By Ramon Jacobs-Shaw for Health Affairs Blog – Access to clean, safe, and affordable drinking water is not just a concern of developing countries but of communities in our own backyard. The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe in North and South Dakota, for instance, relies on Lake Oahe, a 231-mile reservoir along the Missouri River, as its primary water source. In July 2016, the US Army Corps of Engineers approved the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL), a 1,172-mile duct that will carry crude oil from North Dakota to Illinois when completed, which will run underneath the Missouri River less than a mile north of the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation, including through the tribe’s sacred, ancestral lands. Given concerns about having oil-related infrastructure near major water sources, especially after the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in 2010 (the largest oil spill in US waters), members of the tribe have been vigorously defending their rights to safe, clean water. Their struggle has caught the attention of major advocacy organizations around the world and indigenous tribes in other nations. After a brief reprieve in December 2016 when the Obama administration blocked further construction of the DAPL…
By Maggie Henry for Beyond Extreme Energy. Fracking has destroyed my business and laid to waste everything my husband and I have worked our entire lives to build, our children’s inheritances, keep the farm going yet another generation? All destroyed! In the fall of 2014 I traveled to DC to take part in a week-long nonviolent blockade of FERC. I was one of about 80 people arrested that week, and I’ve continued to be active ever since. BXE has been a lifeline for me. Being associated with like-minded individuals around direct action nonviolent protest is just incredible! The support is emotionally healing in a way I find difficult to describe. I’m planning to be in DC again in a couple of weeks to take part in BXE’s April 26-29 convergence and actions.
By Beverly Bell for Other Worlds. Two Honduran cultural workers, feminists, and close friends of Berta Cáceres will tour 20 US cities between April 20 and May 23, 2017 to “sow the seeds of Berta.” Singer-songwriter Karla Lara and writer Melissa Cardoza will use music, writing, story, and discussion to grow the international movement for justice and grassroots feminism. Their tour’s goal is not to impart answers, but to spark collective ideas and engagement through creativity and dialogue. ¡Berta Vive! Series-logoThe tour will also promote Cardoza’s book, 13 Colors of the Honduran Resistance, recently published in English with translation by Matt Ginsberg-Jaeckle. Black Lives Matter Network co-creator Alicia Garza says the book “is rooted in a love of freedom that will grip your heart. Cardoza… ensures that, in memory of our sister Berta Cáceres, feminisms are three-dimensional and span multiple experiences.”
By Darryl Fears and Juliet Eilperin for The Washington Post – The first shots have been fired in what’s likely to be a long, bitter war over the environment between conservationists and President Trump. It started Wednesday when a broad coalition of groups sued the Trump administration in federal court, barely 24 hours after the president signed an executive order that lifted a moratorium on new coal leases on federal land. Earthjustice, the Sierra Club, WildEarth Guardians, Defenders of Wildlife, the Center for Biological Diversity and others call the directive illegal because it allows a massive area of land to be disrupted without any federally required study of the potential environmental impact.
By Beverly Bell for Other Worlds. One year ago today, Berta Cáceres was murdered by the national and local Honduran government and a multinational dam company, with at least the tacit support of the US. Last September, all the evidence Cáceres’ family had collected over many months was stolen, almost certainly by the government. The government has also refused to share information with the family and to allow independent parties like the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights to help with the process. Please contact your US congressperson to urge him or her to endorse the Berta Cáceres Human Rights Act, which is being re-introduced today, March 2, 2017. It compels the US government to cut military aid to Honduras until it improves its human rights record.
By Laurie Mazur for Grist – Environmental justice work will need to change in critical ways as Donald Trump ascends to the White House, but not in all ways, says Miya Yoshitani, executive director of the Asian Pacific Environmental Network (APEN). On-the-ground organizing around community members’ local concerns will still be the core. APEN brings the voices of Asian and Pacific Islander communities to the forefront of environmental health and social justice fights in the Bay Area. The group has successfully challenged multinational corporations and swayed local political authorities, notching important wins on occupational safety, affordable housing, transportation, renewable energy, climate change, and more.
By Brian Bienkowski for Environmental Health News – A historic year for environmental justice saw government failures in Flint, a resurgent Native voice, and a merging of movements. We’re watching where it’s headed in the new year. There I was in a mid-March snowstorm riding shotgun in a truck heading south through the Crow reservation in Montana. I made a stupid comment to break the silence: “Man, there is nothing out there.” Crow member and my guide for the day, Emery Three Irons, politely corrected me: “There’s a lot out there.” I saw an empty vastness. Three Irons saw a landscape of history and culture, and all of the splendor and pain attached to both.
By Zahra Hirji for Inside Climate News – A new report by the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights charges the Environmental Protection Agency with doing too little about environmental discrimination against low-income and minority communities, with one commissioner calling the agency “practically toothless” in dealing with the issue. The Commission on Civil Rights, an independent, bipartisan agency, focused on the EPA in its annual statutory enforcement report that is sent to Congress and the White House.
By Bill McKibben for Common Dreams – If you want to understand the climate crisis today, you need to journey roughly along the 95th parallel, from Louisiana in the south to the the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation in the Dakotas. In the Bayou State, there’s great courage, as local people work to rescue their neighbors from rising waters. So far, 20,000 people have been snatched to safety from homes, offices, hospitals, schools in the wake of a three-day siege of endless rain that broke flood records on river after river. The images are astonishing, like something from Mad Max: a thousand cars trapped on an interstate as helicopters dropped food to keep people alive.
By Brentin Mock for City Lab – As the nation continues to process the deaths of Alton Sterling, Philando Castile, and police officers in Dallas and Baton Rouge, it’s worth keeping in mind that the circumstances of those killings were not all the same. And demonstrators across the country aren’t only protesting police violence against black citizens. They’re also venting grievances about their own stifling living conditions, under which it’s often difficult to ride, walk, or even breathe without police suffocating black lives further.
By Candace Bernd for TruthOut. Activists from Kentucky and across the US met in Washington, DC, this week to highlight the intersections between environmental justice issues and the prison-industrial complex, and to protest plans for the construction of a new federal prison at a mountaintop-removal coal mining site that they say will impact the health of incarcerated people and endangered species. The Bureau of Prisons (BOP) plans to allocate $444 million in federal money to construct a new maximum-security prison at a 700-acre site in Roxana, in the Appalachian Mountains of eastern Kentucky. The location is the site of a former mountaintop-removal coal mine and constitutes habitat for scores of endangered species. Mountaintop-removal mining involves exploding and flattening the tops of mountains to expose underlying coal seams, and has long polluted regional waterways.
By Justin Worland for Time – Spend a few hours with Destiny Watford and you could be forgiven for mistaking her for a normal college student. But Watford is no ordinary 21-year-old. Since her senior year of high school, Watford has led a committed group of teenagers, called Free Your Voice, in a movement to stop a company from building what would have been the largest incinerator on the Eastern Seaboard in her community’s backyard. The group’s members knocked on doors, pressed elected officials and confronted corporate executives until authorities revoked the project’s permit earlier this year.
By Douglas Smith and Henry Harris. Randolph, VT – Early this morning, members of the People’s Department of Environmental Justice (PDEJ) served notice of eminent domain at the home of VT Public Service Department Commissioner Chris Recchia. Just before 7:00 am PDEJ Members, dressed in hard hats and high visibility vests approached Recchia with a Notice of Eminent Domain. The notice stated, “the land belonging Commissioner Recchia is now under the legal jurisdiction of those most severely impacted by the permitting of the VGS Fracked Gas pipeline project.” It continued, “If Recchia will not take any accountability for his role in rubber stamping extreme energy projects that accelerate the climate crisis, exploit first nations communities and harass the public here in Vermont, the People’s Department of Environmental Justice will continue ongoing education development projects on this property.”
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — The Port Authority is considering six different plans for developing a piece of land near the Navy Yard, called Southport. It’s a hot-button issue for residents, because one proposals involves the expansion of an oil refinery, and Saturday, they staged a protest. Long-time Kingsessing resident Doreen says she is standing with activists and leaders to oppose the refinery expansion. “I’ve been having respiratory problems for a few years now, and I know this is a part of it,” Doreen said. She is one of hundreds who came out to 28th Street and Passyunk Ave, to march with signs and sunflower cutouts. “We do not need anymore pollutants in this city,” she said. Maxine has lived in the neighborhood for nearly 50 years, and says her family has suffered breathing problems from the already standing fossil fuels companies, burning near her home.
By Nicky Woolf for The Guardian. Standing Rock Nation – Dozens of tribal members from several Native American nations took to horseback on Friday to protest against the proposed construction of an oil pipeline which would cross the Missouri river just yards from tribal lands in North Dakota. The group of tribal members, which numbered around 200, according to a tribal spokesman, said they were worried that the Dakota Access Pipeline, proposed by a subsidiary of the Dallas, Texas-based Energy Transfer Partners, would lead to contamination of the river. The proposed route also passes through lands of historical significance to the Standing Rock Lakota Sioux Nation, including burial grounds.