air in the middle, and magnetite pollution particles in the brain on the right. (Source, Huffington Post)

“The problem with magnetite is that it’s toxic. It causes oxidative stress, disrupting normal cellular function and contributing to the creation of destructive free radicals—unstable molecules that can damage other important molecules. Previous work has also shown a correlation between high amounts of brain magnetite and Alzheimer’s disease, and recent studies suggest it increases the toxicity of the disease’s hallmark β amyloid plaques, clumps of protein that can interfere with cell signaling. Nothing definitively links magnetite to Alzheimer’s, but the kinds of cellular damage it can cause are consistent with what’s seen in the disease.” (Science Magazine)

Learn more about this new research at:

Industrial air pollution leaves magnetic waste in the brain, Science Magazine

Your Brain Is Full of Magnetic Minerals, and You Might Not Like the Reason Why, Smithsonian Magazine

Air Pollution Leaves Significant Traces Of Magnetic Metals In Your Brain, Huffington Post

A large number of other brain-related diseases and disorders have been linked to toxins in diesel exhaust– including attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, anxiety and depression, autism and autism spectrum disorder, brain cancer. impulsivity and emotional problems. mental illness, reduced intelligence, Parkinson’s diseases, cognitive decline, reduction in brain volume, dementia. hyperactivity, strokes, and increased risk of suicide.

To learn more about the relationship between air pollution and Alzheimer’s Disease, check out the very informative article, Does Air Pollution Cause Dementia?

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