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Breath is Lyfe organizer Misti O'Quinn with her family at the rally. Nexus Media

By Jeremy Deaton

Hundreds of people, mostly parents and their children, took to Capitol Hill Wednesday to call on lawmakers to address air pollution and climate change. The "play-in" featured music by children's singer and guitarist Mister G, as well as remarks by several activists, journalists and members of Congress, including House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), Rep. Carlos Curbelo (R-FL), Telemundo correspondent Vanessa Hauc and native rights activist Casey Camp-Horinek.

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The Oil & Gas Threat Map

A new analysis of state and federal data shows 2.9 million children enrolled in schools and daycares across the country are threatened by oil and gas air pollution. Released by the national environmental group Earthworks, this new analysis is part of a larger update to The Oil & Gas Threat Map, a map-based suite of tools designed to inform and mobilize Americans about the health risks from the oil and gas industry's toxic air pollution.

The Obama-era U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Interior Department issued rules to limit this type of oil and gas pollution. The Trump administration is now trying to block and revoke these rules before they go into effect.

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As controversy swirls around a string of spills and air and water violations caused by Energy Transfer Partners' construction of the Rover gas pipeline, a study released Wednesday underlines another reason federal regulators should halt the project: It will fuel a massive increase in climate pollution.

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By Dominique Browning

The nomination of Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt to head the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is unprecedented. Whether you are a Republican or a Democrat, it is a travesty—because Pruitt has vigorously used his office to derail and obstruct clean air safeguards that are broadly supported by Americans in red and blue states alike. This nomination is a danger to our children and families.

Moms are outraged about this most cynical choice. We do not want an Environmental Destruction Agency.

Pruitt has used his office to attack vital safeguards for our children's health.

Pruitt, Oklahoma's top legal officer, has been against every single clean air protection we have gained. He has sued to stop vital safeguards that protect us from mercury, arsenic, acid gases and other emissions. These protections are supported by the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Lung Association and the American Public Health Association.

Pruitt has used his office to attack protections against soot and smog pollution, and to attack EPA's science documenting oil and gas air pollution levels.

Pruitt is against standards for reducing soot and smog that crosses state lines and pollutes neighbors' air. Pruitt is against standards that improve air quality in our national parks. In 2014, Pruitt led an "unprecedented, secretive alliance" with large energy companies to attack clean air rules. This included using a letter written by an energy company as his own to challenge EPA's science-based analysis of the oil and gas pollution levels in our communities.

Pruitt lies about science.

Pruitt has also professed profound ignorance—willful ignorance—about global warming. He is against any and all plans to cut the carbon and methane pollution that is dangerously altering our atmosphere. He perpetuates lies in an all-out assault on science.

He says the science on climate change is not settled. This is a lie. He claims that human activity has not changed the atmosphere. This is a lie. He claims we can do nothing about a natural phenomenon that has always occurred. This is a lie.

Pruitt accepts money from corporate polluters—to protect them.

He has sued to protect corporate polluters—and his campaigns have been funded by polluters. He has received hundreds of thousands of dollars from fossil fuel companies—to protect their ability to pollute.

Pruitt destroys solutions, rather than solves problems.

He has led lawsuits to undo clean air protections. But he has never, not once, advanced a single solution to any of the problems that the Clean Air Act must, by law, address. Pruitt does not offer solutions to mercury coming from coal-fired power plants, mercury that damages fetal and infant brains.

Pruitt does not offer solutions to soot and smog pollution. Pruitt does not offer solutions to the wasted methane that escapes from fracking operations. Pruitt does not offer plans to cut the emissions that are dangerously throwing our climate off balance.

Pruitt is not a leader for the new economy.

He is operating with an outdated understanding of science, economics, markets and job growth. He will not help position America globally as an innovative energy leader.

The Clean Air Act was signed into law by a Republican president and it was strengthened twenty years later by a Republican president. It is a vital demonstration that some things must transcend partisan politics: the protection of clean air and clean water chief among them.

President-elect Donald Trump was not given a mandate by the American people to stop protecting us from air pollution.

Pruitt's entire career has demonstrated that his priority is obstructing clean air safeguards for our children.

Tell your elected officials: Scott Pruitt is a dangerous EPA nominee.

More than 650,000 kindergarten through 12th grade children in nine states attend school within one mile of a fracked oil or gas well, putting them at increased risk of health impacts from dangerous chemicals and air pollution.

Moms Clean Air Force

The finding comes from a new study by Environment America Research & Policy Center that exposes the proximity of fracking near schools, hospitals, day care centers and nursing homes, risking the health of our children and other vulnerable populations.

"Schools and day care centers should be safe places for kids to play and learn," said Rachel Richardson, director of Environment America's Stop Drilling program and co-author of the report. "Unfortunately, our research shows far too many kids may be exposed to dirty air and toxic chemicals from fracking right next door."

Using data provided by the oil and gas industry and state regulators, Dangerous and Close—Fracking Puts the Nation's Most Vulnerable People at Risk, found that:

  • 1,947 child care facilities, 1,376 schools, 236 nursing care providers and 103 hospitals are within a one-mile radius of fracked wells in the nine states examined.
  • More than 650,000 kindergarten through 12th grade children attend school within one mile of a fracked well.
  • The highest percentage of children attending school close to fracked wells is in West Virginia, where 8 percent of children spend their school days within one mile of a fracked well.
  • Texas has the largest number of children attending school close to a well, with 437,000 kindergarten through 12th grade students attending public or private school within one mile of a fracked well.

The report included data from nine states total including Arkansas, California, Colorado, New Mexico, North Dakota, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas and West Virginia.

Hospitals, nursing homes, schools and day care facilities within one mile of a fracked well, 2005 through early 2016, in Arkansas, California, Colorado, New Mexico, North Dakota, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas and West Virginia.Environment America

"American society aspires to protect children, the sick and the elderly," said Elizabeth Ridlington, policy analyst with Frontier Group and co-author of the report. "This report shows that we're violating that ideal because of our overwhelming dependence on fossil fuels. We've sunk to putting vulnerable populations at risk instead of making the wholesale shift to conservation and renewable energy."

Fracking creates a range of threats to our health, including creating toxic air pollution that can reduce lung function even among healthy people, trigger asthma attacks and has been linked to premature death. Children and the elderly are especially vulnerable to fracking's health risks. Children's immune systems are more susceptible to damage from toxic chemicals while older adults have weaker immune systems and more difficulty breaking down toxics chemicals in the body.

Studies show that the closer you are to fracking, the more susceptible you are to suffering negative health effects. In Colorado, residents living within one-half mile of fracked wells were exposed to pollutants that increased their risk of illness. Researchers at University of Pennsylvania and Columbia University found that in Pennsylvania hospitalizations rates increase near fracking sites.

"Fracking is an inherently dangerous threat to public health and should not be where vulnerable children and families live," said Dr. Walter Tsou, president of Philadelphia Physicians for Social Responsibility.

"It is an unavoidable fact that as fracking operations have spread across the U.S., significant damage to our health and our environment has occurred," said Laura Burns, parent of two and field organizer for Mom's Clean Air Force in Ohio. "Our children are our future. And for the sake of our future, we need to be seeking clean, renewable energy solutions."

Given the scale and severity of fracking's impacts, fracking should be prohibited wherever possible and existing wells should be shut down beginning with those near institutions that serve our most vulnerable populations.

To better protect communities already on the front lines of drilling, stricter regulations should be adopted and federal fracking loopholes should be closed to hold the oil and gas industry to the same standards as other industry. Currently, oil and gas companies are exempt from key provisions in the Safe Drinking Water Act, the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act, and the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act.

"Our children's health and safety should be non-negotiable," Richardson said. "Ultimately, the only solution to this toxic health threat is to ban fracking entirely and move toward 100 percent renewable energy as swiftly as possible."

Ever wonder about chemicals in your day-to-day life?

"What’s in the air I breathe? The water I drink? The food I eat? Even the things I put on my skin?"

Ed Brown wondered these same things after his wife suffered two miscarriages (they now have two beautiful children). But instead of just wondering, he traveled around the country with his video camera to interview top minds in the fields of science, advocacy and law and learned there are unacceptable levels of chemicals in so many things. Including our bodies.

Brown’s documentary, Unacceptable Levels, dissects the ways chemicals saturate our homes and environment amid the backdrop of a glaring lack of regulation. It chronicles the results of the post-World War II chemical boom and details common avenues of exposure, from food to fluoride to toxic sludge.

Some "unacceptable facts" from the film:

  • Autism now affects one in 50 children.
  • Cancer is the leading cause of death (after accidents) in children younger than 15 years in the U.S.
  • In the last 20 years, the rates of asthma, allergies and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) are on the rise: 400 percent increase in allergies, 300 percent increase in asthma, 400 percent increase in ADHD.
  • $2.6 trillion of the Gross Domestic Product is spent on treating disease every year.
  • Approximately 200 synthetic industrial chemicals interact with our cells every single day.

Brown is touring the country this summer, which started with a premiere June 12 in Hollywood, CA, where he was joined by Mariel Hemingway, Gary Hirschberg, Christopher Gavigan and other passionate environmentalists to inspire others to take action.

Actress Jessica Capshaw Gavigan, who is also part of the Moms Clean Air Force Leadership Circle, has this to say about the film:

This film is a huge eye-opener! Once a parent sees this, they thankfully won’t ever approach their child’s health and future the same way ever again!

Visit the Unacceptable Levels website for a growing list of screenings.

Visit EcoWatch’s HEALTH and FOOD pages for more related news on this topic.

 

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