Category: EPA

Big Cities Banning Cars Downtown | Cutting Carbon Direct Action

Washington (GGM) Analysis | June 24, 2021 by author and climate journalist Noreen Wise

Nailing low hanging fruit will result in a much needed dent in carbon emissions quickly and efficiently.  A recent example is the14th Street car ban in NYCNot only does it cut carbon, it subsequently improves the overall downtown “experience,” making street and sidewalks safer and more enjoyable for pedestrians, cutting air pollution, as well as dramatically reducing the amount of time it takes to get from point A to B. According to Curbed, the travel time for buses to cross lower Manhattan on 14th, has now been cut in half.

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Mashable has confirmed that following the immediate success of the 14th Street car ban, other US cities took notice:

  • San Francisco banned cars on jammed Market Street
  • Seattle closed congested 3rd Street back in 2018
  • Ultimately, however, the US is way behind our foreign partners, just as we are on most climate action initiatives. Wikipedia has a staggering list of cities across the globe who’ve implemented the ingenious car ban to cut carbon and air pollution, improve commuting time, and enhance quality of life downtown.
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How about other bustling East Coast cities though? Boston, Philadelphia, Washington DC and Atlanta immediately spring to mind. All have major public transportation systems that can easily accommodate the transition. Additionally, these cities are major tourist destinations that would benefit from having significantly fewer cars on the street. Even small cities like Chapel Hill, North Carolina with it’s major artery, Franklin Street, would be significantly advantaged.

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Passing state and federal carbon taxes and regulations takes an extremely long time, which is slowing much needed progress. So, while we’re busy persisting… and being patient, the short term solution with an amazing longterm positive impact is to quickly ban cars from major thoroughfares in our many cities as soon as possible. Spring is right around the corner. With so much data available to municipalities, it’s seemingly unconscionable not to act quickly.~

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Golf Courses and the “Good Life” May Kill You

Washington (GGM) Analysis | June 12, 2021 by Attorney Michael Wells, PodcastLegal Fact and Fiction

You do not need to be a character in a Lifetime movie to be poisoned by arsenic. Same goes for some other deadly chemical. Just spend time on a golf course or near one. Contrary to what golf affocinadios claim, golf courses are not good for the environment even though many of the courses look like a cross between Xanadu and Shangri La. Pesticides, herbicides, rodenticides and other chemicals abound on golf courses, according to Fred Siegel’s book Environmental Hazards: Are you Exposed?, and they seep into the soil and run off onto property nearby.

Get daily climate action tips by joining Act Now for the Earth Cafe and have fun learning the amazing & valuable tips that will help the earth recover from the staggering damage of climate change. Cafe communities are the new big thing. Sustainability is all about community. We’d greatly value you being part of our ecosystem by CLICKing here today and joining Earth Cafe!

Heart of the matter. In reality, golf courses are not any different than nuclear sites, chemical dumps, and most any other place where toxic chemicals are dumped, buried, or deposited. What makes them more troubling, perhaps, is they masquerade as environmental improvements. 

For example, on Long Island, 52 golf courses applied 192 different pesticides containing 50 different active ingredients, Siegel writes, and it was later found that these courses averaged 7 pounds of pesticides per acre when the national average was 1.5 pounds per acre. 

Time to face the music. Climate and environmental justice require sacrifices. If nature can do it, we can do it. Click here.

In Virginia, the Battlefield Golf Club was built out of 1.5 million tons of toxic coal ash, and its owners sued Dominion Resources for selling them the coal ash laden dirt used to build the golf course. The course is situated in a planned community, and the EPA deemed the water underneath the course contaminated. A contractor hired by Dominion found more than double the acceptable limits of arsenic as well as high amounts of chromium, lead, beryllium, magnesea, and zinc. One of the developers sued Dominion for contracting kidney cancer, and 383 residents sued for over $1 billion in damages. URS Corporation, the company Dominion hired to test the course, found the course was basically an “open dump”. The groundwater under the course threatened the aquifer supplying water to all the residents. 

In Cape Cod , the Conservation Law Foundation sued Willowbend Country Club for dumping toxic nitrogen pollution into the water. 

These are but a few examples, but this is happening everywhere. And very few people living near golf courses are ever asked (or told) about it. Most troubling is that children are the most vulnerable. But, for whatever reason, golf is associated with the “good life,” but sometimes the “good life” will kill you. Talk about a farce.

How this impacts you personally. Maybe you do not golf or think you live near a golf course, but golf courses are everywhere and often near bodies of water. Their chemicals spread through the water and the air like so many other toxic sites in America. They may look pretty, but they are heavily polluted and pose risks to those far beyond their borders. 

If you live in North America, you live near a golf course more than likely.

What you can do. There are a few things you can do. Never play golf, or, if you have, stop playing. Refuse to live on or near a golf course. Show up at zoning meetings open to the public, and say you do not want developers building golf courses in your town. It may not work, but, if enough people speak up, perhaps it will slow their growth.

Adding composting worms to our home composting bins and/or directly to the soil in our yards will dramatically improve the amount of carbon we can store in the soil. Climate solutions are much easier than we realize. Act today! CLICK here.

Next Steps

Golf is tied to the chemical industry, so fighting golf course development is really about stopping chemical companies such as Dow Chemicals from polluting. To that end, people can:

  • Contact their local, state, and federal officials and complain about golf course development, which is really golf course pollution;
  • Find out which chemical companies manufacture chemicals used on golf courses and protest these companies as well as boycott them; 
  • Google golf course lawsuits, and read more about them. If you do, you will realize these cases are no different than coal ash in North Carolina or the Hanford superfund site. 

Golf courses are the same as any other environmental problem, but they are not as obvious until you learn all about the toxic chemicals necessary to keep them looking pristine. And people should not have to be poisoned, get cancer, and die just because looks can be (and are) deceiving. You shouldn’t have to die for a cliche to be true. 

Groundbreaking YA book series for all ages. Not only a gripping modern day nail-biter with Machiavellian villains, but also one that opens our eyes to the brutal war going on beneath our feet that controls our destiny, despite our obliviousness to this civilization-destroying threat.

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Environmental Justice for Gordon Plaza | Systematic Failure to Protect Health

Washington (GGM) Analysis | June 7, 2021 by author and climate journalist Noreen Wise

Gordon Plaza is a subdivision in the New Orlean’s Desire neighborhood that was developed on the ASL hazardous waste site in the early 1980’s. The first residents, excited about securing their little piece of the pie, moved into their new homes in 1981, 40 years ago. Most of the houses are modest ranches with 3 bedrooms and 2 baths, on 5,000 square ft lots. The properties were federally funded and intentionally marketed as affordable housing to low income wage earners seeking an opportunity to move on up. 

Black American public culture in 1981 was framed in part by the award winning sitcom, The Jeffersons, which aired each week on CBS from 1975 – 1985. Moving on Up was the upbeat theme song: “Movin’ on up, To the east side. We finally got a piece of the pie… Took a whole lot of tryin’, Just to get up that hill. Now we’re up in the big leagues, Gettin’ our turn at bat.” The song writers are Jeff Barry and Ja’net Dubois. It seems highly probable that there were many subdivision developers and realtors across the country who were selling to black communities and linking their sales pitches to this inspirational sentiment in the hopes of motivating potential black buyers to take the plunge. Interestingly, 1981 was the year that Isabel Sanford was the first black woman to win an Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series for her role as Louise “Weezy” in The Jeffersons.  

This tidy grid of streets in New Orlean’s 9th Ward, was federally funded through HUD as well as the Community Development Block Grant Program. Back in 1981, when potential buyers were shopping around, they were apparently kept in the dark about the former hazardous waste dump. They’ve pointed out often that they felt they were duped into buying homes in Gordon Plaza. 

The history of Agriculture Street Landfill (ASL) makes this shameful failure to inform all the more egregious. The area had been plagued with spontaneous combustion during the 1950’s when the dangerous toxins would regularly mix beneath the surface. Drivers back then would have to slow to a crawl, inching along at 10 miles per hour, guided by the police, on days when the air became so thick with toxic smoke that visibility was impaired. New Orleans Historical website notes that back in the day, this location used to be referred to as Dante’s Inferno. 

Gordon Plaza was designated a Superfund cleanup site in 1994. 

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The Gordon Plaza residents’ hellacious plight drew international attention in December of 2019 when The Guardian featured the subdivision in its series Cancer Town. This was following the 2019 Louisiana Tumor Registry listing Gordon Plaza as having the second highest cancer rate in Louisiana.

Heart of the matter. After decades of fighting for fully funded relocation, and winning several class action lawsuits against city agencies and insurance companies, as described in The Guardian piece, residents have yet to be paid any money from the lawsuits, or to be relocated to safe grounds. Protesting regularly, Gordon Plaza residents showcase a remarkable amount of grit and determination in their quest to receive what they deserve, and are asking for.

Climate and environmental injustice is only going to get worse. It’s very important to amplify the life-threatening situations homeowners are facing in vulnerable locations as the heat and the water rises. City, state and federal agencies are failing to protect human life and adequately respond.

Time to face the music. Climate and environmental justice require sacrifices. If nature can do it, we can do it. Click here.

Shockingly, the mistreatment of the Gordon Plaza residents is pretty consistent across the United States for low income minority communities. At a recent Senate Subcommittee hearing on Public Works and Environmental Justice, Senator Tom Carper (D-DE) pointed out that “Seventy percent of the nation’s most environmentally contaminated sites are located within just one mile of federal assisted housing.” This stark reality shows a system of abuse and environmental injustice towards minority low income wage earners, and is very effective in explaining why the dire situation at Gordon Plaza has been ignored. No governmental agency, or city leader should be holding a blind eye to the shocking injustice.

In a request of New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell for comment, a City Hall spokesperson responded: “The City is exploring the feasibility of returning the Agriculture St. Landfill Superfund site to a productive use. As part of that process, the Cantrell Administration, unlike any previous administration, has reached out to Gordon Plaza residents to gauge their interest in redeveloping the site. The responses we’ve received have confirmed that while some residents adamantly favor a relocation and then redevelopment of the site, other residents want to stay in the neighborhood they call home. This is a complicated issue, and the City is working towards an amicable solution that will satisfy all of the interests of the residents.”

A recent article written by staff writer Halle Parker for nola.com outlined that there are 54 families seeking fully funded relocation. The conflict revolves around what the city thinks is a fair market value and what residents feel is the fair market value. Halle Parker featured a comment by Gordon Plaza resident Leona Floyd in her March 15, 2021 article:

“We are rightfully due the full compensation for our house, not a devalued amount as a result of the city of New Orleans building our homes on toxic soil. We know that fair market value will not be fair to us, and we should not go into debt moving out of a situation that was presented to us as part of the American Dream.”

A quick online search, which doesn’t necessarily mean anything, shows what appears to be a gap of approximately $70,000. It looks like a home in the area that is not on toxic land is valued at approximately $85,000, but a comp home is only worth $15,00 if the property is on the extremely dangerous superfund site. If this is the heart of the matter, then it’s clear why the issue hasn’t been resolved. Is there anyone who would settle for this microscopic amount after being misled from the start four decades earlier, which resulted in a cascade of endless heartache and suffering? No weekly television series is ever produced about this “piece of the pie.” But if we all collectively amplify the Gordon Plaza SOS message each week, it will hopefully net a positive outcome for these traumatized residents who are on the front lines of environmental and climate inequities in the United States.

The Gordon Plaza residents certainly deserve the Outstanding Fighters award.

Next Step

New Orleans is on the front lines of the climate crisis, with regular flooding, high heat, and endless hurricanes. In fact, the sate of Louisiana loses 25-35 miles of coastline per year from rising water levels. Additionally, there is the increased hazard of the wet bulb temperature that will potentially increase toxicity levels on the chemicals stuffed beneath the surface of Gordon Plaza. Ten years ago, back in June of 2011, the EPA became worried about it’s inability to protect human health and the environment in the age of climate change. The EPA asked states to draft Climate Change Adaptation Plans. Louisiana was one of only 14 states that did not comply and thus Louisiana has no Climate Change Adaptation Plan. Yet Louisiana is on the front lines of climate change with a large number of citizens living in environmental justice communities with climate taking a direct toll their health.

Be sure to check back for updates.

Groundbreaking YA book series for all ages. Not only a gripping modern day nail-biter with Machiavellian villains, but also one that opens our eyes to the brutal war going on beneath our feet that controls our destiny, despite our obliviousness to this potentially civilization-destroying threat.

Subscribe to Force of Nature to stay connected to the insights we provide in our effort to accelerate the transition to a sustainable, eco-friendly, carbon neutral global community. Click here to subscribe.

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