Dozens of additional law enforcement officers from six states are headed to North Dakota under the Emergency Management Assistance Compact (EMAC), a program designed to facilitate state-to-state disaster relief assistance. While this compact has been used in times of riot, its use in peaceful protests or non-violent direct actions seems unprecedented.
On Aug. 19, North Dakota Gov. Jack Dalrymple issued a state of emergency, which is a prerequisite to requesting help under EMAC.
"This emergency declaration simply allows us to bring greater resources to bear if needed to help local officials address any further public safety concerns," Gov. Dalrymple said.
But, according to Jennifer Cook, policy director for the American Civil Liberties Union of North Dakota:
The origins of the state's overreaction can be traced to a lawsuit filed by the oil pipeline company—Dakota Access—against protesters in federal court to stop demonstrations near its construction sites. To sway the court's decision and likely public opinion, too, the pipeline company claimed it feared violence from protesters was imminent because of a few vague threats posted on social media and an anonymous email. Protesters have been arrested for pushing through police lines to stop construction equipment, but incidents like these in no way support declaring a state of emergency and militarizing the state's response.
The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and others who have been trying to stop construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline have faced numerous police actions:
1. Attack dogs and mace: On Sept. 4, Morton County Sheriff's officers arrested 21 protestors as private security forces hired by Dakota Access LLC used mace and unleashed dogs. An estimated 30 people suffered temporary blindness, while several were attacked and bitten by the dogs.
2. Armored vehicles: On Sept. 29, during a peaceful prayer ceremony at Standing Rock, Morton County police moved in with armored vehicles and riot gear, arresting 21.
3. 126 Arrested: On Oct. 22, 126 people were arrested and charged with rioting and other offenses. Witnesses saw officers pepper-spraying people.
4. Journalists arrested: Democracy Now! journalist Amy Goodman was charged with rioting after her video report of the Sept. 4 incident went viral. The charge was thrown out in court. On Oct. 11, filmmaker Deia Schlosberg was jailed and charged with three felonies. She faces up to 45 years in prison if convicted.
"Prosecuting filmmakers for covering protests sends a chilling message," stated Robert Mahoney, deputy executive director of the Committee to Protect Journalists. He urged prosecutors to drop all charges.
Police line up against peaceful protestors on Oct. 22.Morton County Sheriff's Department
Justifying the weekend's arrests, an Oct. 23 press release from the Morton County Sheriff's office stated that "this escalated criminal behavior by protesters" calls for additional manpower. Now, increasingly militarized police will be joined by additional forces from Wisconsin, South Dakota, Minnesota, Wyoming, Indiana and Nebraska.
However, tribal leaders maintain that their protests are non-violent and peaceful. In an email to EcoWatch, tribal historian LaDonna Allard wrote, "We don't allow weapons of any kind at the camps."
Dave Archambault II, chairman of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, issued a statement that said:
"The Tribe also supports the right of our citizens and supporters of the Tribe to engage in peaceful, non-violent expressions of their opposition to the pipeline. The Tribe believes that non-violence must be the guiding principle of citizen activism at all times."
But the more than 2,000 Native Americans and non-Natives, many of whom have come from across the U.S. to stand up for the Sioux, are increasingly fearful of police force. Mark Trahant, an independent journalist and a faculty member at the University of North Dakota, asked, " How far will North Dakota go?" He stated:
"They've already tried intimidation, humiliation and the number of arrests are increasing. Pick on protectors, elders, journalists, famous people, anyone who could make the state appear potent. The latest tactic is to toss around the word 'riot' as if saying it often enough will change its definition."
"To many people, the military tactics being used in North Dakota are reminiscent of the tactics used against protesters during the civil rights movement some 50 years ago. And I believe that there are similarities there. But to us, there is an additional collective memory that comes to mind. This country has a long and sad history of using military force against indigenous people—including the Sioux Nation."
Organizers Kandi Mossett, Tara Houska and Dallas Goldtooth provided an update and call to action on the situation at Standing Rock at the Bioneers 2016 Conference Sunday. Watch here:
Actor Mark Ruffalo is visiting North Dakota today and Wednesday. He will participate in a press conference and deliver solar trailers to Standing Rock Sioux tribal elders to provide power at the camp. Meanwhile, a rally was held in Minneapolis on Tuesday to protest the participation of deputies from Hennepin County.
Emergency rally in Minneapolis Tuesday opposing states sending police to North Dakota. Nichole Subola/Facebook...
Of the top food retailers, 17 received an "F" for failing to have a publicly available policy to reduce or eliminate pesticide use to protect pollinators. Only Aldi, Costco and Whole Foods received passing grades in this category.
Four of the top food retailers—Albertsons, Costco, Target and Whole Foods—have adopted a publicly available company commitment to increase offerings of certified organic food or to disclose data on the current percentage of organic offerings or organic sales.Friends of the Earth
"U.S. food retailers must take responsibility for how the products they sell are contributing to the bee crisis," said Tiffany Finck-Haynes, food futures campaigner with Friends of the Earth. "The majority of the food sold at top U.S. food retailers is produced with pollinator-toxic pesticides. We urge all major retailers to work with their suppliers to eliminate pollinator-toxic pesticides and to expand domestic organic offerings that protect pollinators, people and the planet."
Today's report, Swarming the Aisles: Rating Top Retailers on Bee-Friendly and Organic Food, comes amid mounting consumer pressure on food retailers to adopt more environmentally-friendly sourcing policies.
A coalition led by Friends of the Earth and more than 50 farmer, beekeeper, farmworker, environmental and public interest organizations sent a letter urging the food retailers to eliminate pollinator-toxic pesticides and increase the U.S. Department of Agriculture certified organic food and beverages to 15 percent of overall offerings by 2025, prioritizing domestic, regional and local producers. This effort follows a campaign by Friends of the Earth and allies that convinced more than 65 garden retailers, including Lowe's and Home Depot, to commit to eliminate bee-toxic neonicotinoid pesticides.
Friends of the Earth
Bees and other pollinators are essential for one in three bites of food we eat and without them grocery stores would run short of strawberries, almonds, apples, broccoli and more. A growing body of science points to the world's most widely-used insecticides, neonicotinoids, as a leading factor in pollinator declines and glyphosate, the most widely-used herbicide worldwide, as a key culprit in monarch butterfly declines.
New data from a YouGov Poll released today by Friends of the Earth and SumOfUs found that 80 percent of Americans believe it is important to eliminate neonicotinoids from agriculture. Among Americans who grocery shop for their household, 65 percent would be more likely to shop at a grocery store that has formally committed to eliminating neonicotinoids. The poll also revealed that 59 percent of American grocery shoppers believe it is important for grocery stores to sell organic food and 43 percent would be more likely to shop at a grocery store that sells more organic food than their current grocery store. The full poll results are available on request.
"Over 750,000 SumOfUs members have spoken out advocating that U.S. Hardware stores take action to protect our pollinators. And after years of pressure, Home Depot and Lowe's have finally enacted more bee-friendly policies," said Angus Wong, lead campaign strategist at SumOfUs, a consumer watchdog with ten million members. "And the findings of this poll show that a vast majority of consumers want to eliminate neonicotinoids from their grocery stores too. This is why food retailers must commit policies that protect our bees immediately."
The report found that while consumer demand for organic and pesticide-free food continues to show double-digit growth, only four of the top food retailers—Albertsons, Costco, Target and Whole Foods—have adopted a publicly available company commitment to increase offerings of certified organic food or to disclose data on the current percentage of organic offerings or organic sales. In addition to these retailers, Aldi, Food Lion, part of the Delhaize Group and Kroger disclosed data on the current percentage of organic offerings or organic sales. None of the retailers have made a publicly available commitment to source organic from American farmers.
"To protect pollinators, we must eliminate pollinator-toxic pesticides from our farming systems and expand pollinator-friendly organic agriculture," said Dr. Kendra Klein, staff scientist at Friends of the Earth. "Organic farms support 50 percent more pollinator species than conventional farms. This is a huge opportunity for American farmers. Less than one percent of total U.S. farmland is in organic production—farmers need the support of food retailers to help them transition dramatically more acreage to organic."
Sixteen of the top 20 food retailers were predominately unresponsive to Friends of the Earth's requests for information via surveys, calls and letters. Primary sources of information for this scorecard include publicly available information, including company websites, company annual reports, U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission filings, corporate social responsibility and sustainability reports, press coverage and industry analyses....
Three major U.S. pipeline spills within the last month are just a small part of the 220 significant incidents reported so far this year—and 3,032 since 2006—that provide a stark reminder of the environmental hazards of an aging pipeline infrastructure carrying fossil fuels. The costs of these leaks since 2006 has amounted to $4.7 billion.
1. Oklahoma: On Oct. 24, the 30-inch S-1 pipeline carrying crude oil from the critical Cushing, Oklahoma hub to refineries and chemical plants on the Gulf Coast began to leak and was shut down overnight. It was the second release connected with the Cushing storage facility in less than a month.
2. Pennsylvania: On Oct. 21, 55,000 gallons of gasoline gushed from a ruptured Sunoco Logistics pipeline in Williamsport, Pennsylvania, just upstream from the Susquehanna River. Carol Parenzan, Middle Susquehanna Riverkeeper, said that witnesses who contacted her office reported that the "smell of petroleum is so thick you can taste it." The 80-year old pipeline was damaged by a heavy storm that dumped seven inches of rain on the area.
3. Alabama: Last month, the Colonial Pipeline in Alabama leaked an estimated 336,000 gallons of gasoline and triggered concerns about gas shortages for drivers in the East. That spill was Colonial's fifth in the state this year and occurred on a 43-year old section of the pipeline.
Based on data from the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA), an arm of the U.S. Department of Transportation, the number of significant pipeline incidents grew 26.8 percent from 2006 to 2015. A significant incident is defined as one that results in serious injury or fatality, costs more than $50,000, releases more than five barrels of volatile fluids such as gasoline or 50 barrels of other liquids, or results in a fire or explosion. In 2015, there were 326 such incidents—almost one per day.
Some 55 percent of the U.S. network of 135,000 miles of pipeline is more than 45 years old. Technology designed to detect pipeline leaks is highly unreliable, even though companies like Colonial Pipeline tout their use as a way "to insure safe operations." But a recent Reuters report found that these technologies are "about as successful as a random member of the public" finding a leak. Of 466 incidents studied by Reuters, only 22 percent, or 105, were detected by advanced detection systems. The others were found in different ways, with the public finding 99 of the leaks.
In testimony before a House subcommittee earlier this year, Carl Weimer, executive director of the watchdog group Pipeline Safety Trust, said, "Under the current statutes there is no requirement that a pipeline company obtain any permit or permission to operate a pipeline in this country." Weimer called on Congress to require PHMSA to issue permits for interstate transmission pipelines and ensure that the company follow all rules and regulations.
"It is important that we not only maintain our aging energy infrastructure, but that we also remain vigilant about new pipelines and energy interests that threaten water quality," said Parenzan....
By Brian Syuki
The idea of having a relationship with food may sound like an odd concept, but it makes sense if you spend most of the day thinking about your eating habits and food consumption. Most folks, especially those trying to lose weight, have an unhealthy relationship with food.
Most folks, especially those trying to lose weight, have an unhealthy relationship with food.
This obsessive relationship can make it hard for you to enjoy food or lose weight. Unfortunately, most folks don't even realize that their eating habits are abnormal. So I've compiled 10 signs of an unhealthy relationship with food and how to fix them.
1. You Avoid Eating in Social Gatherings
Are you scared of going to parties because of food? Or do you feel uncomfortable eating around people but then overindulge when alone?
Solution: Eating at home before going to a social gathering will reduce chances of overeating since you'll be almost full.
2. You See Foods as Either "Good" or "Bad"
Having a list of foods you should and shouldn't eat is a sign of an unhealthy relationship with food. And it means you'll feel guilty or ashamed if you eat the "bad" foods.
Solution: Eating the "bad" foods every once in a while won't make you fat. But make sure you avoid foods that can trigger binge eating.
3. You Think About Food Most of the Time
Thinking about junk food or when you'll eat next or the calories in your next meal will only worsen your relationship with food. In fact, thinking about food can lower your performance at work.
Solution: Talk to a professional if you think about food a lot. In the meantime, try to divert your thoughts when you find yourself obsessing over your food.
4. The Number on the Scale Affects Your Mood and Self-Esteem
Does stepping on the scale make you sad or sometimes make you cry? Sadly, these feelings can make you binge or overeat.
Solution: Don't let the number on the scale affect your mood—sometimes your weight increases due to water retention. Tracking body fat percentage can keep you motivated even when the scale doesn't budge.
5. You Punish Yourself After Bingeing or Overeating
It's common to see folks over-exercise or starve themselves after bingeing.
Solution: The best thing to do after bingeing is to resume to normal eating and workout routine. Don't try to compensate through over-exercising or starvation.
6. You're Obsessed with Calories
Some people only eat foods after checking the calorie content first. This makes it hard to enjoy different foods.
Solution: Stop obsessing over calories and start eating nutrient-dense and fiber-rich foods. It's highly unlikely to consume excess calories if you eat plant-based foods.
7. Emotional Eating
Do you eat when feeling lonely, sad, happy or depressed? Well, using food to deal with emotions doesn't help.
Solution: Find ways to deal with your emotions that don't involve food. For instance, you can take a walk when feeling sad.
8. You "Let Go" on the Weekends
Folks with unhealthy food relationships are able to avoid overeating on weekdays, but overindulge on the weekends.
Solution: Maintain the same eating schedule you use on weekdays. Being busy will also reduce chances of bingeing.
9. You Secretly Eat Junk
Do you lie to family and friends about the food you eat? Some folks even hide food wrappers or eat in the dark.
Solution: People can only help you if you're open about your unhealthy relationship with food. Share your challenges with friends and get professional help if you need it—you might be surprised at the support you receive.
10. You Can't Stop Eating
Not being able to regulate the amount of food you eat is a sign of an unhealthy relationship with food.
Solution: Practice mindful eating—eat slowly, turn off the TV, sit upright and drink a glass of water before and after each meal.
Reposted with permission from our media associate Care2....
By Alex Kirby
Humanity has now entered a new climate reality era, with carbon dioxide concentrations expected to remain above the level of 400 parts per million throughout 2016 and for many generations to come, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) said.
The WMO—the United Nations system's leading agency on weather, climate and water—said the globally averaged concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere reached "the symbolic and significant milestone of 400 parts per million" for the first time in 2015 and surged again to new records in 2016 on the back of the very powerful El Niño event.
CO2 levels reached the 400 ppm barrier for certain months during 2015 and in certain places, but they have never done so on a global average basis for the entire year. The WMO says in its annual Greenhouse Gas Bulletin that the growth spurt in CO2 was fueled by El Niño, which started in 2015 and had a strong impact well into this year.
This, it says, triggered droughts in tropical regions and reduced the capacity of "sinks" like forests, vegetation and the oceans to absorb CO2. These sinks currently absorb about half of CO2 emissions, but there is a risk that they could become saturated, increasing the proportion of carbon dioxide which stays in the atmosphere.
Between 1990 and 2015, the bulletin says, there was a 37 percent increase in radiative forcing—the warming effect on the climate—because of long-lived greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide from industrial, agricultural and domestic activities.
"The year 2015 ushered in a new era of optimism and climate action with the Paris climate change agreement. But it will also make history as marking a new era of climate change reality with record high greenhouse gas concentrations," said WMO Secretary-General Petteri Taalas. "The El Niño event has disappeared. Climate change has not."
"The real elephant in the room is carbon dioxide, which remains in the atmosphere for thousands of years and in the oceans for even longer. Without tackling CO2 emissions, we cannot tackle climate change and keep temperature increases to below 2 C above the pre-industrial era," added Taalas.
"It is therefore of the utmost importance that the Paris agreement does indeed enter into force well ahead of schedule on Nov. 4 and that we fast-track its implementation," said Taalas.
The Greenhouse Gas Bulletin provides a scientific base for decision-making and the WMO has released it ahead of the UN climate change negotiations to be held in the Moroccan city of Marrakech from Nov. 7-18. They will be seeking to translate the agreement into an effective way of coping with the new climate reality era the WMO has identified.
The bulletin says the pre-industrial level of about 278 ppm of CO2 represented a balance between the atmosphere, the oceans and the biosphere. Human activities, such as the burning of fossil fuels, have altered the natural balance and in 2015 globally averaged levels were 144 percent of pre-industrial levels. The increase of CO2 from 2014 to 2015 was larger than the previous year and the average over the previous 10 years.
The bulletin says the last El Niño, as well as reducing the capacity of vegetation to absorb CO2, led to an increase in CO2 emissions from forest fires. According to the Global Fire Emissions Database, CO2 emissions in equatorial Asia—where there were serious forest fires in Indonesia in August-September 2015—were more than twice as high as the 1997-2015 average.
Drought also has a big impact on CO2 absorption by vegetation and scientists saw similar effects during the 1997-98 El Niño.
Methane is the second most important long-lived greenhouse gas and contributes about 17 percent of radiative forcing. About 40 percent of methane is emitted into the atmosphere by natural sources like wetlands and termites, with the rest coming from human activities like cattle breeding, rice growing, fossil fuel exploitation, landfills and biomass burning.
Atmospheric methane reached a new high of about 1,845 parts per billion in 2015 and is now 256 percent of its pre-industrial level. Nitrous oxide's atmospheric concentration in 2015 was about 328 parts per billion, 121 percent of pre-industrial levels.
Reposted with permission from our media associate Climate News Network.
The Fisher Stevens-directed documentary will make its television debut on National Geographic's channel in 171 countries and 45 languages on Sunday, Oct. 30.
Additionally, in an unprecedented move, National Geographic also announced today that Before the Flood will premiere commercial free across digital and streaming platforms around the world as part of the network's commitment to covering climate change.
That means not only can you catch the critically acclaimed film on cable, from Oct. 30 through Nov. 6, you can also watch it on just about any website or device where you regularly stream online videos. The exhaustive list includes: Natgeotv.com, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Amazon, iTunes, Hulu, Sony PlayStation, GooglePlay, VOD/Video On Demand (through MVPD set-top boxes), MVPD Sites and Apps, Nat Geo TV Apps (iPhone, iPad and Apple TV, Roku, Android phones, Xbox One and 360, Samsung Connected TVs) and more.
Here's DiCaprio himself making the announcement:
The idea behind this historic premiere is to educate as many people around the world about climate change and to also bring the topic to the forefront before the Nov. 8. election where a number of candidates seeking public office—including a certain orange-hued Republican—denies that climate change is even real.
"There is no greater threat to the future of our society than climate change, and it must be a top issue for voters this election season," said DiCaprio, an Oscar-winning actor-winning actor and prominent environmental activist. "Fisher and I set out to make a film to educate people around the planet on the urgent issues of climate change and to inspire them to be part of the solution. I applaud National Geographic for their commitment to bringing this film to as many people as possible at such a critical time."
"The level of support National Geographic is providing to create awareness about climate change is exactly what Leo and I were looking for when we made this film," Stevens added. "Climate change is real, and we are feeling its effects more and more every day; it's time we stop arguing its existence, and do everything we can to bring this issue to the forefront of people's minds so that real action is taken to combat climate change."
The documentary has already made its theatrical release in New York and Los Angeles on Oct. 21. It has also been shown at international film festivals, the United Nations and at the White House South By South Lawn event before President Obama.
The film is also screening at more 250 colleges and universities nationwide and being made available to churches and religious institutions via Interfaith Power and Light, National Geographic said. The network has partnered with Rock the Vote and theSkimm to allow people who attend screenings of Before The Flood to register to vote and to become informed on the issues.
"In our minds, there is no more important story to tell, no more important issue facing our planet than that of climate change," said Courteney Monroe, the CEO of National Geographic Global Networks. "At National Geographic, we believe in the power of storytelling to change the world, and this unprecedented release across digital and streaming platforms is not only a first for our network but also in our industry, underscoring how exceptional we think this film is and how passionate we are about it. We are committed to ensuring as many people as possible see this film as we head into U.S. elections."
Before The Flood, as well as the award-winning documentary series Years of Living Dangerously, will kick off the National Geographic Channel's "Earth Week"—a week of programming starting Oct. 30 dedicated to bringing awareness to issues surrounding climate change.
Before The Flood depicts how Earth is changing due to rising temperatures and how individuals and society-at-large can help preserve our precious environment. DiCaprio travels around the world to interview a number of world leaders and experts about climate change, including President Obama, former President Bill Clinton, Secretary of State John Kerry, U.N. Secretary-General Ki-Moon, Pope Francis, Elon Musk as well as top NASA researchers, forest conservationists, scientists, community leaders and other environmental activists.
The film was produced by DiCaprio, Stevens, Brett Ratner and James Packer and executive produced by Martin Scorsese. Watch the trailer here:...
Just when you thought it couldn't get any more exciting in one of the nation's hippest cities, with the Cleveland Indians in the World Series and the CAVs season starting today, the Northeast Ohio Chapter of Conscious Capitalism, in partnership with the Conscious Venture Lab, is offering an intense day-long boot camp at Cleveland State University Oct. 27.
Capitalizing on the lessons learned by the team at the Conscious Venture Lab about growing high-performance, mission-driven businesses, attendees will take a deep dive into the tenets of conscious capitalism. The teams will be given new tools to take their companies to deeper impact and higher profitability. Attendees will also have the opportunity to win $10,000 at the Conscious Venture Lab Cup pitch competition following the boot camp sessions and EcoWatch's Facebook community will have front row seats.
EcoWatch's founder and CEO, Stefanie Spear, will be one of the judges. Starting at 4:30 p.m. ET, entrepreneurs will begin pitching their great business ideas and it will all be captured via Facebook live video, right here.
"We know entrepreneurship is the backbone of our economy," Jeff Cherry, executive director of the Conscious Venture Lab, said. "Attendees will learn how to execute new ways to take a business to the next level and build a company the matters."
The boot camp provides an intense and interactive day that helps companies:
- Understand the power of purpose and articulate their own story
- Learn tools and techniques for creating a high-performance culture
- Internalize the lessons of servant leadership
- Build a model that responds to all stakeholder needs, creating a mutual exchange of value
"We welcome this opportunity to bring new content and expertise to the Cleveland startup ecosystem," Bill Vogelgesang, one of the founders of the NEO Chapter of Conscious Capitalism, said. "This is an amazing opportunity for us bring financial and educational support, and to spread knowledge of a new narrative about how business can benefit society to some very talented, early-stage entrepreneurs."
This program is made possible thanks to the generous support of Conscious Capitalism NEO Chapter, Whole Foods Market, EPOCH Pi, The Cleveland Co-Lab, Fathom Digital Marketing, SEA Change, Case Western Reserve's Fowler Center for Business as an Agent of World Benefit, DittrickCPA, Great Lakes Brewing Company, Give Back Hack, Morton's of Chicago, Launch League and Cleveland State University....
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
Oil companies and Alaska natives had challenged the National Marine Fisheries Service's decision to list a seal species as threatened because of sea ice loss, but the court upheld the decision.
"The service need not wait until a species' habitat is destroyed to determine that habitat loss may facilitate extinction," Judge Richard A. Paez wrote.
For a deeper dive:
Would you eat oranges grown with oil wastewater? You might be already without knowing it.
Wonderful Citrus, the U.S.'s largest citrus grower and the company behind the popular Halos mandarins and Bee Sweet Citrus, another huge citrus grower, are using leftover wastewater from oil companies to irrigate their citrus—while also using pink ribbons to sell them.
The use of oil wastewater for food irrigation is expanding rapidly in California—the U.S.'s third largest oil-extracting state, which also produces more than a third of the nation's veggies and two-thirds of its fruits and nuts. Oil corporations are increasingly supplying their wastewater to California-based agricultural companies like Bee Sweet and Wonderful to use for food irrigation during an historic drought. As this type of irrigation is set to expand, we believe this is an urgent public health issue because of the potentially hazardous chemicals associated with the oil extraction process.
Companies use pink ribbons to gain customer loyalty and increase their sales. After all, pink ribbons are profitable. But companies shouldn't put their profits before our health.
Bee Sweet Citrus puts a pink ribbon on their Sweetheart Mandarin labels "to achieve prevention and find a cure for breast cancer in our lifetime." And Wonderful Citrus participates in an in-store cause-marketing promotion called Pink Ribbon Produce, aimed at "uniting the produce industry in the fight for breast cancer."
Both of these companies claim to care about women with breast cancer and are using pink ribbons to sell their products—all while failing to protect farm workers and the public from the potential health risks of using oil wastewater to irrigate their citrus. We call this pinkwashing.
Oil companies use hundreds of chemical additives during the oil extraction process—to drill, maintain and clean their wells. In addition, the oil extraction process releases chemicals that are trapped underground. So when oil is extracted from underground reservoirs, wastewater comes back up with it and can contain all sorts of chemicals. Oil wastewater used for food irrigation has been found to contain the chemical benzene, a known human carcinogen linked to breast cancer. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Maximum Contaminant Level Goal for benzene in drinking water is zero, which means "there is no dose below which the chemical is considered safe."
In a new report released earlier this month by Physicians, Scientists and Engineers—Healthy Energy, University of California—Berkeley, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and the University of the Pacific, researchers call for a more thorough investigation of the potential health risks associated with using oil wastewater for crop irrigation in light of the potential health harms and gaps in safety testing.
The report finds that despite oil corporations being required to report chemical additives, 38 percent of the chemical additives could not be "sufficiently identified for preliminary hazard evaluation" because oil corporations are concealing them as trade secrets. Of the chemicals these scientists were able to analyze, they found that "43 percent of them can be classified as potential chemicals of concern from human health and/or environmental perspectives." They found that 10 chemicals are known or potential carcinogens. And they didn't even evaluate which chemicals are hormone disruptors, a class of chemicals which is linked to increasing our risk of breast cancer.
Current tests of oil wastewater used for food irrigation only look for some of the chemicals used in the oil extraction process. Because of the gaps in testing and treatment, an independent council of scientists commissioned by the State of California recently recommended that wastewater from fracking operations should not currently be used to irrigate our food. But the potential public health risks of the chemicals in oil wastewater are not limited to the fracking process and this report extends the recommendations to include wastewater from any oil operations. We, along with other public health groups and scientists, believe that wastewater from all oil extraction processes should not be used to grow our food, to protect both farm workers and the public from potential public health risks that have not been adequately studied.
Using oil wastewater to irrigate our food has not been proven safe—neither for the health of the public nor for the health of farm workers, who are exposed firsthand to these chemicals. In fact, an expert panel is currently reviewing the potential health risks associated with using oil wastewater for food irrigation—while the state is still permitting this type of irrigation. A growing body of scientific evidence demonstrates the role of our everyday exposure to toxic chemicals in increasing our risk of breast cancer. We need to put the brakes on this process immediately.
In August 2016, we joined with 350,000 concerned people who wrote to California Gov. Jerry Brown, urging him to end the use of oil wastewater for food irrigation. To date, he has failed to do so. In the absence of strong government action, we're calling on Bee Sweet Citrus and Wonderful Citrus to stop using oil wastewater to irrigate their crops while using pink ribbons to sell their citrus—a practice we call pinkwashing.
Instead, these two companies, which are huge players in their local water districts, should stand up for women affected by breast cancer. We believe they have the power not only to stop using oil wastewater to grow their own citrus crops, but also to stop the use of oil wastewater for growing food altogether.
Send a letter to Bee Sweet Citrus and Wonderful Citrus to tell them to stop pinkwashing. Tell them to stop irrigating their produce with oil wastewater and to use their power to ensure that oil wastewater is not used to irrigate any of our food....
"We are witnessing a transformation of global power markets led by renewables and, as is the case with other fields, the center of gravity for renewable growth is moving to emerging markets," Dr. Fatih Birol, the IEA's executive director, said.
The agency also raised its five-year forecast for renewable energy by 13 percent and now expects renewables to be 42 percent of global energy capacity by 2021.
For a deeper dive: