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.
"My two sons are among the millions of children who go to school near oil and gas operations that threatens their health and safety," said Patrice Tomcik, National Oil and Gas program coordinator with Moms Clean Air Force, from Southwest Pennsylvania. She continued, "Children are especially vulnerable to these threats, including cancer, respiratory illness, fetal defects, blood disorders and neurological problems. With so many children living, playing and learning in close proximity to oil and gas production, it is unconscionable that our federal government wants to stall and revoke safeguards that protect our children from this industrial pollution. Moms want to see these vital safeguards implemented, not ignored."
The Oil & Gas Threat Map maps the nation's 1.3 million active oil and gas wells, compressors and processors. Using peer-reviewed research into the health impacts attributed to oil and gas air pollution, the map conservatively draws a 1/2 mile health threat radius around each facility. Within that total area are:
- 2,944,785 students attending 9,102 schools, colleges and day care facilities;
- 12.5 million people living in their homes including
- 3,035,508 children under 18
- 1,756,398 senior citizens 65 and over;
- 2,292 medical facilities; and
- all encompassed by the 187,413 square miles—an area larger than California—that lay within 1/2 mile of 1,292,669 oil and gas production facilities.
The searchable map also allows users to:
- Look up any street address to see if it lies within the health threat radius;
- View infrared videos which makes visible the normally invisible pollution at hundreds of the mapped facilities; and
- View interviews with people impacted by this pollution.
"The Trump administration has at least 2.9 million reasons to support stronger safeguards against toxic oil and gas air pollution," said Earthworks Policy Director Lauren Pagel. She continued, "Instead, EPA Administrator Pruitt and Interior Secretary Zinke are hell bent on eliminating them altogether."
Peer-reviewed science indicates that living within a 1/2 mile of these production facilities is clearly correlated with negative health impacts including cancer, respiratory illness, fetal defects, blood disorders and neurological problems.
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.
Trump Picks Scott Pruitt, 'Puppet of the Fossil Fuel Industry,' to Head EPA https://t.co/qPkff6DtIS via @EcoWatch— EWG (@EWG)1481166611.0
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.
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.
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The bright patterns and recognizable designs of Waterlust's activewear aren't just for show. In fact, they're meant to promote the conversation around sustainability and give back to the ocean science and conservation community.
Each design is paired with a research lab, nonprofit, or education organization that has high intellectual merit and the potential to move the needle in its respective field. For each product sold, Waterlust donates 10% of profits to these conservation partners.
Eye-Catching Designs Made from Recycled Plastic Bottles
waterlust.com / @abamabam
The company sells a range of eco-friendly items like leggings, rash guards, and board shorts that are made using recycled post-consumer plastic bottles. There are currently 16 causes represented by distinct marine-life patterns, from whale shark research and invasive lionfish removal to sockeye salmon monitoring and abalone restoration.
One such organization is Get Inspired, a nonprofit that specializes in ocean restoration and environmental education. Get Inspired founder, marine biologist Nancy Caruso, says supporting on-the-ground efforts is one thing that sets Waterlust apart, like their apparel line that supports Get Inspired abalone restoration programs.
"All of us [conservation partners] are doing something," Caruso said. "We're not putting up exhibits and talking about it — although that is important — we're in the field."
Waterlust not only helps its conservation partners financially so they can continue their important work. It also helps them get the word out about what they're doing, whether that's through social media spotlights, photo and video projects, or the informative note card that comes with each piece of apparel.
"They're doing their part for sure, pushing the information out across all of their channels, and I think that's what makes them so interesting," Caruso said.
And then there are the clothes, which speak for themselves.
Advocate Apparel to Start Conversations About Conservation
waterlust.com / @oceanraysphotography
Waterlust's concept of "advocate apparel" encourages people to see getting dressed every day as an opportunity to not only express their individuality and style, but also to advance the conversation around marine science. By infusing science into clothing, people can visually represent species and ecosystems in need of advocacy — something that, more often than not, leads to a teaching moment.
"When people wear Waterlust gear, it's just a matter of time before somebody asks them about the bright, funky designs," said Waterlust's CEO, Patrick Rynne. "That moment is incredibly special, because it creates an intimate opportunity for the wearer to share what they've learned with another."
The idea for the company came to Rynne when he was a Ph.D. student in marine science.
"I was surrounded by incredible people that were discovering fascinating things but noticed that often their work wasn't reaching the general public in creative and engaging ways," he said. "That seemed like a missed opportunity with big implications."
Waterlust initially focused on conventional media, like film and photography, to promote ocean science, but the team quickly realized engagement on social media didn't translate to action or even knowledge sharing offscreen.
Rynne also saw the "in one ear, out the other" issue in the classroom — if students didn't repeatedly engage with the topics they learned, they'd quickly forget them.
"We decided that if we truly wanted to achieve our goal of bringing science into people's lives and have it stick, it would need to be through a process that is frequently repeated, fun, and functional," Rynne said. "That's when we thought about clothing."
Support Marine Research and Sustainability in Style
To date, Waterlust has sold tens of thousands of pieces of apparel in over 100 countries, and the interactions its products have sparked have had clear implications for furthering science communication.
For Caruso alone, it's led to opportunities to share her abalone restoration methods with communities far and wide.
"It moves my small little world of what I'm doing here in Orange County, California, across the entire globe," she said. "That's one of the beautiful things about our partnership."
Check out all of the different eco-conscious apparel options available from Waterlust to help promote ocean conservation.
Melissa Smith is an avid writer, scuba diver, backpacker, and all-around outdoor enthusiast. She graduated from the University of Florida with degrees in journalism and sustainable studies. Before joining EcoWatch, Melissa worked as the managing editor of Scuba Diving magazine and the communications manager of The Ocean Agency, a non-profit that's featured in the Emmy award-winning documentary Chasing Coral.