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Jack Smith speaks to the Port of Seattle commissioners on March 24

“Your child, my grandchild and the unborn grandchild of our grandchildren are going to live with what we do to this society.”

Those were Seattleite Jack Smith’s words to the Port of Seattle’s five commissioners on March 24, minutes before the port re-affirmed its two-year lease with Foss Maritime. In a motion that could be described as too little, too late, the port added a 30-day public comment period for future leases after getting pushback for signing the last lease without the public’s knowledge.

Farmworkers picking cauliflower in Salinas, California in June 2014.

We live in one of the richest nations on earth. Most of us never miss a meal unless we choose to. But, ironically, the nearly 3 million agricultural workers who cultivate and harvest the food that ends up on our tables lack the basic protection they need to keep themselves and their families safe and healthy. Some 150,000 of these workers live in Florida and their work literally makes them sick while the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the agency tasked with safeguarding agricultural workers, delays strengthening needed protections.

An unlined waste pit with fracking fluid and other drilling wastewater in California's Central Valley.

On April 1, 2015, responding to California’s deepening drought, Governor Jerry Brown issued an executive order placing limitations on such activities as watering golf courses, street medians, business campuses and cemeteries. The order mandates a statewide 25 percent reduction in use of potable urban water.

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. 

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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.