550 Groups Urge Biden to Become #PlasticFreePresident With 8 Executive Actions
By Jessica Corbett
A large and diverse coalition of over 550 organizations came together Tuesday to call on President-elect Joe Biden to tackle the plastic pollution crisis through executive actions that would collectively help turn the tide against consumer waste that is choking the planet's natural world and harming human health.
"More than 99% of plastic is created from chemicals sourced from fossil fuels, including an oversupply of fracked gas, which is spurring a global boom in new plastic production. That plastic is causing serious environmental problems at every step of its lifecycle," the groups point out, explaining the need for action.
In addition to the 10 steps previously proposed by advocacy organizations urging Biden to lead as a #ClimatePresident, the coalition behind the new call is pushing him to become the first #PlasticFreePresident by embracing their Presidential Plastics Action Plan.
"President-elect Biden can begin solving the plastic pollution crisis in his first days in office without any help from Congress," noted Julie Teel Simmonds, a senior attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity, a member of the #BreakFreeFromPlastic movement and a convening partner of the action plan.
"Implementing this historic plan would protect vulnerable frontline communities and marine life while addressing a key driver of climate change," she said. "It's time to rein in the fossil fuel industry's insidious plans to keep fracking for plastic and polluting poor communities here and around the world."
PLASTIC POLLUTION ACTION! Join Earth Island, our project @PlasticPollutes, and 550+ groups launching TODAY the… https://t.co/COuehe7Kbs— Earth Island Institute (@Earth Island Institute)1607456961.0
The plan urges the incoming Biden administration to:
- Use the purchasing power of the federal government to eliminate single-use plastic items and replace them with reusable products;
- Suspend and deny permits for new or expanded plastic production facilities, associated infrastructure projects, and exports;
- Make corporate polluters pay and reject false solutions;
- Advance environmental justice in petrochemical corridors;
- Update existing federal regulations using the best available science and technology to curtail pollution from plastic facilities;
- Stop subsidizing plastic producers;
- Join international efforts to address the global plastic pollution crisis through new and strengthened multilateral agreements; and
- Reduce and mitigate the impacts of abandoned, discarded and lost fishing gear.
Each broad recommendation comes with specific suggestions. As part of the effort to eliminate single-use plastic, the coalition proposes appointing a plastic pollution czar to coordinate reduction efforts across federal agencies and internationally. To make corporate polluters pay, the plan pressures Biden to throw his support behind the historic Break Free From Plastic Pollution Act unveiled in Congress earlier this year.
"Plastic production and pollution impact public health, the environment, and climate, and it has reached crisis levels around the world, with the United States as one of the biggest contributors," Rep. Alan Lowenthal (D-Calif.) said Friday, explaining why he introduced the bill — with Rep. Katherine Clark (D-Mass.) as well as Sens. Tom Udall (D-N.M.) and Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) — and vowing to reintroduce it in the next congressional session.
"The Presidential Plastics Action Plan lays out how the incoming Biden administration can lead on this plastic waste issue and enact real solutions like updating important regulations and greater cooperation with the international community," Lowenthal said. "We are running out of time to deal with this crisis, but our bill and the Presidential Plastics Action Plan are important approaches to put us on the right track moving forward."
We need to #BreakFreeFromPlastic, and that means making sure the big manufacturers generating massive amounts of wa… https://t.co/k0wJaNwXHU— Tom Udall (@Tom Udall)1607368607.0
Noting petrochemical industry plans for more than 300 new projects over the next decade, the coalition pushes the incoming president to direct federal agencies to deny permits for building or expanding refineries, ethane crackers, pipelines, natural gas liquid storage facilities and hubs, import and export terminals, and other related infrastructure.
In its demand for advancing environmental justice, the plan acknowledges that "petrochemical companies continue to locate new and expanded plastics facilities near existing fossil fuel infrastructure, which means they are targeting the Gulf Coast, Appalachia, the Ohio River Valley, and other communities that already shoulder a heavy burden of oil, gas, and plastic industry pollution."
One of these hubs is the so-called Cancer Alley, an industrial stretch of Louisiana that runs along the Mississippi River that is the site of a multibillion petrochemical complex that Taiwan-based Formosa Plastics Group intends to build despite objections and health concerns from community members.
Sharon Lavigne, founder and president of the group RISE St. James, is helping to lead the local fight against Formosa's plans for the plant. She is also a supporter of the plastics plan targeting the next administration.
"If the Formosa Plastics complex is built, it would be a death sentence for St. James Parish. We already have so many people dying here, mostly from cancer, and others with terrible reproductive issues. If the petrochemical buildout continues, we won't be able to breathe the air and we will die," said Lavigne. "We are asking the Biden administration to consider the lives of the people here in St. James Parish and take action to protect us."
Backers of the action plan want Biden to not only aid communities across the country impacted by plastic pollution and industry but also to address the crisis on an international scale. As Common Dreams reported last month, under President Donald Trump, the U.S. government has been in a small minority of United Nations member states signaling it is unwilling to participate in a global treaty on the issue.
Carroll Muffett, president of the Center for International Environmental Law, another convening partner of the plan, said that "President-elect Biden should commit the United States to actively support a new global treaty on plastic pollution; use U.S. trade power to support real development, not plastic polluters; and move quickly to reverse U.S. subsidies and export policies that are accelerating the plastic crisis globally."
Plastic is an environmental nightmare. Yet the fossil fuel industry plans to increase plastic production by 40% ove… https://t.co/5fty1a7M7w— CIEL (@CIEL)1607446802.0
Other convening partners are the Azulita Project, Beyond Plastics, Break Free From Plastic, Center for Coalfield Justice, Center for Oceanic Awareness, Research and Education, Clean Air Council, Earthworks, Food and Water Watch, Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives, Greenpeace, Last Beach Clean Up, Louisiana Bucket Brigade, Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition, Plastic Pollution Coalition, Surfrider Foundation, Texas Environmental Justice Advocacy Services, and Wishtoyo Foundation.
Hundreds of other groups have also signed on, including dozens of local chapters of 350.org, Amazon Watch, Climate Hawks Vote, Friends of the Earth, GreenLatinos, Plastic Free America, Sierrra Club, Stand.earth, WildEarth Guardians, Zero Hour, and various branches of Indivisible and the Sunrise Movement.
Reposted with permission from Common Dreams.
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Wisdom the mōlī, or Laysan albatross, is the oldest wild bird known to science at the age of at least 70. She is also, as of February 1, a new mother.
<div id="dadb2" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="aa2ad8cb566c9b4b6d2df2693669f6f9"><blockquote class="twitter-tweet twitter-custom-tweet" data-twitter-tweet-id="1357796504740761602" data-partner="rebelmouse"><div style="margin:1em 0">🚨Cute baby alert! Wisdom's chick has hatched!!! 🐣😍 Wisdom, a mōlī (Laysan albatross) and world’s oldest known, ban… https://t.co/Nco050ztBA</div> — USFWS Pacific Region (@USFWS Pacific Region)<a href="https://twitter.com/USFWSPacific/statuses/1357796504740761602">1612558888.0</a></blockquote></div>
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Winter is supposed to be the best season for wind power – the winds are stronger, and since air density increases as the temperature drops, more force is pushing on the blades. But winter also comes with a problem: freezing weather.
Comparing rime ice and glaze ice shows how each changes the texture of the blade. Gao, Liu and Hu, 2021, CC BY-ND
Ice buildup changes air flow around the turbine blade, which can slow it down. The top photos show ice forming after 10 minutes at different temperatures in the Wind Research Tunnel. The lower measurements show airflow separation as ice accumulates. Icing Research Tunnel of Iowa State University, CC BY-ND
While traditional investment in the ocean technology sector has been tentative, growth in Israeli maritime innovations has been exponential in the last few years, and environmental concern has come to the forefront.
theDOCK aims to innovate the Israeli maritime sector. Pexels<p>The UN hopes that new investments in ocean science and technology will help turn the tide for the oceans. As such, this year kicked off the <a href="https://www.oceandecade.org/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">United Nations Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development (2021-2030)</a> to galvanize massive support for the blue economy.</p><p>According to the World Bank, the blue economy is the "sustainable use of ocean resources for economic growth, improved livelihoods, and jobs while preserving the health of ocean ecosystem," <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0160412019338255#b0245" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Science Direct</a> reported. It represents this new sector for investments and innovations that work in tandem with the oceans rather than in exploitation of them.</p><p>As recently as Aug. 2020, <a href="https://www.reutersevents.com/sustainability/esg-investors-slow-make-waves-25tn-ocean-economy" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Reuters</a> noted that ESG Investors, those looking to invest in opportunities that have a positive impact in environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues, have been interested in "blue finance" but slow to invest.</p><p>"It is a hugely under-invested economic opportunity that is crucial to the way we have to address living on one planet," Simon Dent, director of blue investments at Mirova Natural Capital, told Reuters.</p><p>Even with slow investment, the blue economy is still expected to expand at twice the rate of the mainstream economy by 2030, Reuters reported. It already contributes $2.5tn a year in economic output, the report noted.</p><p>Current, upward <a href="https://www.ecowatch.com/-innovation-blue-economy-2646147405.html" target="_self">shifts in blue economy investments are being driven by innovation</a>, a trend the UN hopes will continue globally for the benefit of all oceans and people.</p><p>In Israel, this push has successfully translated into investment in and innovation of global ports, shipping, logistics and offshore sectors. The "Startup Nation," as Israel is often called, has seen its maritime tech ecosystem grow "significantly" in recent years and expects that growth to "accelerate dramatically," <a href="https://itrade.gov.il/belgium-english/how-israel-is-becoming-a-port-of-call-for-maritime-innovation/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">iTrade</a> reported.</p><p>Driving this wave of momentum has been rising Israeli venture capital hub <a href="https://www.thedockinnovation.com/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">theDOCK</a>. Founded by Israeli Navy veterans in 2017, theDOCK works with early-stage companies in the maritime space to bring their solutions to market. The hub's pioneering efforts ignited Israel's maritime technology sector, and now, with their new fund, theDOCK is motivating these high-tech solutions to also address ESG criteria.</p><p>"While ESG has always been on theDOCK's agenda, this theme has become even more of a priority," Nir Gartzman, theDOCK's managing partner, told EcoWatch. "80 percent of the startups in our portfolio (for theDOCK's Navigator II fund) will have a primary or secondary contribution to environmental, social and governance (ESG) criteria."</p><p>In a company presentation, theDOCK called contribution to the ESG agenda a "hot discussion topic" for traditional players in the space and their boards, many of whom are looking to adopt new technologies with a positive impact on the planet. The focus is on reducing carbon emissions and protecting the environment, the presentation outlines. As such, theDOCK also explicitly screens candidate investments by ESG criteria as well.</p><p>Within the maritime space, environmental innovations could include measures like increased fuel and energy efficiency, better monitoring of potential pollution sources, improved waste and air emissions management and processing of marine debris/trash into reusable materials, theDOCK's presentation noted.</p>
theDOCK team includes (left to right) Michal Hendel-Sufa, Head of Alliances, Noa Schuman, CMO, Nir Gartzman, Co-Founder & Managing Partner, and Hannan Carmeli, Co-Founder & Managing Partner. Dudu Koren<p>theDOCK's own portfolio includes companies like Orca AI, which uses an intelligent collision avoidance system to reduce the probability of oil or fuel spills, AiDock, which eliminates the use of paper by automating the customs clearance process, and DockTech, which uses depth "crowdsourcing" data to map riverbeds in real-time and optimize cargo loading, thereby reducing trips and fuel usage while also avoiding groundings.</p><p>"Oceans are a big opportunity primarily because they are just that – big!" theDOCK's Chief Marketing Officer Noa Schuman summarized. "As such, the magnitude of their criticality to the global ecosystem, the magnitude of pollution risk and the steps needed to overcome those challenges – are all huge."</p><p>There is hope that this wave of interest and investment in environmentally-positive maritime technologies will accelerate the blue economy and ESG investing even further, in Israel and beyond.</p>
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