EU policymakers have voted to end caged animal farming. Red Cedicol / EyeEm / Getty Images
By Julia Conley
The European Commission is under pressure to end caged animal farming in the next six years after policymakers in the European Union overwhelmingly voted to stop the practice to protect animal welfare as well as human and planetary health, responding to widespread public demand for the ban.
Critics of industrial farming practices hailed the "landmark victory," with 558 members of European Parliament (MEPs) voting in favor of the ban, just 37 opposing, and 85 abstaining from the vote.
BREAKING: overwhelming support by EU Parliament for a ban on cages for farmed animals! Today the EU Parliament ha… https://t.co/OMynmCwcAQ— Compassion in World Farming (@Compassion in World Farming)1623338517.0
Forty-five MEPs spoke out on the parliament floor in support of the "End the Cage Age" initiative before voting last Thursday, and members are now calling on the European Commission to enact the ban by 2027.
"Acting to improve the welfare of animals is an ethical, social, and economic imperative," said Stella Kyriakides, European commissioner for health and food safety. "Our rules need to change and that is a very clear call from our citizens."
Kyriakides' decision to attend the debate and her support for the vote's outcome was taken as a positive sign by Philip Lymbery, CEO of the animal welfare group Compassion in World Farming (CIWF).
Advocates still have "a long way to go," noted Lymbery, as "any proposed new law will need to make its way through Brussels, seeking approval from both the European Parliament and the Council of the E.U., meaning we still have much work to do."
An End the Cage Age petition was signed by 1.4 million people across Europe, with the support of more than 170 organizations campaigning for environmental protections as well as public health. The citizens' initiative was only the sixth to result in a vote in parliament since the tool was first used 10 years ago.
"Citizens have been waiting for years to see the cages ban materialize," said Olga Kikou, head of CIWF E.U. "We are delighted that the European Parliament has taken a firm stance against cages. The time has come now for politicians to put words into action. From today on, the ball is in the commission's court. We expect nothing short of an ambitious timetable for ending the use of these outdated torture instruments called cages. Once this happens, the E.U. could truly claim global leadership in animal welfare."
According to CIWF, more than 300 million animals in the E.U. spend all or a significant portion of their lives in cages, causing "immense suffering because animals have no control over their own lives."
"Laying hens and rabbits are confined to spaces about the size of an A4 sheet of paper," CIWF said. "Adult female pigs have to spend nearly half of every year inside crates, in which they cannot even turn around. Calves, geese, and quail are also caged, preventing them from performing basic natural behaviors."
Intensive animal agriculture has also been linked to the spread of disease, leading to recent calls from conservationist Jane Goodall and climate action leader Greta Thunberg for a dramatic shift in humans' treatment of animals.
"The inhumane conditions and close proximity the animals are kept in leads to cross-contamination, resulting in a breeding ground for new infections and diseases," reported the British magazine Vegan Food & Living on Tuesday.
MEPs also called on the Commission to "put forward proposals to ban the cruel and unnecessary force-feeding of ducks and geese for the production of foie gras" and called for all products placed on the E.U. market to comply with cage-free standards.
"With this resolution we send an unequivocal message to the European Commission, which now needs to come forward with a legislative proposal to End the Cage Age and enable a transition to more humane, sustainable, and healthier farming methods across the E.U.," said MEP Eleonora Evi, co-chair of the body's working group on cage-free farming.
New York-based animal welfare group Farm Sanctuary applauded the vote and expressed hope that U.S. policymakers will soon follow the E.U.'s lead.
“Farmed animals have never had so many people standing up for them.” Excellent news as the European Parliament vot… https://t.co/8AGnuz15dS— Farm Sanctuary (@Farm Sanctuary)1623698461.0
The European Commission is expected to respond to the vote by the end of June.
Reposted with permission from Common Dreams.
By Jon Queally
Anti-poverty groups, climate campaigners, and public health experts reacted with outrage and howls of disappointment Sunday after the G7 leaders who spent the weekend at a summit in Cornwall, England issued a final communique that critics said represents an extreme abdication of responsibility in the face of the world's most pressing and intertwined crises — savage economic inequality, a rapidly-heating planet, and the deadly COVID-19 pandemic.
"This G7 summit will live on in infamy," declared Max Lawson, Oxfam's head of inequality policy, in a statement responding to the G7 communique at the conclusion of the weekend summit — a gathering characterized by the global progressive movement as an unmitigated disaster compared to what could have been achieved.
"Faced with the biggest health emergency in a century and a climate catastrophe that is destroying our planet," Lawson said, the leaders of the richest nations "have completely failed to meet the challenges of our times. Never in the history of the G7 has there been a bigger gap between their actions and the needs of the world. In the face of these challenges the G7 have chosen to cook the books on vaccines and continue to cook the planet. We don't need to wait for history to judge this summit a colossal failure, it is plain for all to see."
The G7 statement does vow to "[e]nd the pandemic and prepare for the future by driving an intensified international effort, starting immediately, to vaccinate the world by getting as many safe vaccines to as many people as possible as fast as possible" — and the member nations pledged a collective 1 billion doses will be donated to benefit middle- and low-income nations. However, public health experts have been adamant that voluntary charity and empty rhetoric — especially in the the absence of a joint commitment to lift patent protections for life-saving vaccines at the World Trade Organization — makes clear the richest nations would still rather protect the profits of the pharmaceutical industry than serve the world's poor or see the pandemic eviscerated.
This was a missed opportunity for #G7 countries - who have done most to fuel the crises of Covid, climate & inequal… https://t.co/z1pbtn4zeq— War on Want (@War on Want)1623601093.0
On Sunday, Global Justice Now executive director Nick Dearden — who has been on the ground in Cornwall throughout the summit — called the communique "shameful," a document that "stresses 'vaccines are a public good' and 'we need equitable access' while then reinforcing the intellectual property system which enshrines the very opposite principles."
"The G7 is not fit for purpose," Dearden tweeted. "They have operated without any concern for lives around the world — or even for our own ability to end this pandemic." Dearden said it was now clear that "profits first" is the true commitment of UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson and the other G7 leaders, and Global Justice Now suggested the only people who will be celebrating the bloc's lack of ambition will be Big Pharma and its allies:
Success! I blocked a plan to make billions of Covid jabs as fast as possible, to protect big pharma profits. Greed… https://t.co/m61mkPrz2d— Global Justice Now (@Global Justice Now)1623598378.0
Meanwhile, the G7's specific response to the climate crisis was seen as paltry, even if a modest step in the right direction. Thousands of climate activists demonstrated Saturday to demand the G7 leaders finally match their actions with some of their recent promises, but again the ambitions put forth Sunday by U.S. President Joe Biden, Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany, and the other powerful leaders were seen as more of the same kind of failure that has become all too familiar.
"This summit feels like a broken record of the same old promises," said John Sauven, Greenpeace UK's executive director. "There's a new commitment to ending overseas investment in coal, which is their piece de resistance. But without agreeing to end all new fossil fuel projects — something that must be delivered this year if we are to limit dangerous rises in global temperature — this plan falls very short."
The G7 plan touted by its members on Sunday, said Sauven, "doesn't go anywhere near far enough when it comes to a legally binding agreement to stop the decline of nature by 2030. And the finance being offered to poorer nations is simply not new, nor enough, to match the scale of the climate crisis."
Despite the G7 communique's new pledge to end future financing of coal projects worldwide and restating its Paris Agreement pledge to keep global temperatures from rising more than 1.5 ºC by 2050, those promises fall intensely short of what the scientific community says is necessary to address the climate emergency.
"The G7 has now fallen squarely behind what leading economists, energy analysts, and global civil society has shown is required: an end to public finance for all fossil fuels," said Laurie van der Burg, senior campaigner for Oil Change International, on Sunday. "Our climate cannot afford further delay, and the failure of the G7 to heed these demands means more people impacted by the ravages of our climate chaos."
"Between 2017 and 2019, G7 nations spent $86 billion in public finance for fossil fuels," van der Burg continued. "Every single cent of that makes it harder to reach our climate goals. That's why more than one hundred economists as well as hundreds of civil society organizations from around the globe called on these leaders to end this public support for dirty fuels and shift this money to real solutions. Unfortunately those calls were not met with action, and our climate and communities — particularly the most vulnerable in the Global South — will feel the consequences."
Swedish climate activist and Fridays for Future co-founder Greta Thunberg also weighed in:
The climate and ecological crisis is rapidly escalating. G7 spends fantasy amounts on fossil fuels as CO2 emissions… https://t.co/ZkoFUmAvtv— Greta Thunberg (@Greta Thunberg)1623606064.0
David Turnbull, Oil Change's strategic communications director, put specific emphasis on Biden's responsibility heading into the summit — his first overseas trip as U.S. President — and his failure to seize the historic moment or establish himself as a truly transformational leader on the global stage.
"Biden's first trip abroad unfortunately can be chalked up as a missed opportunity," Turnbull said. "Despite strong statements about ending U.S. international support for all fossil fuels in the first few months of his administration, President Biden has yet to turn those statements into true action. The G7 was a key moment to show that the U.S. can be a leader in moving the world forward on bold climate action, and unfortunately that leadership has not yet revealed itself."
The lack of funding for climate adaptation for poorer nations — those that have done the least to create the climate threat but suffer the most because of it — was also highlighted by Oxfam International.
"This plan could support green development in poorer countries," said Oxfam's climate change lead Nafkote Dabi, "but it is lacking in detail including on who will foot the bill. It also appears to champion infrastructure to reduce emissions, while many communities are screaming out for support to adapt to the impacts of climate change — an area that remains woefully underfunded."
Jennifer Morgan, executive director of Greenpeace International, made the explicit connection between poverty, the COVID-19 pandemic, and the climate emergency.
"Everyone is being hit by COVID-19 and worsening climate impacts," Morgan said, "but it is the most vulnerable who are faring the worst due to G7 leaders sleeping on the job. We need authentic leadership and that means treating the pandemic and the climate crisis for what they are: an interconnected inequality emergency."
"The solutions to the climate emergency are clear and available," she continued, "but the G7's refusal to do what's needed is leaving the world's vulnerable behind. To fight COVID-19, supporting a TRIPS waiver for a People's Vaccine is crucial. To lead us out of the climate emergency, the G7 needed to deliver clear plans to quickly phase out fossil fuels and commitments to immediately stop all new fossil fuel development with a just transition."
Where, she asked, "is the clear national implementation with deadlines and where is the climate finance so urgently needed for the most vulnerable countries?"
According to the global movement for climate action and a just solution to the pandemic, such things are not to be found in anything that came out of Cornwall over the weekend.
Reposted with permission from Common Dreams.
Basak Gurbuz Derman / Moment / Getty Images
Your body's immune system is the natural, front line defense to protect you against harmful pathogens and infections. You can boost the effectiveness of your immune system through diet and exercise but did you know that certain multivitamins can aid your immune system and promote general wellness? Here are our recommendations of the top five supplements to help boost your immune system.
What is the Immune System?
There are two main aspects to the immune system: the innate and the adaptive immune system. The innate immune system is one you are born with, and it is the body's rapid response system. It works to attack antigens or invaders in the body. The adaptive or acquired immune system builds antibodies to protect your body from certain microbes, or germs, it encounters in the environment.
Did you know that your immune system keeps track of each germ it has ever defeated? This way, if your body encounters a germ it has fought in its immune system before, it can recognize and protect your body from it more effectively.
Your immune system's memory of the germs it encounters is stored in white blood cells. The white blood cells move through the blood and tissue in your body and attack harmful invaders such as viruses and bacteria.
Fortunately, you can support and improve the effectiveness of your immune system by maintaining a healthy diet, exercising regularly, drinking alcohol in moderation, and getting a proper amount of sleep.
Our Top 5 Supplements to Boost Immune Health
Each product featured here has been independently selected by the writer. You can learn more about our review methodology here. If you make a purchase using the links included, we may earn commission.
- Best Overall - NutraOne Immune One
- Best for Vitality - Vital Plan Daily Herbal Supplement
- Best for Bioavailability - Global Healing Liquid Zinc
- Best for Respiratory Health - Renew Life Everyday Immune Probiotic
- Best Gummy for Immune Health - Nested Naturals Elderberry Gummies
Vitamins and Minerals that Support the Immune System
It's no secret that certain vitamins and supplements can aid your immune system to fight off potentially harmful infections. Here are some that stand out.
- Elderberry: There are around 30 different types of elder plants and trees globally. Sambucus nigra is the type that helps with healing and immune health. Elderberry consists of many vitamins and antioxidants.
- Vitamin C: Your body doesn't naturally produce Vitamin C. However, it has proven to have immense health benefits. Vitamin C helps the immune system's white blood cell production.
- Zinc: This supplement helps produce new immune system cells in your body.
- Vitamin D: Vitamin D helps to regulate the body's immune system.
- Vitamin E: This antioxidant is fat-soluble and helps protect cells from harmful 'free radicals' which are unstable atoms that can cause damage to cells; this response can lead to illness.
- Reishi mushrooms: There are three molecules in reishi mushrooms that are responsible for their health effects: triterpenoids, polysaccharides, and peptidoglycans. Studies have found that reishi mushrooms may be able to change the inflammation pathways in white blood cells.
Best Overall: NutraOne ImmuneOne
5 Star Nutrition has an array of quality vitamins, minerals, and supplements. For immune health, we recommend the ImmuneOne supplement. It's formulated with vitamin C, elderberry, and echinacea to help improve overall wellness, with the added benefit of supporting lung health.Why buy: ImmuneOne includes 1000 mg of vitamin C, as well as elderberry, Zinc, and vitamin A. We like that this supplement is made with natural ingredients like cinnamon, echinacea, and ginseng, without any artificial additives.
Best for Vitality: Vital Plan Daily Herbal
The Daily Herbal blend by Vital Plan is a unique herbal supplement created by Dr. Bill Rawls. His formula "works at the cellular level to address the modern-day stress factors associated with accelerated aging." The blend includes medicinal mushrooms, as well as Rhodiola and Turmeric extract.Why buy: Daily Herbal includes five adaptogenic ingredients designed to support cell resilience, immune response, and microbiome balance. It can also boost energy and endurance because of the Rhodiola extract. The product is gluten and dairy free, and is also tested at a third-party lab for ingredient purity verification.
Best for Bioavailability: Global Healing Liquid Zinc
Every cell in your body uses Zinc, and it's an effective mineral to boost your immune system. It also helps the digestive system, and even encourages cell growth. Zinc is also great for skin complexion, sexual health, and supporting normal blood sugar.
Why buy: Global Healing Plant-Based Zinc is vegan, certified USDA organic, gluten-free, and is not tested on animals. We like that this Zinc is plant based and all natural. The Zinc is extracted from organic guava leaves, and comes with a one-year money-back guarantee.
Best for Respiratory Health: Renew Life Everyday Immune Probiotic 10 Billion
Renew Life prioritizes wellness that is backed by science. They believe that the intake of probiotics is the only way to add bacterial species into the body's microbiome to help support a healthy immune response.Why buy: Renew Life's Everyday Immune Probiotic 10 Billion helps improve overall wellbeing and immune health with a formula that includes probiotics, Zinc, and Vitamin C. The capsules are small, making it easier to swallow, and Renew Life offers a 60-day money-back guarantee.
Best Gummies for Immune Health: Nested Naturals Elderberry Gummies
These Elderberry gummies include a vegan blend of Vitamin C and Zinc to ensure thriving immune health. The blend of Elderberry and Vitamin C can also provide wellness during travel and during the change of seasons.Why buy: We like these Elderberry gummies because they contain around 100 mg of elderberry extract per gummy, are vegan, gluten-free, and go through a four-part lab test. They also taste great and contain less than a gram of sugar each.
How to Choose an Immune Supplement or Multivitamin
There are a few key aspects to look out for when shopping for immune supplements. Below is a list of what to look for when shopping for a supplement to help boost your immune system.
What to Look For
When comparing different brands of immune supplements, look for these things before you buy.
Clinical Research: Many immune supplements will inform you if they're clinically researched formulas, or formulated by doctors.
Transparency: Some supplement brands list all of the vitamins and minerals they use in the formula of their supplement. It's important to know exactly what you're ingesting, and where it came from.
Lab Testing: To guarantee what you're consuming is pure, and safe, look too see if a brand had their product tested at a third-party lab.
Non-Artificial Ingredients: Immune supplements with natural, non-artificial ingredients that are plant-derived or organic are always a good choice. If the brand uses animal products, check to see that they are sourced ethically and sustainably.
How to Read Labels
When reading the label of your supplement, be sure to notice the serving size. Oftentimes, the recommended serving size for a supplement is larger than simply taking one capsule or multivitamin. Some labels will specify the best time of day to take the supplement as well. Also take note of the ingredient list, and how much of the recommended daily intake it fulfills for certain vitamins and nutrients
It's also important to double check that the supplement was tested in a third-party lab for safety and quality. Note if the supplement is non-GMO, vegan, or gluten free. Many supplements will also tell you if it is free from certain allergens like soy and dairy.
Safety & Side Effects
Ingesting the right oral immune boosting supplements may be beneficial to your overall health. However, there are a few minor side effects to be aware of. Some common side effects of immune boosting supplements may include:
- Intense abdominal pain
Other, infrequent side effects may include:
- Pain in arms or legs
- Chest pain
- Abdominal bloating
Sometimes, when certain vitamins are ingested without food can cause stomach pain. Be sure to read the label to see if you should take an immune supplement with food and to be sure that you do not take more than the recommended amount. Most side effects from vitamin supplements are a result of taking too much at one time.
Certain vitamin and mineral supplements can interact with prescription medications. If you take prescription medicines, or are undergoing prescribed treatment for a condition, consult with your doctor before taking any additional supplements.
There are number of ways to help boost wellness and support a healthy immune system, and adding an extra immune-boosting supplement may help. Use our guide to find the best multivitamin or supplement to boost your immune system, and learn whether or not you should consider a supplement for immune health.
Audrey Nakagawa is the content creator intern at EcoWatch. She is a senior at James Madison University studying Media, Art, and Design, with a concentration in journalism. She's a reporter for The Breeze in the culture section and writes features on Harrisonburg artists, album reviews, and topics related to mental health and the environment. She was also a contributor for Virginia Reports where she reported on the impact that COVID-19 had on college students.
By Brett Wilkins
A new report published Wednesday by a trio of progressive advocacy groups lifts the veil on so-called "net zero" climate pledges, which are often touted by corporations and governments as solutions to the climate emergency, but which the paper's authors argue are merely a dangerous form of greenwashing that should be eschewed in favor of Real Zero policies based on meaningful, near-term commitments to reducing global greenhouse gas emissions.
The report, The Big Con: How Big Polluters Are Advancing a "Net Zero" Climate Agenda to Delay, Deceive, and Deny, was published by Corporate Accountability, the Global Forest Coalition, and Friends of the Earth International, and is endorsed by more than 60 environmental organizations. The paper comes ahead of this November's United Nations Climate Change Conference in Glasgow, Scotland and amid proliferating pledges from polluting corporations and governments to achieve what they claim is carbon neutrality — increasingly via dubious offsets — by some distant date, often the year 2050.
However, the report asserts that "instead of offering meaningful real solutions to justly address the crisis they knowingly created and owning up to their responsibility to act beginning with drastically reducing emissions at source, polluting corporations and governments are advancing 'net zero' plans that require little or nothing in the way of real solutions or real effective emissions cuts."
"Furthermore... they see the potential for a 'net zero' global pathway to provide new business opportunities for them, rather than curtailing production and consumption of their polluting products," it says.
According to the report:
After decades of inaction, corporations are suddenly racing to pledge to achieve "net zero" emissions. These include fossil fuel giants like BP, Shell, and Total; tech giants like Microsoft and Apple; retailers like Amazon and Walmart; financers like HSBC, Bank of America, and BlackRock; airlines like United and Delta; and food, livestock, and meat producing and agriculture corporations like JBS, Nestlé, and Cargill. Polluting corporations are in a race to be the loudest and proudest to pledge "net zero" emissions by 2050 or some other date in the distant future. Over recent years, more than 1,500 corporations have made "net zero" commitments, an accomplishment applauded by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and the U.N. Secretary General.
"Increasingly, the concept of 'net zero' is being misconstrued in political spaces as well as by individual actors to evade action and avoid responsibility," the report states. "The idea behind big polluters' use of 'net zero' is that an entity can continue to pollute as usual — or even increase its emissions — and seek to compensate for those emissions in a number of ways. Emissions are nothing more than a math equation in these plans; they can be added one place and subtracted from another place."
Behind #NetZero pledges is the reality that #BigPolluters can keep: 💵 Buying carbon #offsets instead of cutting e… https://t.co/Y3YmUYJ8Ft— Global Forest Coalition (GFC) (@Global Forest Coalition (GFC))1623227415.0
"This equation is simple in theory but deeply flawed in reality," the paper asserts. "These schemes are being used to mask inaction, foist the burden of emissions cuts and pollution avoidance on historically exploited communities, and bet our collective future through ensuring long-term, destructive impact on land and forests, oceans, and through advancing geoengineering technologies. These technologies are hugely risky, do not exist at the scale supposedly needed, and are likely to cause enormous, and likely irreversible, damage."
Among the key findings of the report:
- Big polluters, including the fossil fuel and aviation industries, lobbied heavily to ensure passage of Q45, a tax credit subsidizing carbon capture and storage. A 2020 report from the U.S. Treasury Department's inspector general found that fossil fuel companies improperly claimed nearly $1 billion in Q45 credits.
- The International Emissions Trading Association — described by the report's authors as "perhaps the largest global lobbyist on market and offsets, both pillars of polluters 'net zero' climate plans" — has leveraged its considerable power to push its greenwashing agenda at international climate talks.
- Major polluters have contributed generously to universities including the Massachusetts Institute for Technology, Princeton University, Stanford University, and Imperial College London in an effort to influence "net zero"-related research. At Stanford's Global Climate and Energy Project, ExxonMobil retained the right to formally review research before completion and was allowed to place corporate staff members on development teams.
"The best, most proven approach to justly addressing the climate crisis is to significantly reduce emissions now in an equitable manner, bringing them close to Real Zero by 2030 at the latest," the report states, referring to a situation in which no carbon emissions are produced by a good or service without the use of offsets. "The cross-sectoral solutions we need already exist, are proven, and are scalable now... All that is missing is the political will to advance them, in spite of industry obstruction and deflection."
"People around the globe have already made their demands clear," the report says. "Meaningful solutions that can be implemented now are already detailed in platforms like the People's Demands for Climate Justice, the Liability Roadmap, the Energy Manifesto, and many other resources that encompass the wisdom of those on the frontlines of the climate crisis."
Sara Shaw, climate justice and energy program co-coordinator at Friends of the Earth International and one of the paper's authors, said that "this report shows that 'net zero' plans from big polluters are nothing more than a big con. The reality is that corporations like Shell have no interest in genuinely acting to solve the climate crisis by reducing their emissions from fossil fuels. They instead plan to continue business as usual while greenwashing their image with tree planting and offsetting schemes that can never ever make up for digging up and burning fossil fuels."
"We must wake up fast to the fact that we are falling for a trick," Shaw added. "'Net zero' risks obscuring a lack of action until it is too late."
Lidy Nacpil, coordinator of the Asian Peoples Movement on Debt and Development — which endorsed the report — warned that "proclamations of 'net zero' targets are dangerous deceptions. 'Net zero' sounds ambitious and visionary but it actually allows big polluters and rich governments to continue emitting [greenhouse gases] which they claim will be erased through unproven and dangerous technologies, carbon trading, and offsets that shift the burden of climate action to the Global South."
"Big polluters and rich governments should not only reduce emissions to Real Zero, they must pay reparations for the huge climate debt owed to the Global South," added Nacpil.
In conclusion, the report says world leaders must "listen to the people and once and for all prioritize people's lives and the planet over engines of profit and destruction."
"To avoid social and planetary collapse," it states, "they must heed the calls of millions of people around the globe and pursue policies that justly, equitably transition our economies off of fossil fuels, and advance real solutions that prioritize life — now."
Reposted with permission from Common Dreams.
By Jake Johnson
Thousands of people from across the nation traveled to northern Minnesota this past weekend to join Indigenous leaders in what organizers described as the "largest resistance yet" to Line 3, an Enbridge-owned tar sands pipeline whose construction has accelerated in recent days as opponents warn the project poses a threat to waterways and the climate.
The Treaty People Gathering kicked off Saturday, the first of several expected days of action against Enbridge's multi-billion-dollar project, which aims to replace and expand the Canadian company's existing pipeline along a route that crosses more than 200 bodies of water and 800 wetlands.
If completed, the pipeline would have the capacity to carry more than 750,000 barrels of tar sands oil per day from Alberta, Canada to Wisconsin.
Indigenous leaders have decried the pipeline expansion as a brazen violation of treaty rights that endangers sacred land. Attempts to block the pipeline in court have yet to succeed, leading Line 3 opponents to turn their focus to large-scale protests and civil disobedience.
"We need to protect all that we have left of the sacred gifts and land," said Dawn Goodwin of the Indigenous-led RISE Coalition. "I said that I would do all that I could. And I have done all that I could in the legal system, thus far following that process. Now, they have failed us through regulatory capture and corporate financing. So now we need you."
We’ve got over 1000 people headed up to northern Minnesota to #StopLine3, but we want you up here too! Let Winona… https://t.co/DWAuzPHUGt— Honor the Earth (@Honor the Earth)1622933268.0
The latest major demonstrations against Line 3 are expected to begin on Monday, with prominent environmentalists such as Jane Fonda and Bill McKibben slated to join Winona LaDuke, Tara Houska, and other Indigenous activists in protesting the spill-prone pipeline.
"Our Mother needs us to be brave, to give voice to the sacred and future generations," Houska, founder of the Giniw Collective, said in a statement. "We've elevated the national profile of Line 3 through people power. [President Joe] Biden hears our voices, but the wetlands and wild rice need action."
"We cannot mitigate the climate crisis and we cannot stand idly by as DAPL and Line 5 fossil fuels flow illegally, as young people chain themselves to the Mountain Valley pipeline and Line 3," Houska continued. "Stand up for what is right, stand up for those not yet born."
Around 250 people have been arrested in demonstrations against Line 3 since construction began last December.
"From April 1 through June 1, work on the pipeline itself ceased due to spring road and environmental restrictions, though Enbridge continued building pumping stations," Minnesota's Star Tribune reported Saturday. "Over the past week, the full workforce—which numbers over 4,000—returned as direct pipeline work resumed."
Hundreds of environmental groups and Indigenous leaders have appealed directly to Biden to intervene against Line 3, just as he pulled the plug on the Keystone XL pipeline shortly after taking office.
In a March letter, a coalition of more than 370 organizations warned Biden that "Line 3 is a threat to water, Indigenous rights, and our global climate, and its rushed construction in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic is an extreme danger to Minnesotan communities and energy workers alike."
But Biden has yet to take any action on Line 3, and just last month his administration formally opposed a shutdown of the Dakota Access Pipeline, angering environmentalists who said the move flies in the face of the president's vows to treat the climate crisis as an emergency that requires bold action.
"President Biden did the right thing when he canceled the Keystone XL pipeline early on in his term," Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) tweeted on Friday. "Now he must do the right thing and cancel Line 3. I renew my calls to end this destructive, unnecessary giveaway to Big Oil."
Reposted with permission from Common Dreams.
- Indigenous-Led Water Protectors Take Direct Action Against ... ›
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- Enbridge to Double Carrying Capacity of Line 3 Tar Sands Pipeline ... ›
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- Water Protectors Arrested in Minnesota After Chaining Themselves ... ›
By Jenna McGuire
The United States has the resources and technology to shift away from fossil fuels and build an energy system entirely run on renewables, according to a new report released Thursday by Environment America Research & Policy Center and the Frontier Group.
The study, We Have the Power: Reaching America's Potential for Clean, Renewable Energy, finds that not only does the U.S currently have more than enough wind and solar resources to meet all of its energy needs, but renewable technologies are becoming more advanced, while costs are plummeting
The research concluded that U.S. solar energy resources have the potential to meet America's 2020 electricity demand more than 77 times over, and U.S. onshore and offshore wind resources could meet demand 11 times over.
"This report shows that between the sunshine and the wind, we have the potential to run our society on clean energy, today and in the future," said Susan Rakov, chair of Environment America Research & Policy Center's (EARPC) Clean Energy program
The analysis identifies four key strategies that are crucial to transforming the nation's energy system—building out out renewable energy, modernizing the grid, reducing and managing energy use, and replacing direct uses of fossil fuels with electricity to take advantage of clean technologies.
“We Have the Power” proposes four key strategies to transition our country’s energy system to 100 percent renewable… https://t.co/7WVL63MCbx— Environment America (@Environment America)1622744940.0
"How quickly America shifts toward wind and solar will be decided by how and when we lean into fully erecting the four pillars outlined in this report," said Emma Searson, 100% Renewable campaign director at EARPC. "Given the remarkable technological advances and progress we've made so far, we should feel confident in our ability to build each and every one of them."
Coal, oil, and gas are responsible for 80% of all U.S. greenhouse gas emissions, hundreds of thousands of annual U.S deaths from air pollution, and widespread environmental destruction, according to the report.
The analysis highlights that a transition to emission-free energy would help alleviate some of America's most urgent environmental and public health challenges and help slow the acceleration of the climate crisis.
The report calls on state and federal lawmakers to make bold commitments to a 100% clean and renewable energy future and ensure those goals are accomplished through the backing of financial and regulatory policies.
"Time is of the essence," reads the report. "Policymakers must do all they can to accelerate a shift away from fossil fuels to an energy system in which the vast majority of our energy comes from renewable sources like the wind and sun."
Reposted with permission from Common Dreams.
Climate Crisis and Negligent Policymakers Blamed for 'Record Sickening Levels' of Manatee Deaths in Florida
By Julia Conley
Conservation advocates in Florida are warning that 1,000 manatees in the state's water could die this year — hundreds more than in recent years — due to starvation driven by water pollution, the climate crisis, and other man-made harms to the mammals' ecosystem.
As The Guardian reported Monday, 749 manatees died between January 1 and May 21, compared with 637 deaths in all of 2020, qualifying as an "unusual mortality event" according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC).
Experts in the state point to the death of seagrass, manatees' primary food source, including the majority of 80,000 acres of the plants in the Indian River Lagoon due to blue-green algae blooms — "which have themselves been caused by decades of human nutrient pollution from wastewater and runoff that continues unabated to this day," Bob Graham, a former Democratic Florida governor and co-founder of Save the Manatee, wrote in the Tampa Bay Times last month.
Runoff containing fertilizers, microplastics, and other chemicals has been linked to the growth of blooms.
Warmer water temperatures linked to the climate crisis have also been known to foster the growth of algae, which cover the water's surface and deprive sea grasses of sunlight. In response, manatees overgraze the remaining seagrass.
As The Guardian reported, toxic wastewater leaks into Tampa Bay from the Piney Point fertilizer plant in Manatee County, Florida has led to water-poisoning red tide algae blooms, with the FWC linking at least 12 manatee deaths to the algae.
A study by the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) in March also found traces of pesticides in more than 55% of the manatees the group tested.
"Our beloved chubby sea cows are dodging boat strikes, reeling from red tide and starving in the Indian River Lagoon because of water pollution," Jaclyn Lopez, Florida director for the CBD, told The Guardian. "It's heartbreaking to add chronic glyphosate exposure to the list of factors threatening manatee survival."
With just 7,500 manatees remaining, the unabated threats could mean the species is wiped out within a few years, as well as killing off other marine species and causing disaster for Florida's beaches and tourism industry.
"Manatees are literally that sentinel species," Patrick Rose, executive director of the Save the Manatee Club, told CNN. "They're warning us of what else is going to come if we don't do a better job while there's still time to do something about it. If we don't, our own lives will suffer."
Rose's warning was echoed on social media.
How many warnings? How many times must our environment and species die out before we get past the positics and act… https://t.co/3wCKfiQyRt— Philippe Cousteau (@Philippe Cousteau)1622395829.0
This is what happens when your ecosystem collapses ... https://t.co/ASywNNyAPr— Eliot Jacobson, PhD (@Eliot Jacobson, PhD)1622387045.0
The Orlando Sentinel editorial board published a scathing editorial earlier this month, slamming policymakers for allowing manatees to die "at record sickening levels" this year.
"Our careless contempt for keeping Florida's waters clean now has caught up with these gentle creatures. This isn't just a coincidence," the editors wrote, condemning state lawmakers as woefully out of touch with residents who want to save the state's manatees and marine life:
The average Floridian has always respected wild surroundings and wants to protect the fragile parts, including its crystalline freshwater springs, its moss-draped woodlands and its rare animals.
The average state legislator, on the other hand, has always respected campaign contributions from wealthy polluters like phosphate mines and from developers whose goal is to cover sensitive land with subdivisions and golf courses that spew killing fertilizer into waterways.
Voters have said over and over again—loudly and unambiguously—that they want state money spent on the environment. Consider the 75% voter support for Amendment 1 in 2014.
The constitutional amendment ordered the state to use 33% of the proceeds—that was $750 million in 2015—of an already-existing real-estate tax called documentary stamps to improve and protect water resources and to buy preservation land.
Instead, then-state Sen. Alan Hays, R-Umatilla, now the Supervisor of Elections in Lake County, chaired a committee that hijacked all but $37 million to feed bloated state bureaucracy, pay off state debt and keep the corporate welfare flowing. That's disgusting on two levels—the damage to the environment and the disrespect to the voters.
The editors also denounced former Gov. Rick Scott for "mercilessly slashing employees" from the Department of Environmental Protection, calling on the agency to loosen water quality rules, and barring local governments from regulating the use of harmful fertilizers.
"The reason sensitive manatees are dying is no big mystery," they wrote. "Environmentalists heralded this foul die-off. Politicians were deaf to the warning. Florida has at least some rules for protecting land and animals, but has had almost no enforcement in the past decade. Dead manatees are just the beginning."
Graham called on the Biden administration to "demand that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) and other federal agencies make protecting manatees and recovering seagrasses and other submerged aquatic vegetation a top priority in ensuring that our aquatic ecosystems are nursed back to health," following a 2019 decision by FWS to change manatees' status from "endangered" to "threatened."
Duane De Freese, executive director of the Indian River Lagoon Council, called on policymakers to recognize the threats facing manatees as endangering entire ecosystems.
"This is about more than just the environment," De Freese told CNN. "It's about human health, it's about quality of life, it's about the economic vitality of our coastal communities. And if we fail to act in a science-driven way to solve these problems, as the population grows, these problems will grow with it."
Reposted with permission from Common Dreams.
By Brett Wilkins
After a federal judge rejected a $2 billion class-action proposal from Bayer to avert future lawsuits alleging its popular Roundup herbicide causes cancer, the pharmaceutical and chemical giant announced Thursday that it would consider ending sales of the glyphosate-based weedkiller for residential use in the United States.
In a statement, Bayer said that it "will immediately engage with partners to discuss the future of glyphosate-based products in the U.S. residential market" in a move aimed at "mitigating future litigation risk."
"None of these discussions will affect the availability of glyphosate-based products in markets for professional and agricultural users," the Germany-based company added.
On Wednesday, U.S. District Court Judge Vince Chhabria in San Francisco rejected Bayer's $2 billion plan to settle future lawsuits as "clearly unreasonable," saying that while the proposal would "accomplish a lot for Monsanto" — the Roundup maker acquired by Bayer for nearly $63 billion in 2018 — it "would accomplish far less for... Roundup users."
NEW: @Bayer is rethinking the future of glyphosate products after losing a $2B cancer claims settlement – yet it st… https://t.co/FTj62pCLPi— Friends of the Earth (Action) (@Friends of the Earth (Action))1622148837.0
Earlier this month, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit in San Francisco upheld a lower court ruling against Monsanto that found the chemical maker liable for the cancer afflicting users of Roundup, the world's bestselling weedkiller. Thousands of Roundup users allege the herbicide gave them non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, a cancer of the blood.
While Bayer claims Roundup is safe, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) said in 2015 that glyphosate "is probably carcinogenic to humans."
In 2018, a San Francisco Superior Court jury found Monsanto liable for damages suffered by a groundskeeper and cancer patient who alleged his ailment was directly caused by exposure to glyphosate-based herbicides including Roundup, opening the floodgate for similar lawsuits across the nation. Juries in three separate cases have found that Monsanto covered up evidence of glyphosate's health risks for decades. Bayer subsequently agreed to allot $9.6 billion toward resolving the 125,000 claims against the company.
Health and environmental campaigners were encouraged by Bayer's Thursday announcement.
"Removing glyphosate from residential use would be a step in the right direction, as most of the cases now pending settlement involved serious exposure from non-farm uses," Ken Cook, president of the Environmental Working Group (EWG), said in a statement.
"Another clear step would be for Bayer to withdraw the pesticide from end-of-season use on food crops, which gave rise to the contamination EWG has found on oat products, in hummus, and other food," Cook continued.
"But unless this cancer-causing weedkiller is banned by the Environmental Protection Agency [EPA] or Bayer cuts its losses and stops making it, people will continue to be exposed and risk serious illness," he added. "And the legal and financial disaster stemming from one of the worst business decisions ever made will remain."
Financial Times reports U.S. glyphosate sales account for around $365 million of Bayer's annual revenue, or less than 2% of sales by its agriculture science division.
Earlier this month, the EPA drew fire from environmental groups for arguing that Roundup should remain on U.S. shelves indefinitely, even after admitting that the review of glyphosate conducted during the previous administration was flawed and needs to be redone.
Reposted with permission from Common Dreams.
By Jake Johnson
The Biden administration is facing backlash from climate activists and scientists after filing a court brief Wednesday in defense of a major Trump-era Alaska drilling project that's expected to produce up to 160,000 barrels of oil a day over a 30-year period — a plan that runs directly counter to the White House's stated goal of slashing U.S. carbon emissions.
"This is a complete denial of reality," said Jean Flemma, director of the Ocean Defense Initiative and former senior policy adviser for the House Natural Resources Committee. "The project is expected to produce about 590 million barrels of oil. Burning that oil would create nearly 260 million metric tons of CO2 emissions — about the equivalent of what is produced by 66 coal-fired power plants."
Approved by the Trump administration in October of last year, fossil fuel giant ConocoPhillips' multi-billion-dollar Willow Master Development Plan aims to establish several new oil drilling sites in part of Alaska's National Petroleum Reserve and construct hundreds of miles of pipeline.
Environmental groups promptly sued the Trump Bureau of Land Management and Interior Department over the move, charging that the agencies signed off on Willow "despite its harms to Arctic communities, public health, and wildlife, and without a plan to effectively mitigate those harms."
But in a briefing submitted in the U.S. District Court for Alaska on Wednesday, Biden administration lawyers defended the Trump agencies' decision to greenlight Willow against the environmental coalition's legal challenge.
"The agencies took a hard look at the Willow Project's impacts, including impacts from the alternative proposed water crossings and impacts from building gravel roads and other infrastructure," the filing reads. "The analysis did not suffer for lack of specific project information."
[email protected] has to choose a side: the people or fossil fuel CEOs? Keep your climate promise @JoeBiden: Stop approvin… https://t.co/WoUWTlvupb— Ben Goloff (@Ben Goloff)1622093972.0
The Biden administration's filing does not explain how support for the massive drilling project — a top priority of Alaska's Republican Sens. Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan — comports with the White House's pledge just last month to cut U.S. carbon emissions in half by 2030.
"This is climate denial," author and environmentalist Naomi Klein tweeted in response to the Biden administration's brief, which came just days after the International Energy Agency said nations must immediately stop approving new fossil fuel projects and urgently transition to renewable energy sources if the world is to avoid the worst of the climate emergency.
A federal judge temporarily halted construction of the Willow project in February, arguing environmental groups demonstrated that "there is a strong likelihood of irreparable environmental consequences once blasting operations commence."
But the New York Times reported Wednesday that "oil and gas industry officials and members of Alaska's congressional delegation, some of whom personally appealed to President Biden this week, said they believed the administration's support would help [the drilling project] proceed" despite the legal challenges and dire warnings from climate experts.
In what the Times described as "a paradox worthy of Kafka," ConocoPhillips is aiming to install cooling devices in Alaska's rapidly melting permafrost to keep the ground stable enough to support drilling that is contributing to warming temperatures.
"When someone describes a project with words like 'in a paradox worthy of Kafka,' you can bet it's not what climate action should look like," said Trustees for Alaska, an environmental justice organization. "We'll see the administration in court."
Reposted with permission from Common Dreams.
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By Kenny Stancil
In a historic rebuke of fossil fuel giant ExxonMobil, shareholders on Wednesday voted to elect at least two people to the company's board of directors who were backed by activist investors eager to accelerate the transition to clean energy.
During Exxon's annual shareholder meeting, an activist hedge fund called Engine No. 1 — which "owns only about 0.02%" of the oil company's stock, according to climate reporter Emily Atkin — ran four of its own director candidates in opposition to the fossil fuel corporation's hand-picked board members. At least two of Engine No. 1's candidates won, with the races for additional boardroom seats too close to call as of this writing.
"The outcome is a sign that Exxon's morally inept and fiscally questionable long-term climate strategy is finally catching up with it," wrote Atkin.
Journalist Brian Kahn tweeted: "Hard to overstate how much Big Oil is getting its ass kicked today by courts and shareholders alike," before proceeding to highlight three major victories claimed by climate activists on Wednesday.
In addition to the shareholder revolt at Exxon, 61% Chevron's shareholders voted Wednesday in favor of slashing carbon emissions, and Royal Dutch Shell earlier in the day was ordered by a court in the Netherlands to reduce its carbon emissions 45% by 2030, compared with 2019 levels, as Common Dreams reported.
Hard to overstate how much Big Oil is getting its ass kicked today by courts and shareholders alike. 🔥Shell loses… https://t.co/1K6NY9xB1a— Brian Kahn (@Brian Kahn)1622049489.0
"It's important to understand," explained a news dispatch by The New Republic about Exxon's board election, that Engine No. 1 "is fundamentally a financial company, not some kind of environmental justice collective." The outlet continued:
As such, its criticism of Exxon, outlined in an investor presentation, stems from the fundamental principle that "ExxonMobil has significantly underperformed and has failed to adjust its strategy to enhance long-term value." But the source of this underperformance, the hedge fund claims, is something approaching climate denial: "A refusal to accept that fossil fuel demand may decline in decades to come has led to a failure to take even initial steps towards evolution, and to obfuscating rather than addressing long-term business risk."
Environmentalist Bill McKibben emphasized that the election of Engine No. 1-nominated candidates to Exxon's board happened despite the company's "strenuous objections."
Jess Shankleman of Bloomberg News, meanwhile, described the news this way: "A tiny activist investor has just held a proxy referendum on Exxon's climate plans — and won."
The Guardian reported that the "rival upstart" received a boost when BlackRock — the world's biggest asset manager and the second largest shareholder at Exxon with a 6.7% ownership stake — threw its support behind three of Engine No. 1's four director candidates, all of whom "have a background in fossil fuels but leadership experience in green energy innovation... due to frustration with the company's refusal to take climate concerns seriously."
As Atkin noted:
Exxon's long-term strategy, you may remember, is to significantly ramp up oil production over the next decade, climate crisis be damned. The company released an absolutely laughable "climate plan" a few months ago, which allows the company to increase its carbon emissions in line with that strategy.
The oil giant has also faced heat in recent months for refusing to fully explain to investors how climate change poses a risk to the company; how much and to whom is it giving political contributions; and where its political lobbying efforts are focused.
While BlackRock "has previously pledged to make climate change central to its investments, and has received a good deal of praise for it," Atkin wrote, the financial giant "did not back all of Engine No. 1's candidates... [and] still likely voted to retain Exxon CEO Darren Woods — who has been central to pushing the oil giant's current strategy — as director of the board."
Environmental campaigners echoed Atkin, simultaneously celebrating Wednesday's surprise boardroom victory while calling for more far-reaching changes that are consistent with what scientists and climate justice advocates say is necessary.
"Make no mistake: the shareholder vote to shake-up Exxon's board represents a seismic shift for the company," said Ben Cushing, financial advocacy campaign manager at Sierra Club. "It's a culmination of years of activist energy and a result of massive shareholder frustration with the company's failure to change course on climate."
"However," Cushing added, "change must come from the top as well. And with Darren Woods still in charge of Exxon, we question if the new board members will be able to change course quickly or drastically enough. Exxon needs to stop greenwashing, align with the goals of the Paris Agreement, and phase-out oil and gas production, starting now."
Roberta Giordano, finance program campaigner at The Sunrise Project, said that "what Engine No. 1 could accomplish with such a small ownership stake at Exxon is remarkable."
"Imagine what BlackRock, Vanguard, and other major asset managers could do if they really wanted to effect change at the major polluters of the world," Giordano continued.
"New board members are a start," she added, "but Exxon needs new leadership at the very top."
Reposted with permission from Common Dreams.
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By Kenny Stancil
A new report released Monday by a federal oversight agency revealed that before former President Donald Trump's Environmental Protection Agency reapproved use of dicamba in 2018, high-ranking officials in the administration intentionally excluded scientific evidence of certain hazards related to the herbicide, including the risk of widespread drift damage.
The Office of the Inspector General found that the 2018 decision by the EPA's Office of Pesticide Programs to extend registrations for three dicamba products "varied from typical operating procedures."
Specifically, according to the IG report, "the EPA did not conduct the required internal peer reviews of scientific documents," which paved the way for "senior-level changes to or omissions" of research detailing the drift risks of the weed-killer.
While "division-level management review" of pesticide safety documents is typical, staff scientists at the EPA told the IG that senior leaders were "more involved in the 2018 dicamba decision than in other pesticide registration decisions." In addition, "staff felt constrained or muted in sharing their concerns," the government watchdog's report noted.
"Now that the EPA's highly politicized, anti-science approach to fast-tracking use of this harmful pesticide has been fully exposed, the agency should cancel dicamba's recent approval, not try to defend it in court," Stephanie Parent, a senior environmental health attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity, said in response to the new report.
"The EPA knows that anything less is likely to result in yet another summer of damaged fields and lost profits for farmers choosing not to use dicamba," Parent added.
Breaking: A new report, released today, reveals that high ranking officials in Trump's EPA purposefully excluded da… https://t.co/AkPhVwQ0BI— Center 4 Food Safety (@Center 4 Food Safety)1621900096.0
Over the past four years, dicamba products sprayed "over the top" of soybean and cotton crops genetically engineered to resist the herbicide have "caused drift damage to five million acres of soybeans as well as orchards, gardens, trees, and other plants on a scale unprecedented in the history of U.S. agriculture," according to the Center for Food Safety and the Center for Biological Diversity.
Recent research also indicates that dicamba endangers human health. Last year, a team of epidemiologists found that use of the weed-killer can increase the risk of developing numerous cancers.
The Center for Food Safety and the Center for Biological Diversity filed a lawsuit challenging the 2018 approval of three dicamba products sold by agrochemical giants BASF, Corteva, and Monsanto, which was acquired three years ago by the German pharmaceutical and biotech company Bayer.
In response to the lawsuit, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit overturned the Trump EPA's approval of those three products in June 2020 and ruled that the agency had violated the law when it "substantially understated" the "enormous and unprecedented" amount of damage caused by dicamba herbicides in 2017 and 2018 and "entirely failed to recognize the enormous social cost to farming communities."
And yet, just days before the November presidential election, the Trump EPA rushed to approve new five-year registrations for dicamba products created by Bayer and BASF and extend until 2025 the registration of another dicamba product developed by Syngenta.
As a result, farmers and advocacy groups were once again forced to sue to challenge the approval of the destructive weed-killer. According to the Center for Food Safety and the Center for Biological Diversity, that was the third time the EPA had registered dicamba herbicides, each time with additional restrictions that have failed to curb drift damage.
Referring to the IG evaluation released Monday, George Kimbrell, legal director of the Center for Food Safety, said that "this report admits what we knew already: dicamba's approval was politically tainted. EPA unlawfully promoted the profits of pesticide companies instead of following the law and sound science, putting chemical companies over protecting farmers and the environment."
"The disappointing part," Kimbrell added, "is that EPA nonsensically continues to stand by the plainly political dicamba decision rushed through just days before the 2020 election, just five months after the court's striking down of the 2018 approval."
Reposted with permission from Common Dreams.
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By Brett Wilkins
Citing the imperative to "protect the residents and natural resources of St. James Parish and to prevent public health and environmental harms across our jurisdictions," attorneys general from four states and the District of Columbia on Monday sent a letter to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers asking it to thoroughly evaluate the adverse impacts of Formosa Plastics' massive proposed petrochemical complex in Louisiana's "Cancer Alley."
The Center for Biological Diversity, Healthy Gulf, the Louisiana Bucket Brigade, and RISE St. James last year sued the Trump administration over a federal permit for the proposed project—which could cost up to $12 billion—prompting the Army Corps of Engineers to suspend that permit pending a broader environmental review.
"The corps must reevaluate the environmental justice implications of issuing the permit, including the plastics complex's disproportionate impacts on low-income African-American communities in St. James Parish that are already overburdened by pollution from existing refineries and petrochemical facilities," states the letter — which was led by New York Attorney General Letitia James and signed by William Tong, Karl Racine, Maura Healey, and Gurbir Grewal — her counterparts in Connecticut, the District of Columbia, Massachusetts, and New Jersey, respectively.
BREAKING: Attorneys General Demand Deeper Army Corps Analysis of Formosa Plastics’ Louisiana Project. Letter Asks F… https://t.co/pEVDORT5Km— Ctr4BioDiv Ocean (@Ctr4BioDiv Ocean)1621872525.0
"We also request that you reevaluate the plastics complex's greenhouse gas emissions and contribution to the global climate crisis, as well as its impacts on migratory birds and other species resulting from the destruction of forested wetlands and degradation of water quality," the five attorneys general wrote. "By reevaluating these environmental and public health impacts, the corps will comply with applicable law and prevent harm to our residents and natural resources."
"Such comprehensive analysis furthers the Biden administration's important environmental justice policies, which direct federal agencies to address the disproportionate health, environmental, and climate impacts of agency programs and decision-making on disadvantaged communities," the letter states.
St. James Parish residents—nearly half of whom are Black—and environmental advocates strongly oppose the proposed plant, which they say will release carcinogenic chemicals and, according to one environmental watchdog, spew 13.6 million tons of planet-heating emissions into the atmosphere each year.
Formosa Plastics has also faced intense criticism for failing to follow through on a promise to alter the plant's layout to lessen the exposure of nearby residents and schoolchildren to toxins, and for its failure to notify the community of the discovery of a burial ground for enslaved Black people.
St. James Parish is located amid an 85-mile stretch along the Mississippi River between New Orleans and Baton Rouge commonly called Cancer Alley due to its nearly 150 oil refineries and plastics and chemical plants.
According to data from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the cancer risk in predominantly Black areas of St. James Parish is significantly higher than in majority white areas. The EPA's Risk-Screening Environmental Indicators database reported an 800% cancer hazard increase due to petrochemical facilities in the parish between 2007 and 2018.
Local and national advocacy groups praised the action by the attorneys general.
"I'm grateful that these attorneys general understand the threat Formosa Plastics poses to us and are demanding action," Sharon Lavigne, founder of RISE St. James, said in a statement. "The Army Corps needs to listen and do a proper analysis of a project that would endanger our lives."
"I believe that if there's an honest assessment of the environmental racism behind this project's approval then it will never be permitted," added Lavigne. "We must stop Formosa Plastics."
Our Town, Our Fight – by Shamell and Sharon Lavigne www.youtube.com
Louisiana Bucket Brigade director Anne Rolfes said that "it's refreshing to see public servants actually act in the interest of the people they serve... We are glad that at least some attorneys general actually have a backbone, and we are grateful for their support. We will continue to push the Biden administration to take a stand for environmental justice and permanently revoke this project's permits."
Julie Teel Simmonds, a lawyer at the Center for Biological Diversity, said that the group is "pleased these state attorneys general are joining our coalition's call for stronger federal scrutiny of Formosa Plastics' terrible project."
"Any serious analysis should cause the Army Corps to reject this major threat to public health and our climate," Teel Simmonds continued. "We can't let industry pollute another working-class Black community as it creates mountains of plastic the world doesn't want or need. I'm hoping this letter will help convince Formosa Plastics to abandon this dangerous project."
St. James Parish has been the site of numerous protests against the proposed Formosa complex, including the youth-led Sunrise Movement's "Generation on Fire" 400-mile march from New Orleans to Houston.
Gulf South Marchers with @VarshPrakash, the ED of Sunrise, are in St James, LA demanding the @JoeBiden admin revoke… https://t.co/fD4hfivHRI— Generation on Fire 🔥 (@Generation on Fire 🔥)1621274302.0
Around 175 advocacy groups and numerous Democratic lawmakers have also voiced their opposition to the proposed plant.
Reposted with permission from Common Dreams.
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In New Film, Greta Thunberg Connects the Dots Between Animal Exploitation, Climate Crisis, Pandemics
By Julia Conley
A new short film featuring climate action leader Greta Thunberg highlights the connections between the climate crisis, ecological emergency, and the COVID-19 pandemic as well as other public health crises that are likely to arise from humans' exploitation of animals — and explains how communities and policymakers can repair people's relationship to wildlife while radically changing our food systems.
For Nature, conceived of by Thunberg and produced by the animal rights nonprofit organization Mercy for Animals, was released Saturday to coincide with the International Day for Biological Diversity.
In the film, Thunberg "connects the dots" for the audience to help explain how people's land use, agricultural practices, and exploitation of animals are all "creating the perfect conditions for diseases to spill over from one animal to another and to us," making it highly likely that even if the global community gets the coronavirus pandemic under control with widespread distribution of vaccines, "the next pandemic could be much much worse."
A quarter of fossil fuel emissions come from agriculture and land use, Thunberg explains in the film, and although 83% of the world's agricultural land is used to feed livestock with soy, corn, and wheat — which could be used to feed people — livestock only provide 18% of human's calories.
"It just doesn't make sense," Thunberg says in the film. "The land requirements of meat and dairy production are equivalent to North and South America combined... We have industrialized life on Earth."
As a number of experts have said since the pandemic began last year, humans' habitat destruction and other exploitative practices have pushed the species closer to other animals, making it more likely that diseases will "spill over from one animal to another and to us," as Thunberg says in the film.
Three-quarters of immune diseases "come from other animals because of the way we farm and treat nature," she adds.
"We need to rethink how we value and treat nature in order to safeguard future and present living conditions for life on Earth," Thunberg said in a statement. "We all, of course, have different opportunities and responsibilities, but most of us can at least do something — no matter how small."
Thunberg and Mercy for Animals called on viewers to stop supporting the farming of "unhealthy and destructive animal products" and said policymakers should "help farmers transition to a plant-based farming model that is better for their livelihoods, local communities, the environment, and the animals."
"We are all part of nature and can be part of nature protecting itself," said John Seber, vice president of advocacy for Mercy for Animals.
The film comes days after acclaimed conservationist Jane Goodall told Agence France Presse that humans must do away with "very, very cruel intensive factory farms" and urged world governments to incorporate "a new mindset for our survival" into their plans to recover from the pandemic.
"Let's face it — if we don't change, we're fucked," says Thunberg in the film. "But we can change. We can change the way we farm, we can change what we eat, we can change how we treat nature. Some of us have lots of choices while some have none of them."
"Those with the most power have the most responsibility," she added.
Reposted with permission from Common Dreams.
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