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Raviya Ismail's blog

Mario Vargas, a farmworker organizer from Ohio, his daughter Myra Vargas (middle), and Alexis Guild of Farmworker Justice walk past the U.S. Capitol in July of 2013, as they head to a meeting in the Hart Senate Office Building.

When Mario Vargas showed up at the Washington, D.C., offices of representatives from his home state of Ohio in July, he shared stories from farmworkers who are getting sick from pesticides. Joined by his daughter and girlfriend, they made the rounds talking about how it feels to inhale pesticides while pregnant, how farmworkers don’t know what their basic rights are, and how many workers are afraid to tell the truth about what is really going on in the fields.

Selena and her father Miguel at the Rayburn House Building in 2013, after meeting with their representative's office.

Last week, I interviewed 18-year-old Selena Zelaya of Mount Dora, Florida. Selena was one of about a dozen farmworker advocates who traveled to D.C. in July to lobby for farmworker protections against harmful pesticides. Selena’s mother and father are farmworkers and from a young age she began advocating on behalf of them and others. She returns to D.C. this week with representatives of Florida and North Carolina to meet with congressional representatives.

Today, the highest court of the land will hear argument in a case that is important to anyone with lungs.

Here’s the issue in brief: after a court of appeals invalidated the U.S. EPA’s Cross-State Air Pollution Rule (CSAPR), environmental groups, the EPA itself and various states, asked the Supreme Court to get involved.

Well, this is just a crying shame. After thousands of Kauaʻi residents came to show support for a popular and much-needed ordinance the County Council passed that would regulate pesticide spraying, including on the GMO crops so prevalent on Kauaʻi, you would think Mayor Bernard Carvalho, Jr. would vote in line with his constituents. Not so.

It took the Kauaʻi County Council 19 hours to decide to pass, by a vote of 6–1, a controversial ordinance that would restrict the use of pesticides near sensitive areas by companies developing GMO crops, and require them to disclose the chemicals they use and the engineered crops they are growing.

They say denial is not just a river in Egypt. Such is true for many House leaders at a House Energy and Commerce subcommittee today on the Obama administration’s climate change agenda. EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy and DOE Secretary Ernest Moniz had to endure the political grandstanding of the House's climate deniers, most of whom have accepted huge political donations from the oil and gas industry.

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