Articles Tagged with Environment

It started with a letter to Congress.

Seven past EPA chiefs, appointed by both Democratic and Republican presidents, wrote to Congress in April. They were concerned aboutUS-EPA-1-300x300 the direction of the current EPA and offered to help Congress use its oversight to put a halt to Trump’s misguided deregulatory push and the dismissal of science in favor of politics at the agency.

The seven EPA leaders signing the letter had served under Obama, Reagan, and both Bushes, so the current administration could not blame the letter on partisan politics.

Thumbnail image for donald-2075124_1920.pngPresident Trump’s decision to abandon America’s commitment to the Paris Climate Change Accord is just the latest horrible environmental decision that he has made. Here are just some of the others:

  • Trump named as head of the EPA, Scott Pruitt, a lackey for the petroleum industry who has spent his legal career arguing that the Environmental Protection Agency doesn’t have the power to protect the environment. To witness Pruitt in action is to watch an idiot–who was put in place by Trump, not just because he is an idiot, but because he is the oil industry’s idiot–who will make you believe that he begins each day wondering, “What can I do for oil companies today?”
  • Trump and Pruitt have both publicly toyed with the idea of eliminating the EPA altogether, and recently proposed to cut its budget by 31%–greater than that for any other federal agency.
  • They want to cut by almost 50% the already grossly inadequate funds dedicated to cleaning up the country’s most contaminated and dangerous sites (“Superfund” sites)
  • They cynically defend these cuts by promising that the states’ environmental agencies will “pick up the slack” and “are in a better position to do the work anyway”, even though they know this is a lie. Most of the states do not have the money or competence to do the things that the EPA does, and many of them are on record saying so.
  • They have pulled down from the EPA’s website truthful scientific information that the petroleum companies did not want there.
  • They have withdrawn EPA’s previous ban of a pesticide (“chlorpyrifos”), even though years of scientific study proved that it threatens young children’s developing brains.
  • They fired EPA scientists whose job it was to keep the agency focused on its mission of protecting the public’s health.

These decisions reveal a level of ignorance and cruelty that was unthinkable until Trump came along. Environmental protection is a moral issue, above all else. Because, while in a general sense all of us are the victims of pollution, and of the wars over a lack of water and food that rampaging climate change is already provoking, the truth is that those most acutely threatened are the poor, the politically powerless, and, especially, their children. They are the ones who get sick and die, or have shortened life spans, or must live (if they are so lucky to live at all) with starvation, debilitating cancers and chronic respiratory disease…..because decisions such as Trump’s announce that these human beings are not deserving of the same standard of environmental protection as everyone else.

Trump’s decisions are immoral. Because they are made by our elected leader–and because the rest of the world understandably believes that he speaks for Americans–these decisions declare that, as a country, America is abandoning those who suffer most from pollution, and are least able to defend themselves against it.

When Pope Francis met with President Trump at the Vatican this past week, Francis gave him a copy of his 2015 Encyclical, which passionately argued that the environment is God’s gift to mankind, to benefit all mankind, and therefore that the powerful must not exploit it for their selfish purposes.

Crafty guy, that Pope.

He no doubt is well aware that the President is the agent of the worst environmental exploiters and despoilers that the world has ever known-oil companies-and accordingly has his administration in overdrive to crush the environmental protections that have saved lives and health, especially those of poor minorities and children.

human-771601_1920.jpgAccording to the non-profit Environmental Working Group, California’s public water systems in the San Joaquin Valley and urban areas like LA and San Bernardino and San Mateo counties are contaminated with a very dangerous, cancer-causing chemical known as 1,2,3 trichloropropane (“TCP”). Evidently, the TCP is a remnant of a chemical manufactured by Dow Chemical and Shell Oil.

The California State Water Board is proposing to limit the allowable concentration of TCP in drinking water to 5 parts per trillion. Fine. But who’s going to clean up the TCP? Are Dow and Shell responsible for the TCP in the water systems? The Water Board should also be looking into that. Because it’s not enough to just tell people how dangerous TCP is……the point is to get the TCP out of their water as soon as possible.

http://californiahealthline.org/multimedia/public-water-systems-polluted-with-123-tcp/

climate-change-2254711_1920.jpgThis month in Germany, the world’s biggest industrial nations are meeting to discuss what to do about increasingly threatening climate change. A good idea, right? Except it turns out that the meeting will be disgraced by the presence of some 270 business lobbyists, most of them there to protect trillions in worldwide oil industry profits. Their aim is to shut down any chance of real progress on climate change, which would require clamping down on oil production.

Sadly, the U.S. has been stripped of its moral authority on climate change, with the President now the world’s most famous climate change denier, and his cabinet stocked with oil industry hacks like Scott Pruitt (EPA chief) and Rex Tillerson (Secretary of State). Let’s not risk the rapid destruction of our health and planet by allowing oil lobbyists and fake science peddlers to control this debate.

https://www.commondreams.org/newswire/2017/05/01/new-report-big-polluters-have-backdoor-access-unfccc

Pro-business forces in Congress have proposed laws aimed at restricting, or even eliminating, the rights of injured Americans to join together in bringing their claims in the form of a single “class action” lawsuit. A class action is a kind of lawsuit in which those who have been injured by the same corporate conduct can bring their legal claims as part of a single case, rather than having to file dozens or hundreds or even thousands of essentially identical individual cases. Common example of a class action include:

  • When a corporation has misrepresented its financial health, causing investors to pay more for the corporation’s stock than it is actually worth, only to learn later through an unexpected stock price drop that they had not been told the truth.
  • When a car company has sold automobiles with a common defect–say, a malfunctioning air bag-with the result that car purchasers did not get the car they paid for, and in fact unknowingly got a dangerous car.

In my 17+ years representing families victimized by corporate pollution–contaminating their air or water supply–I and my partners have frequently used class actions to seek justice for our clients. In a typical case, a company dumped a dangerous chemical onto the ground years ago, and allowed it to bleed down through the soil, and into the groundwater that flows underneath our clients’ homes, and is used to supply water to those homes. So, as a result of the company’s behavior, each of perhaps 100 (or more) families now has a contaminated water supply. Each family needs a new water supply–one not threatened by the dangerous chemicals–and compensation for the loss in property value suffered because of the contamination.

So, each of the 100 families is the victim of the same common corporate misconduct, i.e., dumping dangerous chemicals, not cleaning them up, and allowing them to infiltrate a neighborhood water supply. Likewise, each family seeks the same type of relief (a new water supply and lost property value compensation), and has the same lawyers and scientific experts to prove its case.

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