Tag Archives: Air Pollution

Challenging EPA’s New FOIA Rule, Suit Seeks to Stop Trump’s “Shameful Attempt to Keep Americans in the Dark”

“We have a right to know what EPA is trying to hide and which Trump appointee is trying to hide it.”

By Andrea Germanos, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 7-24-2019

EPA headquarters in Washington. EPA/Flickr

A new lawsuit seeks to kill a recent Trump administration rule that critics say deals a blow to transparency by giving the Environmental Protection Agency broad authority to shoot down public information requests.

The new rule—put in place without public input—was published on the Federal Register June 26 and goes into effect July 26. Continue reading


Giving ‘Upper Hand to Corporate Polluters,’ EPA Drops Surprise Inspections

The agency “is just chucking aside any flimsy pretense that they care about upholding environmental laws, enforcing against big polluters, or protecting Americans,” says one observer.

By Andrea Germanos, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 7-19-2019

Xcel Energy’s Sherburne County (Sherco) Generating Station, a coal-fired power plant, near Becker, Minnesota. Photo: Tony Webster/Wikimedia/CC

President Donald Trump’s EPA is provoking criticism once again, this time over a new “no surprises” policy stopping unannounced visits to power, chemical, and waste facilities.

“The Trump @EPA is just chucking aside any flimsy pretense that they care about upholding environmental laws, enforcing against big polluters, or protecting Americans,” tweeted John Walke, Clean Air Director and senior attorney for the Natural Resources Defense Council. “Giving a courtesy heads up to suspected *ongoing* lawbreakers is beyond the pale even for the Trump @EPA.” Continue reading


Ahead of Trump ‘Utter Fantasy’ Speech on Environmental Record, DC Flooding Sparks Warnings on Danger of Climate Inaction

“We don’t have time for more lies. We must address the climate crisis now,” says Sen. Bernie Sanders

By Andrea Germanos, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 7-8-2019

A flash flood emergency in Washington left roads submerged and cars stranded as heavy rains poured over the region. Photo: CNN screenshot

Flooding in Washington, D.C. on Monday prompted calls for climate action as well as renewed scorn for the Trump administration’s abysmal environmental record.

The heavy rains came the morning President Donald Trump gave an afternoon speech in which he boasted of supposed environmental accomplishments. “Is this a joke?” said Ken Kimmell, president of the Union of Concerned Scientists. “It’s like an arsonist talking about how valuable his work is to the fire department.” Continue reading


‘We Need to Ban Fracking’: New Analysis of 1,500 Scientific Studies Details Threat to Health and Climate

“The data show that fracking impairs the health of people who live nearby, especially pregnant women, and swings a wrecking ball at the climate.”

By Jake Johnson, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 6-19-2019

“There is no evidence that fracking can operate without threatening public health directly and without imperiling climate stability upon which public health depends,” according to a new analysis. (Photo: Wendy Shattil/Bob Rozinksi/Creative Commons)

A comprehensive analysis of nearly 1,500 scientific studies, government reports, and media stories on the consequences of fracking released Wednesday found that the evidence overwhelmingly shows the drilling method poses a profound threat to public health and the climate.

The sixth edition of the Compendium of Scientific, Medical, and Media Findings Demonstrating Risks and Harms of Fracking (the Compendium), published by Physicians for Social Responsibility and Concerned Health Professionals of New York, found that “90.3 percent of all original research studies published from 2016-2018 on the health impacts of fracking found a positive association with harm or potential harm.” Continue reading


Group Demands to Know: Who at Trump’s EPA Decided to Slash Funds Used to Protect Children From Toxic Poisoning?

“This latest assault on children’s health is the opposite of what millions of Americans want, which is a safe environment for their kids.”

By Andrea Germanos, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 5-29-2019

The Environmental Working Group is demanding information about the Environmental Protection Agency’s decision to no longer for children’s health centers, which have conducted “groundbreaking research.” (Photo: Isabelle Acatauassú Alves Almeida /flickr/cc)

Exactly what led President Donald Trump’s EPA to stop funding research centers tasked with probing environmental health threats to children?

One advocacy organization, the Environmental Working Group (EWG), wants answers.

EWG said in a press statement Wednesday that it filed a Freedom of Information Act request to obtain documents, including electronic records and minutes of meetings, about the decision. Continue reading


Wildfire smoke is becoming a nationwide health threat

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An image from the International Space Station captures plumes of smoke from California wildfires on August 4, 2018. NASA

Richard E. Peltier, University of Massachusetts Amherst

The impacts of recent forest fires in California reach well beyond the burned areas. Smoke from the Camp Fire created hazardous air quality conditions in San Francisco, more than 170 miles to the southwest – but it didn’t stop there. Cross-country winds carried it across the United States, creating hazy conditions in locations as far east as Philadelphia.

As an air pollution exposure scientist, I worry about the extreme levels of air pollution that rise from these fires and affect many people across great distances. They can create unhealthy conditions in far-flung locations where residents probably never think about wildfires. But since major wildfires are becoming increasingly common, I believe it is important for all Americans to know some basics about smoke hazards. Continue reading


In a World Made Toxic, Nearly a Quarter of All Human Deaths Caused by Pollution

Contaminated water, polluted air, chemical waste, climate change, and UV radiation kill 12.6 million people annually, says a new report from the WHO

By Nika Knight, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 3-15-2016

A child scavenges for coal scraps in a slum in Manila. One in four children's deaths around the world are caused by unhealthy environments, the WHO has found. (Photo: Adam Cohn/flickr/cc.)

A child scavenges for coal scraps in a slum in Manila. One in four children’s deaths around the world are caused by unhealthy environments, the WHO has found. (Photo: Adam Cohn/flickr/cc.)

Nearly a quarter of all deaths around the world are caused by living and working in toxic and polluted environments, and the worst affected are children, the poor, and the elderly, a new report (pdf) released on Tuesday by the World Health Organization (WHO) has found.

“If countries do not take actions to make environments where people live and work healthy, millions will continue to become ill and die too young,” said Dr. Margaret Chan, the WHO director-general, according to Business Insider.
Continue reading


The Great Grief: How To Cope with Losing Our World

In order to respond adequately, first we may need to mourn

Written by Per Espen Stoknes, Published 5-14-15 in CommonDreams.

‘To cope with losing our world,’ writes Stoknes, ‘requires us to descend through the anger into mourning and sadness, not speedily bypass them to jump onto the optimism bandwagon or escape into indifference.’ (Photo: Nikola Jones/flickr/cc)

Climate scientists overwhelmingly say that we will face unprecedented warming in the coming decades. Those same scientists, just like you or I, struggle with the emotions that are evoked by these facts and dire projections. My children—who are now 12 and 16—may live in a world warmer than at any time in the previous 3 million years, and may face challenges that we are only just beginning to contemplate, and in many ways may be deprived of the rich, diverse world we grew up in. How do we relate to – and live – with this sad knowledge?

Across different populations, psychological researchers have documented a long list of mental health consequences of climate change: trauma, shock, stress, anxiety, depression, complicated grief, strains on social relationships, substance abuse, sense of hopelessness, fatalism, resignation, loss of autonomy and sense of control, as well as a loss of personal and occupational identity. Continue reading


Emasculating The EPA

This may come as somewhat of a shock to our younger readers, but protecting the environment used to be a subject of bipartisan agreement. The Environmental Protection Agency was proposed by President Richard Nixon (a Republican) on January 1, 1970. On December 2 of the same year, the EPA was born.

Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons

Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons

For the first ten years, the EPA remained fairly non-controversial. This changed, as did so many other government programs, during the Reagan years. Since the beginning of Reagan’s first term in 1981, enactment of significant environmental programs and legislation have had a direct relationship to which party occupied the White House for the most part. Continue reading


Send in the Drones!

Photo by Rakrist08 (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Photo by Rakrist08 (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Drones are the newest technology developed for the purpose of surveillance. A large part of their development was done through the military, which is funded through the American tax payers. These drones can operate far longer than humans, cost less to maintain and operate once deployed, and can focus with pin-point accuracy the details of a license plate or printing on a sheet of paper.

Our country is having a conversation about national security and privacy. Drones are being tested in metropolitan areas as a means of keeping an eye on activities of citizens.

Meanwhile, we have watched Congress defund every federal agency charged with protecting our air, water and food supply. There have been bills introduced to abolish the EPA. Minnesota’s House introduced a bill that would make EPA regulations unenforceable throughout the entire state. Our air, water, soil and food supply continue to be sacrificed for the sake of corporate profits, and no one is held accountable. The fines for violations are cheaper to pay than the cost of compliance.

You may have heard of Duke Energy, the mega-coal giant in North Carolina that was filmed pumping coal ash pond water waste directly into the Dan River – their 14th violation this month alone. Or maybe you heard about Mayflower, AR, where a 50-year old pipeline most residents were not even aware of, ruptured and flooded the town with millions of gallons of crude oil. If not, maybe you heard about the train derailments near Casselton, North Dakota; an explosive collision and loss or spilling of 400,000 gallons of crude oil.

We, the citizens of the United States, have paid for the technology that is now being used to invade our privacy instead of protect our commons. Shouldn’t we be able to demand that this technology be used to survey any corporation that operates within our borders for compliance with laws and regulations, either federal or state, that have been passed to ensure public safety?

By wabeggs (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Coal ash on water surface. Photo by wabeggs (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Imagine a drone placed to monitor every coal ash pond in existence. Any illegal dumping or pumping, as well as leaks detected by drops in the levels of the ponds would be detected.

Imagine permits for pipelines requiring installation of the high-tech developments that detect early leaking – and companies that do not comply (citing costs) are required to deposit DOUBLE the cost of the entire project plus a percentage of profits gained through the use of the pipeline into a clean-up super-fund, which the company does not get back until that pipeline has been taken permanently out of service. The only way they get it back is if the pipeline does not leak and no cleanup is ever needed. Drones would make sure cover ups are not possible.

This is not rocket science, folks (even though we pay for that too). It is common sense. It is a way to advance for the good of the people instead of the good of corporations.

  • Whose money paid for it?
  • Whose air does it protect?
  • Who uses the water for survival?
  • Whose food supply is it?

Unless that radical of a change frightens you.