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Farmworker using pesticides

Farmworker Awareness Week has united hundreds of farmworkers and worker-rights advocates seeking stronger protections for the people who grow and harvest the food we eat every day. As the week draws to a close, however, the EPA has once again bureaucratically shuffled its papers and announced that it will do next to nothing to further protect farmworkers and their families from chlorpyrifos, a neurotoxic pesticide that is one of the top culprits in pesticide poisonings every year.

The Mercury and Air Toxics Standards, or MATS, regulate the pollution emitted by power plants like this one.

On Wednesday the U.S. Supreme Court will hear arguments in a crucial case about regulating mercury and other toxic air pollution coming from coal-fired power plants. At stake is a very dangerous precedent that industry profits are more important than thousands of lives.

Introducing the short film Pesticide Lake

It has been Farmworker Awareness week all year for me.  In my work to build awareness for stronger pesticide exposure protections for agricultural workers, I’ve had the honor of meeting some of the most courageous people, who have risked their jobs and livelihoods, as well as those of their families, by going public and sharing their stories to improve workplace conditions for those working on the front lines of growing and harvesting our food, nursery and other agricultural goods. 

First Nations Swinomish members participate in a traditional ceremony before oral testimonies on the Kinder Morgan TransMountain Pipeline begin.

Last October, in a windowless hotel conference room in Chilliwack, British Columbia, U.S. tribal witnesses presented testimony before a panel of the Canadian National Energy Board (NEB)—three Canadian bureaucrats who will make influential decisions about permitting a new tar sands crude oil pipeline from Edmonton, Alberta to Burnaby, British Columbia. The Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline itself (unlike Keystone XL) is wholly on Canadian soil, and many Canadian First Nations, cities, towns and citizens oppose its construction. 

Exxon valdez oil spill cleanup

Twenty-six years ago, an oil tanker on its way to California ran aground in Prince William Sound, Alaska. More than 11 million gallons of oil spilled from the tanker into the ocean, leaving 1,300 miles of pristine Alaskan coastline under a slick coat of toxic black oil. Today marks the anniversary of that Exxon Valdez disaster, and sticky globs of oil from the spill still pollute the Alaskan shoreline.

A natural gas fracking well near Shreveport, Louisiana.

From the Cuyahoga River catching fire to Rachel Carson’s findings on the detrimental effects of pesticides the 1960s and 70s brought about serious awareness of dire environmental problems. This awareness culminated in the creation of some of our bedrock environmental laws: the Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act and Safe Drinking Water Act. However, today water coming out of the sink faucet still catches fire, and people and animals are still getting sick. The creation of these laws was supposed to stop these occurrences, so what happened?

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) speaks at a news conference to unveil domestic energy and jobs legislation in 2012.

The EPA's proposed Clean Power Plan is a turning point for our nation in tackling climate change. Its goal? Cut climate-altering carbon pollution from existing power plants by 30 percent by 2030. The plan gives states the flexibility to achieve pollution cuts in a variety of ways by switching to less carbon-intensive sources, using more renewable energy like wind and solar and improving energy efficiency.

A woman carrying her child in Tanzania fills a bucket with water at a well.

In honor of Women’s History Month, I would like to focus not on the past, but on the future of women and the environment.

Climate change is coming for us all, right? That is more or less correct, but there are a few caveats worth mentioning. When disaster strikes, it doesn’t deal an equal blow to the rich and poor—or to men and women.


About the Earthjustice Blog

unEARTHED is a forum for the voices and stories of the people behind Earthjustice's work. The views and opinions expressed in this blog do not necessarily represent the opinion or position of Earthjustice or its board, clients, or funders. Learn more about Earthjustice.