New Report Details Racial, Economic Injustice Of Pollution Trading Programs

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By Staff of Food & Water Watch – WASHINGTON – New analysis published today details the disproportionate burdens of air and water contamination and serious human health effects placed on low-income communities of color by market-based pollution trading schemes. The report, from the advocacy organizations Food & Water Watch and Greenaction for Health and Environmental Justice, shows that under many of these plans – like California’s notorious “cap-and-trade” program – localized pollution and public health impacts actually increase in lower-income minority communities. Meanwhile, California Governor Jerry Brown was at the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change’s 23rd Conference of the Parties (COP23) last week, touting his state’s cap-and-trade program and urging European leaders to adopt similar policies. Elsewhere, political leaders in states throughout the country have publicly endorsed pollution trading plans or indicated interest in exploring them. Polluters have traditionally sited their facilities in lower-income communities of color, resulting in a disproportionate, localized environmental and public health burden.

The Brutal Racial Politics Of Climate Change And Pollution

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By Basav Sen for Foreign Policy In Focus – As I watched coverage of Harvey’s flood damage in Houston, Irma’s wreckage in the Caribbean, the devastating record monsoons in South Asia, and the fresh nightmares of Hurricane Maria, I thought back to another place: Charlottesville, where racists openly rallied to their cause—and were later defended by the president. To explain why, let me point back to one of the least known—yet most outrageous—of the Trump administration’s early policy proposals: the proposed elimination of the Environmental Justice program at the EPA. While the division still exists for now, it has no more grants available for the current fiscal year, and its future is in limbo. Environmental justice is the principle that people of color and poor people have historically faced greater harm from environmental damage, so special efforts should be made to prioritize their access to clean air and water. The environmental justice program gave small grants to communities struggling with these disparate pollution impacts. Its budget was small—just $6.7 million out of the prior year’s EPA budget of $8 billion, or less than one-tenth of 1 percent. Clearly, the proposed cut wasn’t about saving money. Instead, it points to a more sinister agenda—especially when paired with other planks of the administration’s environmental platform.

Marylanders Against Dominion’s Proposal To Increase Pollution In Cove Point

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By Staff of We Are Cove Point – LUSBY, MD — The public showed up in force last night to urge the Maryland Public Service Commission (PSC) to reject Dominion Energy’s application to increase the pollution that would enter the air surrounding its fracked gas export terminal and liquefaction plant that is being built in the Cove Point neighborhood of Lusby, Maryland. For three hours, speaker after speaker gave the lone PSC representative on the stage an earful, telling the regulatory agency exactly how they felt about the prospect of living with even more pollution than they’re currently facing. This public comment hearing was part of an application process in which Dominion is asking the PSC to remove the restriction to emit no more than 2.53 tons per year of volatile organic compounds (VOCs), as well as to use more generators in the power plant aspect of the facility. Dominion is requesting to have no numeric VOC limit and instead use a program where it would detect and repair excessive VOC leaks on its own schedule. In Dominion’s filings for its 2014 PSC permit, the company said it would have 15,000 valves, gauges, fittings, inspection ports and other connections that would be associated with fugitive VOC emissions.

Likely Carcinogen Contaminates Drinking Water Of 90 Million Americans

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By Zoe Loftus-Farren for Earth Island Journal – According to a new report by the nonprofit Environmental Working Group, the drinking water of more than a quarter of Americans — some 90 million people — tested positive for a likely carcinogen known as 1,4-dioxane between 2010 and 2015. And public water systems serving more than 7 million people in 27 states have average 1,4-dioxane concentrations that exceed the level US Environmental Protection Agency has said can increase the risk of cancer. According to a new report, a likely carcinogen was detected in the public water systems serving nearly 90 million Americans. 1,4-dioxane water contamination is linked to several sources, not least of which is the use of the chemical as an industrial solvents to dissolve oily substances. It is also a byproduct of plastic production and manufacturing of other chemicals, and can contaminate drinking water through wastewater discharge from industrial facilities, as well as due to leaching from Superfund and hazardous waste sites. In addition to being a likely carcinogen (in California, the chemical is listed as a known carcinogen), 1,4-dioxane exposure has also been linked to liver and kidney damage, lung problems, and eye and skin irritation.

Superfund Sites And Oil Refineries Already Poisoning Storm-Wracked Houston

The Flint Hills Resources oil refinery near downtown Houston on, Aug. 29, 2017. (AP/David J. Phillip)

By Whitney Webb for Mint Press News – Houston is still struggling to cope with the impact of Hurricane Harvey, as many parts of the city are still under water. But the worst damage done by the storm may be yet to come, as receding floodwaters have revealed widespread chemical contamination stemming from the city’s petrochemical plants. As the “apocalyptic” floodwaters in Houston and other parts of east Texas have been rising thanks to Hurricane Harvey, media attention has been largely focused on the immediate human impact, such as displacement and property damage. However, with much of Houston underwater, the environmental impact – and its short- and long-term effects on public health – deserve substantial attention as well. Houston is home to several toxic Superfund sites, as well as numerous petrochemical and oil refining facilities, many of which were found to be leaking during the storm. Though water levels are starting to decline, concern is growing that a new, more persistent crisis may be beginning for Houston residents. Texas is home to numerous Superfund sites, areas identified by the Environmental Protection Agency as containing highly hazardous waste. Such sites are usually targeted for cleanup efforts.

Vieques to Protest Explosions, Contamination by US Navy

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By Staff for Telesur. Myrna Pagan, spokesperson of “Vidas Viequenses Valen” or “Vieques Lives Matter,” reported a round of detonations from the former U.S. Navy military site and announced in a press release Saturday the organization’s plans to hold a protest at 5:00 p.m. Monday outside the U.S. Navy’s Restoration Advisory Council building. “After six decades of bombardment and contamination, this town rises up to denounce this practice and to demand the use of existing alternatives for the cleaning of our lands and sea,” she stated. On July 25 and 27, two separate explosions shook the island, releasing poisonous chemicals into the air, 300 units closer to the community’s border and its 9,000 residents. “Smoke columns were seen from our windows and workplaces spreading toxic gas waste into the air from the explosions caused by the (U.S.) Navy … It was one of the strongest explosions we’ve ever felt, but it’s our daily bread,” Pagan said.

Health Costs Of Fossil Fuels Six Times Greater Than Subsidies

Pollution in Harbin: Bad air kills 1.6m people prematurely each year.in China.
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By Alex Kirby for Climate News Network – LONDON, 31 July, 2017 – Health campaigners say the energy policies of the world’s richest countries are inflicting a double burden on their citizens, not only using their taxes to pay fossil fuel subsidies, but also loading huge health costs on them. The work of the Health and Environment Alliance, HEAL, the report says that although fossil fuel combustion causes deadly air pollution and climate change, virtually all governments spend vast sums of public money – their citizens’ taxes – on supporting the oil, gas and coal industry in fossil fuel energy production. A report by HEAL says the health costs associated with fossil fuels are over six times higher than the subsidies the industry receives in the G20 group of the globe’s leading industrialised countries. The G20 agreed in 2009 to phase out the subsidies, but HEAL says that on average, in countries belonging to the bloc, the health costs associated with fossil fuels are far greater than the subsidies: US$2,758bn against $444bn. HEAL cites a 2015 report by the UK-based think tank the Overseas Development Institute (ODI), which finds that “G20 country governments’ support to fossil fuel production marries bad economics with potentially disastrous consequences for climate change.”

Just 100 Companies Responsible For 71% Of Global Emissions, Study Says

An oil rig exploring for oil and gas. A new report says more than 50% of global industrial emissions since 1988 can be traced to just 25 companies. Photograph: Dazman/Getty Images/iStockphoto

By Tess Riley for The Guardian – Just 100 companies have been the source of more than 70% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions since 1988, according to a new report. The Carbon Majors Report (pdf) “pinpoints how a relatively small set of fossil fuel producers may hold the key to systemic change on carbon emissions,” says Pedro Faria, technical director at environmental non-profit CDP, which published the report in collaboration with the Climate Accountability Institute. Traditionally, large scale greenhouse gas emissions data is collected at a national level but this report focuses on fossil fuel producers. Compiled from a database of publicly available emissions figures, it is intended as the first in a series of publications to highlight the role companies and their investors could play in tackling climate change. The report found that more than half of global industrial emissions since 1988 – the year the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change was established – can be traced to just 25 corporate and state-owned entities. The scale of historical emissions associated with these fossil fuel producers is large enough to have contributed significantly to climate change, according to the report. ExxonMobil, Shell, BP and Chevron are identified as among the highest emitting investor-owned companies since 1988.

A Campaign To Eliminate Plastic Straws Is Sucking In Thousands Of Converts

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By Darryl Fears for The Washington Post – Straws are among the most common plastic items volunteers clean from beaches, along with bottles, bags and cups, conservationists say. Americans use half a billion straws every day, at least according to an estimate by Be Straw Free, based on information from straw manufacturers. That many straws could wrap around the Earth 2½ times. The slightest wind lifts plastic straws from dinner tables, picnic blankets and trash dumps, depositing them far and wide, including in rivers and oceans, where animals often mistake them for food. And they are ubiquitous. Nearly every chain restaurant and coffee shop offers straws. They’re in just about every movie theater and sit-down restaurant. Theme parks and corner stores and ice cream shops and school cafeterias freely hand them out. But they are starting to disappear because of the awareness campaign Cress and dozens of conservation groups are waging. Walt Disney World’s Animal Kingdom bans them, as do the food concession areas of Smithsonian Institution museums. Keith Christman, a managing director for plastics markets at the American Chemistry Council, which promotes plastics manufacturers and fights attempts to ban plastic, said in a National Geographic article two months ago that the group would do the same for attempts to eliminate plastic straws.

Coalition Of 13 States Challenge Trump On Vehicle Emission Standards

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By Staff of Reuters – New York State’s attorney general and 12 other top state law enforcement officials said on Friday they would mount a vigorous court challenge to any effort to roll back vehicle emission rules by the Trump administration. In March, President Donald Trump ordered a review of U.S. vehicle fuel-efficiency standards from 2022-2025 put in place by the Obama administration, saying they were too tough on the auto industry. The push to weaken the rules by the Trump administration comes as automakers are worried that consumers shift to larger vehicles and low gas prices will make it expensive or impossible to meet the regulations. They also fear a prolonged fight with states over the rules could make revising their product plans difficult. Democratic state officials have been increasingly aggressive in challenging Trump administration regulatory rollback efforts. “In light of the critical public health and environmental benefits the standards will deliver, if EPA acts to weaken or delay the current standards for model years 2022-25, like California, we intend to vigorously pursue appropriate legal remedies to block such action,” the state attorneys wrote in a letter to the Environmental Protection Agency including Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Iowa, Washington State, Oregon and Rhode Island.

U.S. Military World’s Largest Polluter – Hundreds Of Bases Gravely Contaminated

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By Whitney Webb for Mint Press News – MINNEAPOLIS– Last week, mainstream media outlets gave minimal attention to the news that the U.S. Naval station in Virginia Beach had spilled an estimated 94,000 gallons of jet fuel into a nearby waterway, less than a mile from the Atlantic Ocean. While the incident was by no means as catastrophic as some other pipeline spills, it underscores an important yet little-known fact – that the U.S. Department of Defense is both the nation’s and the world’s, largest polluter. Producing more hazardous waste than the five largest U.S. chemical companies combined, the U.S. Department of Defense has left its toxic legacy throughout the world in the form of depleted uranium, oil, jet fuel, pesticides, defoliants like Agent Orange and lead, among others. In 2014, the former head of the Pentagon’s environmental program told Newsweek that her office has to contend with 39,000 contaminated areas spread across 19 million acres just in the U.S. alone. U.S. military bases, both domestic and foreign, consistently rank among some of the most polluted places in the world, as perchlorate and other components of jet and rocket fuel contaminate sources of drinking water, aquifers, and soil.

Hanford Nuclear Waste Tunnel Collapses

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By Staff of Associated Press – A portion of a storage tunnel that contains rail cars full of radioactive waste collapsed Tuesday morning, forcing an emergency declaration at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation in southeastern Washington state. Officials detected no release of radiation and no workers were injured, said Randy Bradbury, a spokesman for the Washington state Department of Ecology. There were no workers inside the tunnel when it collapsed. But nearby Hanford workers were evacuated and others who were farther away were told to remain indoors, the U.S. Department of Energy said. An emergency has been declared at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation, pictured in 2014, after a portion of a tunnel that contained rail cars full of nuclear waste collapsed

Trump Sides With Coal And Other Carbon Polluters

Trump flanked by the Blackstone CEO, Stephen Schwarzman, a Momentive investor and Trump’s ‘jobs czar’, and the General Motors CEO, Mary Barra. Photograph: Kevin Lamarque/Reuters

By Alex Guillen for Politico – President Donald Trump ordered his administration to begin dismantling his predecessor’s climate change policies on Tuesday with a sweeping directive to end what he called a “crushing attack” on the U.S. economy — by halting efforts to reduce the carbon pollution of electric utilities, oil and gas drillers and coal miners. The executive order Trump signed represents his biggest blow yet to former President Barack Obama’s climate legacy. But it does not go as far as some conservatives would like to dismantle the EPA’s authority to regulate greenhouse gases, nor will it begin to separate the U.S. from a landmark international climate accord — two areas of intense disagreement within the administration.

Cuts To EPA Will Be Measured In Illness And Death

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By Sharon Lerner for The Intercept. When the Environmental Protection Agency informed people in St. John the Baptist Parish, Louisiana, last July that the local neoprene plant was emitting a chemical that gave them the highest risk of cancer from air pollution in the country, the information was received not just with horror and sadness but also with a certain sense of validation. For years, many of the people living on this little square of land between the train tracks and the Mississippi River levee have felt they suffered more than their share of illnesses. Troyla Keller has a rash and asthma that abate every time she leaves the neighborhood and worsen when she returns. Augustine Nicholson Dorris had breast cancer and seizures. And David Sanders has trouble breathing, a tumor on his thyroid, and neurological problems.

Emissions Found Coming From Dominion Cove Point Right Now!

Kayactivists on land and water protest Dominion at Solomon's Island in Cove Point community, by Jimmy Betts.

By Staff of We Are Cove Point – After being invited by We Are Cove Point, a team from Earthworks traveled to Cove Point in early February, bringing a FLIR camera operator all the way from Colorado. FLIR cameras are designed to pick up heat and gaseous emissions invisible to the naked eye. Click here for more details on Earthworks’ FLIR camera program. FLIR cameras can show that emissions are occurring, but not the volume or type of emissions. In the words of the FLIR operator who came to Cove Point, the resulting footage shows “a noticeable non-heat plume above the point source, and it went quite high into the air. There is a possibility that this emissions plume contains toxic volatile organic compounds, and it definitely contains greenhouse gasses. It is usually understood that between 92 and 97 percent of combusted point sources are actually burned. The rest, particularly methane in the context of gas-fired compressor turbine exhaust, emits without being burned off fully.