FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 5th, 2017
Brooke Havlik, WE ACT for Environmental Justice, 212-961-1000 ext. 320, brooke@weact.org

WE ACT for Environmental Justice - Empowering Communities to Power Change
New York, NY — As President Trump moves to shrink federal budgets at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and altogether eliminate EPA’s Office of Environmental Justice, New York City Council voted today to protect low-income New Yorkers and communities of color, who bear the disproportionate burden of environmental injustices, such as air pollution and its associated health problems.  The council passed two bills, The Environmental Justice Study Bill (Intro 359) and The Environmental Justice Policy Bill (Intro 886A), which will provide the city and all New Yorkers more information to identify and address these injustices.

The Environmental Justice Study Bill (Intro 359) will amend the city’s administrative code to require that a citywide study of potential environmental justice communities be conducted.  The results of this study will be made available to the public and placed on the city’s website.  The Environmental Justice Policy Bill (Intro 886A) amends the city’s administrative code to require city agencies to develop plans to address environmental injustices in communities of color and low-income communities. The plans must be in consultation with these communities, and establishes and environmental justice advisory body, comprised of EJ advocates, to work with the city on identifying and addressing environmental injustices.

WE ACT for Environmental Justice’s Deputy Director, Cecil Corbin-Mark said, “The New York City Council just sent a big message to our city and the entire country—environmental injustice is real and it matters. These bills will provide NYC a comprehensive legislative strategy to address environmental injustices throughout the city of New York, and will serve as a model for other cities in a Trump era, when we know local action will have a huge impact on community health and reducing health disparities. We especially want to send our gratitude to Speaker Mark-Viverito, Council Member Barron, Council Member Constantinides, Samara Swanston, Counsel to the Environmental Protection Committee, and Indigo Washington, Legislative Director to Council Member Inez Barron for all their hard work and support on making these two groundbreaking bills happen.”

Council Member Costa Constantinides of Queens Council District 22 and primary sponsor of Intro 359 said, “As the recent executive order on climate shows, the Trump administration will choose fossil fuels over our public health and safety. It’s up to cities to make combating climate change and reducing pollution a top priority. By voting on this legislative package, we show that New York is leading the way. We are the first city in the nation to pass any piece of environmental justice legislation since the Trump inauguration and the only city in the nation to pass environmental justice legislation this comprehensive. For far too long, environmental justice communities have had more sources of pollution and fewer environmental amenities in their neighborhoods, leading to adverse health effects. This legislation will work to make our city services more equally and fairly distributed. I thank Speaker Mark-Viverito for her support and my colleague Council Member Barron for her partnership.”
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CitizenScience.org – February 22, 2017

CSA (Citizen Science Association) is excited to once again partner with SciStarter to present Citizen Science Day 2017!

This month-long series of regional events is a chance to celebrate and bring attention to the ways that everyone can engage with science to make a difference in the world – whether that is helping find a cure for disease, using data to address sources of air pollution, or making discoveries of new phenomena in our backyards or in space. #CitSciDay activities will commence on Saturday, April 15th and will continue into May. Celebrations will culminate with activities held at the Citizen Science Association Conference, including a May 17th Hackathon at the University of Minnesota, a Friday night Science Cafe style event (featuring screenings from The Crowd and The Cloud) for presenters and the public, and a family-friendly Science Festival at the Science Museum of Minnesota on Saturday, May 20th.

We invite citizen scientists and project leaders from around the world to celebrate citizen science during this time. Events during 2016 celebrations included BioBlitzes in National Parks and community green spaces, transcription challenges at local libraries, citizen science hikes, science festivals, workshops, and more! Even if there isn’t a local event planned in your community, you can participate in one of SciStarter’s thousands of citizen science projects on topics ranging from Astronomy to Zoology.

[Editor: Find an event or post an event at the “SciStarter Events Calendar” here.]

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SAN FRANCISCO and CHICAGO (March 30, 2017) — President Donald Trump’s actions this week to reverse the steady progress being made in confronting the challenge of climate change are not only alarming and dangerous; these actions are immoral.

“Religious and spiritual communities and people of conscience across the earth must commit themselves to work together to stand against the President’s irresponsible and unethical actions…actions that threaten human beings everywhere, that endanger living beings across the globe, that put the earth at peril,” argues Dr. Larry Greenfield, Executive Director of the Parliament of the World’s Religions.

Interfaith Power & Light and The Parliament of the World’s Religions have joined together to express deep concern over the Trump Administration’s deceptively-titled Executive Order on “Energy Independence and Economic Growth,” and join with people of faith and conscience within the United States and across the world to protest the President’s actions.  

Based on a flawed understanding of both economics and science, the President’s action compromises Americans’ health and safety, damages our economy in both the short and long term, and undermines our children’s future wellbeing and security.

The Executive Order blatantly and callously plays on real fears and economic pain while it puts the benefit of a few of the richest Americans ahead of the needs and rights of the vast majority and offers no real solutions or help to those in economic distress.  Its purported “benefits” are ephemeral, exaggerated or nonexistent.

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By Juliet Eilperin, Chris Mooney and Steven Mufson — March 31, 2017 — Washington Post




The Environmental Protection Agency has issued a new, more detailed plan for laying off 25 percent of its employees and scrapping 56 programs including pesticide safety, water runoff control, and environmental cooperation with Mexico and Canada under the North American Free Trade Agreement.

At a time when the agency is considering a controversial rollback in fuel efficiency standards adopted under President Obama, the plan would cut by more than half the number of people in EPA’s division for testing the accuracy of fuel efficiency claims by automakers.

It would transfer funding for the program to fees paid by the automakers themselves.

The spending plan, obtained by The Washington Post, offers the most detailed vision to date of how the 31 percent budget cut to the EPA ordered up by President Trump’s Office of Management and Budget would diminish the agency.

The March 21 plan calls for even deeper reductions in staffing than earlier drafts. It maintains funding given to states to administer waste treatment and drinking water. But as a result, the budget for the rest of EPA is slashed 43 percent.

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By Victoria Herrmann  —  March 28, 2017 —  from www.theguardian.com

As an Arctic researcher, I’m used to gaps in data. Just over 1% of US Arctic waters have been surveyed to modern standards. In truth, some of the maps we use today haven’t been updated since the second world war. Navigating uncharted waters can prove difficult, but it comes with the territory of working in such a remote part of the world.

Over the past two months though, I’ve been navigating a different type of uncharted territory: the deleting of what little data we have by the Trump administration.

At first, the distress flare of lost data came as a surge of defunct links on 21 January. The US National Strategy for the Arctic, the Implementation Plan for the Strategy, and the report on our progress all gone within a matter of minutes. As I watched more and more links turned red, I frantically combed the internet for archived versions of our country’s most important polar policies.

I had no idea then that this disappearing act had just begun.

Since January, the surge has transformed into a slow, incessant march of deleting datasets, webpages and policies about the Arctic. I now come to expect a weekly email request to replace invalid citations, hoping that someone had the foresight to download statistics about Arctic permafrost thaw or renewable energy in advance of the purge.

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By John D. Sutter – CNN.com – Updated 8:53 AM ET, Tue February 28, 2017

Most Americans — in nearly every county across the United States– understand the world is warming, according to Yale University research released in February 2017.



Climate change may seem like a complicated issue, but it’s actually simple if you understand five key facts, according to Edward Maibach, director of the Center for Climate Change Communication at George Mason University.

They are: 1. It’s real. 2. It’s us. 3. Scientists agree. 4. It’s bad. And: 5. There’s hope.

Yet, far too few Americans get it.

That became more painfully apparent to me this week when Yale University researchers released data and maps that detail American attitudes on climate change. The data, which are based on surveys and modeling by the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication, do show there is broad agreement in the American public on the solutions needed to fight climate change and usher in the clean-energy era. The most striking example: majorities of people in every single congressional district support setting strict limits on carbon dioxide pollution from existing coal-fired power plants, according to the research. And this despite the fact that many Republicans and US President Donald Trump say they want to ax an Obama-era regulation — the Clean Power Plan — that aims to do just that.

Still, there remain big pockets of climate confusion — perhaps denial — across the country, especially when it comes to climate science. Narrowing this info gap is particularly critical now since President Trump has denied the science of climate change and has promised to enact policies that can be expected to dirty the air and intensify warming.

To that end, here is a geographic look at five key climate facts.

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Cat Johnson – Christian Science Monitor.com – January 30, 2017

Cool Block is an initiative that helps neighbors connect with each other, share resources, and collaborate on climate and disaster resilience projects.

In her 30 years of working in the sustainability sector, Sandra Slater has learned quite a bit about human behavior, including the idea that just giving people information doesn’t inspire a change in behavior. 

“If you just go in and say, ‘Let’s lower your carbon footprint,’ it’s a nonstarter,” Slater says. “You have to go in with other motivators.” She says people are looking for social connection, meaning, purpose, safety, and efficacy.

Slater is the Northern California director of the Cool City Challenge. It’s a program of the Empowerment Institute, a consulting and training organization that aims to reduce the carbon footprint of cities. The group also runs Cool Block, an initiative that helps neighbors connect with each other, share resources, and collaborate on climate and disaster resilience projects.
 
A Cool Block project starts with the simple act of someone reaching out to his or her neighbors. 

“We say this is the most radical intervention ever designed – knocking on your neighbor’s door,” says Slater, explaining that in most cases, people are glad they’ve been asked to participate.

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Two terrible bills that Obama would have vetoed are back in play, and they stand a very good chance of becoming law under Trump.

BY EMILY ATKIN  —  March 9, 2017  — New Republic

As many conservatives see it, environmental science is an enabler of dreaded government regulation. When enough studies show that there is no safe level of lead in water, then we have to regulate lead pollution. When scientists agree that mercury pollution can effect developmental health, then we have to regulate mercury. And when scientists agree that excessive carbon emissions threaten public health and welfare—well, you get the point.

An obvious solution, for those seeking to avoid such regulation, would be to prevent that science from seeing the light of day. That’s exactly what Lamar Smith, a Republican congressman from Texas, is trying to do. On Thursday, the House Science Committee passed two of Smith’s bills: The Honest and Open New EPA Science Treatment Act (HONEST Act) and the Science Advisory Board (SAB) Reform Act. Combined, they would significantly change how the Environmental Protection Agency uses science to create rules that protect human health.

The HONEST Act is essentially a re-brand of Smith’s notorious Secret Science Reform Act, a bill that would have required the EPA to only use scientific studies for which all data is publicly available and the results are easily reproducible. The SAB Reform Act would change the makeup of the board that reviews the “quality and relevance” of the science that EPA uses: Scientists who receive EPA grants would be forbidden from serving, while allowing the appointment of industry-sponsored experts who have a direct interest in being regulated—so long as they disclose that interest.

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By Emily Atkin – New Republic.com – March 7, 2017

Before and after screenshots of EPA website  courtesy of EDGI.


When President Donald Trump took office in late January, his administration began tweaking the language on government websites. Some of the more prominent changes occurred on Environmental Protection Agency pages—a mention of human-caused climate change was deleted, as was a description of international climate talks. The shifts were small, but meaningful; many said they signaled a new era for the EPA, one in which the agency would shy away from directly linking carbon emissions to global warming and strive to push Trump’s “America First” message. 

Those initial tweaks were documented by the Environmental Data and Governance Initiative, a group of scientists and academics who spend their free time tracking changes to about 25,000 federal government webpages. On Tuesday, they shared their latest finding with the New Republic: The EPA’s Office of Science and Technology Policy no longer lists “science” in the paragraph describing what it does.

“This is probably the most important thing we’ve found so far,” said Gretchen Gehrke, who works on EDGI’s website tracking team. “The language changes here are not nuanced—they have really important regulatory implications.”

The EPA’s Office of Science and Technology has historically been in charge of developing clean water standards for states. Before January 30 of this year, the website said those standards were “science-based,” meaning they were based on what peer-reviewed science recommended as safe levels of pollutants for drinking, swimming, or fishing. Since January 30, though, the reference to “science-based” standards has disappeared. Now, the office, instead, says it develops “economically and technologically achievable standards” to address water pollution.

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By Maria Popova – Brain Pickings.org

Rachel Carson at her microscope and her typewriter


“It is, in the deepest sense, a privilege as well as a duty to have the opportunity to speak out — to many thousands of people — on something so important.”

“Life and Reality are not things you can have for yourself unless you accord them to all others,” philosopher Alan Watts wrote in the 1950s as he contemplated the interconnected nature of the universe. What we may now see as an elemental truth of existence was then a notion both foreign and frightening to the Western mind. But it was a scientist, not a philosopher, who levered this monumental shift in consciousness: Rachel Carson (May 27, 1907–April 14, 1964), a Copernicus of biology who ejected the human animal from its hubristic place at the center of Earth’s ecological cosmos and recast it as one of myriad organisms, all worthy of wonder, all imbued with life and reality. Her lyrical writing rendered her not a mere translator of the natural world, but an alchemist transmuting the steel of science into the gold of wonder. The message of her iconic Silent Spring (public library) rippled across public policy and the population imagination — it led to the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency, inspired generations of activists, and led Joni Mitchell to write a lyric as timeless as “I don’t care about spots on my apples / Leave me the birds and the bees / Please!”

A woman scientist without a Ph.D. or an academic affiliation became the most powerful voice of resistance against ruinous public policy mitigated by the self-interest of government and industry, against the hauteur and short-sightedness threatening to destroy this precious pale blue dot which we, along with countless other animals, call home.

Carson had grown up in a picturesque but impoverished village in Pennsylvania. It was there, amid a tumultuous family environment, that she fell in love with nature and grew particularly enchanted with birds. A voracious reader and gifted writer from a young age, she became a published author at the age of ten, when a story of hers appeared in a children’s literary magazine. She entered the Pennsylvania College for Women with the intention of becoming a writer, but a zestful zoology professor — herself a rare specimen as a female scientist in that era — rendered young Carson besotted with biology. A scholarship allowed her to pursue a Master’s degree in zoology and genetics at Johns Hopkins University, but when her already impecunious family fell on hard times during the Great Depression, she was forced to leave the university in search of a full-time paying job before completing her doctorate.

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