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Protecting our Environmental Resources
Updated: 1 hour 22 min ago

SAVE THE DATE: Pam Strayer, leading specialist on American wines from organic and biodynamic vineyards and consumer health March 24th

9 hours 31 min ago
Wine & Water Watch Proudly Presents Pam Strayer March 24th, 1-3 pm Sebastopol Center for the Arts What’s on those vines? Drink the change you want to see in the world.

 

Want to be an informed consumer and support a healthy environment in Sonoma County? Pam Strayer will present a guide to using publicly available information to see what pesticides are used in wine country, and more.

 

Pam (after moderating a Demeter winemakers panel) with Demeter USA Board Member Fred Kirschenmann at SHED Healdsburg

You’ll find out what is being applied to vineyards in your area and by whom. 

We will look at data collected by the state pesticide use report and mapped by the state department of public health. The chemicals applied on wine grapes include carcinogens, neurotoxins, bird and bee toxins and developmental and reproductive toxins.

 

We will also talk about solutions and how to support family friendly farming in Sonoma to grow local support for the organic community.

 

Pam is in the process of publishing an ebook on organic and biodynamic wines in Sonoma and Napa counties. There will be abbreviated wine lists from this ebook for attendees.

 

Bio: Pam is a leading specialist on American organic and biodynamic vineyards. Pam is the author and publisher of 7 apps as well as new websites for consumers. She is a well known speaker, certified sommelier and environmental journalist winning the prestigious New England Press Association Award. Pam consults with environmental groups including David Brower and Huey Johnson’s Resource Renewal Institute. She has produced dozens of films for Apple, PBS, Turner, the Dalai Lama, Jerry Garcia and the UN.

 

 

This map shows the various chemicals classified as carcinogens.

March 24th, 1-3pm                                                                                            

Sebastopol Center for the Arts

Fireside Room

282 South High St.

Sebastopol, Ca.

http://www.sebarts.org/ 707-829-4797

Categories: Food and Farming

Lawsuit Challenges Trump Administration’s Refusal to Release Records on Pesticide Harms to Endangered Wildlife

9 hours 36 min ago
With Sonoma County close to applying 3 million pounds of chemicals in the vineyards yearly and Napa with far less vineyards, 1.5 million pounds of chemicals in 2015 (2016 stats released in June) how can this industry call itself sustainable? Napa and Sonoma have abnormally high rates of childhood cancer. (www.kidsdata.org/cancer) From our friends at Center for Biological Diversity: Lawsuit Challenges Trump Administration’s Refusal to Release Records on Pesticide Harms to Endangered Wildlife WASHINGTON— The Center for Biological Diversity sued the Trump administration today for illegally withholding public records documenting the widespread harm to endangered species posed by chlorpyrifos and two other pesticides, diazinon and malathion.

In response to the Center’s June 2017 request for the public records, the Environmental Protection Agency and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service have failed to release any of the likely thousands of pages of crucial analysis conducted by the two agencies.

“The public has every right to know how these pesticides put wildlife in danger, and it’s disturbing to see the Trump administration stonewalling the release of that information,” said Stephanie Parent, a senior attorney at the Center. “We’ll fight every step of their efforts to cover their tracks.”

The Fish and Wildlife Service had committed to releasing its analysis of that research for public comment by May 2017 and to finalize the documents by December 2017. But last year, shortly after donating $1 million to Trump’s inauguration, Dow Chemical asked federal agencies not to finalize the legally required assessments that are crucial to establishing common-sense measures to reduce the pesticides’ harm to endangered species.

The EPA’s initial analysis of the three pesticides, released in 2016, found that 97 percent of the more than 1,800 animals and plants protected under the Endangered Species Act are likely to be harmed by malathion and chlorpyrifos. Another 78 percent are likely to be hurt by the pesticide diazinon.

Upon the completion of the EPA’s analysis, the Fish and Wildlife Service was then required to complete its assessment and suggest mitigation to avoid jeopardizing the continued existence of endangered species like whooping cranes and Karner blue butterflies.

But the finalization of those assessments has stalled in the wake the request by Dow, which over the past six years has donated $11 million to congressional campaigns and political action committees. Over the same period the company has spent an additional $75 million lobbying Congress.

“All the evidence suggests Dow pays and the Trump administration plays,” said Parent. “The agencies are concealing scientific analyses likely to show chlorpyrifos and other pesticides are jeopardizing the very existence of our most imperiled wildlife.”

Categories: Food and Farming

What a Community Bill of Rights and Rights of Nature In New Hamsphire looks like

Tue, 02/20/2018 - 15:00
The NH Community Rights Amendment – CACR19

 

18-2547.1  06/05  STATE OF NEW HAMPSHIRE  In the Year of Our Lord Two Thousand Eighteen
CONCURRENT RESOLUTION [CACR19] PROPOSING CONSITUTIONAL AMENDMENT
RELATING TO: right to govern.
PROVIDING THAT: the people of the state may enact local laws that protect health, safety and welfare.

Be it Resolved by the House of Representatives, the Senate concurring, that the Constitution of
New Hampshire be amended as follows:
 
I. That the first part of the constitution be amended by inserting after article 39 the following new article:
 
[Art.] 40. [Right of Local Community Self-Government.] All government of right originates from the people, is founded in their consent, and instituted for the general good; the people have the right and the duty to reform governments when those governments manifestly endanger public liberty; and sustainable environmental and economic development can be achieved only when the people affected by governing decisions are the ones who make them; therefore, the people of New Hampshire have an inherent and inalienable right of local, community self-government in each county, municipality, city, and town to enact local laws that protect health, safety, and welfare by recognizing or establishing rights of natural persons, their local communities, and nature; and by securing those rights using prohibitions and other means deemed necessary by the community, including measures to establish, define, alter, or eliminate competing rights, powers, privileges, immunities, or duties of corporations and other business entities operating, or seeking to operate, in the community. Local laws adopted pursuant to this article shall not weaken existing protections for, or constrict the fundamental rights of, natural persons, or their local communities, or nature, as those protections and rights are secured by local, state, federal, or international law.
 
II. That the above amendment proposed to the constitution be submitted to the qualified voters of the state at the state general election to be held in November, 2018.
 
III. That the selectmen of all towns, cities, wards and places in the state are directed to insert in their warrants for the said 2018 election an article to the following effect: To decide whether the amendments of the constitution proposed by the 2018 session of the general court shall be approved.
 
IV. That the wording of the question put to the qualified voters shall be:
 
“Are you in favor of amending the first part of the constitution by inserting after article 39 a new article to read as follows:
 
[Art.] 40. [Right of Local Community Self-Government.] All government of right originates from the people, is founded in their consent, and instituted for the general good; the people have the right and the duty to reform governments when those governments manifestly endanger public liberty; and sustainable environmental and economic development can be achieved only when the people affected by governing decisions are the ones who make them; therefore, the people of New Hampshire have an inherent and inalienable right of local, community self-government in each county, municipality, city, and town to enact local laws that protect health, safety, and welfare by recognizing or establishing rights of natural persons, their local communities, and nature; and by securing those rights using prohibitions and other means deemed necessary by the community, including measures to establish, define, alter, or eliminate competing rights, powers, privileges, immunities, or duties of corporations and other business entities operating, or seeking to operate, in the community. Local laws adopted pursuant to this article shall not weaken existing protections for, or constrict the fundamental rights of, natural persons, or their local communities, or nature, as those protections and rights are secured by local, state, federal, or international law.”
 
V. That the secretary of state shall print the question to be submitted on a separate ballot or on the same ballot with other constitutional questions. The ballot containing the question shall include 2 squares next to the question allowing the voter to vote “Yes” or “No.” If no cross is made in either of the squares, the ballot shall not be counted on the question. The outside of the ballot shall be the same as the regular official ballot except that the words “Questions Relating to Constitutional Amendments proposed by the 2018 General Court” shall be printed in bold type at the top of the ballot.
 
VI. That if the proposed amendment is approved by 2/3 of those voting on the amendment, it becomes effective when the governor proclaims its adoption
Categories: Food and Farming

the New Hampshire Community Rights Amendment, CACR19

Tue, 02/20/2018 - 14:37
SCOTUS: If money is free speech, then lack of money is lack of free speech! Officials opposed claim citizens can ask their representatives to do the work….well that’ll never happen after Citizens United….money talks now and corporations have plenty. 

“Representative Bruce Tatro (D) disagreed, asserting that the state indeed is a democracy: “CACR19 is an amendment to a constitution that was formed by the people of the state. The people should have the opportunity to vote this amendment up or down. I’m not in favor of short-circuiting that.”

CONTACT:
Michelle Sanborn, New Hampshire Community Organizer
www.celdf.org
michelle@celdf.org 
603-524-2468

CONCORD, NH: Last week, the New Hampshire Community Rights Amendment, CACR19, left House Municipal & County Government (M&CG) subcommittee with a 3-2 bi-partisan “ought-to-pass” recommendation. Community members from across the state attended the full committee hearing earlier this month, providing more than two hours of testimony in support of the amendment.

CACR19 was drafted by the New Hampshire Community Rights Network, with assistance from the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund (CELDF). If adopted, it would guarantee the people of New Hampshire their individual and collective right to protect human and natural communities through local law-making. The amendment would secure the right of a democratic majority of townspeople to stop harmful corporate projects against corporate claimed “rights” to force those projects into communities – provided that the adopted local laws do not infringe on natural persons’ existing protections under state and federal law.

New Hampshire communities are increasingly facing destructive corporate development, such as Northern Pass, oil and gas infrastructure, water withdrawals for resale, and other harms. Since 2006, they have partnered with CELDF to protect themselves by advancing Community Bill of Rights ordinances. These ordinances secure rights, including rights to clean air and water, and the right to local community self-government. Nearly a dozen towns across the state have adopted rights-based ordinances. Today, growing numbers of communities, working with the NHCRN, are driving these rights upward to the state level.

Representative Frank Sterling (R) made clear his opposition, stating, “New Hampshire is not a democracy, it is a republic. This amendment changes our form of government to a democracy and we are not a democracy!”

Representative Bruce Tatro (D) disagreed, asserting that the state indeed is a democracy: “CACR19 is an amendment to a constitution that was formed by the people of the state. The people should have the opportunity to vote this amendment up or down. I’m not in favor of short-circuiting that.”

Opposed legislators suggested community members need only ask Representatives to pass town-protecting laws. Representative Steve Rand (D) countered that corporations routinely use court system privileges to appeal to state preemption and Dillon’s Rule in order to nullify local ordinances and people’s self-governing authority: “We represent constituents to create statutes, but the [New Hampshire state] constitution is higher than statutes. The people represent themselves constitutionally. Giving them the chance to vote on CACR19 is the one thing we can do to support their ability to protect their health, safety, and welfare. It will help them expand, not decrease their rights.”

Following testimony, the M&CG subcommittee took the unusual step of scheduling an unconventional Friday executive session on February 23rd at 1pm in room 301 of Concord’s Legislative Office Buildings. The House M&CG committee will recommend to the full House how to vote on CACR19, which is likely to occur the first week of March.

New Hampshire Part of Growing Movement

New Hampshire residents are advancing Community Rights as part of the broader Community Rights movement building across the U.S. Local communities and state Community Rights Networks are partnering with CELDF to advance and protect fundamental democratic and environmental rights. They are working with CELDF to establish Community Rights and the Rights of Nature in law, and prohibit fracking, factory farming, water privatization, and other industrial activities as violations of those rights. Communities are joining together within and across states, working with CELDF to advance systemic change – recognizing our existing system of law and governance as inherently undemocratic and unsustainable. New Hampshire joins state Community Rights Networks in Colorado, Oregon, Ohio, and Pennsylvania, where residents are advancing Community Rights state constitutional amendments.

Additional Information

For additional information regarding Community Rights, contact CELDF at info@celdf.org. To learn about the New Hampshire Community Rights Network, visit www.nhcommunityrights.org. Select Boards and citizens interested in supporting the New Hampshire Community Rights Amendment may contact Michelle Sanborn at michelle@celdf.org.

About CELDF — Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund

The Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund is a non-profit, public interest law firm providing free and affordable legal services to communities facing threats to their local environment, local agriculture, local economy, and quality of life. Its mission is to build sustainable co

Categories: Food and Farming

The Science and History Behind the 2018 Napa County Watershed and Oak Woodland Protection Initiative

Tue, 02/20/2018 - 10:29

NAPAVISION 2050 presents:


12 March, 2018
7:00 pm Napa Main Library Community Room, 580 Coombs St Napa, CA 94559

Know Before You Vote: The Science and History Behind the 2018 Napa County Watershed and Oak Woodland Protection Initiative

The League of Women Voters and the Napa Sierra Club will be co-hosting this in-depth look into the science behind the initiative:

Napa County Watershed, water sources, and Groundwater Sustainability Plan. Tasha Comendant, WICC Board Member The importance of trees to the watershed. Bill Pramuk, arborist

The development of the initiative—what the initiative will do. Mike Hackett
The importance of the initiative to the watershed and Napa’s ag community. Warren Winiarski
Endorsements of the initiative by LWV and Sierra Club, and why this is critical. Chris Benz and Robyn Orsin, Napa Climate NOW!
Napa Valley’s continuing battles for land and ag preservation. James Conaway, author
The importance of the watershed to Napa’s water supply. Dr. Tasha Comendant, Pepperwood Preserve
Q&A from audience

Categories: Food and Farming

As Robert Swan said: “The

Tue, 02/20/2018 - 10:07
As Robert Swan said: “The greatest threat to our planet is the belief that someone else will save it.” 

 

PRESS RELEASE FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
From Occupy Sonoma County
​Santa Rosa, California​

###

Call To Action To The Entire Community!
We urge all groups including schools, neighborhood associations, organizations, clubs,​ churches, and groups of all kinds to adopt a Climate Declaration.  Adopt ours or write your own.  Our declaration is dedicated to the public domain.  We encourage everyone to use or edit this writing as their own.  Share your Climate Declaration with local governments, the media, write articles, and share information.

Occupy Sonoma County Climate Declaration

Occupy Sonoma County, along with concerned, forward thinking people all over the world, declares that climate change has reached catastrophic proportions as evidenced by the current level of CO2 in the atmosphere, the melting of polar ice caps, and the continual rising of global temperatures.  This is a global emergency, and we must act immediately.​  We invite all forces of life to join together for our survival.  We stand up for life.

We recognize that the root of climate change is a capitalist system run by money greedy corporations and the governments that they control.  We actively oppose greenhouse gas producers, nuclear power investors, and fossil fuel companies by boycotting their products, developing alternatives, divesting from corporations that endorse them and insisting that governments at all levels take action.  We call on all governments and corporations to adopt life-sustaining practices immediately.

The people must act now to stop this destruction from continuing and reverse the damage this has caused​.  The future is in our hands.  We are the 99%!

​For more information contact: OccupySonomaCounty.org or call 707-877-6650.​
###

http://OccupySonomaCounty.org
http://OccupySonomaCounty.org/es ​(en español)
http://www.facebook.com/OccupySonomaCounty
https://twitter.com/OcSoCo
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCmJoCP-ePUTPWNgHZwtBelg

  Occupy Sonoma County embraces the egalitarian, deep democracy principles of the Occupy Movement with a regional strategy for effectively organizing county-wide social justice campaigns that are globally relevant.
Categories: Food and Farming

Trump’s EPA Could Allow Teenage Workers To Handle Dangerous Pesticides

Sun, 02/18/2018 - 10:31
Rates for cancer, leukemia and asthma have been high for farmworkers and their children for many years. This is so wrong…..Pruitt are your children going out in those fields?   “Doctors had called for those restrictions to be put in place because pesticides can increase the risk of cancer or impact brain development in children. “I think that there’s a pretty strong likelihood that if the minimum age is eliminated or lowered, there will be more people getting sick,” said William Jordan, a former EPA official who worked on developing the tighter pesticide rules. “When people are handling dangerous pesticides, they need to make sure they know what they’re doing.” Jordan said when it comes to certain restricted-use pesticides, even “a small amount like a teaspoon can kill you.””   “One reason growers may want to remove the minimum age requirements is that teenagers often work for less money than older employees…. Trump’s EPA Could Allow Teenage Workers To Handle Dangerous Pesticides Officials have signaled they may eliminate the age requirements for working with toxic chemicals on farms and other worksites. By Dave Jamieson

If the Environmental Protection Agency follows through with a reform now under consideration, teenage farmworkers and other working minors would once again be allowed to handle dangerous pesticides while on the job.

The EPA is now reevaluating a 2015 rule that tightened safety standards for farmworkers. In particular, the agency is considering changing or scrapping the requirement that anyone working with pesticides in agriculture be at least 18 years old.

Doctors had called for those restrictions to be put in place because pesticides can increase the risk of cancer or impact brain development in children.

The EPA may also tweak or do away with the age requirements of another recent rule, which spells out who can be certified to be an applicator of the chemicals that the EPA classifies as the most toxic. That could make it legal for minors to work with what are known as “restricted-use” pesticides, like arsenic and methyl bromide, in a host of industries beyond just agriculture, such as landscaping and pest control.

Restricted-use pesticides are not sold to the public for general use because of how dangerous they can be to people and the environment.

The EPA placed two notices of the potential reforms in the federal register in late December, while Congress was wrestling with its massive overhaul of the tax system. The agency said it was taking a second look at the regulations “as part of the President’s Regulatory Reform Agenda,” which takes aim at rules “appropriate for repeal, replacement or modification.”

Both of the pesticide rules were tightened during former President Barack Obama’s second term. The EPA’s reforms were being gradually phased in to give employers and state regulators time to adjust. The age requirement for agriculture work was implemented this year. The age requirement for pesticide applicators hasn’t gone into effect yet.

Bloomberg via Getty Images

The Trump White House has often boasted about the many regulations it has stripped away during his first year in office, many of them environmental rules from the EPA, one of the president’s favorite administrative punching bags. But the proposal to peel back safety standards for child farm workers was issued without any public fanfare.

“I think that there’s a pretty strong likelihood that if the minimum age is eliminated or lowered, there will be more people getting sick,” said William Jordan, a former EPA official who worked on developing the tighter pesticide rules. “When people are handling dangerous pesticides, they need to make sure they know what they’re doing.”

Jordan said when it comes to certain restricted-use pesticides, even “a small amount like a teaspoon can kill you.”

The official currently overseeing EPA’s handling of the potential revisions couldn’t be reached for comment. Under Trump, the EPA is run by Scott Pruitt, who often sparred with the agency as the attorney general of Oklahoma by suing it 13 times.

Disclosure forms filed with Congress indicate that the American Farm Bureau, the leading industry group for growers, lobbied the agency on the agricultural pesticides rule last year. A spokesman for the group didn’t respond to requests for comment.

I think that there’s a pretty strong likelihood that if the minimum age is eliminated or lowered, there will be more people getting sick.William Jordan, former EPA official

The two regulations in question ― the Agricultural Worker Protection Standard, and the Certification of Pesticide Applicators Rule ― have been on the EPA’s books for decades. But until reforms were undertaken during the Obama years, neither regulation included the minimum age requirements that environmental and worker safety groups had long asked for.

The regulation of how pesticides are handled generally falls to the EPA, as opposed to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, the federal agency that enforces safety rules in most workplaces. The EPA’s reforms specifically exempted the immediate family members of farm owners, so that children working on family farms could still handle pesticides if their parents wanted them to.

The reforms were meant to protect minors working as for-hire employees, many of them migrants who may speak limited English, as well as the surrounding communities. Backers of the age stipulations argue that younger teens don’t have the maturity to make an informed decision about whether or not to handle dangerous chemicals. They also note that younger kids are more likely to mishandle them, endangering themselves and others.

When the reforms were being considered in 2014, the American Academy of Pediatrics came out in support of them, listing a host of concerns with kids handling pesticides. The EPA “must recognize that teenagers under the age of 18 are still developing in critical physical and emotional areas,” the doctors’ group wrote. “Many pesticides are highly toxic to the brain and reproductive system and will cause long-term damage to those systems.”

One reason growers may want to remove the minimum age requirements is that teenagers often work for less money than older employees. The possibility of reopening such work to minors has infuriated safety advocates who say young farmworkers are already vulnerable.

“It’s outrageous,” said Andrea Delgado, legislative director at Earthjustice, an environmental law group.

Delgado’s and other watchdog groups are concerned with another piece of the agriculture rule that EPA may be gutting, known as the “right to know” provision. The reforms under Obama guaranteed that a farmworker could designate a third party to obtain information from the employer about what chemicals the worker had been exposed to. That third party could be a lawyer.

There are very hazardous chemicals that they and their families are exposed to.Virginia Ruiz, Farmworker Justice

Workers in industries other than agriculture are already entitled to have a third-party designated as their representative under OSHA regulations. But according to the EPA’s notice in the federal register, the agency has determined that “further consideration” of the right-to-know provision in agriculture is necessary.

Virginia Ruiz, an occupational health expert with the group Farmworker Justice, said such information is vital in the event a worker gets sick due to contact with chemicals. She said it’s also critical that a third party be able to access the information, given how many farmworkers don’t speak English, are transient, or are simply too afraid to confront their bosses.

As the rule was being drafted, opponents argued that the right-to-know provision could lead to corporate espionage, with growers spying on one another. But its backers, like Ruiz, say the real concern is probably lawsuits brought by workers or nearby residents over chemical use.

“This is a right that all workers have under OSHA: you can designate someone to access your exposure records,” Ruiz said. “Farmworkers shouldn’t be exempt from this right just because of where they work. There are very hazardous chemicals that they and their families are exposed to.”

The federal rulemaking process typically takes years. If the Trump administration wants to unwind the pesticide rules, it will have to go through the same steps of public comment and stakeholder outreach that the Obama administration went through in order to implement them ― only to reach the opposite conclusion.

That’s a likelihood that Jordan, who retired from the EPA in 2016, has come to expect.

“I thought that these were two of the more significant rulemakings from the pesticide area to come out of the Obama administration,” he said. “Knowing the Trump agenda to oppose the work of the previous administration, I’m not surprised by this.”

Categories: Food and Farming

SAVE THE DATE: Pam Strayer, leading specialist on American wines from organic and biodynamic vineyards and consumer health March 24th

Sun, 02/18/2018 - 10:08
Wine & Water Watch Proudly Presents Pam Strayer March 24th, 1-3 pm Sebastopol Center for the Arts What’s on those vines? Drink the change you want to see in the world.

 

Want to be an informed consumer and support a healthy environment in Sonoma County? Pam Strayer will present a guide to using publicly available information to see what pesticides are used in wine country, and more.

 

Pam (after moderating a Demeter winemakers panel) with Demeter USA Board Member Fred Kirschenmann at SHED Healdsburg

You’ll find out what is being applied to vineyards in your area and by whom. 

We will look at data collected by the state pesticide use report and mapped by the state department of public health. The chemicals applied on wine grapes include carcinogens, neurotoxins, bird and bee toxins and developmental and reproductive toxins.

 

We will also talk about solutions and how to support family friendly farming in Sonoma to grow local support for the organic community.

 

Pam is in the process of publishing an ebook on organic and biodynamic wines in Sonoma and Napa counties. There will be abbreviated wine lists from this ebook for attendees.

 

Bio: Pam is a leading specialist on American organic and biodynamic vineyards. Pam is the author and publisher of 7 apps as well as new websites for consumers. She is a well known speaker, certified sommelier and environmental journalist winning the prestigious New England Press Association Award. Pam consults with environmental groups including David Brower and Huey Johnson’s Resource Renewal Institute. She has produced dozens of films for Apple, PBS, Turner, the Dalai Lama, Jerry Garcia and the UN.

 

 

This map shows the various chemicals classified as carcinogens.

March 24th, 1-3pm                                                                                            

Sebastopol Center for the Arts

Fireside Room

282 South High St.

Sebastopol, Ca.

http://www.sebarts.org/ 707-829-4797

Categories: Food and Farming

Lawsuit Launched to Protect Endangered Species From Trump Administration’s Rollback of Clean Water Protections

Sun, 02/18/2018 - 10:07
“Every day the Trump administration blocks protections for these wetlands is another day that polluters are allowed to drive birds, fish and other animals closer to extinction,” said Hannah Connor, a senior attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity. “We just can’t let that happen.” “We will do everything in our power to stop the Trump administration from allowing industrial polluters to turn our waterways into sewers, threatening endangered species and human health,” said Todd Steiner, biologist and executive director of Turtle Island Restoration Network. Lawsuit Launched to Protect Endangered Species From Trump Administration’s Rollback of Clean Water Protections

by Waterkeeper Alliance
Feb 14 2018

Conservation groups filed a formal notice of intent today to sue the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for failing to consider harm to endangered species when adopting a rule that delays the effective date for the 2015 Clean Water Rule. That rule redefined which waterways are protected under the federal Clean Water Act.

The two-year delay is the first of several steps the federal agencies are taking to carry out a 2017 executive order by President Trump that would slash protections for wetlands, creeks and rivers across the nation. The EPA and Army Corps are rushing to comply with the order without considering harm to water quality or endangered species.

“It is clear EPA and the Corps are determined to reduce or eliminate Clean Water Act protections for the majority of our nation’s waters, and they are attempting to do that without legal authority and without complying with the nation’s most basic environmental laws,” said Kelly Hunter Foster, a Waterkeeper Alliance senior attorney.

Among the waters likely to lose protection against pollution and destruction under the agencies’ Feb. 6 delay rule are wetlands such as vernal pools in California, prairie potholes in the upper Midwest and coastal pocosins that provide vital habitat for imperiled species.

“Every day the Trump administration blocks protections for these wetlands is another day that polluters are allowed to drive birds, fish and other animals closer to extinction,” said Hannah Connor, a senior attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity. “We just can’t let that happen.”

At the time the 2015 Clean Water Rule was adopted, the conservation groups involved in today’s legal action challenged it for creating illegal exemptions for industry and failing to protect important waterways and endangered species. But the groups say the two-year delay of the rule compounds those problems by further reducing the number and types of protected waters in violation of the Clean Water Act, Endangered Species Act and other federal laws.

“Instead of resolving the debate, delay grants a giant green light for Big Ag to continue dumping agricultural pollutants on our food and in our environment,” said Adam Keats, a senior attorney at the Center for Food Safety. “We need to strengthen, not gut, the laws that keep industrial agricultural pollution in check, and the time to do that is now, not two years from now.”

The 2015 rule is one of many environmental rules identified by the Trump EPA for elimination. The agency has also slowed its enforcement of federal pollution laws, including the Clean Water Act.    

“We will do everything in our power to stop the Trump administration from allowing industrial polluters to turn our waterways into sewers, threatening endangered species and human health,” said Todd Steiner, biologist and executive director of Turtle Island Restoration Network.

Today’s notice of intent was submitted by the Center for Biological Diversity, Center for Food Safety, Turtle Island Restoration Network, Waterkeeper Alliance, Humboldt Baykeeper (a program of the Northcoast Environmental Center), Russian Riverkeeper, Upper Missouri Waterkeeper, Snake River Waterkeeper and Monterey Coastkeeper (a program of the Otter Project). It demands that the agencies come into compliance with the Endangered Species Act before proposing a rule to delay the 2015 Clean Water Rule. 

The groups filing today’s notice of intent are represented by Earthrise Law Center, the environmental legal clinic at Lewis & Clark Law School.

California vernal pool by Joanna Gilkeson, USFWS. Images are available for media use.

About Waterkeeper

United as one powerful force, Waterkeeper Alliance fights for every community’s right to drinkable, fishable, swimmable water. For more information please visit waterkeeper.org

Categories: Food and Farming

New Map Reveals Which Countries are Most Likely to Survive Climate Change

Thu, 02/15/2018 - 10:59
New Map Reveals Which Countries are Most Likely to Survive Climate Change

Author: Fran Whittaker-Wood

Published: Wednesday, 03 January 2018

Climate change is real, and it’s happening. But will you survive it?

Melting ice caps, record high temperatures and rising sea levels are just some of the telltale signs.

Climate change is one of the most pressing crises facing humanity. Caused by an immense and continual buildup of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases in our atmosphere as a result of human activity, climate change is already causing a series of alarming environmental events.

Once snowy landscapes are slowly melting away to leave an uninhabitable and baron wilderness, rising sea temperatures are killing thousands of miles of coral reef and marine life, while freak weather events are becoming more common and costing affected nations billions of pounds. For example, early estimates suggest that 2017’s hurricane Harvey caused between £48 billion and £134 billion worth of damage.

These serve as a worrying indication of the catastrophic effect that climate change could have on our planet in the future if nothing is done to tackle the phenomenon.

Whilst it’s clear that no single corner of the globe is safe from the changes that are happening to our climate, we wanted to find out which countries are the most (and least) at risk of the effects of climate change.

To answer this question, we looked at data from the University of Notre-Dame’s ND-Gain Index. This report analyzed 181 countries on their vulnerability to climate change and how ready they are to adapt to a warming planet, based on factors such as healthcare, food supply and government stability.

We also scrutinized how much carbon dioxide all 181 countries emit every year to give an indication of each nation’s contribution towards climate change. This allowed us to compare a country’s likeliness to survive changes to the global climate against their responsibility for the phenomenon.

So which country is the most likely to survive climate change?

The answer is Norway, thanks to its low vulnerability score and high readiness score. The nation’s Nordic neighbours also fared well, with Finland (3rd), Sweden (4th), Denmark (6th) and Iceland (8th) landing 5 out of the 10 top spots for survivability. So we should all flee to the countries of northern Europe and the north Atlantic to live out our final days should our planet become uninhabitable.

Interestingly the UK and US did not make the top 10, ranking 12th and 15th respectively. Both these nations were named amongst the 10 countries most likely to survive climate change in our 2015 version of this map, but an overall worsening of their vulnerability and readiness scores led to this slip in rank.

Even more surprising is China’s position in the ranking – 59th. Despite arguably being the world’s biggest contributor towards climate change – emitting a massive 9,040 metric tons of CO₂ into the atmosphere every year – the country is somewhat sensitive to the effects of a warming planet. This is largely due to the nation’s growing population which is putting a strain on China’s natural resources and public services. Rather ironically, China’s vulnerability to climate change therefore means that they may eventually reap what they sow.

And who are the biggest losers? At the other end of the scale, it comes as no surprise that the world’s poorest and least developed nations have the lowest chance of surviving climate change. Countries in sub-Saharan Africa fill the bottom 10 spaces for survivability, with Somalia being named the country least likely to survive climate change. Chad, Eritrea, the Central African Republic and the Democratic Republic of Congo also fared badly, owing to their unstable governance, poor infrastructure, lack of healthcare and a scarcity of food and water.

These findings serve as a stark reminder of the need for wealthier, more established countries to support the world’s most vulnerable nations. This is particularly true given that many of the world’s richest economies contribute the most to climate change but are in fact the least likely to be affected by it, whilst impoverished countries who hold little responsibility for the phenomenon are left suffering the most. To put this into perspective, Eritrea emits just 0.01% of the total carbon dioxide that the US does each year – a mere 0.6 metric tons of CO₂ compared to 4,997 tons of the greenhouse gas.

Whilst it’s true that climate change will impact the entire global community in some way, this map clearly shows which countries are likely to be the most (and least) affected. The pressure is now mounting for global leaders to come up with an effective solution to stop climate change before it is too late and nations begin to succumb to the disastrous consequences of a warming world.

Categories: Food and Farming

A Hot, Dry Winter in California. Could It Be Drought Again?

Tue, 02/13/2018 - 10:00
As county officials in Napa & Sonoma keep approving water gouging crops like wine and cannabis, we are moving rapidly to drought with no real measures in place like mandatory rainwater catchment (think Australia where they dealt with drought head on and no longer need desalinization plants). Sonoma supervisors: if you want to build 30,000 new units, require rainwater catchment or ditch the wine industry. You can’t have your cake and eat it to. Just where is that water coming from? The Eel River can’t afford to loose any more water to the cover 1,000 illegal water draws on the Russian River for grapes that have been documented for years with no action.      A Hot, Dry Winter in California. Could It Be Drought Again? https://www.nytimes.com/2018/02/13/climate/california-drought.html  

Atmospheric conditions that helped create the recent multiyear California drought have returned, leaving the state dry and exceptionally warm this winter and its residents wondering if another long dry spell is on the way.

A ridge of high-pressure air off the West Coast has persisted for much of the past three months, blocking many Pacific storms from reaching California and weakening others that do get through. Normally such ridges tend to come and go, but they also lingered during the 2012-16 drought, the worst in the state’s history.

“We are now seeing another year that looks like one of those drought years,” said Daniel Swain, a postdoctoral researcher at the Institute of the Environment and Sustainability at the University of California, Los Angeles, who during the drought coined the term “ridiculously resilient ridge” to describe the atmospheric pattern.

“This one is definitely a resilient ridge, but we don’t know if it’s quite reaching the ‘ridiculous’ threshold,” said Dr. Swain, who blogs about California’s weather.

By one measure, at least, drought has already returned. According to the United States Drought Monitor, most of the southern half of California is now experiencing moderate or severe drought, a marked change from three months ago, when less than 10 percent of the state was in moderate drought and no part was in severe drought.

The Los Angeles area has been especially dry. Dr. Swain said that Los Angeles has had only one 24-hour period with rainfall of more than one-third of an inch in nearly a year. The one exception, Jan. 8-9, was the day the Santa Barbara area just to the north was inundated with even more rain, leading to deadly mudslides.

But overall, the current conditions are far less extreme than in 2015 and 2016, at the tail end of the drought. At times in 2015 more than half the state was considered to be in extreme drought, the drought monitor’s highest category. That spring, the state imposed a mandatory 25 percent reduction in water use in urban areas.

State water officials note that this year, as a result of the drought-ending rains of a year ago, there is plenty of water in California’s reservoirs, so there are no critical supply issues that could lead to similar restrictions.

Even so, the dry, warm weather that has persisted since late fall is taking a toll, with snowpack in the Sierra Nevada — the source of about one-third of California’s water — at 21 percent of normal on Monday. Without a flurry of storms to add to the snowpack in the next few months, the low snowpack could eventually lead to supply problems, especially if dry conditions persist for the next few years.

Image

State officials measured the snowpack in the Sierra Nevada last month.CreditJim Wilson/The New York Times

The high-pressure ridge tends to shunt storms north toward British Columbia, said Marty Ralph, director of the Center for Western Weather and Water Extremes at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography.

“It’s very normal to have a ridge,” said Dr. Ralph, who studies so-called atmospheric rivers, trails of tropical moisture that in a normal year are responsible for much of California’s precipitation. “It usually breaks down at some point and packs of storms break through.”

A few studies have suggested that the persistence of such blocking ridges in certain parts of the world may be linked to climate change. But a range of conditions in the Pacific Ocean not necessarily related to climate change, including El Niño and La Niña, can contribute to the formation and positioning of a ridge, Dr. Swain said.

The thin California snowpack is also a function of high temperatures. Following a record warm summer and fall in the state, temperatures have continued well above normal this winter. In the Sierra town of Truckee, Calif., on Thursday the high temperature, 64, was 21 degrees above the historical average.

“What we’re seeing is more precipitation as rain than as snow,” said Doug Carlson, a spokesman for the state Department of Water Resources. The warmer temperatures raise the snow line, the elevation above which it is cold enough that precipitation falls as snow. They also cause what snow there is to melt faster.

Rain runs off immediately, while snowpack serves as a reservoir of water that is released over time as it melts. So, changes in the proportions of snow and rain and the rate of snowmelt can affect the availability and timing of water for people, industry and agriculture..

The snowpack conditions in the Sierra this year may be an extreme example of what scientists suggest will be the case with climate change — that as average temperatures rise, average snowpack will decline, perhaps by as much as 25 percent by midcentury.

The blocking pattern in the atmosphere has also brought warm, dry conditions to the Rocky Mountains and the Colorado River basin, said Greg Smith, a senior hydrologist with the National Weather Service in Salt Lake City.

“The pattern is very strong this year,” Mr. Smith said. Most of the storms track to the north of the region, he said, “and the storms that do come in tend to be weak.”

The situation in the lower Colorado basin — most of Arizona and parts of Utah, New Mexico, Nevada and California — is especially bad, with snow totals at or near record lows at many locations.

As in California, the upper Colorado basin — parts of Arizona, New Mexico, Utah, Colorado and Wyoming — had plenty of snow runoff last year, Mr. Smith said. But without significant snowfall by April, even the upper basin will suffer. His forecast for the runoff this year into Lake Powell, the reservoir at the junction of the upper and lower basins, is the seventh-lowest in history, with expectations that the reservoir will receive less than half of its usual supply from melting snowpack.

“There’s definitely some concern for supplies in some areas as we see these forecast numbers drop,” Mr. Smith said. “We’re kind of hopeful we’ll see a pattern change in the next couple of months. We’re running out of time.”

Henry Fountain covers climate change, with a focus on the innovations that will be needed to overcome it. He is the author of “The Great Quake,” a book about the 1964 Alaskan earthquake.@henryfountainFacebook

Categories: Food and Farming

Congress introduces record number of bills to prevent people from taking industry to court

Tue, 02/13/2018 - 09:35
Environmental safeguards for humans trashed just in time for the corporate pollution rush. Who has rights, humans/nature or elite corporations? As a country we decide, please VOTE.

“……According to Earthjustice, the list of bills from the current Congress attacking individuals’ access to justice include:

  • 6 bills with provisions to eliminate judicial review, eroding the role of courts as a check and balance on other branches of government.
  • 14 bills that could effectively strip people of their right to sue by either forcing them into arbitration or blocking their ability to join together in class action lawsuits.
  • 17 bills that would make it too expensive to sue, forcing members of the public to bear the burden of costly litigation against the government.
  • 10 bills that meddle with timely resolution through settlements, forcing government agencies to draw out challenges through costly litigation fights.”
  From our friends at THINKPROGRESS: Congress introduces record number of bills to prevent people from taking industry to court Congress races to protect industry from lawsuits. Mark Hand Twitter Feb 12, 2018, 11:40 am Industry-friendly lawmakers are waging a coordinated campaign with the Trump administration to strip Americans of their legal rights to use the courts to hold polluting companies and the government itself accountable for violations of bedrock environmental laws and other important public protections. Members of Congress have introduced more than 50 bills over the past year that would make it extremely difficult or impossible for people to seek justice in a court of law, according to an in-depth analysis by Earthjustice, a nonprofit environmental law organization. The proposed bills are targeting laws related to environmental protection, public health, consumer rights, and civil liberties.

The number of bills introduced in the current 115th Congress that would strip individuals of their legal rights to seek justice in a court of law have doubled from the previous Congress and quadrupled since the 112th Congress that ended in 2013. Similar to how credit card companies and other retailers block consumers from the use of a court of law to resolve disputes, these bills would have a similar effect by preventing aggrieved members of the public from filing lawsuits to ensure laws are enforced.

“The corporate interests that stand to benefit from these types of provisions see this window of time as an opportunity,” Patrice Simms, vice president of litigation at Earthjustice, said in an interview with ThinkProgress. “They have a president that they know will sign anything that benefits them and they have majorities in the House and Senate that they believe are willing to move the bills forward.”

Earthjustice has created an interactive tool that tracks each of these pieces of legislation. If passed into law, these bills would erect permanent obstacles that will prevent people and communities from going to court to defend their rights.

During the current Congress, 12 bills with a combination of threatening provisions have passed the House of Representatives. The president has signed one into law: H.J.Res. 111 repealed the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s rule prohibiting banks, lenders, and other corporations from forcing consumers with grievances into arbitration. This law also prevents individuals from joining together in class action lawsuits in federal courts against banks, predatory lenders, and other bad actors.

Congress could strip consumers of right to sue banks and credit card companies

Members of the George W. Bush administration, including some appointed by President Donald Trump to high-level positions in his administration, wanted to see similar restrictions placed on the rights of individuals to have their day in court. “Usually, it’s been a pretty extremist view,” said Jessica Culpepper, an attorney with Public Justice, a nonprofit law firm that focuses on environmental protection, consumer rights, and civil liberties.

For many years, a contingent in Congress has tried to limit the ability of citizens to use “bedrock environmental laws” like the Clean Water Act to protect themselves. “What is frightening is that at least with the Bush administration, some things were sacred. You still couldn’t get a lot of support for stripping citizens’ abilities to protect themselves,” Culpepper said. “And now those things are on the table.”

Congressional Republicans have been trying for years to get these types of bills passed. They’ve been introduced before, but typically only to make certain industry constituents happy, with little chance of passage, according to Culpepper. The bills “have not been as big of a threat” as they are under the current Congress, Culpepper told ThinkProgress.

According to Earthjustice, the list of bills from the current Congress attacking individuals’ access to justice include:

  • 6 bills with provisions to eliminate judicial review, eroding the role of courts as a check and balance on other branches of government.
  • 14 bills that could effectively strip people of their right to sue by either forcing them into arbitration or blocking their ability to join together in class action lawsuits.
  • 17 bills that would make it too expensive to sue, forcing members of the public to bear the burden of costly litigation against the government.
  • 10 bills that meddle with timely resolution through settlements, forcing government agencies to draw out challenges through costly litigation fights.

One bill, dubbed the “Farm Regulatory Certainty Act” by its industry backers, was introduced in the previous Congress and didn’t move at all. But in the current Congress, the bill is gaining momentum, with more than 60 co-sponsors. Culpepper delivered testimony to a congressional hearing in November in which she described the bill as an effort to shield “an entire industry from liability.” The bill “would essentially “strip rural Americans from their right to protect their drinking water,” she told lawmakers

Congress recognizes it cannot simply repeal the laws it doesn’t like. Its members can’t say, “We’re going to get rid of the Clean Water Act.” But what they do see they can do is engage in “this furtive attempt to undo the protections that those laws actually provide,” explained Simms.

By furtive attempts, Simms is referring to how certain lawmakers now realize that if an environmental law, for example, cannot be undone by direct repeal, they can try to pass bills that make the laws impossible to enforce. For example, the House of Representatives last October passed a bill that would prevent the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and other federal agencies from settling lawsuits, even when the government has acted unlawfully.

House Republicans have dubbed the bill, H.R. 469, the “Sunshine for Regulations and Regulatory Decrees and Settlements Act.” Earthjustice prefers to call the bill by describing its real intent: “Delaying Public Health Protections.” The bill still has not passed the Senate.

Simms said this particular bill is a prime example of how congressional Republicans are working closely with the Trump administration on these types of bills. “There’s a degree of coordination between Congress and the administration that I have not seen in the past,” he said. “They’re coming back over the course of the last year with an intensity that we have not seen before and a coordination that I have not seen in the past. This is really something frightening.”

Scott Pruitt touts anti-environment agenda from a coal mine

H.R. 469 reflects almost exactly the policy adopted by the Trump administration. In mid-October, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt announced his agency would no longer engage in settlement discussions with public interest lawyers, what anti-environment lawmakers refer to as “sue and settlement” practices. “What did we see several weeks later? A bill gets passed in the House that would essentially codify that and apply it not to just EPA but all agencies,” Simms said.

The bill would inhibit the EPA and other federal agencies from settling lawsuits, even when the government has acted unlawfully. This drags out legal action, raising costs for plaintiffs, and allows the administration to avoid enforcing environmental regulations, leading to more pollution and industrial harm to communities, according to Earthjustice.

In her 10 years as an environmental and public interest attorney, Culpepper said she’s never seen so many bills introduced at once — bills that would roll back individuals’ ability to use the courts to seek justice — that have a good chance of moving through Congress. “I spent more time fighting these things in 2017 than I have in my an entire career,” she said.

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Categories: Food and Farming

Corporations have to have it all: The New Legal Threat to Environmental Attorneys: Sanctions from Judges and Attorneys General

Mon, 02/12/2018 - 11:11
Where in the Constitution does it say corporations have more rights than people? Who is in charge, citizens or corporations? What federal law requires me to eat dirty air, drink polluted water or have disease so corporations can profit?

“….An increasing number of communities and groups are coming to the realization that the existing tools for fight polluting industries and climate change aren’t working. “That’s painfully obvious. The natural environment is increasingly degraded and the quality of life and local control are almost gone completely,” he said. “Anybody who is paying attention should understand that there should be another system of law that emerges. That system of law is slowly emerging. It’s communities saying, ‘We have more rights than the corporations doing business here.’” The New Legal Threat to Environmental Attorneys: Sanctions from Judges and Attorneys General Oil and gas companies are moving beyond simply filing lawsuits against municipalities that pass ordinances banning drilling and other types of industrial activity. In recent months, the energy industry, along with a state attorney general, has started going after the lawyers who are using novel legal arguments to protect small towns and the environment.

Since the dawn of the environmental movement, polluters have faced resistance from local residents and environmental advocates. But as industry encroached deeper into the natural world, a new legal movement emerged to end the centuries-old American legal tradition that defined nature as property.

Most community activism has focused on trying to influence environmental agency decision-making, and then using the courts to challenge the issuance of permits by the agencies. The new legal movement pushes a strategy fundamentally different from that of most environmental organizations. Instead of working through normal legal channels of permitting and suing, the new strategy seeks to enshrine a doctrine recognizing the fundamental right of community self-governance over their own natural resources.

Another component of the movement emphasizes the “rights of nature.” If a corporation can have rights, for instance, then so should rivers and forests. Lawyers use the example of children, who typically don’t have a right to file a lawsuit. However, a guardian who is appointed can file a lawsuit on behalf of the child. Lawyers are making the same argument for nature, seeking judicial recognition of it as a “person,” with rights of its own to exist and flourish. Instilling nature with the right to sue would force humans to take care of the water and trees they need to survive — or face penalties.

Thomas Linzey, Executive Director of Community Environmental Defense Fund (CELDF)

A leading practitioner of this new legal thinking is environmental attorney Thomas Linzey, who has spearheaded the introduction of legally enforceable rights for ecosystems and community bills of rights ordinances around the world. Linzey has more than 20 years of experience facing off against some of the largest corporations in the United States — he has seen how far industry will go to protect its profits.

In January, a federal judge ordered Linzey, co-founder of the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund (CELDF), to pay a portion of the legal fees incurred by a company that had proposed a fracking waste injection well in a small town that Linzey and his team were suing. The judge accused Linzey and one of his colleagues of using a “frivolous” legal argument to defend an ordinance in Grant Township, Pennsylvania, that banned such wells.

He knew it was inevitable that the other side would find new avenues to punish people trying to stand up for their communities. The judge’s sanction against him and a colleague — ordering the pair to pay $52,000 in attorney fees to the company that wants to drill the disposal well — “is about the oil and gas industry not being satisfied with going after the municipalities, but now trying to go after the lawyers,” Linzey told ThinkProgress.

Nearly 200 communities have adopted CELDF-drafted Community Bills of Rights laws that elevate community self-determination — for both human and natural communities — above the power of corporations and other levels of government to override core aspects of local democracy. Based on its different approach to protecting communities, Rolling Stone magazine described CELDF as “a civil-rights group for the environment.”

But the oil and gas industry has a different opinion of the group. Industry advocacy group Energy In Depth contends CELDF’s actions are driven by an interest in shutting down not just fracking, but all corporate activity. “CELDF has been behind numerous failed attempts to ban fracking and other oil and gas activity at the local level by claiming the individual property rights should be trumped by the rights of ‘nature and ecosystems’,” Energy In Depth wrote in a blog post last May.

Despite resistance from industry and government, the new legal movement produced a rare victory in 2016. A case brought by Our Children’s Trust, an Oregon-based nonprofit, was the first to use a theory known as atmospheric trust law, which argues that the federal government, through actions like fossil fuel subsidies, has actively undermined the youth’s right to a livable climate. A federal judge in Oregon ruled in the group’s favor. By failing to curb U.S. greenhouse gas emissions that cause dangerous climate change, the U.S. government is violating citizens’ rights to life, liberty, and property, the judge found.

Unlike the Oregon judge, though, the Pennsylvania court is tipping the scales in favor of the developer of the fracking wastewater well by sanctioning Grant Township’s attorneys for using the community rights argument. “A judge in Oregon ruled that a right to a livable climate is a fundamental constitutional right. We are arguing the right of local communities to self-government is a fundamental constitutional right,” Linzey said.

Back in 2014, with the assistance of CELDF, Grant Township, located about 80 miles northeast of Pittsburgh, passed an ordinance that banned frackwater disposal wells. The township later adopted a municipal charter that stated its residents have a “right to stop that which harms them.” It was this ordinance that Linzey was trying to defend in January.

That same year, a company, Pennsylvania General Energy, fought the town’s ordinance against disposal wells. But the company not only filed a lawsuit against the township. It urged the court to apply sanctions on Linzey and fellow CELDF attorney Elizabeth Dunne for using unique arguments to defend Grant Township’s ordinance.

In a January 5 ruling, Magistrate Judge Susan Baxter of the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania sided with the company and ordered the two attorneys to pay a portion of Pennsylvania General Energy’s legal fees because the judge said they used a “frivolous” argument.

“Judge Baxter sanctions us for that argument. And yet in Oregon, there are people making the argument that the right to a sustainable climate system is a fundamental constitutional right,” Linzey said. “Instead of getting sanctioned, they get awarded because the judge finds that the right to a livable climate is a fundamental constitutional right.”

One of the most famous cases against an attorney fighting environmental contamination occurred in federal court in New York. Human rights lawyer Steven Donziger helped secure a landmark victory in 2011 when an Ecuadorian judge ordered Chevron to pay $9 billion in compensation for environmental contamination in the country. But a federal judge found that multiple court rulings in Ecuador against Chevron were the product of “egregious fraud.”

The judge’s ruling relied on fabricated testimony by a Chevron Witness, according to Donziger, who argued the U.S. Department of Justice should launch a criminal probe into Chevron and the company’s law firm in New York.

In another major attack on an environmental lawyer, Colorado’s attorney general last year ordered a lawyer who had filed a lawsuit to protect the Colorado River to voluntarily withdraw the complaint or face major sanctions. The government’s threat worked: given the scope of possible financial penalties, attorney Jason Flores-Williams reluctantly withdrew the lawsuit in December.

In Colorado, Flores-Williams was hoping to win his own landmark environmental case. He filed a federal lawsuit in September, listing the Colorado River ecosystem as the plaintiff and naming the state of Colorado as the defendant. Using an argument that had worked in other countries, Flores-Williams stated Colorado had violated the river’s right to flourish by polluting and draining it and threatening endangered species. Scientists project that increased temperatures brought on by climate change will cause the river to shrink.

Activists with Deep Green Resistance along the Colorado River. Image by Michelle McCarron.

The lawsuit was a first-of-its-kind in the United States. But the argument that nature has legal rights has been used successfully in other countries. In Ecuador, the constitution now declares that nature “has the right to exist, persist, maintain and regenerate its vital cycles.” In New Zealand, officials declared in March that a river used by the Maori tribe of Whanganui in the North Island to be a legal person that can sue if it is harmed.

CELDF assisted with the drafting of the change to Ecuador’s constitution. And the group also served as a legal adviser to Flores-Williams’ lawsuit on behalf of the Colorado River. Upon filing the lawsuit, Flores-Williams knew that powerful corporate interests in Colorado would lobby the state to bring the hammer down on him. “You’re rattling one heck of a cage. Because if this were to open up… all of a sudden corporations are put in check,” Flores-Williams said in a radio interview last year. If nature were to have standing in court by seeking redress for the harms to ecosystems, all of a sudden exploitation of the natural world for profit would not be done with such impunity, he explained.

In November, the Colorado attorney general’s office warned Flores-Williams that he could face sanctions for “knowingly presenting false or unwarranted claims to the court.” Flores-Williams fired back in late November, claiming in a letter to the attorney general that the threat of sanctions was “a legally baseless attempt to harass and intimidate a civil rights attorney in good standing who has dedicated his career to protecting the powerless from the powerful.”

Heading into the legal battle, Flores-Williams predicted industry and state officials would place him in their cross-hairs. “They will come hard. They will seek attorneys fees. They will try to seek sanctions. They’ll try to probably put some focus on yours truly,” he said in the radio interview, referring to his history of taking on powerful interests in government and the private sector. “They tend to be fairly dirty in the way that they work.”

The state alleged Flores-Williams failed to conduct a reasonable inquiry into the law and facts prior to filing his complaint and that he also failed to address “numerous other deficiencies” that the state highlighted in its motion to dismiss. The attorney general’s office warned Flores-Williams that if he chose not to voluntarily withdraw the lawsuit by November 30, he would face sanctions.

In early December, Flores-Williams concluded the state attorney general’s office — run by Attorney General Cynthia Coffman (R) — could destroy him and his law firm with financial penalties and disbarment if he continued to pursue the “rights of nature” lawsuit. He ended up filing a motion in federal court in Denver requesting that his lawsuit on behalf of the Colorado be dismissed.

“A great victory here would have been some rights conferred on the Colorado River, but we’re not there yet. So, that’s a loss. That said, we have introduced this important legal doctrine into the American consciousness, which is a victory,” Flores-Williams said in a statement.

The sanctions movement against environmental attorneys is occurring at the same time that companies are filing seemingly frivolous lawsuits of their own against groups for protesting infrastructure projects. The company behind the Dakota Access Pipeline, for example, filed a complaint last August, accusing protesters of engaging in a criminal network of fraud and misinformation.

“These corporations’ real goal is to shut down activism that defends the environment and challenges their agenda,” Ryan Hartman, editor of Earth First! Journal, said in response to receiving a lawsuit from Energy Transfer Partners, the developer of Dakota Access and several other pipeline projects across the nation.

Linzey worries about whether he will need to shut down his nonprofit law firm if the courts continue to align with industry. “It’s serious business not to pay a court-ordered sanctions award. It means some soul-searching here in deciding how to handle it,” he said.

Despite its own financial concerns, Grant Township, with a population of only 700, is standing behind Linzey and the town’s other lawyers. In a January 12 statement, the township’s board supervisors wrote: “Judge Baxter’s ruling is astonishing, but not surprising. Our township has been sold out and ignored by every level of government to date. We’ve received no relief from state or federal legislators, the courts, and even our own Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection has sued us as we’ve tried to protect our environment.”

The injection-well site in Grant Township. Mike Belleme for Rolling Stone.

Last spring, Pennsylvania’s environmental regulators issued a permit for the injection well in Grant Township. At the same time, the state Department of Environmental Protection filed a lawsuit against the town, hoping the court would rule on what takes precedence — state law, or the township’s home rule charters, which explicitly ban injection wells. The department claimed the charter interferes with state oil and gas policies, and thus should be invalidated.

Grant Township has made public statements about the possibility of going bankrupt if it does not back down. “In other words, they are willing to go into bankruptcy in this case because they feel it is so important. It would be the first municipal bankruptcy triggered by an oil and gas corporation attempting to extract damages from a township that doesn’t have the money,” Linzey said.

An increasing number of communities and groups are coming to the realization that the existing tools for fight polluting industries and climate change aren’t working. “That’s painfully obvious. The natural environment is increasingly degraded and the quality of life and local control are almost gone completely,” he said. “Anybody who is paying attention should understand that there should be another system of law that emerges. That system of law is slowly emerging. It’s communities saying, ‘We have more rights than the corporations doing business here.’”

Despite facing sanctions in Pennsylvania, Linzey said he is heartened by efforts in other states to adopt constitutional amendments that would guarantee people in towns the authority to enact local laws to protect the environment, free from state preemption and corporate interference. Organizers in New Hampshire, Colorado, Oregon, Ohio, and Pennsylvania are working to advance such state constitutional amendments.

“That’s a big step because it would, in effect, authorize municipalities to say ‘no’ to things like frack wells, oil and gas extraction, and frack wastewater injection wells,” Linzey said. “The more these cases are heard in court, the more judges review them, the more of a chance there is that this kind of case law is going to be made.”

Thank you to Mark Hand and ThinkProgress for permission to republish this February 5, 2018 landmark article:

The new legal threat to environmental attorneys: Sanctions from judges and attorneys general
Lawyers face major penalties for defending communities and ecosystems.

Categories: Food and Farming

“Our Children’s Trust…Securing The Legal Right to A Safe Climate and a healthy

Sat, 02/10/2018 - 15:14
WWW has been in support of this litigation for present and future generations. We are living everyday with the short vision plundering by the 1% elite at the expense of our children. Enough is enough.   For Immediate Release: February 8, 2018
“Our Children’s Trust…Securing The Legal Right to A Safe Climate and a healthy Atmosphere for All and Future Generations. And update on the Landmark Federal
Climate Lawsuit by 21 Youth Plaintiffs”

Tuesday, February 20, 7:00 pm at Burlingame Hall, located at 252 West Spain Street in Sonoma:

The Earth Care Committee of First Congregational Church is pleased to announce a public presentation on “Our Children’s Trust” www.OurChildrensTrust.org and the climate lawsuit www.ourchildrenstrust.org/us/federal-lawsuit/ against the Trump administration filed by 21 young Americans and climate scientist James Hansen. The landmark climate lawsuit seeks science-based Climate Recovery Plans, and is based on their constitutional rights and public trust. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco is expected to rule very soon on whether this lawsuit filed in 2015, with the support of Our Children’s Trust, can proceed to trial.
Co-founder of Our Children’s Trust Sharon Duggan, and Coreal Riday-White OCT Community Engagement Manger, will give us an update on the lawsuit and what we can do locally. Sharon Duggan is an attorney who has practiced public interest environmental law for more than 35 years. She has focused much of her legal career on the protection of natural resources, and particularly old growth redwoods, endangered salmon and protected species like the Northern Spotted Owl and the Marbled Murrelet. She has had the privilege of representing many community-based environmental groups
including the Environmental Protection Information Center (EPIC) in Northern California, the Center for Sierra Nevada Conservation, and Californians for Alternatives to Toxics, as well as the Sierra Club in major litigation efforts. Coreal Riday-White, after law school, worked in San Francisco representing cities in connection with environmental claims. He joined OCT in 2015 and manages the YouCAN youth program and heads the OCT federal trail mobilization efforts and is point person for individual and organizational partnerships. One of which is the UCC 1000 Sermons campaign … Justice for #EachGeneration campaign. Sharon and Coreal’s presentations will address the current lawsuit and what we can do to support the pre trial work and supporting our youth to have voice for their and future generations for clean air and protection of our environment. The event is free of charge and everyone is welcome: it is hosted by the Earth Care Committee of the First Congregational
Categories: Food and Farming

Update: CAL-FIRE’s decision on the revised “Dogwood” timber harvest plan is delayed once again

Sat, 02/10/2018 - 10:11
CAL-FIRE’s decision on the revised “Dogwood” timber harvest plan is delayed once again. The latest date for CAL-FIRE’s decision is now Feb. 23, 2018, yet another postponement. Hopefully all the expert comments are giving them a pause…or a headache! This THP should be denied! Here are some of the issues reported on this ill conceived plan. 

 

This is just one of several logging plans waiting in the wings. THIS IS OUR WATERSHED. Using 25,000 gallons of water in the summer to keep dust down from the skid roads will further decimate the area. CalFire has been knocked down in courts many times recently for shoddy report preparation and meeting with loggers behind closed doors. This is just not acceptable for “public servants” to lock out the locals who are adamantly opposed..  

Nov 19, 2017 — It’s no coincidence that controversial timber harvest plans’ public comment period come during the busy holidays. I thank those of you who have submitted comments. I encourage more of you to do. Here is how to comment and the talking points:

 

Reference THP 1-15-042 SON, “Dogwood.”

Talking points – please choose which ones speak to you and add whatever experiences you have had to personalize it. Put the reference THP at the top of your letter/email. Make sure to give your name and mailing address at the end.

1. Cal-Fire should follow their own Forest Practice Rules and not allow logging road/skid trails in the Gualala River’s floodplain. Dogwood is almost completely in the floodplain of the Gualala River.

2. Cumulative impact must be taken into account because of the many adjacent THPs being logged, or will be logged, in the same watershed, including German South, Plum, Elm, Rock, Hazel and others. Dogwood and these other THPs have cumulative impacts to wetlands, endangered wildlife, water quality and fish, including salmonids.

3. The Gualala River is already classified as “impaired.” Sediment is the problem. Logging in the floodplain of the river will further impair the river and undoubtedly add sediment into the river. Water quality should be studied by a qualified hydrologist.

4. In this THP Cal-Fire has granted itself exceptions to the Watercourse and Lake Protection Zones standard practices. A detailed analysis by Cal-Fire supporting these various exceptions is absent, and should be included.

5. There is no current survey of rare wetland plants, just a list of plants that “might” be present. A survey of this land needs to be done by a qualified botanist. To name just a few rare plants that are in the floodplain, Veratrum fimbriatum, Fringed Corn Lilies, are present and grow in ESHA, environmentally sensitive habitat. Lilium maritimum, Coast Lilies, which are listed as seriously endangered, also grow within the floodplain and are in this proposed THP.

6. Studies are missing or out-of-date on species of concern that live in the Gualala River or alongside the river. Bald Eagles are referred to as “rare winter migrants.” However, in the past two years Bald Eagle sightings at the Gualala River have become common and year-round. Western Pond Turtles are referred to as “may be found within the plan area.” We know for a fact Western Pond Turtles reside in the Gualala River year-round. We know for a fact that California Red-legged Frogs live in and alongside the Gualala River directly in the floodplain. They are a federally listed threatened species of the United States, and are protected by law. Foothill Yellow-legged Frogs, a candidate for listing as a Threatened Species, live in and alongside the Gualala River directly in the floodplain.

7. The Dogwood THP states, “there are no known Osprey nest locations within the THP or within the buffers.” Ospreys have been known to nest east of the Gualala Bridge, definitely within in this THP.

8. The Dogwood THP states only Ospreys and Great Blue Herons are known to occur regularly, omitting Great Egrets which are year-round residents. Cooper’s Hawks nest in the Gualala area and may have nests in the floodplain. The survey of Cooper’s Hawks is three years out of date and should be redone.

9. Gualala Redwoods Timber is allowed in this THP to remove 25,000 gallons of water a day, 300 gallons per minute, during the summer and autumn months. With the town of Gualala on a water moratorium, with no new water hook-ups allowed, taking of any water from the Gualala River should be prohibited. Gualala Redwood Timber should be required to bring in water from another source to water down their logging roads.

10. The Gualala River provides recreation such as swimming, kayaking, bird watching, and catch-and-release fishing of steelhead. The river needs to be protected for the economic well-being of our community as we continue to transition to eco-tourism.

Thank you for caring! Jeanne Jackson

The Dogwood Timber Harvest Plan has been resubmitted to Cal-Fire by Gualala Redwood Timber Nov 2, 2017 — Yes, we are very sorry to report that GRT, owned by the Burch family, has decided to resubmit the Timber Harvest Plan called “Dogwood,” the one we have been protesting and fighting for two years. We knew that winning in court didn’t save the Gualala River floodplain. The judge, in essence, told GRT they had to take into account the cumulative impact of Dogwood and other logging plans along the river.
At first perusal, there are many omissions to the resubmitted THP. We will be in contact with you soon as to the issues so you can make your comments know during the public comment period, which expires Nov. 27th. In the meantime, Friends of the Gualala River and their allies, Forest Unlimited and the DKY Chapter of the Native Plant Society, will continue to fight this THP on behalf of the Gualala River and all of us who love it. If you can donate towards this on-going effort, please do so at: http://gualalariver.org/
Thanks for caring. Jeanne Jackson

Thanks for caring. Jeanne Jackson

Home – Friends of Gualala River Friends of Gualala River (FoGR) is a non-profit association dedicated to protecting the Gualala River watershed and the species that rely on it. http://gualalariver.org
Categories: Food and Farming

Enjoy our coast despite the threat from current administration

Sat, 02/10/2018 - 10:06

Love your coast and help support a wonderful organization headed by Cea Higgins. COASTWALK is holding a benefit hike for  the organization founded by Bill and Lucy Kortum back in the 70’s that led to passage of the California Coastal Act.
It begins at the newly-acquired national marine monument at Point Arena and ends at Bodega Head.

There will be fabulous docents, great wine and food, nice accomodations and van support. On the last night we will have a dinner including and honoring Lucy Kortum, Doris Sloan (the housewife-turned UCB geologist who was instrumental in stopping the nuclear plant at Bodega Head), and Gaye LeBaron. We also hope to snag Lynn Woolsey. A number of powerful coastal policy-making women are being invited to participate in the hike, along with us “normal” gals.

You’ll need to register!

2018 Coastwalk Schedule

Women, Wildflowers and Whales

April 30 – May 3

New! A deluxe, guided exploration of the Mendocino and Sonoma Coast

The Sonoma Classic Coastwalk

June 2-7

Back and even better for 2018! Optional Kayaking, Gourmet meals, along the rugged and scenic Coastal Trail in Sonoma County.

The Lost Coast Backpack

June 7-15

A rare, guided opportunity to join this backpacking trek along the most rugged section of California’s coastline!

The Marin Rebels Coastwalk

June 10-15

Celebrating Coastal Preservation History! Coastwalk is bringing back a favorite, with gorgeous beaches and some of the

 

Categories: Food and Farming

Moving forward with Rights of Nature on international scale

Wed, 02/07/2018 - 10:50

Baby steps but going in right direction……From our friends at Legal Planet:

 

International Court of Justice recognizes and values ecosystem services (sort of)

International Court of Justice recognizes and values ecosystem services (sort of) Posted on February 6, 2018 12:32 pm by Jim Salzman In a judgment announced on February 2nd, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) for the very first time decided a compensation claim for environmental damage. Equally important, it took a close look at whether ecosystem goods and services are compensable under international law. The decision is both carefully considered and deeply frustrating.

There have, of course, been international proceedings in the past addressing the issue of whether and how much to compensate for environmental harms. The famed Trail Smelter arbitrations over eighty years ago addressed the harm suffered by Washington state farmers from pollution emitted by an upwind Canadian smelter. The decision laid the groundwork for the customary law of sic utere (liability for transboundary harm). The UN Compensation Commission held hearings on damages to the Kuwaiti environment following the first Gulf War. While recognizing the responsibility to compensate harms to natural resources, neither decisions took an ecosystem services perspective.

We don’t tend to think about it, but healthy ecosystems provide a variety of critical benefits. Ecosystem goods are pretty obvious. Forests provide timber; coastal tidelands provide shellfish. While less visible and generally taken for granted, the services underpinning these goods are also important. Created by the interactions of living organisms with their environment, “ecosystem services” provide both the conditions and processes that sustain human life. In addition to logs, for example, forests also provide the services of flood control and carbon sequestration. Tidelands create habitat for shellfish but also provide services of storm surge control.

The fact that ecosystem services are generally valuable should be beyond doubt. Consider how to grow an apple in the wild without pollination, pest control, or soil fertility. With few exceptions, though, ecosystem services have largely been ignored by the law. The focus on ecosystem services did not really start until the late 1990s, well after the creation of our modern environmental law and jurisprudence. But this has been changing. The ICJ decision provides an important example at the international level.

The recent case has the unwieldy name of Certain Activities Carried Out by Nicaragua in the Border Area (Costa Rica v Nicaragua). It grew out of a series of cases since 2011, challenging Nicaragua’s digging canals in Costa Rican territory that had been designated as a Ramsar wetland. The development had degraded 6.2 hectares of wetland and uprooted 300 trees. Nicaragua’s liability was no longer in question. The issue was how much compensation they would have to pay as replacement for the lost goods and services.

The Court started by making clear that the “damage to the environment, and the consequent impairment or loss of the ability of the environment to provide goods and services, is compensable under international law.” But what kinds of damages count, and how should their values be assessed?

Costa Rica argued for what it called an “ecosystem services approach.” This would incorporate both direct uses of the environment (ecosystem goods) and indirect uses (ecosystem services). Nicaragua, by contrast argued that the proper measure was the replacement cost—how much would need to be paid to preserve an equivalent area. The Court declined to choose between the different methodologies, saying that the valuation method must take into account the specific circumstances and characteristics of each case.

The Court then went through a detailed analysis for 32 paragraphs of the arguments for and against compensation claims filed by Costa Rica for replacement of six specific goods and services—timber, fiber and energy, carbon sequestration and air quality, natural hazard mitigation, soil formation and erosion control, and biodiversity. Together, Costa Rica claimed losses of $2.1 million. Nicaragua placed the harm at no more than $35,000.

To take the illustrative example of wetlands, Costa Rica claimed that the wetlands’ services of protection against coastal flooding, saltwater intrusion, and coastal erosion had been harmed. Relying on a series of valuation studies of wetlands from Belize, Thailand and Mexico, Costa Rica argued for a value of $2,949 per hectare. In response, Nicaragua argued that the value of the wetlands’ services should depend on the actual threat. Costa Rica had not identified any natural hazards that needed to be mitigated. Moreover, it was improper simply to take the dollar figure calculated for hazard protection provided by coastal mangroves in Thailand and assume it should be equally valid for a wetland in Costa Rica.

After going through a careful point/counter-point analysis of the valuation arguments for each of the six ecosystem services and goods, the Court noted that Nicaragua had also proposed, in the alternative, a “corrected analysis” of $84,000. The Court found that this was too low for a variety of reasons, but did not say how low.

In the end, the Court rejected both parties’ valuations for the different services. Rather than calculating the value of each individual ecosystem good and service, it determined instead that it should value the environmental damage from the perspective of the ecosystem as a whole, measuring the harm against a pre-development baseline.

Stating that uncertainty over the extent of damage does not prevent awarding compensation for loss of ecosystem goods and serves, the Court said that it is “reasonable” to adjust Nicaragua’s corrected analysis value and announced an award to Costa Rica of $120,000 for the loss of ecosystem goods and services in the impacted area.

At this point, the reader could be forgiven for asking, “What?!?”

For seven pages, the Court had gone through a careful and probing analysis of the dueling valuation methodologies for a range of ecosystem services. It went into significant detail, explaining, for example, why using a 50 year period for damage made sense for some types of services but not for others. At the end, though, the Court threw that all out the window and, without any explanation, declared that a “reasonable” damages amount was $120,000.

With absolutely no discussion of why $120,000 was more reasonable than $1.2 million, it’s not clear what to make of this decision going forward. At a minimum, it reinforces that harm to ecosystem goods and services are compensable under international law. And that, in itself, really is significant. Ecosystem services are now firmly established in international jurisprudence as valuable and meriting compensation when harmed.

But guidance for how to go about valuing the proper measure of compensation does not get much beyond a vague nod to being “reasonable.” It’s better than reading chicken entrails, but not much.

While in a different context, there was a similar kind of debate in the 1980s over how to measure natural resource damages. Superfund and the Exxon Valdez litigation made this a topic of particular importance. Time will tell, but it may be that the recent ICJ decision provides the catalyst to spur a comparable debate at the international level.

Categories: Food and Farming

Action alert: Nestlé has been taking millions of gallons of water from public land in California — even during a drought.

Wed, 02/07/2018 - 10:42
From our friends at Food and Water Watch: a chance to easily oppose Swiss giant Nestle from draining the aquifers for profit over people and the environment. They are doing the same in Mt. Shasta and citizens have been working to stop it there as well.

We don’t have much time to act on this, so I’ll be brief: Nestlé has been taking millions of gallons of water from public land in California — even during a drought.

SIGN: Stop Nestlé and protect water on public land.

Nestlé has taken on average about 62 million gallons of water per year from the San Bernardino National Forest. They’re selling this water to consumers, and profiting off public land.1

Nestlé’s water extraction flies in the face of the horrific drought California endured through the past several years. Right now, as you’re reading this, drought conditions are again appearing all over California.2

Nestlé has no right to our water

The State Water Resources Control Board, the state agency responsible for water rights in California, reported that Nestlé has taken on average 62.6 million gallons of water per year — over six times more water than it has rights to from the San Bernardino National Forest!3

The comment period on the water board’s report ends this week. They need to hear from you that they must enforce their report and stop Nestlé from taking any more water.

Nestlé won’t stop taking public water unless we stand up against them. All across the country, they’ve tried schemes to get their hands on public water. In California alone, they’ve taken water in the face of drought and wildfires, including a fire that hit their own system.4

Nestlé has gotten away with this long enough: tell the board to protect OUR water.

We will fight Nestlé wherever they threaten local control of water, and we will never stand down. We have to take a stand for strong enforcement against Nestlé’s water grabs, and we have to do it now.

Take action with Food & Water Action and help stop Nestlé from taking more water.

Thank you for taking action,

Sarah Spooner
Email Program Manager
Food & Water Watch

1. State gives Nestlé, environmentalists and individuals more time to comment about water withdrawals, The Press-Enterprise, January 26, 2018.
2. 44% of California is now experiencing moderate drought, report says, Los Angeles Times, February 1, 2018.
3. Nestlé Spring Water Extractions in San Bernardino National Forest, State Water Resources Control Board, February 1, 2018.
4. Bottling water without scrutiny, The Desert Sun, March 8, 2015.

 

Categories: Food and Farming

What’s in your food? Fracking Wastewater used in California produce including organic, time to ban the practice

Tue, 02/06/2018 - 10:49

“Organic carrots”, veggies, nuts and more that you  and your family are probably consuming right now. See the video below for more brands using toxic chemicals to grow your food. To send message to your legislators to ban this use click on this link or “BAN IT” heading below and fill out the form.  https://www.foodandwaterwatch.org/JustBanIt

From our friends at Food & Water Watch:

CA Legislators: Ban Oil Wastewater Irrigation Now! Our multi-billion dollar food industry is getting away with using our dinner plates as disposal sites for oil wastewater from dirty oil corporations in California like Chevron.

Water samples have determined that the wastewater contains dangerous chemicals, some that are linked to cancer. 

This is a threat to our health, the health of farmworkers who grow our food, and our environment, yet our Governor Jerry Brown and our legislators have FAILED to take action on this pressing issue.

Watch this video then put pressure on your California state legislators to BAN the use of oil wastewater for crop irrigation NOW!

Why is Toxic Oil Wastewater Being Used To Grow Our Food?

Oil companies in California are selling wastewater from their drilling operations to several local irrigation districts, which in turn mix it with the water they sell to growers to irrigate their crops.

This sounds complicated, but what it means is that the toxic wastewater, which could include up to 173 (!) different chemicals, ends up in the water used to irrigate popular crops that are shipped across the country. A lot of the fruits, veggies and wines irrigated in this area are going to look familiar — like Halos Mandarin oranges, a popular snack marketed as being “pure goodness.”

Other companies growing in these districts:

Categories: Food and Farming

Victory for citizens taking back their government from special interests

Tue, 02/06/2018 - 10:32
WWW supports the rights of community’s to protect their health, welfare and safety for now and future generations. If money is free speech, lack of money is lack of free speech. Corporations/special interests should benefit the communities they are in.  When our country was formed corporations had to show public benefit to be chartered. Time to go back to our roots and foster equality for all including nature which we need to survive.   Press Release: New Hampshire Community Rights Amendment Advances to Public Committee Hearing Jan 23, 2018 Measure would secure the right of local community self-government


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

CONTACT:
Michelle Sanborn, New Hampshire Community Organizer
www.celdf.org
michelle@celdf.org
603-524-2468

Concord, NH:  As communities across the country face growing efforts by state governments to block residents from governing themselves, New Hampshire residents are advancing a state constitutional amendment to secure that unalienable right.  The proposed New Hampshire Community Rights Amendment, or CACR19, would guarantee the people in towns throughout New Hampshire the authority to enact local laws to protect community and individual rights – including the right to protect the environment, free from state preemption and corporate interference. Towns would not be able to enact any local laws that restricted or weakened existing rights. 

The New Hampshire Community Rights Network (NHCRN) drafted the amendment  with the assistance of the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund (CELDF). The amendment was introduced to the New Hampshire legislature by Representative Ellen Read of District 17, Rockingham County, and is headed for a public committee hearing in February.

Representative Read said, “The Community Rights Amendment restores power to townspeople to decide what they want and need in their own communities. The largest stakeholders in any situation are those in the local community. This amendment recognizes that townspeople have more rights than out-of-state interests trying to make money off of our water, our forests, and our people.”

For over a decade, Towns across the state have worked with CELDF to protect themselves from out-of-state interests by drafting rights-based ordinances. Today, the ordinances establish the right to local community self-government, and protect Towns from harmful corporate projects, such as water mining, high voltage transmission lines, industrial wind turbines, and unsustainable fossil fuel-based energy distribution corridors.

“The people of the Granite State are not asking the New Hampshire Legislature to vote to enact the New Hampshire Community Rights Amendment. Rather, we are insisting they place CACR19 on the November ballot for a people’s vote,” said Michelle Sanborn, CELDF Community Rights Organizer and the NHCRN’s Coordinator. “The New Hampshire State Constitution belongs to the people and it is theirs to amend.”

New Hampshire joins state Community Rights Networks in Oregon, Ohio, and Pennsylvania, where residents are advancing similar state constitutional amendments.

New Hampshire Part of Growing Movement

New Hampshire residents are advancing Community Rights as part of the broader Community Rights movement building across the U.S. Local communities and state Community Rights Networks are partnering with CELDF to advance and protect fundamental democratic and environmental rights. They are working with CELDF to establish Community Rights and the Rights of Nature in law, and prohibit extraction, fracking, factory farming, water privatization, and other industrial activities as violations of those rights. Communities are joining together within and across states, working with CELDF to advance systemic change – recognizing our existing system of law and governance as inherently undemocratic and unsustainable.

Additional Information

For additional information regarding Community Rights, contact CELDF at info@celdf.org. To learn about the New Hampshire Community Rights Network, visit www.nhcommunityrights.org. Select Boards and citizens interested in supporting the New Hampshire Community Rights Amendment may contact Michelle Sanborn at michelle@celdf.org.

About CELDF — Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund

The Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund is a non-profit, public interest law firm providing free and affordable legal services to communities facing threats to their local environment, local agriculture, local economy, and quality of life. Its mission is to build sustainable communities by assisting people to assert their right to local self-government and the rights of nature.

 

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Categories: Food and Farming

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