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Broadening Our Ideas of Climate Justice Session #5: Militarism and Climate Justice

Stop the Money Pipeline - Thu, 02/08/2024 - 07:53

 



Thanks for watching Broadening Our Ideas of Climate Justice Session #5: Militarism and Climate Justice!

Here are resources for further learning:

From Dr. Patrick Bigger (Climate and Community Project):

From Angel Parker (Dissenters):

Mentioned by Tara Houska:

Statement with the Petro quote that Patrick referred to: https://www.climateandcommunity.org/ceasefire-now 

Shared in Q&A by David Solnit: Nowartax.org is site of long term national war tax resistance campaign, part of which redirect resisted taxes to climate and social justice projects 

Further reading:

The post Broadening Our Ideas of Climate Justice Session #5: Militarism and Climate Justice appeared first on Stop the Money Pipeline.

Categories: G1. Progressive Green

Broadening Our Ideas of Climate Justice Session 1: Sacrifice Zones in the Era of Electrification

Stop the Money Pipeline - Thu, 02/08/2024 - 07:44

 

View the slide deck that was shared on the call here.

For further learning and reading on this topic, the following articles, websites, and books were recommended:

The post Broadening Our Ideas of Climate Justice Session 1: Sacrifice Zones in the Era of Electrification appeared first on Stop the Money Pipeline.

Categories: G1. Progressive Green

Broadening Our Ideas of Climate Justice Session 3: Prison Abolition and Climate Justice

Stop the Money Pipeline - Thu, 02/08/2024 - 07:22

Thanks for watching Broadening Our Ideas of Climate Justice Session #3: Prison Abolition and Climate Justice!

Here are more resources: 

Ways to plug in and keep learning: 

Books:

The post Broadening Our Ideas of Climate Justice Session 3: Prison Abolition and Climate Justice appeared first on Stop the Money Pipeline.

Categories: G1. Progressive Green

Broadening Our Ideas of Climate Justice Session 2: Migrant Justice and Climate Justice

Stop the Money Pipeline - Thu, 02/08/2024 - 07:16

Thanks for watching Broadening Our Ideas of Climate Justice Session #2: Migrant Justice and Climate Justice

Here are additional resources:

The post Broadening Our Ideas of Climate Justice Session 2: Migrant Justice and Climate Justice appeared first on Stop the Money Pipeline.

Categories: G1. Progressive Green

Protein predicament: Health concerns about protein bars

Environmental Working Group - Wed, 02/07/2024 - 11:08
Protein predicament: Health concerns about protein bars Iris Myers February 7, 2024

Protein bars might not immediately come to mind when you think of unhealthy foods, but some aren’t as beneficial as they seem. Many bars sold today contain large amounts of ultra-processed ingredients, artificial sweeteners and added sugars.

A hearty alternative to granola bars, protein bars have ballooned into a $4.5 billion dollar industry, with some analysts predicting the market will grow to $7 billion by 2030. Options in the protein bar aisle at the grocery store keep growing, with flavors like Birthday Cake, Maple Glazed Donut, and Strawberry Creme.

But don’t be fooled by the flashy packaging and high protein count; some protein bars masquerade as “healthy,” despite containing the calories of a candy bar. 

Although people often eat protein bars after a workout or as a meal replacement, those that are heavily processed or contain artificial sweetener do not supply the nutrients your body needs to get from a meal or to recover from exercising. 

What’s the matter with ultra-processing?

Ultra-processed foods are those that have been engineered so they no longer resemble the raw ingredients they derive from. They contain added ingredients you won’t find in any home kitchen. The industrial processing involved usually means they offer far less in nutritional benefits – fewer vitamins, less fiber, and more fats and carbohydrates. 

Ultra-processed foods have been linked to a slew of health issues, like obesity, several forms of cancer, diabetes and cardiovascular issues. They have been described as interacting with the body in the same way as an addictive substance like nicotine

A Harvard study published last October collected data from more than 30,000 participants over the course of 10 years and found that people with diets high in ultra-processed foods have a higher risk of developing depression.

Another study found that just a 10 percent increase in ultra-processed food could increase the risk of Type 2 diabetes by 15 percent, regardless of the person’s weight.

Added sugars and artificial sweeteners

While a protein bar isn’t as nutritionally empty as a bag of ultra-processed potato chips, many brands contain added sugars, artificial sweeteners, such as high-fructose corn syrup, and fatty oils like canola or palm that keep the bar from falling apart. These sweeteners have been linked to an abundance of health harms, including fatty liver syndrome, insulin resistance and diabetes. 

Most protein bars contain added sugar, which the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends Americans monitor and limit when possible. On average, adults consume two to three times the recommended amount of added sugar every day, an amount that has been shown to increase the risk of cardiovascular issues, obesity, diabetes and even cognitive decline

The same Harvard study that found an association between depression and ultra-processed foods found a similar association between depression and artificial sweeteners. Study participants in the top fifth of artificial sweetener consumers had a 26 percent higher risk of developing depression than those in the bottom fifth.

An artificial sweetener may be listed as the second or third ingredient on the label of a protein bar. Some common ones include sucralose and erythritol, which has been linked to serious heart risk. These aren’t naturally occurring ingredients and are made in chemical processes.

The body can’t easily digest these food additives – they may cause bloating or indigestion, or have a laxative-like effect as the body struggles to absorb them.

Tips for safer protein power

Not all protein brands contain potentially harmful food additives. Certain brands of protein bars can still be a healthy snack or helpful energy boost. Just remember to:

  • Read the label. Studying the list of ingredients is the best way to get an idea of what’s in your protein bars. Take special note of how much sugar, fats and artificial ingredients there are in the bar. 
  • Avoid added sugars and artificial sweeteners, when possible. The amount of added sugar in a product will be displayed in grams. Artificial sweeteners are often not highlighted in the same way and may just be listed as one of the bar’s ingredients.
  • Try to choose protein bars with minimal processing. One rule of thumb is to look for products with as few ingredients as possible – with names you recognize. Or consult EWG’s Food Scores database to identify products with fewer harmful food chemicals.
  • Consider buying organic. These products have fewer ultra-processed ingredients and additives. 

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Areas of Focus Family Health Food Chemicals Disqus Comments Authors JR Culpepper February 7, 2024
Categories: G1. Progressive Green

Conservation groups initiate legal action against feds for failing to protect wolves

Western Environmental Law Center - Wed, 02/07/2024 - 06:54

Today, 10 conservation groups filed their 60-day notice of intent to sue the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (“the Service”) for its failure to list western wolves under the Endangered Species Act. The groups outlined the reasons why the Service’s “not warranted” finding, formally published in today’s Federal Register, ignores obvious threats to the species, runs contrary to the best available science, and relies on flawed population models for its determination.

“The Service’s finding seems to give the green light for states hostile to wolves to follow suit with Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming’s aggressive killing regimes if they are eventually delisted and transferred to state management West wide,” said Kelly Nokes, an attorney with the Western Environmental Law Center representing the groups. “But wolves have yet to recover across vast portions of the West, and they exist in only small populations in the West Coast and Colorado habitats they are slowly reinhabiting. We will continue to fight for the protections this iconic species needs to be rightfully restored across the West’s wild landscape—protections that some states have shown only the Endangered Species Act can really provide.”

The finding confirms that a western U.S. distinct population segment, or “DPS,” is a valid entity for listing consideration, but then argues on the basis of a modeling exercise that there is no risk of extinction for wolves in the West either now or in the foreseeable future.

“The current killing regimes in Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming put wolves at obvious risk of extinction in the foreseeable future, and this core population is key to wolf survival in the West,” said Erik Molvar, a wildlife biologist and executive director of Western Watersheds Project. “Even if the states’ population estimates were defensible–and they aren’t, according to recent scientific analyses–the feds are underestimating the extinction agendas of anti-wolf state governments and the small and tentative state of recovering wolf populations elsewhere in the West.”

At present, wolf populations in California and the Cascade Range of western Oregon and Washington are far below minimum viable population thresholds, and Utah, Nevada, and northern Arizona, all of which have historic gray wolf habitat, have no wolves at all.

In 2023, a study by wolf geneticist Dr. Bridgett vonHoldt and others found that wolf populations in the northern Rockies are losing genetic variability and below genetic minimum viable population levels at today’s populations.

“Idaho, Montana and Wyoming have become the poster children for what happens when politics trumps science,” said Brooks Fahy, executive director of Predator Defense. “They are cruelly driving wolves in the northern Rockies to extinction via wanton shooting, trapping, snaring, even driving over them with a snowmobile. Science shows us the importance of intact pack structures. Each family member has a vital role to play and they grieve each loss.”

A second 2023 study by Dr. Robert Crabtree and others found that the Montana state population model was badly biased, overestimating total wolf populations by as much as 50 percent. These researchers found that this flawed population model constitutes a “precariously misleading situation for decision-makers that threatens wolf populations.” In an earlier analysis, Dr. Scott Creel found that data input into both the Idaho and Montana population models violate the assumptions of the models, meaning that population estimations generated by the models are unreliable. Yet the Service relied on these flawed population estimates in concluding that wolves in the West are not at risk of extinction.

“The public trusts the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to be the backstop for imperiled species like the gray wolf,” said Lizzy Pennock, carnivore coexistence attorney at WildEarth Guardians. “The Service has an obligation to rely on the best available science in decision-making and should have seen through Montana’s use of flawed population modeling, not heedlessly accepted it as true. We deserve better from this agency.”

“It’s deeply concerning to hear that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has decided not to list gray wolves, A sacred species to Native Americans in the western U.S. under the Endangered Species Act, while ignoring traditional sacred religious beliefs of traditional Native Americans,” said Roger Dobson with Protect The Wolves. “It’s important to protect these intelligent and family-oriented predators to maintain ecosystem health, and to protect Native American sacred religious beliefs. Hopefully, the Service will take steps to address the problems with their determination before it’s too late for these native wildlife species, before violating Indigenous religious beliefs.”

“The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service committed to ‘immediately pursue’ emergency Endangered Species Act listing of wolves if any state allowed unlimited and unregulated killing of wolves, which Idaho has done since July 1, 2021,” said Suzanne Asha Stone, director of the Idaho-based International Wildlife Coexistence Network. “The Service has failed to honor their delisting plan just as the state of Idaho has failed to manage wolves ‘like mountain lions and black bears’ as they publically swore to do before wolf delisting. Aerial gunning of animals, killing pups for bounties, and widespread traps and deadly snares have no place in responsible wildlife management today.”.

“The Service acknowledged the unethical and unfair chase means and measures that are slaughtering wolves in Montana, Idaho, and Wyoming, but just gave them a get out of jail free card for it to continue and worsen,” said KC York, president and founder of Trap Free Montana. Furthermore, they base their dreadful decision on flawed population models overestimating wolf numbers and ignore research warning of the wolves in the region’s genetic decline.”

“The Biden administration has once again let down wolves and those Americans who care about them,” said George Nickas, executive director of Wilderness Watch. “It has rejected every request to step forward when states like Idaho, Wyoming, and Montana have implemented egregiously cruel and inhumane wolf eradication plans. Idaho proposes to kill 90 percent of its wilderness wolves, and that doesn’t alarm the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service? It seems that like their state counterparts, federal officials have lost all reverence or respect for these iconic wilderness animals. It’s really a sad day.”

Contacts: 

Kelly Nokes, Western Environmental Law Center, 575-613-8051, nokes@westernlaw.org

Erik Molvar, Western Watersheds Project, 307-399-7910, emolvar@westernwatersheds.org

Suzanne Asha Stone, International Wildlife Coexistence Network,  208-861-5177 suzanne@wildlifecoexistence.org

Brooks Fahy, Predator Defense, 541-937-4261, brooks@predatordefense.org

Roger Dobson, Protect the Wolves, 714-750-6878, roger@protectthewolves.com

KC York, Trap Free Montana, 406-218-1170, info@trapfreemt.org

Lizzy Pennock, WildEarth Guardians, 406-830-8924, lpennock@wildearthguardians.org

George Nickas, Wilderness Watch, 406-542-2048, gnickas@wildernesswatch.org

Mike Garrity, Alliance for the Wild Rockies, 406-459-5936, wildrockies@gmail.com

Paul Busch, Friends of the Clearwater, 208-882-9755, foc@friendsoftheclearwater.org

Julian Matthews, Nimiipuu Protecting Our Environment, 509-330-0023, protectingnimiipuu@gmail.com

The post Conservation groups initiate legal action against feds for failing to protect wolves appeared first on Western Environmental Law Center.

Categories: G1. Progressive Green

Understanding Forest Dieback In The US South

Dogwood Alliance - Wed, 02/07/2024 - 05:07

Have you ever looked at a forest and noticed a patch of dead trees amidst a sea of green? It’s a concerning sight, isn’t it? You might be wondering, “What causes some forests to suffer and die?” Imagine standing on top of a majestic mountain. You’re gazing at the surrounding landscape. But it’s not vibrant […]

The post Understanding Forest Dieback In The US South first appeared on Dogwood Alliance.
Categories: G1. Progressive Green

EPA reveals more evidence of widespread ‘forever chemicals’ in drinking water

Environmental Working Group - Tue, 02/06/2024 - 14:08
EPA reveals more evidence of widespread ‘forever chemicals’ in drinking water rcoleman February 6, 2024

WASHINGTON – On February 1, the Environmental Protection Agency posted data confirming 70 million people have drinking water that has tested positive for the toxic “forever chemicals” known as PFAS. That number is based on the latest test results from only one-third of public water supplies.

EPA’s new data release adds urgency to the Biden administration’s overdue effort to establish first-time drinking water standards for PFAS. President Joe Biden promised in 2020 to set a PFAS drinking water standard as part of his campaign’s plan to secure environmental justice.

The latest PFAS results reflect tests conducted in 2023 at 3,700 water systems as part of the EPA’s Fifth Unregulated Contaminant Monitoring Rule, or UCMR5. The rule requires water utilities across the nation to test drinking water for 29 PFAS compounds. More systems will be tested this year and in 2025.

Representing the third round of data from 2023, the new results showed PFAS were present in 33 percent of systems tested. 

The sheer scope of the PFAS contamination problem underscores why the Biden administration must quickly finalize national drinking water standards for PFAS under the Safe Drinking Water Act, or SDWA. The EPA proposed such limits in March 2023.

“There are many other steps we must take to reduce PFAS pollution, including ending non-essential uses of PFAS, ending industrial discharges of PFAS into the air and water, cleaning up legacy PFAS pollution, and properly disposing of PFAS waste,” said Scott Faber, Environmental Working Group senior vice president for government affairs.

“But the single most important step we must take is to finalize a drinking water standard for all 50 states,” he said.

Regulating PFAS in water

The proposed PFAS drinking water standard will set science-based limits for six PFAS in drinking water. These chemicals have been studied extensively and are linked to serious health harms, including cancer and damage to the reproductive and immune systems. 

Some states have set their own drinking water standards for PFAS, but people in 40 states are depending on Biden to set a national drinking water standard that will apply across the U.S. 

The latest test results released by the EPA tell only part of the story – the full scale of PFAS contamination is likely much more widespread.

Tell Congress: Stop the PFAS Contamination Crisis

We need your help to protect our environment from toxic PFAS chemicals.

Tell Congress PFAS contamination crisis

A 2020 study published by scientists at the EWG estimated more than 200 million Americans are served by water systems with PFOA or PFOS – two of the most notorious PFAS – in their drinking water at a concentration of 1 part per trillion, or ppt, or higher. The EPA tests report only PFAS detections at 4 ppt or higher for these chemicals.

EWG’s interactive PFAS contamination map, which we update frequently, shows public and private water systems known to be contaminated with toxic PFAS at thousands of locations. As of February 5, the map shows PFAS are known to contaminate 5,021 locations in 50 states, the District of Columbia and four territories. 

The EPA plans to release additional data on PFAS in drinking water as more systems conduct tests between now and 2025. The agency collects data through the UCMR for contaminants suspected to be in drinking water and for which SDWA health-based standards do not exist. 

Risks of PFAS exposure

PFAS are known as forever chemicals because once released into the environment they do not break down and they can build up in the body. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has detected PFAS in the blood of 99 percent of Americans, including newborn babies

Very low doses of PFAS have been linked to suppression of the immune system. Studies show exposure to very low levels of PFAS can also increase the risk of cancer, harm fetal development and reduce vaccine effectiveness

“Every week new research highlights the detrimental effects of PFAS on human health and the environment and underscores the need for immediate action to protect drinking water,” said Tasha Stoiber, Ph.D., a senior scientist at EWG. 

If you know or suspect PFAS are in your tap water, the best way to protect yourself is with a filtration system at home. EWG researchers tested the performance of 10 popular water filters and measured how well each reduced PFAS detected in home tap water. 

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The Environmental Working Group (EWG) is a nonprofit, non-partisan organization that empowers people to live healthier lives in a healthier environment. Through research, advocacy and unique education tools, EWG drives consumer choice and civic action.

Areas of Focus Food & Water Water Toxic Chemicals PFAS Chemicals Disqus Comments Press Contact Monica Amarelo monica@ewg.org (202) 939-9140 February 7, 2024
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Increasing crop reference prices would hurt young farmers

Environmental Working Group - Tue, 02/06/2024 - 10:43
Increasing crop reference prices would hurt young farmers rcoleman February 6, 2024

Increasing price guarantees for major crops, as some farm groups and legislators are proposing, would make it harder for young farmers – those aged 35 or younger – to compete against larger, legacy farmers. 

Price guarantees for major crops like cotton and rice are paid only on lands with a crop production history, or on lands with “base acres,” a limited number of acres set by the Department of Agriculture where farmers can receive price guarantees for covered crops. Younger farmers are less likely to grow these major crops and much less likely to own lands with the coveted base acres, making it even harder for them to compete.

Young farmers also tend to have smaller farms. Because crop subsidy payments are tied to production, even those who grow “covered commodities” like cotton and rice on base acres receive smaller payments than their larger neighbors. While the average farm is 445 acres, the average farm run by a young farmer is less than 50 acres. 

The USDA defines a young farmer as someone 35 years old or younger, and a new and beginning farmer is anyone who has farmed for 10 years or less. USDA estimates that 80 percent of new and beginning farmers are also young farmers.

The USDA and many members of Congress have warned that the average age of farmers is going up, so it’s important that policymakers support the next generation.

How the current system works

Farmers growing cotton, rice and other covered commodities get a payment that covers the difference between the price guarantee in the farm bill and the market price. Farmers can only receive a payment on base acres.

In 1996, Congress originally linked base acres to crops planted between 1981 and 1985. But it used subsequent farm bills to change how base acres are calculated. The idea of payments for base acres was designed to encourage farmers to make their planting decisions based upon market conditions, not government programs. 

Most young farmers do not have base acres 

Eligibility to collect subsidies on land with base acres makes farmland with these acres more expensive, so young and other “limited resource farmers” often cannot afford to buy or rent farmland with base acres. Almost 60 percent of young farmers said finding affordable land is “very or extremely” challenging in a recent survey.

Some farm groups and legislators have proposed increasing price guarantees for major crops. But the higher price guarantees would mostly benefit fewer than 6,000 farms in a few states, EWG has previously found.

Most new and beginning farmers – 88.1 percent – don’t farm commodities that would benefit from increased price guarantees, as this pie chart shows:

Source: USDA Agricultural Census

Only 2,300 young farmers grow cotton, peanuts, rice or tobacco according to USDA data, and few of these young farmers have land with base acres. Raising reference prices would send more farm subsidies to farmers that are not young farmers.

Unlike subsidy programs, USDA conservation programs are available to all farmers, including all young farmers. Some members of Congress have proposed to cut funding for conservation programs in order to increase reference prices. This would further hurt not just young farmers but many other types of farmers, too.

Areas of Focus Farming & Agriculture Climate & Agriculture Conservation Farm Subsidies Disqus Comments Authors Jared Hayes February 7, 2024
Categories: G1. Progressive Green

Community stakeholders support NM Senate oil, gas setback memorial

Western Environmental Law Center - Tue, 02/06/2024 - 06:21

A broad range of public interest advocates today applaud New Mexico Senate Pro Tem Mimi Stewart and Sen. Brenda McKenna for introducing SM 8, requesting the Energy, Minerals, and Natural Resources Department to study the risks to humans and the environment from proximity to oil and gas facilities (fact sheet here). The memorial asks the department to evaluate how to mitigate those risks by requiring oil and gas companies to locate new wells beyond a minimum distance (“setbacks”) from homes, schools, businesses and the surrounding environment and to recommend legislation addressing setbacks in the 2025 long legislative session.

Public interest groups were disappointed by the removal of setback provisions from HB 133 at the behest of oil and gas interests more concerned with profits than improving public health. In public comments before the legislature on HB 133, speaker after speaker lamented the removal of setbacks from the bill, emphasizing the importance of having space between polluting oil and gas infrastructure and homes, schools, hospitals, water resources, and other environmentally sensitive areas.

“Everyday Southeast New Mexicans see and feel the impacts of our state leadership choosing to put profits over people. Setbacks aren’t simply an issue that is out of sight out of mind for us when the legislative session ends, like they seem to be for many state leaders,” said Kayley Shoup, community organizer with Citizens Caring for the Future. “Thirty-four thousand children in New Mexico go to schools surrounded by oil and gas facilities. When those children grow up and leave our education system, they not only leave with an education but also with health problems such as asthma, neurodevelopmental disorders, reproductive issues, increased risk for chronic disease, and sometimes even cancer. It’s clear that the majority of the state can quite callously ignore that reality if they live in an area where their child doesn’t have to sacrifice their health for their education and the education of others. It’s time leaders make robust setbacks a priority as oil production in the Permian continues to soar and more people are put at risk. We need leaders that actually live by the beliefs they claim to espouse.”

“We advocated for strong setbacks this year, and they were weakened. We advocated for keeping reduced setbacks in HB 133 as a step forward, and they were removed. Communities near oil and gas operations risk exposure to hazardous pollutants, and frontline communities and our most vulnerable—children and the elderly—are especially at risk,” said Tannis Fox, senior attorney at the Western Environmental Law Center. “The state needs to stand up for its people and not let oil and gas companies build health-harming infrastructure right outside our homes, schools, hospitals, and workplaces.”

“Earthworks strongly supports updating the Oil and Gas Act to include setbacks to protect New Mexico’s people, sensitive wildlife habitat and water resources, and the environment,” said Andrew Forkes-Gudmundson of Earthworks. “Oil and gas facilities are toxic, health-hazardous industrial facilities that are known to cause severe health issues, both acute and chronic, ranging from headaches and nosebleeds to increased risks of serious cancers. Our field advocates have filmed pollution from these facilities across the state, and no one should be forced to live with an oil well in their backyard or in their school’s playground. The state needs to put people over polluters, and keep these toxic, polluting facilities away from where we live, work, learn, and recreate.”

“People of faith and many faith leaders in New Mexico are very concerned for the health of communities, elders, children, those to be born, and our sacred creation around oil and gas facilities,” said Sr. Joan Brown, osf, executive director of New Mexico & El Paso Interfaith Power and Light. “We have an ethical responsibility to care for the common good and our neighbors. New Mexico Interfaith Power and Light works with faith leaders and communities in the Permian Basin and many express concerns and share stories of health impacts. Society is measured by how it cares for children and elders. We pray and work for protections.”

“As New Mexico is the second largest oil-producing state in the nation, we must do all we can to protect our communities from dangerous pollutants,” said Demis Foster, CVNM chief executive officer. “Ample research has shown that pollution from the oil and gas industry causes cancers, respiratory illness, and more. Enacting setbacks that create a buffer zone is a common-sense next step that will ensure our most vulnerable populations, especially children and the elderly, are protected from direct and harmful exposure to toxins. Additionally, setbacks must be in place to protect our watersheds, threatened and endangered wildlife, and fragile ecosystems from development and industrial pollution harm. We urge the legislature to pass Senate Memorial 8 so essential studies to establish setback distances can be conducted.”

“As we know, water is life,” said Amigos Bravos Deputy Director Rachel Conn. “In 2023 the Sackett v EPA  U.S. Supreme Court decision stripped federal Clean Water Act protections from the vast majority of New Mexico’s rivers, streams, and wetlands. Like other Western states, a large portion of New Mexico’s waters, those which lose protections under the decision, run seasonally or only in response to rainfall or are wetlands not connected to larger water bodies. The health of these smaller streams determines what happens in our larger rivers that provide drinking water, irrigate our fields, and provide recreational opportunities. As the December Shiprock spill demonstrated, oil spills can travel long distances through these smaller waterways and impact downstream communities. It is crucial that as federal regulations are stripped away, we as a state adopt common sense safeguards, such as water setbacks of oil and gas wells (minimum distance wells must be from waterways), to protect New Mexico’s waters and people.”

Research on the demographics of people living near active oil and gas wells finds that nearly 18 million individuals live within one mile of a well site, including disproportionately large numbers of communities of color, people living below the poverty line, older individuals and young children in certain communities across the U.S. and in New Mexico,” said Jon Goldstein, senior director of legislative and regulatory affairs with Environmental Defense Fund. “EDF supports efforts to protect communities from exposure to health-harming pollution caused by living in proximity to oil and gas operations.”

“Oil and gas development causes spills, leaks, and other incidents that adversely impact New Mexico’s environmental resources, including precious freshwater resources and wildlife habitat,” said Sally Paez, staff attorney for New Mexico Wild. “The federal Bureau of Land Management already requires operators to locate oil and gas facilities away from waters and sensitive wildlife habitat. New Mexico should meet or exceed these federal guidelines to protect our irreplaceable natural resources.”

Background resources:

  • Senate Memorial 8 fact sheet
  • Summary of science California relied on to pass setback laws (full report here)
  • More than 34,000 children live or attend school near oil and gas wells in New Mexico.
  • A nationwide study on 2016 data (before the Permian Basin oil and gas surge) found that oil and gas pollution worsened asthma for more than 410,000 people, induced asthma in more than 2,000 children, and caused 7,500 excess deaths. The pollution cost people $77 billion in health-related costs.
  • Another study found an increase in congenital heart defects in babies whose pregnant parent lived near oil and gas wells.
  • In 2023, the State Land Office banned new oil and gas drilling within one mile of schools on state trust land and ordered review of all existing oil and gas mineral leases within one mile of a school or other educational institution.
  • This study found that a child living within a mile of a gas well was 5-7 times more likely to develop lymphoma than a child living at least five miles from a gas well. Children diagnosed with any of the four studied cancers (leukemia, lymphoma, brain tumor, bone tumors) were four times more likely to live within half a mile of a gas well.
  • This study found children living near oil and gas drilling at birth were 2-3 times more likely to be diagnosed with leukemia between the ages of 2 and 7 than those who did not live near this oil and gas activity.
  • This study found a positive correlation between proximity to oil and gas development and birth defects in Ohio, which has experienced a large increase in oil and gas extraction, similar to that in the Permian.
  • Earthworks built this Oil and Gas Threat Map showing proximity of New Mexico residents and facilities to oil and gas infrastructure.
  • EDF built this map of people’s proximity to oil and gas infrastructure in New Mexico.
  • State data on oil and gas spills are available here.
  • Earthworks and Citizens Caring for the Future, a Carlsbad nonprofit, recently published videos illustrating the proximity of oil and gas infrastructure to homes, schools, and medical facilities in southeastern New Mexico (Video 1, Video 2, Video 3, also embedded below).

Contacts:

Tannis Fox, Western Environmental Law Center, 505-629-0732, fox@westernlaw.org

Andrew Forkes-Gudmunson, Earthworks, 507-421-9021, andrewfg@earthworks.org

Rachel Conn, Amigos Bravos, 575-770-832, rconn@amigosbravos.org

Sr. Joan Brown, osf, NM Interfaith Power and Light, 505-264-9966, joan@nm-ipl.org

Earthworks Video 1: Unmasking the Technology: Less Emissions, More Impact

Earthworks Video 2: Sparking the Change for Kid-Safe Schools

Earthworks Video 3: Health Impacts Unveiled: The Unseen Dangers in Our Neighborhoods

The post Community stakeholders support NM Senate oil, gas setback memorial appeared first on Western Environmental Law Center.

Categories: G1. Progressive Green

Replacement flame retardant chemicals linked to preterm birth, new study finds

Environmental Working Group - Mon, 02/05/2024 - 12:03
Replacement flame retardant chemicals linked to preterm birth, new study finds rcoleman February 5, 2024

A new study finds a link between premature birth and exposure to organophosphate ester flame retardants, or OPEs, used in furniture and foam for mattresses and more. The study also found the risk of preterm birth was greater for pregnant people who gave birth to female babies.

Preterm birth is the leading cause of infant mortality and morbidity. Reducing environmental factors that increase risk of prematurity, like OPE exposure, can improve children’s health. 

The peer-reviewed study, published recently in Environmental Health Perspectives, was led by a large team of scientists from the Environmental Influences on Child Health Outcomes Program. It included 6,646 pregnant people from across the United States, the largest health study of OPEs to date. 

Some flame retardants known as polybrominated diphenyl ether flame retardants were phased out of use in furniture, mattresses and baby products in the mid-2000s, due to concerns about their toxicity. Companies started to use replacements, including OPEs.

OPEs are commonly used as flame retardants in furniture and electronics. OPEs can also help make plastic more flexible and are used in vinyl flooring, children’s toys, and in personal care products, including nail polish. These chemicals are not chemically bound to the products they are added to and leach off into the air and dust. 

Greater risk of preterm birth

The authors looked at the association between nine different OPEs measured in urine and the risk of preterm birth. They reported that three of these OPEs were found in 85 percent of participants – meaning that exposure to these chemicals is common in pregnant people. 

The risk of preterm birth differed by the type of OPE. For one of the highly detected OPEs, a composite of dibutyl phosphate and di-isobutyl phosphate, a doubling in the amount of this OPE in a person’s urine was associated with odds of preterm birth that were 7 percent higher.

Health risks from one exposure

Hazardous chemicals in furniture and foam have come under increased scrutiny in recent years due to concerns about how they harm human health.

Furniture manufacturers are not required to disclose the materials they use in their products to comply with U.S. flammability standards. The Environmental Protection Agency pledged to phase out two brominated flame retardants. Now, as an interim step, new manufacturers must disclose when importing these chemicals. But they are not explicitly banned.

Despite these types of flame retardants being phased out due to concerns about their toxicity, their replacement, OPEs, were not evaluated for safety before they were used. 

After OPEs enter our body, they are quickly excreted, usually within hours. Although they do not stay in the body long, OPEs have still been associated with several health harms, including infant health and reduced child neurodevelopment and impaired thyroid function.

In December 2023, the EPA noted that one of the OPEs evaluated in this study “presents an unreasonable risk of injury to human health and the environment.”

These chemicals are not the only harmful substances being used as flame retardants. Fiberglass has also been used as a flame retardant in mattresses and upholstered furniture. It can enter the air, creating a potential inhalation hazard, as well as causing irritation to the skin and eyes. Last October, California banned fiberglass for use in mattresses and other upholstered furniture. The bill was sponsored by EWG.

Safer alternatives can take the place of these hazardous chemicals in furniture. These include wool, rayon and polylactic acid batting, which can be used to meet fire safety standards. The need for flame retardants in electronics is less clear, though New York has banned some of these chemicals from being used in electronics. 

Reducing exposure to flame retardants

Some steps you can take to reduce your potential exposure to flame retardants:

  • Support legislation that bans harmful chemicals in your furniture. A 2021 study by EWG authors found that the bans on flame retardants in upholstered furniture in California and other states help to reduce flame retardant levels in the home.
  • Shop for a mattress or crib mattress that uses safer alternatives. Look for a mattress from a company that’s transparent about what it uses to meet fireproofing requirements and the other materials in their products. Use EWG’s Guide to Healthy Living for tips to healthy purchases and look for our new EWG VERIFIED® mattresses for the highest level of confidence. 
  • Regular cleaning can help reduce chemical exposures in the home. Flame retardants dissociate from products they are added to and can end up in household dust. See EWG’s Guide to Removing Household Dust
Areas of Focus Family Health Reproductive Health Toxic Chemicals Flame Retardants Disqus Comments Authors Alexa Friedman, Ph.D. February 5, 2024
Categories: G1. Progressive Green

Bellona meets with Arctic Council officials on black carbon and alternative energy in the polar region

Bellona.org - Mon, 02/05/2024 - 11:52

As new environmental priorities fill the agenda of the Arctic Council under Norway’s leadership, Bellona met last week with its chair, Morten Høglund, to discuss battling climate change in the earth’s most vulnerable and rapidly heating region.

Reducing ongoing pollution from black carbon, carving out green shipping corridors, using cleaner shipping fuels and pursuing an overall zero-emissions policy were among the priorities for Sigurd Enge, Bellona’s senior shipping and Arctic , during the meeting, which took place on the sidelines of the Thursday’s Arctic Frontiers conference in Tromsø.

Enge was joined in the meeting with Høglund by Sian Prior, lead advisor of the Clean Arctic Alliance, of which Bellona and a number of other international environmental groups, is a member. Together, the organizations have campaigned for new Arctic emissions targets for black carbon, a particularly potent pollutant that accelerates Arctic melt.

“Black carbon emissions from ships have a particularly damaging impact on snow and ice in the Arctic and we are conscious that the Norwegian Chairship have made it one of their priorities for progress and action,” said Prior.

She emphasized that Council member must work to reach new black carbon emissions targets. While nations are on track to reduce emissions by 25-30% from all sectors by 2025, based on 2013 levels, shipping emissions have doubled during the same time.

“This is because currently there is no global or Arctic regulation of ship emissions of black carbon,” she continued. “Plus shipping in the Arctic is increasing  — up 25% between 2013 and 2019 — and ships are spending longer at sea in the Arctic (75% increase in same period). A new ambitious target will update the existing target, but it will be important that shipping emissions are highlighted as a sector in need of urgent action.”

Enge said that, as a Norwegian environmental organization, it was impingent upon Bellona to advance these goals while the council’s two-year rotating presidency was in Norway’s hands.

In the meeting with Høglund, Enge said: “In the alternative energy sector there is a lack of knowledge about production potential, environmental impact, and the future need for alternative energy for the arctic green shift, especially for shipping. Do the different alternative fuel types have a worse impact in arctic’s condition? One of the Arctic Council’s core tasks is to establish a common fact base for the Arctic nations’ challenges. Energy is a main driver for a fossil free arctic shipping sector.”

Enge and Prior also said it was critical for the International Maritime Organization, the UN agency that regulates international shipping, to commit to taking action against black carbon and enforce fuel standards particularly in the Arctic.

“IMO has spent over a decade prevaricating on action to reduce black carbon emissions from ships,” she said. “It has decided what black carbon is, it’s agreed to three different ways to measure emissions but apart from a voluntary resolution it has not yet agreed on any action which will reduce emissions.”

An IMO directive demanding cleaner fuels in the Arctic, enforcement of an Arctic fiuel standard, and the creation of black carbon control areas would, said Prior form the backbone of such regulation.

“A coordinated Arctic Council Member initiative at the IMO could achieve this, as the rest of the world should respect that the Arctic States know what is needed and achievable in the Arctic,” she added.

Black carbon is composed of small light-absorbing graphite particles produced by diesel engines such as those found on cargo ships and tankers that ply Arctic waterways, and they are a major cause of climate change.  In the Arctic, the accrual of these emissions is visible as soot coats the polar icecap, absorbing rather than reflecting solar radiation.

Yet, that very melting has also caused a spike in maritime traffic through the Northern Sea Route — a 5600-kilometer navigation artery running along Russia’s Arctic coast — leaning to yet more soot deposits on the polar ice cap. Unless an agreement is reached among Arctic nations to cap soot emission in shipping, the cycle will continue.

Soot is also distributed across the Arctic by jets, burning wood and forest and tundra fires – the last of which are an ever-increasing problem emanating from Russia each summer as increasingly hot and dry seasons foster long burning and geographically enormous forest fires, which emergency service workers there are finding increasing difficult to cope with.

Black carbon has been known to warm the atmosphere for many years by absorbing sunlight and speeding the melting of ice and snow.  Studies have shown that these soot emissions are a far larger contributor to global warming than has been though, and reductions in these emissions would have a positive effect on slowing warming.

Norway assumed the two-year rotating chairship to the council in May of last year. Prior to that, the eight-nation council — comprised of Canada, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, the Russian Federation, Sweden, and the United States, who each have an Arctic coast — had effectively been frozen for the past two years following Russian’s February 2022 invasion of Ukraine.

During that time, Russia held the Council’s rotating presidency of the organization. But a freeze in cooperation among Moscow and the other countries on the council made agreement on an environmental agenda for the Arctic sphere a tough prospect. Research involving Russia on issues ranging from climate change to polar bearswas been put on hold, and scientists lost access to important facilities in the Russian Arctic.

As for Russia’s continuing role in the Council, senior Norwegian officials told the Arctic-base news site High North, that Russia’s participating in the council remains important.

“We are not the Arctic 7. We are 8. We are the Arctic” Solveig Rossebø Norway’s current senior Arctic official, told the site. “Russia is, and has always been, a constructive member of the Council.”

The Arctic Council, which doesn’t deal with security issues but makes binding agreements on environmental protection and gives a voice to the Indigenous peoples of the polar was one of the few settings where Western countries and Russia worked together closely.

In a recent open letter to the Arctic Council, Bellona and the Alliance requested that a concrete zero-emissions policy be established for Arctic shipping, and that all Arctic nations implement the IMO resolution that requires the use of distillate or cleaner alternative fuels in or near the Arctic.

The Alliance and Bellona also ask that the Arctic Council consider the indigenous population in the Arctic and ensure that their way of life is protected through a reduction in soot emissions.

The Clean Arctic Alliance is a global alliance consisting of over 20 international organizations with the aim of protecting the Arctic from pollution by the use of heavy fuel oil in the region. Among its members aside from Bellona are Greenpeace, Alaska Wilderness, Clean Air Task Force, the WWF,   Pacific Environment, the European Climate Foundation and the Council for Green Transition.

The post Bellona meets with Arctic Council officials on black carbon and alternative energy in the polar region appeared first on Bellona.org.

Categories: G1. Progressive Green

Chemical industry throws temper tantrum over ‘polluter pays’ tax to cover cleanup of its toxic sites

Environmental Working Group - Mon, 02/05/2024 - 10:19
Chemical industry throws temper tantrum over ‘polluter pays’ tax to cover cleanup of its toxic sites Iris Myers February 5, 2024

WASHINGTON – Chemical industry lobbyists spent more than $131 million between 2022 and 2023 urging Congress to back its interests, including opposition to a newly reinstated and fair tax forcing companies to pay for cleanup at some of the most polluted sites in the U.S.

Despite spending eye-watering amounts of money to get lawmakers on their side, the same industry is now whining that its members won’t be able to afford their share of the “polluter pays” tax without consumers suffering. Reading from the tired anti-tax playbook, the sector says it will have no choice but to pass the cost on via higher product prices.

The chemical industry cryfest is detailed in a recent report by NJ Spotlight News that highlights the astronomical lobbying dollars – a “near-record sum,” as the author notes.

For years, the industry used lobbying funds to help keep the long-expired polluter pays tax in the past. But the bipartisan infrastructure law signed by President Joe Biden in November 2021 revived the tax, finally putting companies back on the hook to pay for cleaning up their messes.

The tax works by charging chemical manufacturers and others whose toxic waste created the most contaminated industrial sites in the U.S., known as Superfund sites. The money goes to the Environmental Protection Agency’s Superfund cleanup program. Reinstating the tax finally ends the burden on taxpayers to pay for many cleanup costs, which they have carried for the past 20 years.

“The chemical industry and their apologists in Congress have treated American taxpayers like the cleanup crew for decades, leaving them to cover the costs of remediating these contaminated sites,” said EWG President and Co-founder Ken Cook

“It’s high time the culprits, not the public, foot the bill for mopping up the toxic waste plaguing countless communities across the country that pose substantial threats to human health and the environment," said Cook.

The chemical industry, of course, is apoplectic for once again being forced to pay a portion of the costs to clean up the toxic mess it’s made in communities across the country.

Jennifer Scott, spokesperson for the American Chemistry Council, the industry’s main lobby group, believes the revived polluter pays tax is misguided, suggesting taxpayers, and not polluters, should be stuck with cleanup costs.

“We would note that the program has operated for the past 25 years without the tax, based upon general revenues and fund reimbursements,” Scott told NJ Spotlight News.

She also warned that the price of the tax will be passed onto consumers in the form of higher costs for products – a tired line that opponents of fair taxes frequently bring up.

Congress passed legislation in 1980 that created the Superfund program and the polluter pays tax that helped clean up some of the most contaminated sites in the U.S., including Love Canal, in upstate New York, and Silver Bow Creek, near Butte, Mont.

The tax expired in 1995 and Congress, led by then-House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.), refused to reauthorize it. At the time, the program’s coffers contained an estimated $4 billion collected from polluters, but the fund finally went dry in 2003, placing the entire burden to cover cleanups squarely on the backs of U.S. taxpayers.

An estimated 78 million Americans live within 3 miles of a Superfund site, including 24 percent of all children under the age of 5, putting them at greater risk of being exposed to any number of highly toxic substances. These sites are also disproportionately located close to communities of color and the cause of a host of environmental and health problems. 

There are more than 1,100 locations on EPA’s National Priorities List of Superfund sites that need to be cleaned up. The recently renewed polluter fee will require those companies responsible for the pollution to help cover the costs and finally kickstart action at these sites.

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The Environmental Working Group is a nonprofit, non-partisan organization that empowers people to live healthier lives in a healthier environment. Through research, advocacy and unique education tools, EWG drives consumer choice and civic action. 

Areas of Focus Toxic Chemicals Chemical Policy Disqus Comments Press Contact Alex Formuzis alex@ewg.org (202) 667-6982 February 5, 2024
Categories: G1. Progressive Green

Please call on your MP to stop new subsidies for burning trees

Biofuel Watch - Mon, 02/05/2024 - 06:58

The UK Government has just announced proposals to use our energy bills to give huge new subsidies to fund planet-wrecking tree burning at power stations like Drax in Yorkshire and Lynemouth in Northumberland. 

Please write to your MP asking them to stop the new subsidies for burning trees in UK power stations.  

EMAIL YOUR MP

The climate impacts of new subsidies for burning trees would be catastrophic. Drax is the UK’s single largest carbon emitter and the world’s biggest tree burner. In 2022 alone, Drax emitted over 12 million tonnes of CO2 into the atmosphere.  Much of the wood that Drax and Lynemouth burn comes from the logging of some of the world’s most biodiverse forests in the Southern USA, Canada, Estonia and Latvia, with devastating impacts on forests, wildlife and communities. 

New subsidies would allow both power stations to keep burning trees for years to come, with no time limit for the funding included in the Government consultation. And new subsidies for burning wood won’t do anything to lower our energy bills, or make our energy supply safer. Drax is already making record profits whilst receiving £1.7m per day from UK energy bills. According to the government’s consultation, the cost of new subsidies to UK bill payers could be anything up to £2.5 billion a year. This is money that will not be available to support a transition to genuinely renewable wind and solar power. New subsidies will make companies like Drax richer at our expense as they continue destroying forests and polluting communities. 

We say: no more. No more subsidies for destroying forests. No more wasting our money on dirty tree burning. No more funding of a dirty industry that is destroying the very forests we need to absorb carbon emissions and ruining our chances at a liveable future. New subsidies for burning trees will only pour more fuel on the fire.  

MPs have the power to stop these wood-burning subsidies and to transfer the funding to real climate solutions like home insulation and wind and solar power. This would create new green jobs and help protect forests, wildlife, communities and the climate. We need as many MPs as possible to speak out and tell the Government to stop new subsidies before the consultation closes on the 29th of February. 

Will you write to your MP today to ask them to say no to new subsidies for tree burning in UK power stations?

We have also pulled together a MP briefing which you can send to your MP directly which has more information on the subsidies and how they can directly take action.  

Click here to download the MP briefing CCNF-Briefing-on-Extending-subsidies-for-large-scale-biomass-generators-Feb-2024Download
Categories: G1. Progressive Green

Lead use in popular Stanley tumblers sparks consumers’ concern

Environmental Working Group - Fri, 02/02/2024 - 12:52
Lead use in popular Stanley tumblers sparks consumers’ concern rcoleman February 2, 2024

WASHINGTON – Stanley tumblers, the internet-famous cups, are trending on social media not for a new color release, but because they contain the toxic metal lead. 

According to a statement on Stanley’s website, their “manufacturing process currently employs the use of an industry standard pellet to seal the vacuum insulation at the base of our products; the sealing material includes some lead.” 

The statement continues, “once sealed, this area is covered with a durable stainless steel layer, making it inaccessible to consumers. Rest assured that no lead is present on the surface of any Stanley product that comes into contact with the consumer nor the contents of the product.”

Despite these assurances, some consumers remain concerned that they, or their children, might be using a product every day that could put them in contact with this extremely toxic heavy metal, which is known to harm people – particularly kids. 

“It's unacceptable that people, especially young children, may be exposed to lead, a powerful neurotoxin, because of using a cup or any other consumer products,” said Olga Naidenko, Ph.D., vice president of science investigations at the Environmental Working Group.

“We know the use of lead is avoidable based on online statements from manufacturers who find alternatives to lead for vacuum sealing their products,” she said.

There is no safe blood lead level in children, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Exposure causes an array of health problems, including brain damage, lowered IQ and other harm to brain and nervous system development. Even small amounts can cause behavior and learning problems, slow growth, impair hearing and the ability to pay attention, and weaken overall cognitive development. 

Because of their developing bodies, babies and young children are especially vulnerable to the effects of lead exposure – they absorb four to five times as much ingested lead as adults, according to the World Health Organization. Today, babies and kids are exposed to lead mostly through paint in older, badly maintained residential units and contaminated drinking water

“Lead is toxic to everyone, but children are especially vulnerable to the effect of lead exposure,” said Naidenko. 

“No infant or child should be exposed to the damaging effects of this dangerous heavy metal. The impact of elevated lead levels in a child's blood can include devastating lifelong harm to health,” she added.

Consumers should look for water bottle options that don't use lead in their products. 

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The Environmental Working Group is a nonprofit, non-partisan organization that empowers people to live healthier lives in a healthier environment. Through research, advocacy and unique education tools, EWG drives consumer choice and civic action. 

Areas of Focus Family Health Toxic Chemicals Lead Disqus Comments Press Contact Iris Myers iris@ewg.org (202) 939-9126 February 2, 2024
Categories: G1. Progressive Green

Feds find western wolves unworthy of Endangered Species Act protection; conservation groups prepare for legal action

Western Environmental Law Center - Fri, 02/02/2024 - 11:34

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (“Service”) announced today that it will not list gray wolves in the western U.S. under the Endangered Species Act (“ESA”) finding them “not warranted” for federal protection. Today’s decision will allow Wyoming, Idaho, and Montana to continue their widespread killing of these intelligent, family-oriented native wildlife. Conservation groups are looking carefully at today’s notice and evaluating legal options.

“A handful of states are standing in the way of wolf recovery nationwide, espousing an outdated, anti-science, eradication mindset,” said Kelly Nokes, attorney with the Western Environmental Law Center. “Aggressive state policies promoting wolf killing in the northern Rockies states especially, are primitive relics that must change for wolves to reestablish their rightful place in the wild. The scientific community agrees wolf recovery is necessary for healthy western landscapes, and providing protections afforded by  the Endangered Species Act is an essential way to make sure that happens.”

Today’s decision responds to a petition to list the western U.S. population of the gray wolf submitted by 70 conservation groups in July 2021, after Idaho and Montana passed new laws to promote wolf killing. Since that time, hundreds of wolves have been killed each year in the core of the species’ range in Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming, diminishing population health.

“Wolves aren’t a political football, they are a native wildlife species key to balancing ecosystem health,” said Erik Molvar, executive director of Western Watersheds Project. “It is obvious that wolves don’t have adequate regulatory mechanisms to protect them in Montana, Idaho, and Wyoming, where they are being targeted for extermination by state governments. The Biden administration had the opportunity to follow the science and the law, and ensure real recovery for the species. This is beyond disappointing.”

In 2011, Congress legislatively stripped wolves in the western U.S., primarily in Idaho, Wyoming, and Montana, of their endangered species protections, giving states management authority. However, the Service has the authority to relist the population if it finds the population currently meets the definition for a threatened or endangered species under the Endangered Species Act.

“Wolf populations are being destroyed by overzealous anti-wolf state officials. They brought back bounties on wolves and their young, unlimited trapping, snaring and hunting, and even aerial gunning of entire packs,” said Suzanne Asha Stone, director of the Idaho based International Wildlife Coexistence Network. “Today’s decision clears the way for states like Idaho to finish the job and kill them all. We have to ask the Biden administration: why did the American people bring wolf populations back only to see them decimated from the landscape just a few decades later?”

“It’s concerning to hear that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has decided not to list gray wolves in the western U.S. under the Endangered Species Act while ignoring Traditional Sacred Beliefs of Native Americans,” said Roger Dobson with Protect The Wolves. “It’s important to protect these intelligent and family-oriented predators to maintain ecosystem health, and protect Native American Sacred beliefs. Hopefully, the agency will take steps to address the problems with their determination before it’s too late for these native wildlife species.”

“The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has failed in its role to protect the wolf in the northern Rockies for present and future generations,” said KC York, president and founder of Trap Free Montana. “The egregious, aggressive, and lax wolf regulations are easily destroying alpha pairs, juveniles, pups, dispersers for vital genetic exchange, and entire packs, wreaking havoc on their critically necessary social system and disrupting their ability to survive into the future and expand into their historic range.”

“Tragically, the wolf has become a pawn in a well-orchestrated campaign of disinformation,” said Brooks Fahy, executive director of Predator Defense. “And Idaho, Montana and Wyoming have become the poster children for what happens when politics trumps science. What they are doing to wolves—wantonly shooting, trapping and snaring them or driving over them with a snowmobile—can only be desibed as animal torture. Science shows us the importance of intact pack structures. Each family member has a vital role to play and they grieve each loss.”

“Time and again, wolves keep serving as martyrs for political compromise and capitulation to bad-faith actors.” noted George Nickas, executive director at Wilderness Watch. “As martyrs, they die in service of this charade. The administration’s lack of courage to rise above politics and protect the lives of these animals—as the law requires—is unconscionable.”

“How much worse must so-called wolf ‘management’ policies be in the Northern Rocky Mountain states in order for the federal government to take action?” asked Lizzy Pennock, carnivore coexistence attorney at WildEarth Guardians. “With this decision, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has failed wolves, and has failed future generations of people who may never have the opportunity to hear a wolf howl.”

“Wolves play a key role in keeping ecosystems healthy by targeting diseased animals including deer and elk with chronic wasting disease,” said Mike Garrity, executive director of Alliance for the Wild Rockies. “Unfortunately, the states’, in the Northern Rockies, wolf management plans are nothing more than extinction plans.”

“This decision is a serious loss, not just for wolves, but American wildlife,” said Paul Busch, membership director for Friends of the Clearwater. If Idaho and Montana’s state legislators cannot meet their obligation to manage wolves ethically, then federal intervention is clearly necessary. One wonders what other states will do now that they know that federal agencies have no interest in enforcing the law.”

Contacts:

Kelly Nokes, Western Environmental Law Center, 575-613-8051, nokes@westernlaw.org

Erik Molvar, Western Watersheds Project, 307-399-7910, emolvar@westernwatersheds.org

Suzanne Asha Stone, International Wildlife Coexistence Network,  208-861-5177, suzanne@wildlifecoexistence.org

Brooks Fahy, Predator Defense, 541-937-4261, brooks@predatordefense.org

Roger Dobson, Protect the Wolves, 714-750-6878, roger@protectthewolves.com

KC York, Trap Free Montana, 406-218-1170, info@trapfreemt.org

Lizzy Pennock, WildEarth Guardians, 406-830-8924, lpennock@wildearthguardians.org

George Nickas, Wilderness Watch, 406-542-2048, gnickas@wildernesswatch.org

Mike Garrity, Alliance for the Wild Rockies, 406-459-5936, wildrockies@gmail.com

Paul Busch, Friends of the Clearwater, 208-882-9755, foc@friendsoftheclearwater.org

The post Feds find western wolves unworthy of Endangered Species Act protection; conservation groups prepare for legal action appeared first on Western Environmental Law Center.

Categories: G1. Progressive Green

How to buy a mattress without toxic chemicals

Environmental Working Group - Fri, 02/02/2024 - 09:32
How to buy a mattress without toxic chemicals rcoleman February 2, 2024

How hard can it be to buy a mattress? The answer: There’s more to consider with this big ticket consumer item than you might suspect – including your health.

A mattress is a purchase you may make only every decade or so. It pays to search carefully for a new mattress because some of these products can be made with toxic chemicals that may hurt your health while you’re sleeping.

What to look for

To help, we’ve got some tips for you to keep in mind when you shop for a new mattress free from toxic chemicals.

Aside from the usual factors to consider when buying a mattress – considering your sleep habits, back issues, body size – you’ll want to take a look at the materials the mattress is made of. Some are healthier for you and the environment than others:

  • Memory foam – made of polyurethane foam, which allows it to conform more readily, and may emit volatile organic compounds, or VOCs.
  • Latex – natural latex comes from rubber trees and can be found in organic mattresses. 
  • Innerspring – a traditional, bouncy mattress that uses metal coils to provide support, and most often is sold with a matching foundation. 
  • Hybrid – with coils on the bottom topped by memory foam or latex, more popular of late, especially for online brands.
  • Adjustable – a mattress with an air chamber that allows you to control the firmness (not to be confused with an air mattress). 
Mattresses that meet EWG's strictest standards

From cribs, to california kings -- we have done the work for you to find the mattresses that meet the mark when it comes to chemical safety.

Sleep safe with EWG VERIFIED: Mattresses Health harms of contemporary mattresses

Mattresses often contain toxic chemicals like petroleum-based chemicals, foam, plastics and flame retardants such as fiberglass. But companies aren’t required to reveal the materials they use. 

The mattress components contain and emit chemicals that can worsen indoor air quality and cause a range of health harms. It’s especially concerning since we spend so much of our time sleeping and in our beds.

Flame retardants, for instance, like antimony trioxide have been linked to cancer, and fiberglass can cause respiratory harm and skin rashes. PVC and vinyl, if used as mattress covers, can harm the reproductive system. 

And polyurethane foam, commonly found in numerous mattresses, releases potentially harmful VOCs over extended periods, posing health concerns. Exposure to these VOCs can lead to respiratory irritation, trigger asthma symptoms, and, in the long term, elevate the risk of cancer. Despite the appealing term “memory foam,” it remains a form of polyurethane foam. Even foam marketed as “plant-based” is primarily composed of polyurethane.

Some companies add “fragrance,” a mystery concoction that may include as many as thousands of chemicals, to their mattresses. Used to mask other odors, it can cause allergic reactions and harm to the hormone system.

Exposure to these chemicals can be even more harmful to babies because of their developing bodies and because of how much time they spend in their crib.

Healthier materials

But it’s tough trying to weed through all these considerations and the alphabet soup of mattress industry certifications – standards for healthier, safer mattresses – can be overwhelming. They aren’t always founded on the idea of protecting our health.

You may be familiar with the voluntary standards such as Global Organic Textile Standard, or GOTS, and, for mattresses made with latex, the Global Organic Latex Standard, or GOLS. Anything certified GOTS must be 95 percent certified organic, and even the other 5 percent can’t include certain toxic chemicals, like polyurethane. The GOLS certification ensures the same thing but for latex, setting limits for other toxic chemicals, like formaldehyde. 

The Department of Agriculture permits the label “organic” even if just a part of the mattress is certified organic. 

The Greenguard Environmental Institute created a certification that prioritizes indoor air quality. It addresses concerns about chemical emissions that can compromise the air we breathe indoors. The certification programs ensure that mattresses undergo rigorous testing, and set strict criteria for low chemical emissions to create better indoor air quality. 

A mark you can rely on 

As with other categories of consumer goods, the EWG VERIFIED® mark on a mattress makes it easier to choose what you want. 

EWG’s research team developed a strict set of standards to be followed in the manufacturing of all products that bear the EWG VERIFIED mark.

An EWG VERIFIED mattress meets our highest safety standards, protecting consumers from a wide range of toxic chemicals, including those that may cause allergic reactions, be associated with cancer risk, and potentially harm the respiratory and hormone systems, among other health concerns.

The EWG VERIFIED mark shows consumers that a product meets our strictest criteria, based on a variety of health and environmental standards. EWG VERIFIED baby and adult mattresses are:

  • Made with transparency, with all ingredients and materials used publicly disclosed.
  • Made with safer product materials and lower-emitting volatile organic compounds.
  • Prohibited from using harmful chemical flame retardants and fiberglass.
  • Prohibited from using PVCs and the “forever chemicals” known as PFAS.

In 2023, California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed into law a ban on the sale of mattresses and upholstered furniture containing fiberglass, a harmful flame retardant. Sponsored by EWG and receiving bipartisan support, this legislation ensures consumer protection from fiberglass exposure, safeguarding skin, eyes and lungs. 

California and other states have also banned chemical flame retardants because of the potential harm they pose to reproductive and nervous systems.

Other considerations

Here are a few other things to keep in mind when you shop for a new mattress: 

Modular mattress. Consider opting for a modular mattress that allows individual components or layers to be replaced as they wear out. This way, you can replace specific parts rather than investing in an entirely new mattress.

Be wary of sales. Many companies continuously advertise their products as “on sale” to boost their profits. Look for value and good materials instead.

Ask for a better price. Consumer Reports says around 70 percent of online mattress shoppers who asked for a better price got one, and 62 percent of shoppers in bricks-and-mortar stores. The median savings: $250. 

Check the return policy. Make sure you have time to test the mattress to see if it will work for you. Most companies have a 100-day window, but check the policy to see whether you’ll need to pay a penalty and how much of a hassle it will be.

Areas of Focus Family Health Disqus Comments Authors Ketura Persellin Tasha Stoiber, Ph.D. February 7, 2024
Categories: G1. Progressive Green

Heartbreaking: Harmful food dyes in Valentine’s Day candy

Environmental Working Group - Fri, 02/02/2024 - 09:12
Heartbreaking: Harmful food dyes in Valentine’s Day candy Iris Myers February 2, 2024

Heart-shaped candies, the ubiquitous Valentine’s Day sweet treats, may contain potentially problematic food dyes – likely at levels that are harmful to health. 

Concerns about food dyes

Many brands and varieties of heart-shaped candy contain Yellow Dye No. 5, Yellow Dye No. 6 and Red Dye No. 40. 

These synthetic dyes can all be found in Valentine’s Day sweets made by popular brands Frankford Candy, Brach’s, Disney and Jelly Belly.

Artificial dyes have been linked to an array of health harms. They can make children vulnerable to behavioral difficulties, including decreased attention, according to a 2021 study by the California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment. 

Additional human studies have linked these chemicals to inattentiveness, learning difficulties and restlessness in sensitive children.

One study found that exposure to just 1 milligram of Yellow Dye No. 5 can adversely affect the most sensitive children. Many products on the market that include Yellow Dye No. 5 contain far more than 1 milligram. For example, a store-bought slushy contains, on average, 1 to 10 milligrams of food dye per serving.

Get Your Free Guide: EWG's Guide to Food Additives Regulating food dyes

The California health office also found that federal levels for safe intake of food dyes might not protect children’s brain health. It noted that current legal levels for FD&C food dyes, set decades ago by the Food and Drug Administration, don’t take recent research into account.

For decades, the FDA has allowed chemical companies to decide whether most food chemicals are safe. A recent EWG analysis found that almost 99 percent of the food chemicals that have entered the market since 2000 were reviewed for safety by industry scientists, not the FDA.

Even in instances where the FDA does review chemicals for safety, it doesn’t reevaluate earlier decisions. As a result, the vast majority of chemicals in our food supply haven’t been reviewed for safety for decades, if at all.

Avoiding harmful food dyes

If you’re shopping for your valentine and want to avoid harmful synthetic food dyes, here are some tips:

  • Check product labels. Artificial dyes must be listed among the ingredients of packaged foods, so study labels to avoid products that contain them. 
  • Consult EWG’s Food Scores database to find alternative products that don’t contain harmful food dyes. When you’re on the go, use our Healthy Living app to find products without toxic chemicals.
  • Look for packaged foods that are certified organic whenever possible and within budget – they must meet strong standards that protect consumers from exposure to potentially harmful food additives.
  • Reduce consumption of ultra-processed foods when possible. Many contain concerning ingredients, including other food chemicals that could harm your health. 
Areas of Focus Food Toxic Chemicals Disqus Comments Authors Iris Myers February 5, 2024
Categories: G1. Progressive Green

Changing Culture,Changing Law through Art – Andrea Bowers and CELDF: Exist, Flourish, Evolve

Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund - Fri, 02/02/2024 - 06:29

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

February 2, 2024

Contact:

Tish O’Dell

tish@celdf.org

440-552-6774

Cleveland, Ohio – Andrea Bowers, Los Angeles based activist artist, learned of CELDF when she heard about the Lake Erie Bill of Rights (LEBOR). She grew up in Ohio just a few steps from Lake Erie. After hearing about LEBOR Andrea reached out to CELDF to learn more about our work with Rights of Nature and asked how she could help the movement. Art has always been a way to inspire people’s thinking and challenge their beliefs, along with activism. Andrea Bowers Exist, Flourish, Evolve opens at moCa Cleveland this Friday, February 2, 2024 and runs through May 26, 2024.

Bowers bears witness in her work, drawing attention to and inspiring action on urgent issues of our time. Her drawings, sculptures, installations, and films document collective action and amplify the labor and lived experiences of activists dedicated to change. Developed through an ongoing partnership with CELDF Exist, Flourish, Evolve is a new, multi-site, multimedia campaign that builds awareness and action around the dangers facing Lake Erie and the Great Lakes ecosystem. 

This project is anchored by a new, monumental neon public artwork installed on the Great Lakes Science Center (GLSC) building and facing Lake Erie that declares the right of Lake Erie to exist, flourish, and naturally evolve—words drawn from CELDF’s Lake Erie Bill of Rights. Created with commission support from VIA Art Fund, the bright, buoyant light sculpture obliges us to examine our role in damaging, repairing, protecting, partnering with, and ensuring the health of the Great Lakes that we depend on for survival.

Additional works in Bowers’s exhibition include a neon leaf chandelier, an LED text and light installation that is a corollary to the downtown neon sculpture, drawings of the Lake Erie Bill of Rights and Great Lakes Bill of Rights, and a documentary film investigating the impact of factory farming on Lake Erie’s ecosystem.

Truth, Reckoning, & Right Relationship with the Great Lakes Gathering

Part 2 – April 22 & 23, 2024 

Working with Andrea and moCa Cleveland, CELDF developed a means to both confront ecological and human systems truths along with designing ways to move away from systematically harmful behavior and moving towards right relationship with people, communities, and ecosystems. Part 1 “truth and reckoning” was held at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in October 2023 and featured testimony from a chorus of viewpoints including healthcare, higher education, youth activism, indigenous knowledge, and the environmental regulatory world. Part 2 “right relationship” will continue at moCa this spring and will include experiential breakout sessions, keynote speakers and panels, and more. The timing of these discussions coincide with proposals for Lakefront Development in many communities and the hope is that the Rights of Lake Erie and the Great Lakes become the central points of conversations.

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About CELDF — Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund

Begun as a traditional public interest law firm seeking to protect the environment, CELDF sought to protect communities from projects that cause environmental harm. Along the way, we encountered barriers put in place by both government and corporations. Such barriers included corporate constitutional “rights” and the unilateral preemptive authority of state government – both of which are used to override community decision making and local democracy.

Our mission is to build sustainable communities by assisting people to assert their right to local self-government and the rights of nature.

The post Changing Culture,Changing Law through Art – Andrea Bowers and CELDF: Exist, Flourish, Evolve appeared first on CELDF.

Categories: G1. Progressive Green

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