New Poll Shows Strong Support for Great Lakes Restoration
Ohioans of all political colors agree that the federal government should be protecting and spending money to restore Lake Erie and all the Great Lakes, according to a new poll released today by the Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition. Majorities of Democrats, Republicans and Independents indicate support for continued funding of Great Lakes restoration, and for an expansive view of the Clean Water Act. Further, far more Ohioans support than oppose building a barrier in the Chicago canals to prevent an Asian carp invasion into the Great Lakes.
“Although it is unusual to find an issue that brings voters together across the values and beliefs that divide us, such issues do exist, and in Ohio, protecting Lake Erie and the other Great Lakes is one,” said Paul Fallon, president of the Columbus-based Fallon Research & Communications, Inc., which conducted the survey. “Our polling indicates that protecting Lake Erie and the other Great Lakes is one issue that unites Republicans, Democrats and Independents. Ohioans across the political spectrum want the federal government to continue its effort to restore the Great Lakes.”
The Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition released the poll as it calls on White House aspirants to commit to supporting Great Lakes restoration and action on Asian carp.
“This should be a wake-up call to both Presidential campaigns that are so focused on the Buckeye State,” said Emma White, senior director at Belden Russonello Strategists, LLC, a Washington, D.C.-based polling firm that wrote the poll questions. “To be successful in Ohio and other swing states candidates must not only hold their base vote but also attract independent, unaffiliated voters. From our polling, it is clear that standing up to protect Lake Erie and taking action to beat back the invasive Asian carp are winning issues among this critical constituency.”
“Millions of people are counting on the next president of the U.S. to stand up for Lake Erie and the other Great Lakes,” said Andy Buchsbaum, co-chair of the Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition. “Great Lakes programs are producing results in communities around the region—but there is more work to do. Cutting restoration funding and failing to take action on the Asian carp will cost taxpayers more money because problems will only become more difficult and expensive the longer we wait.”
The survey of 804 general election voters was conducted by Fallon Research & Communications, Inc., of Columbus, Ohio, from questions written by Belden Russonello Strategists LLC in Washington, D.C. Highlights of the poll include:
1) A large majority of Ohio voters (72 percent) supports continuing Great Lakes restoration funding, including 63 percent of Republicans, 72 percent of independents, and 79 percent of Democrats. Nearly half overall (47 percent) strongly support continued funding, including a majority of men (55 percent). A majority of voters (54 percent) rejects the idea that the Great Lakes should take a budget cut along with everything else.
2) Although the potential entrance of Asian Carp into the Great Lakes is not something most Ohio voters have heard a great deal about, a brief description of the problem leads fully 90 percent of Ohio voters to say they would be concerned if the fish got into Lake Erie, and a majority (57 percent) to say they would be very concerned if the fish got into Lake Erie. Familiarity and concern are both higher among men, while political party makes little impact.
3) Half of Ohio voters (49 percent) support erecting a barrier in the Chicago River to keep out the Asian Carp while only three in ten (29 percent) oppose that idea. Two in ten (22 percent) are unsure, not a surprising finding given the unfamiliar issue. Men are more likely to favor the barrier (53 percent), but views are equal across parties (Republicans 49 percent, independents 50 percent, Democrats 48 percent).
4) There is broad bipartisan support for an expansive reading of the Clean Water Act. When presented with arguments on both sides, 68 percent overall say that the Clean Water Act should cover wetlands and small streams, including 55 percent of Republicans, 66 percent of independents and 79 percent of Democrats.
“Ohio voters understand how important Lake Erie is to the environment and economy,” said Kristy Meyer, director of Agricultural & Clean Water Programs, Ohio Environmental Council. “We need the next president to show leadership on this issue. Great Lakes restoration is not a Democratic or Republican issue—it is an issue of national significance and utmost urgency.”
For decades, Lake Erie has been a bellwether for the health of the Great Lakes. Once declared “dead,” the lake improved following the passage of landmark environmental protections like the Clean Water Act and an infusion of federal investment to help cities modernize sewage treatment facilities.
Recent federal investments are producing results across Ohio:
• Removing contaminated sediments and restoring habitat along the Ashtabula River created jobs, improved water quality and made the river suitable again for maritime commerce, fishing and recreational boating.
• Restoring one mile of Big Creek in Cleveland provided a home for fish and wildlife, curtailed flooding and reduced pollution and sediments flowing into the Cuyahoga River and Lake Erie.
• Dredging and disposing of PCB-contaminated mud and dirt in Toledo’s Ottawa River led to improved water quality and the lifting of some fish consumption advisories.
But there is still work to do. Sewage pollution, invasive species, loss of wetlands and run-off of manure and excessive fertilizer into waterways that feed the Lakes have led to a resurgence of problems, most notably harmful algal blooms that pose a risk to people, fish and wildlife.
“The problems facing Lake Erie impact me and my business,” said Rick Unger, president of the Lake Erie Charter Boat Association. “If President Obama and Governor Romney only want to talk about jobs and the economy, then I’ve got news for them: Lake Erie is my job. If the next president drops the ball on Great Lakes restoration or allows Asian carp to get in, then I am out of a job. And so are many others. End of story.”
Great Lakes restoration has played prominently in the last two presidential elections. In 2004, President George Bush called on the region to craft a plan to restore the Lakes. The $20 billion plan—the Great Lakes Regional Collaboration Strategy—has been widely credited with galvanizing support restoration among conservation, business, industry and civic leaders in the eight-state region of Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.
In 2008, then-candidates Hillary Clinton, John McCain, Barack Obama and Mitt Romney all committed their support to restore the Great Lakes. In his first year in the White House, President Obama launched the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, a multi-year investment aimed at confronting urgent problems such as invasive species, habitat destruction, toxic pollution and run-off from farms and cities.
“Presidential leadership,” said Jeff Skelding, campaign director for the Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition, “has been essential in the effort to restore and protect the Great Lakes. We’re counting on the next president to carry the torch and continue to stand and deliver for the Great Lakes. The nation cannot afford not to restore the Great Lakes—more than 30 million people depend on them for drinking water.”
The Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition consists of 120 environmental, conservation, outdoor recreation organizations, zoos, aquariums and museums representing millions of people, whose common goal is to restore and protect the Great Lakes. Follow us on Twitter @healthylakes.
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By Gwen Ranniger
In the midst of a pandemic, sales of cleaning products have skyrocketed, and many feel a need to clean more often. Knowing what to look for when purchasing cleaning supplies can help prevent unwanted and dangerous toxics from entering your home.
1. Fragrance – Avoid It<p>One of the fastest ways to narrow down your product options is immediately eliminating any product that promotes a fragrance, or parfum. That scent of "fresh breeze" or lemon might initially smell good, but the fragrance does not last. What does last? The concoction of various undisclosed and unregulated chemicals that created that fragrance.</p><p>Many fragrances contain phthalates, which are linked to many health risks including reproductive problems and cancer.</p>
2. With Bleach? Do Without<p>Going scent-free should have narrowed down your options substantially – now, check the front of the remaining packaging. Any that include ammonia or chlorine bleach ought to go, as these substances are irritating and corrosive to your body. While bleach is commonly known as a powerful disinfectant, there are safer alternatives that you can use in your home, such as sodium borate or hydrogen peroxide.</p><p>While you're at it, check if there are any warnings on the label – "flammable," "use in ventilated area," etc. – if the product is hazardous, that's a red flag and should be avoided.</p>
3. Check the Back Label<p>Flip to the back of the remaining contenders and check out that ingredient list. Less is more, here. Opt for a shorter ingredient list with words you recognize and/or can pronounce.</p><p>You may notice many products do not have ingredient lists – while this doesn't necessarily mean they contain toxic ingredients, transparency is key. Feel free to look up a list online, or stick to products that are open about their ingredients.</p>
4. Ingredients to Avoid<p>We already mentioned that cleaners containing fragrance or parfum, and bleach or ammonia should be avoided, but there are other ingredients to look out for as well.</p><ul><li>Quaternary ammonium "quats" – lung irritants that contribute to asthma and other breathing problems. Also linger on surfaces long after they've been cleaned.</li><li>Parabens – Known hormone disruptor; can contribute to ailments such as cancer</li><li>Triclosan – triclosan and other antibacterial chemicals are registered with the EPA as pesticides. Triclosan is a known hormone disruptor and can also impact your immune system.</li><li>Formaldehyde – Causes irritation of eyes, nose, and throat; studies suggest formaldehyde exposure is linked with certain varieties of cancer. Can be found in products or become a byproduct of chemical reactions in the air.</li></ul>
Cleaning Products and Toxics: The Bottom Line<p>Do your research. There are many cleaning products available, but taking these steps will drastically reduce your options and help keep your home toxic-free. Protecting your home from bacteria and viruses is important, but make sure you do so in a way that doesn't introduce other health risks into the home.</p><p><em>Reposted with permission from </em><em><a href="https://www.ehn.org/how-to-shop-for-cleaning-products-while-avoiding-toxics-2648130273.html" target="_blank">Environmental Health News</a>. </em><a href="https://www.ecowatch.com/r/entryeditor/2649054624#/" target="_self"></a></p>
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Twenty-five years ago, a food called Tofurky made its debut on grocery store shelves. Since then, the tofu-based roast has become a beloved part of many vegetarians' holiday feasts.
By Jessica Corbett
A leading environmental advocacy group marked Native American Heritage Month on Wednesday by urging President-elect Joe Biden, Vice President-elect Kamala Kamala Harris, and the entire incoming administration "to honor Indigenous sovereignty and immediately halt the Keystone XL, Dakota Access, and Line 3 pipelines."
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Returning the ‘Three Sisters’ – Corn, Beans and Squash – to Native American Farms Nourishes People, Land and Cultures
By Christina Gish Hill
Historians know that turkey and corn were part of the first Thanksgiving, when Wampanoag peoples shared a harvest meal with the pilgrims of Plymouth plantation in Massachusetts. And traditional Native American farming practices tell us that squash and beans likely were part of that 1621 dinner too.
Abundant Harvests<p>Historically, Native people throughout the Americas bred indigenous plant varieties specific to the growing conditions of their homelands. They selected seeds for many different traits, such as <a href="https://emergencemagazine.org/story/corn-tastes-better/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">flavor, texture and color</a>.</p><p>Native growers knew that planting corn, beans, squash and sunflowers together produced mutual benefits. Corn stalks created a trellis for beans to climb, and beans' twining vines secured the corn in high winds. They also certainly observed that corn and bean plants growing together tended to be healthier than when raised separately. Today we know the reason: Bacteria living on bean plant roots pull nitrogen – an essential plant nutrient – from the air and <a href="http://www.tilthalliance.org/learn/resources-1/almanac/october/octobermngg" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">convert it to a form that both beans and corn can use</a>.</p><p>Squash plants contributed by shading the ground with their broad leaves, preventing weeds from growing and retaining water in the soil. Heritage squash varieties also had spines that discouraged deer and raccoons from visiting the garden for a snack. And sunflowers planted around the edges of the garden created a natural fence, protecting other plants from wind and animals and attracting pollinators.</p><p>Interplanting these agricultural sisters produced bountiful harvests that sustained large Native communities and <a href="http://dx.doi.org/10.1353/eam.2015.0016" target="_blank">spurred fruitful trade economies</a>. The first Europeans who reached the Americas were shocked at the abundant food crops they found. My research is exploring how, 200 years ago, Native American agriculturalists around the Great Lakes and along the Missouri and Red rivers fed fur traders with their diverse vegetable products.</p>
Displaced From the Land<p>As Euro-Americans settled permanently on the most fertile North American lands and acquired seeds that Native growers had carefully bred, they imposed policies that <a href="https://doi.org/10.1086/ahr/87.2.550" target="_blank">made Native farming practices impossible</a>. In 1830 President Andrew Jackson signed the <a href="https://guides.loc.gov/indian-removal-act" target="_blank">Indian Removal Act</a>, which made it official U.S. policy to force Native peoples from their home locations, pushing them onto subpar lands.</p><p>On reservations, U.S. government officials discouraged Native women from cultivating anything larger than small garden plots and pressured Native men to practice Euro-American style monoculture. Allotment policies assigned small plots to nuclear families, further limiting Native Americans' access to land and preventing them from using communal farming practices.</p><p>Native children were forced to attend boarding schools, where they had no opportunity to <a href="https://doi.org/10.5749/jamerindieduc.57.1.0145" target="_blank">learn Native agriculture techniques or preservation and preparation of Indigenous foods</a>. Instead they were forced to eat Western foods, turning their palates away from their traditional preferences. Taken together, these policies <a href="https://kansaspress.ku.edu/978-0-7006-0802-7.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">almost entirely eradicated three sisters agriculture</a> from Native communities in the Midwest by the 1930s.</p>
Reviving Native Agriculture<p>Today Native people all over the U.S. are working diligently to <a href="https://www.oupress.com/books/15107980/indigenous-food-sovereignty-in-the-united-sta" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">reclaim Indigenous varieties of corn, beans, squash, sunflowers and other crops</a>. This effort is important for many reasons.</p><p>Improving Native people's access to healthy, culturally appropriate foods will help lower rates of <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/vitalsigns/aian-diabetes/index.html" target="_blank">diabetes</a> and <a href="https://www.apa.org/pi/oema/resources/ethnicity-health/native-american/obesity" target="_blank">obesity</a>, which affect Native Americans at disproportionately high rates. Sharing traditional knowledge about agriculture is a way for elders to pass cultural information along to younger generations. Indigenous growing techniques also protect the lands that Native nations now inhabit, and can potentially benefit the wider ecosystems around them.</p>
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