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Victory: Obama Signs Bill Banning Plastic Microbeads
President Obama signed a bill on Monday that will phase out the manufacturing of face wash, toothpaste and shampoo containing plastic microbeads by July 1, 2017, and the sale of such beauty products by July 1, 2018.
Following the footsteps of California’s historic microbead ban, the Microbead-Free Waters Act (H.R. 1321) bans all plastic microbeads from beauty products, including those made from so-called “biodegradable plastics,” most of which do not biodegrade in marine environments.
Both the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives unanimously approved the bill last week.
“Our oceans are inundated with microplastics that threaten sea birds, turtles and other marine wildlife. Now we can stop adding to the trillions of pieces already out there,” Blake Kopcho, oceans campaigner with the Center for Biological Diversity, said. “This will eliminate a pointless and harmful source of plastic pollution before it ever has a chance to reach the oceans.”
The Microbead-Free Waters Act, introduced by Reps. Frank Pallone (D-N.J.) and Fred Upton (R-Mich.), is an important step toward addressing the global crisis of microplastic pollution. Plastic microbeads—designed to be washed down the drain and too small to be reliably captured by wastewater treatment facilities—pollute lakes, rivers and oceans. One tube of exfoliating facewash can contain more than 350,000 microbeads and it’s estimated that 2.9 trillion microbeads enter U.S. waterways annually.
Once in the environment, plastic microbeads concentrate toxins such as pesticides and flame retardants on their surface, which may then transfer to the tissue of fish that mistake microbeads for food. A recent study found that one-quarter of fish purchased at California markets had ingested plastic.
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gmnicholas / E+ / Getty Images
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By Johnny Wood
The Ganges is a lifeline for the people of India, spiritually and economically. On its journey from the Himalayas to the Bay of Bengal, it supports fishermen, farmers and an abundance of wildlife.
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By Jake Johnson
As a growing number of states move to pass laws that would criminalize pipeline protests and hit demonstrators with years in prison, an audio recording obtained by The Intercept showed a representative of a powerful oil and gas lobbying group bragging about the industry's success in crafting anti-protest legislation behind closed doors.
Speaking during a conference in Washington, DC in June, Derrick Morgan, senior vice president for federal and regulatory affairs at the American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers (AFPM), touted "model legislation" that states across the nation have passed in recent months.
AFPM represents a number of major fossil fuel giants, including Chevron, Koch Industries and ExxonMobil.
"We've seen a lot of success at the state level, particularly starting with Oklahoma in 2017," said Morgan, citing Dakota Access Pipeline protests as the motivation behind the aggressive lobbying effort. "We're up to nine states that have passed laws that are substantially close to the model policy that you have in your packet."
Big Oil is now using its political power to try and criminalize protests of oil & gas infrastructure.— Friends of the Earth (@foe_us) August 19, 2019
"This legislation has potential to punish public participation and mischaracterize advocacy protected by the First Amendment."https://t.co/bmiHjONEhy
The audio recording comes just months after Texas Gov. Greg Abbott signed into law legislation that would punish anti-pipeline demonstrators with up to 10 years in prison, a move environmentalists condemned as a flagrant attack on free expression.
"Big Oil is hijacking our legislative system," Dallas Goldtooth of the Indigenous Environmental Network said after the Texas Senate passed the bill in May.
As The Intercept's Lee Fang reported Monday, the model legislation Morgan cited in his remarks "has been introduced in various forms in 22 states and passed in ... Texas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Missouri, Indiana, Iowa, South Dakota, and North Dakota."
"The AFPM lobbyist also boasted that the template legislation has enjoyed bipartisan support," according to Fang. "In Louisiana, Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards signed the version of the bill there, which is being challenged by the Center for Constitutional Rights. Even in Illinois, Morgan noted, 'We almost got that across the finish line in a very Democratic-dominated legislature.' The bill did not pass as it got pushed aside over time constraints at the end of the legislative session."
Many of the state bills restricting the right to protest have been "drafted by companies and passed through groups like ALEC, the secretive group of corporate lobbyists trying to rewrite state laws to benefit corporations over people." @greenpeaceusa https://t.co/ZxpTjWdrwT— Stand Up To ALEC (@StandUpToALEC) May 6, 2019
Reposted with permission from our media associate Common Dreams.