Raising Holy Hell about Mountaintop Removal is “Holy Spirit Work.”

July 25, 2013 Leave a comment

Dawn Morais

Environmental activists in  Massachusetts plan to publicly express  their solidarity with the people of Appalachia and others who are protesting the destructive coal mining practice of mountain top removal.

Pat Gozemba, a member of Salem Alliance for the Environment invites public participation in a short protest march and rally this Sunday July 27, 2013. Her note follows:

Brayton Point coal and gas plant in Somerset, MA burns Appalachian coal. Want to stand in solidarity with KY, Colombia, and the working class folks of Southeastern MA?

Come to Somerset on Sunday 7.27.13 at 8 am

SAFE and Allies,

Through solidarity and working in coalition we pushed the Salem Harbor coal and oil plant to schedule a complete shutdown in May 2014. Our allies from Somerset and Fall River played an important role in staying united with us to close Salem. Now it’s our turn to stand with those folks. On…

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New Mexico Mercury – Border Environmental Controversies Considered

July 25, 2013 Leave a comment

Texas RioGrande Legal Aid Newsroom

Controversy was no stranger at the 57th  meeting of the Joint Advisory Committee for the Improvement of Air Quality Paso del Norte.

Popularly known as the JAC, the advisory body brings together U.S. and Mexican government officials, private sector representatives, academics and civil society activists in the common goal of improving air quality in a dynamic and growing binational region.

To read the entire article, click here.

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Burning Tar Sands = ‘Unsolvable’ Climate Crisis: Hansen

May 18, 2013 Leave a comment

In Frog Pond Holler

See on Scoop.itFrackInformant

Fresh off his resignation from NASA, leading climate scientist James Hansen is making the rounds this week, warning media and lawmakers that not only are we heading for a “tremendously chaotic” climate, but if we dig up and burn Canadian tar sands, the climate crisis will be rendered “unsolvable.”

See on www.commondreams.org

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“Does America Hate Its Children?”

February 5, 2013 Leave a comment

Counter Punch recently published an article “Does America Hate Its Children?” questioning the treatment of this vulnerable group.  Included in the analysis are references to child farm laborers and the exposure of children to environmental health risks.

Global Environmental Injustice From Houston’s Ship Channel

August 30, 2012 Leave a comment

Barge on Buffalo Bayou, hauling scrap metal to China (probably). This facility is one of many operations in and around the community of Magnolia. No zoning, poor environmental enforcement, and increased environmental health burdens characterize the challenges Magnolia residents face daily. The picture upends common views of global environmental injustice – trading trash has local environmental consequences, not just global ones outside the US. A similar story of corporate profiteering in the global trash trade, local politics, and its political consequences is Julie Sze’s book Noxious New York: Racial Politics of Urban Health and Environmental Justice (2006, MIT Press). I also recommend Pellow’s book Resisting Toxic Trading (2007, MIT Press) as a complement to Sze’s book.

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Texas Colonias: Red Tape or Politics as Barrier to Decent Housing?

August 30, 2012 Leave a comment

Last summer The Texas Tribune published a two-part series on Texas colonias. The first article addresses the efforts and problems with securing habitable dwellings for residents (Red-Tape, Catch-22 Impede Progress). The second article (Conditions, Health Risks Sicken Colonias Residents) paints a striking picture of colonias residents and their life-world. I would only have added that when you enter Mexico Chiquito, the community cited in the article, you are welcomed by a severe sulfur smell that, for the first-time visitor, may cause your eyes to water…but that is another post.

As I finished reading the two articles, I am left unsatisfied. The article relied on the narrative that poor housing and substandard infrastructure are a result of individual actors, “unscrupulous developers,” usurious lenders, and other malcontents ready to prey on poor farm workers. Tone and word choice rendered residents as naturally poor, eliding their existence to the anachronistic “Third World.” The author stopped there, failing to grasp the complex historical and geographical processes that produced colonias in south Texas. The author did not address how chronic low-wage employment, wage supresion, and limited educational opportunities cause poverty. The author did not explain that many rural and peri-urban subdivisions exist outside municipalities because cities actively avoided incorporation of colonias. The author did not recount that colonias residents lost their right to vote and, therefore lost their opportunity for water and sanitation service, when state legislators allowed local elites to gerrymander their neighborhoods out of water control and improvement districts. The articles did not describe how government officials failed to either pass or enforce land development regulations, thus contributing to the growth of under-served communities. So, attention to red-tape and bureaucracy as major barriers to decent housing strikes me as superficial and misplaced.

NYT Article – Tropical Disease and Poverty in the US

August 29, 2012 Leave a comment

A recent New York Times Op-Ed (August 18, 2012) described the rise in “tropical diseases” among the nation’s poor. Surprise! The example used to illustrate this trend was in south Texas. And while the specifics were not clear, the description and photo suggest that it was referring to one of the colonias of Cameron County.

I embrace the author’s diagnosis that links poverty and poor health, and I agree that the current problems undermine the future generations’ capacity for educational (and thus, economic and social) advancement. Finally, someone does not explain this by invoking “immigration” as cause, but poverty. Indeed, I second the outrage expressed by the author. But at the same time, the narrow and technocratic solutions do not address the root causes of this “new plague.” Rather than surveillance or vaccines, how about raising the quality of housing in the communities hardest hit, providing better sanitation infrastructure and environmental health. Interventionist and technocratic solutions simply obfuscate the social and political issues around poverty and the increasing incidences of tropical diseases. If poverty is the problem, then perhaps that is where our attention needs to be.

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