The year of resistance

By Nathaniel Smith, Sierra Club SEPA Group, April 25, 2018

Perhaps environmentalists have had too much faith in the power of government in advancing our goals. The federal government created national parks, put the EPA to work to protect air and water, has at times protected endangered species, and much more.

But now, with a federal government actively promoting fossil fuels and opposed to even the most reasonable measures against pollution and climate change, we are thrown onto our own resources.

States can do a lot. At least 20 of them (not so far including PA) have pledged to support the Paris Climate Accord; and hundreds of cities have signed on. Sierra Club’s Ready for 100 effort is getting a lot of municipalities to commit to using renewables.

In the gas pipeline controversy, the affected municipalities and their representatives in Harrisburg have been very outspoken. This is not a partisan matter, when people’s homes, schools, and public buildings are threatened. The stakes are air and water quality, human health, and property values; public officials are on notice that their constituents are watching. Many of this year’s candidates for PA House and Senate have been active in the effort to discipline the pipeline industry.

The group I have been most involved in is Don’t Spray Me!, which formed in 2015 as a response to excessive and unnecessary pesticide spraying to supposedly reduce the threat from mosquitoes. Last year Don’t Spray Me! started enlarging its scope to include other chemical threats to environmental and human health. …

read more at Sierra Club SEPA Group

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Connecticut State Legislature Bans Residential Mosquito Misters

Beyond Pesticides, May 23, 2018

Earlier this month, the Connecticut state legislature voted to ban the use of residential pesticide misting systems. (These are devices that are typically placed outdoors and spray insecticides –mostly in an attempt to control mosquitoes.) This is the latest move from a state legislature that has also recently banned the use of bee-toxic neonicotinoids and stopped the use of hazardous lawn care pesticides on public playgrounds. The vote was unanimous in the state Senate, and won by a count of 132-17 in the state House. The bill is set to become law on May 24, unless Governor Malloy vetoes the legislation, which is not expected.

Pesticide misters are machines primarily used to spray mosquito adulticides. Many health advocates have expressed concern that these products, able to spray toxic pesticides on a timer at regular intervals, pose a significant risk to pets and children who can be directly in the path of a mister’s spray. The chemicals employed in these machines are often synthetic pyrethroids, which have been linked to a range of human health effects, from early puberty in boys, to behavioral disorders, learning problems, ADHD, and certain cancers. Neighbors who do not want to be exposed to these chemicals are also put at risk from pesticide drift….

keep reading and see links at Beyond Pesticides

DSM volunteers at work for food and the environment

It’s no surprise that Don’t Spray Me! volunteers are active in other community activities. For four years, Ashlie Delshad, DSM Block Captain and Associate Professor of Political Science at West Chester University, has led student service trips to work with urban gardens in Philadelphia that grow food to combat food insecurity throughout the city. The WCU group partners with organizations including the Pennsylvania Horticulture Society (their City Harvest Program), the Eastern Philadelphia Revitalization Alliance, and Philabundance.

Here is a photo from last year:

European Union bans bee-killing neonicotinoid pesticides

Friends of the Earth, April 27, 2018

Friends of the Earth urges EPA and food retailers to follow

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The European Union (EU) governments today voted to ban the use of bee-killing neonicotinoid pesticides on outdoor crops.

The vote by the EU comes after the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) delayed regulatory action on most uses of neonicotinoids until 2018, despite receiving more than six million public comments urging the pesticide be banned in the U.S.

In response to the vote, Tiffany Finck-Haynes, senior food futures campaigner for Friends of the Earth issued the following statement:

“The EU’s groundbreaking ban on bee-killing neonicotinoid pesticides is a huge win for pollinators, people and the planet. Given the overwhelming body of scientific evidence and overwhelming public concern, EPA as well as leading U.S. food retailers like Kroger should take immediate action and eliminate the use of these toxic pesticides.”

See wehat food retailers are or are not doing in the download Swarming the Aisles II: Rating top retailers on pesticide reduction and organic food to protect pollinators at Friends of the Earth

Analysis: 490,000 Pounds of Toxic Pesticides Sprayed on National Wildlife Refuges

Press release from Center for Biological Diversity, May, 10, 2018

WASHINGTON— America’s national wildlife refuges are being doused with hundreds of thousands of pounds of dangerous agricultural pesticides every year, according to a first-of-its-kind analysis by the Center for Biological Diversity.

The Center report, No Refuge, reveals that an estimated 490,000 pounds of pesticides were dumped on commodity crops like corn, soybeans and sorghum grown in national wildlife refuges in 2016, the most recent year for which data are available. The analysis was conducted with records obtained by the Center under the Freedom of Information Act.

“These refuges are supposed to be a safe haven for wildlife, but they’re becoming a dumping ground for poisonous pesticides,” said Hannah Connor, a senior attorney at the Center who authored the analysis. “Americans assume these public lands are protected and I think most people would be appalled that so many pesticides are being used to serve private, intensive agricultural operations.” …

keep reading and download the full report at Center for Biological Diversity

House Farm Bill: A disaster favoring pesticide manufacturers

Petition from Sierra Club

Tell your representative to oppose this anti-environment House Farm Bill.

The House 2018 Farm Bill is an absolute disaster — and we need to do everything we can to stop it. It is replete with partisan, anti-environmental provisions, representing Big Ag and pesticide companies over our food supply, wildlife, ecosystem, residents, and small farmers. Congress should look after the public interest before the profits of the world’s largest chemical companies. Take action here to urge your representative to vote down this dangerous bill now!

The House version of the Farm Bill:

Cuts programs to develop farmer’s markets
Seeks to exempt pesticide manufacturers from liability for harming endangered wildlife
Weakens critical protections to keep wildlife safe from toxic pesticides
Increases costs for organic farmers and undermines ecological, sustainable farming
Proposes a new office to advocate for the use of genetically engineered organisms
Logs its way through our forests and guts water conservation programs
Makes it easier for corporate polluters to contaminate drinking water supplies
Cuts safety net programs for low-income people, exacerbating hunger and food insecurity
Attacks food sovereignty and home rule, striking state rights to set their own food and animal standards, such as pesticide bans or cage-free egg requirements
Cuts programs proven to promote soil heath and fight climate change
Continues support for big corporate Caged Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs)

This Farm Bill would cause so much damage, it must be altogether stopped. The public deserves safe and healthy food, water, wildlife, and forests — and the House needs to put the greater good before Big Ag’s toxic agenda. We deserve fair food and farm policies that respect our rights, our health and the need for a healthy environment to sustain our current and future generations.

Petition your representative at Sierra Club

Mass Roundup spraying along West Chester Railroad tracks

This was posted in Nextdoor 5/7/18:

Spraying by West Chester RR

If you live along the WCRR ! On 4/23/18 at 9:30 AM an Ehrlich Pest Control truck was driving on the WCRR tracks from West Chester to Glen Mills spraying the ‘herbicide’ Round UP!!! This cloud of poison drifted out away from the tracks about 50 feet settling on anything within this range, including my dogs which I quickly brought inside. If you read about Round Up in the news, then you should be concerned about its effects on the environment. Please contact the WCRR and your local officials and voice your concern over its use in this manner. I had called the WCRR and asked what they were spraying, a representative left me a message stating that they were using Round Up to kill weeds along the tracks.

Bob Fox, Green Brier

Ken Hemphill’s talk on Earth Day, West Chester, April 22

Text of the talk given at the April 22 Earth Day rally by Ken Hemphill, Open Space Advocate and Southeast PA Sierra Club Executive Committee Member:

There are two axioms that have inspired me in my involvement to save open space. The first is Margaret Mead’s point that a small group of thoughtful people can change the world. The second is that we should think globally but act locally. And both of these were certainly true the first time I got involved fighting with a small group against the destruction of a local place known as Beaver Valley on the DE PA border.

A politically connected developer wanted to build 450 ticky tacky houses in a 325 acre publicly subsidized wildlife refuge that had been open for public use for 40 years. In late 2012, when the plans were introduced, things looked really grim and our mood reflected that. Few in the group believed we could win. Some were just hoping to scale down the plans and make them less egregious and reduce the traffic impact. Everyone thought it was a done deal since the supervisors in Concord Township were advocating for the development in various newspapers.

Nevertheless, a few of us felt that we could fight city hall and save Beaver Valley. So we formed a second group called Save the Valley and we hunkered down knowing it would be a long fight. We held rallies and protests. We built a massive Facebook presence. We published dozens of our own articles. We sent mailers. We put flyers on windshields all over the Brandywine Valley. Grew our email list. We canvassed. We got in the newspaper, on the radio, and TV. We flooded public meetings, at one point turning out 1,000 people to a meeting in May of 2013. We were everywhere and relentless. And we won. We didn’t settle for a smaller development. We didn’t settle for a little less traffic. We saved all of it. Five years later, that wildlife refuge in Beaver Valley will be added to the First State National Historical Park and will be permanently protected.

With that success showing what was possible, someone mentioned to me what Toll Brothers wanted to do to Crebilly Farm right down the road on 202. I went to a meeting at Stetson Middle School and I dove in head first with Neighbors for Crebilly. As many of you know, Crebilly Farm is one of Chester County’s most iconic farms and a place that saw action with Hessians during the Battle of the Brandywine on September 11, 1777. During WW2, German POWs built a barn on the property. And yet all of this history and beautiful open space would be lost if Toll Brothers were to plop 317 of their plastic houses on this hallowed ground. But Toll didn’t expect people to organize and fight back. And that’s what Neighbors for Crebilly has been doing for the last year and a half. The fight now heads to court and we’re in this for as long as it takes to save Crebilly Farm.

If I could boil my involvement with open space advocacy down to one common truth it would be this: you don’t have to take it. You can fight back against corporations and a government that enables them. Small groups are having an impact and effecting change all over this country. If you think that your voice won’t be heard, that you’re too small to fight back just remember that one woman saw the damage that DDT was doing to our environment and she did something about it. But she didn’t just write Silent Spring cataloguing the harm of a pesticide, she devoted herself to seeing its use banned. And the movement Rachel Carson started was successful in having DDT banned.

To invoke John Kennedy, don’t ask what others are doing to protect YOUR environment. Ask what you can do to help. You can join Sierra Club volunteers working to circumvent the federal government to get municipalities to commit to 100% renewable energy. You can join Del-Chesco United for Pipeline Safety fighting Sunoco’s Mariner East 2 dragonpipe. You can sign up with the Don’t Spray Me group organized to stop the unneeded spraying of toxins in our communities. You can get involved with the group fighting to clean up the old Bishop Tube site in East Whiteland. You can join Neighbors for Crebilly and fight for our landscapes and history. Or you can organize your own group to fight some other environmental injustice.

But, remember, we lose the right to complain about things when we refuse to get involved. When we refuse to become part of the solution, we are part of the problem. But, if you’re willing to work, you can win. We won in Beaver Valley and we will save Crebilly Farm. And you can win, too. But you just have to put your shoes on and get involved. You don’t need your entire community to support you. It only takes a small group of thoughtful people to change the world. Nothing is ever a done deal.