Interesting interview in which Eric Alterman points out that cultural liberalism is flourishing - but the idea of using the government to intercede in the economy on behalf of people who need protection is on the ropes. Via Raw Story:
Writer and historian Eric Alterman appeared on the April 20 edition of ?Moyers and Company? to discuss his new book The Cause: The Fight for American Liberalism from Franklin Roosevelt to Barack Obama.
In a wide-ranging and thoughtful discussion, Alterman makes the case to Bill Moyers that while social liberalism is flourishing, economic liberalism has fallen on hard times. The majority of people in the United States believe that racism is wrong. Acceptance of the idea of same-sex marriage has charged ahead with surprising speed. And yet, only a tiny minority of people in the country self-identify as ?liberal.?
Alterman believes that liberals in the U.S. have ?overpromised and underperformed,? and ultimately become victims of their own belief in the rectitude of their ideas. Of course racism is wrong, says Alterman, but what are we going to do if the dismantling of a racist system doesn?t go as planned?
He believes that liberals need to go on the offensive and learn to be cannier and more flexible in selling their message and implementing their ideas. Just because it?s right, he maintains, that doesn?t mean it?s going to work.
The U.N. Security Council yesterday agreed to expand the small team monitoring the fragile ceasefire in Syria to 300 members. Kofi Annan, the U.N./Arab League envoy, said the decision was a “pivotal moment in the stabilization of the country.” Meanwhile, the fighting in Syria continues. Activists said Syrian troops shelled a Damascus suburb and rebels reportedly attacked a government military convoy in the north. “This U.N. observers thing is a big joke,” said Douma-based activist Mohammed Saeed. “Shelling stops and tanks are hidden when they visit somewhere, and when they leave, shelling resumes.”
by Melanie Hart and Jeffrey Cavanagh
This Earth Day is a great opportunity to take stock of the progress we are making around the world on environmental protection. Here in the United States, much can be learned by comparing our environmental progress to China, where they are just now starting down a path we took back in 1970.
Taking stock of our environmental progress is particularly important in an election year, when some politicians and political hopefuls are pointing to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency as an example of wasteful government spending and overregulation. The reality is that our regulatory system is what separates us from the citizens in China, where air pollution and lead poising are the norm and environmental problems corrode the quality of life in ways that we have not faced in decades.
We certainly hope China manages to address its environmental problems, not only for the sake of the Chinese people but also because China?s problems harm us as well. China is now the largest contributor to global carbon dioxide pollution, and jet streams are bringing some Chinese pollution to the United States. Mercury emissions from China?s coal-fired power plants are building up in U.S. watersheds, for example, and particulate pollution from China appears to be inhibiting rain and snow production and reducing water supplies in some California cities.
At the moment, however, our environmental protection regime is far superior to China?s, which gives us a competitive edge. Our children are growing up healthier and arguably smarter (since lead and mercury poisoning impairs brain development), and we will probably live longer and face lower cancer risks. Our environmental regulations give U.S. businesses more incentives to innovate and develop cleaner, more efficient production processes that will be fueling our economy long after China?s current high-polluting factories close their doors. We fought hard to build up the system that is now bringing these benefits, and it is not something we want to give up.
Environmental pollution is a negative byproduct of some production processes, particularly those processes that use older, less efficient technology. In a market economy, companies always have a natural profit incentive to make money?the more they make, the more executives and employees get to keep and spend on themselves?but they do not always have a natural incentive to protect the environment by switching from outdated, dirty technologies to cleaner, more sustainable versions. That is because environmental costs are born by the local community, and the local community has no say over company production decisions. One way we can ensure companies take environmental costs into account is to put a price on carbon. Another is to use government regulations. Thus far, the United States has not succeeded in rolling out a nationwide carbon pricing system, but we do have a nationwide environmental regulatory system. To be effective, that type of system needs three critical components.
First, we need standards that stipulate the amounts and types of pollutants we are willing to accept in our air, water, soil, food, and consumer products such as children?s toys. Ideally, these standards should be based on public health impacts rather than on what industry representatives claim they are willing and able to meet. The U.S. Clean Air Act gets this right. Under the 1970 Clean Air Act, the Environmental Protection Agency set strict standards for six of the worst pollutants based on what scientific evidence tells us we need to do to protect infants, children, pregnant women, and other sensitive individuals. Congress passed amendments to the act in 1990 that called on the agency to reduce other hazardous pollutants, and in December 2011 the agency issued new standards for mercury pollution due to mounting evidence that mercury is accumulating in watersheds and fish, building up in human bodies due to fish consumption, and inhibiting brain development for children exposed to excessive mercury in the womb or at a young age.
Second, we need regulations to turn these science- and health-based environmental standards into guidelines for companies to follow. Coal-fired power plants are responsible for half of all mercury emissions in this country, so the Environmental Protection Agency?s December 2011 mercury legislation included the first-ever mercury emission reduction rules for power plants. The agency spent years developing the new emission rules, and it gives power plants four years to bring their facilities into compliance. Some power companies have already voluntarily reduced their mercury emissions, so the new rules mean that their competitors now must also do so. The agency estimates that the resultant pollution reductions could avoid up to 11,000 premature deaths annually and add up to $90 billion in health benefits every year to our economy by 2016.
Third, we need an environmental government agency that has the authority and the resources to enforce these regulations. If there is no monitoring, no enforcement, and no penalty for violations, then companies have little incentive to comply. Here in the United States, the Environmental Protection Agency has that authority.
Before 1970 we did not have this system. We left most environmental protection to our state governments, and that did not work well. When environmental standards and regulations vary from state to state, that creates a race to the bottom because state governments compete with one another to attract companies?and therefore tax revenue?to their states. Just as some U.S. companies build facilities with dirty production practices in developing countries with lax regulatory regimes (such as China), under our old system companies would flock to dirty states, which put pressure on the cleaner states to loosen up and sacrifice public health and environmental protection so as to bring in tax revenue. The end result was that we faced health and environmental problems similar to what China is dealing with today.
That changed because the American people demanded a better system. Ohio?s Cuyahoga River was so polluted in the 1960s that local citizens joked that ?anyone who falls into the Cuyahoga does not drown ? he decays.? The river carried so much oil and debris that in June 1969 it erupted into flames. That fire triggered a tidal wave of citizen pressure to fix the state-based environmental protection system, and the following year President Richard Nixon signed the 1970 Clean Air Act?our first national-level environmental protection law?and created the Environmental Protection Agency. This led to passage and enforcement of other laws that form our environmental safety net, including the Clean Water Act, the Safe Drinking Water Act, and laws governing the disposal and clean up of hazardous wastes.
China?s current environmental protection system looks a lot like what was in place in the United States before 1970. The national government in Beijing issues fairly stringent environmental standards and regulations, but they leave all of the actual monitoring and enforcement to the local-level governments, and those government officials are engaging in a race to the bottom, just as state and local officials did in the United States decades ago.
China is further hindered by the fact that it is still an authoritarian regime. Environmental officials cannot be everywhere?in big countries such as the United States or China, environmental officials cannot monitor every factory all the time. In the United States and other democracies, people fill the gap. If local communities in our country believe local factories were polluting the environment, they could call up the Environmental Protection Agency, but that is not all they can do. They can also file lawsuits, alert the media, or alert an environmental activist organization. Here in the United States, we have an entire community of environmental lawyers, journalists, and activists that help the Environmental Protection Agency do its job.
In China, all of these citizen-led efforts are lacking because they all are a potential challenge to Communist Party authority, so the party keeps lawyers, journalists, and nongovernment organizations under tight political constraints. Unfortunately, the Chinese people pay a high price for this weak environmental governance system. Cancer rates are soaring, now the leading cause of death in China. Chinese children are also exposed to higher amounts of lead and mercury pollution than their counterparts in the west, and that means they likely have lower average IQs and more neurological and behavioral problems.
These problems are common in nondemocracies where people cannot vote and leaders can hide information. In China, for example, lead pollution information is often tightly controlled. Many Chinese citizens do not know that their children are suffering from high lead blood levels because the media generally cannot report on those issues. In some cases, local officials even forbid doctors and hospitals from providing accurate test results. Even when the citizens do find out about these pollution problems and health impacts, they have no access to effective institutions such as elections or unbiased judicial courts to sanction their government leaders, so there is not much they can do about it.
It is important to note that despite what some politicians and fossil-fuel industry interests in the United States may claim, a dirty environment is not good for business. In fact, environmental regulation actually strengthens our economy. When the air and water are cleaner, people are healthier. That means we can spend less on health care and lost productivity due to illness, and more on the products and services produced by businesses and, more broadly, on building good foundations for the future by investing in education, infrastructure, and science and technology research and development.
Most American companies are loath to admit they seek out places to manufacture based on the level of pollution they can create at the expense of nearby communities. But it is certainly true that many companies send their operations to China to take advantage of low labor costs and lax environmental regulations to increase profit margins, particularly on lower-value-added manufacturing, where margins are often slim. And yet it is also true that environmental pollution is actually threatening economic growth in China.
All of China?s key manufacturing sectors, for example, require water as a critical input. From coal mining to semiconductor manufacturing, the Chinese economy is water intensive. Problem is, global warming is causing droughts that are depleting China?s water sources, and the remaining supplies are becoming so polluted that many provinces are struggling to find enough water to keep their factories running. Chinese officials report that around 300 million rural citizens?the size of the U.S. population?do not have access to safe drinking water, that most urban groundwater is unfit for human consumption, and that 20 percent of China?s rivers are ?too toxic even to touch.?
Here in the United States, flaming rivers and contaminated drinking water triggered public bipartisan pressure for change, and the result was the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency and nationwide laws such as the Clean Air Act.
The Chinese public feels the same way, but in an authoritarian system, they do not have the same ability to push for change. When it comes to environmental protection, democracy is our biggest asset, and the results are good for American people and for American businesses across the board.
Melanie Hart is a Policy Analyst on China energy and climate policy at the Center for American Progress. Jeffrey Cavanagh is an Intern at the Center. This piece was originally published at the Center for American Progress as part of its Earth Day series.
Related Earth Day Posts:
On April 4, Coca-Cola announced it was ending financial support for the American Legislative Exchange Council, the right-wing group behind “Stand Your Ground” laws and voter suppression efforts.
Now, U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) is advocating a boycott of the company:
U might think abt not drinking Coca Cola since companysucombed to pressure fr Leftist not to support ALEC
— ChuckGrassley (@ChuckGrassley) April 22, 2012
The Grassley boycott could be quite extensive. Over the last few weeks, at least 11 other companies — including Pepsi, McDonald’s, and Kraft — announced they were severing ties with ALEC.
In response to the criticism, ALEC announced they were ending all “non-economic” activities. Unfortunately for ALEC, that hasn’t stopped the parade of defections, which most recently includes Blue Cross Blue Shield and Yum! Foods.
A reader notes that Coke operates bottling plants in Iowa, Grassley’s home state.
With thousands of consumers expressing their concerns about the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) to corporations across America, even former supporters of ALEC are feeling the heat, and some are rushing to distance themselves from the[...]
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American Prospect magazine reminds us how the game of creating a New American Plutocracy is played by what Yellow Dog called "The Party of Bork."
If you remember, in the case of Arizona Free Enterprise Club's Freedom Club PAC v. Bennett the Roberts Court struck down a program that the voters of Arizona created that gave public funding to candidates who agreed not to solicit or spend private funds. Further, as the magazine pointed out, if a privately financed candidate spent more than a publicly financed candidate's allotted funding, the publicly financed candidate would receive additional money to allow a competitive election.
The Roberts Court ruled -- get this -- that the Arizona law was unconstitutional because it violated the "free speech" rights of rich, right wing billionaires who had every reason to expect that they were buying an election with their fat campaign contributions but were, instead, being forced to watch as those investments were devalued and their expectations frustrated by Arizona voters who preferred more competitive, democratic elections.
Given the public financing, right-wing political groups argued billionaire-backed candidates might hesitate to spend even more campaign funds if doing so would trigger additional public funding for their opponents.
As American Prospect reported, when the case came before the Court, Justice Roberts asked the state of Arizona's lawyer, "I checked the Citizens' Clean Elections Commission website this morning, and it says that this act was passed to, quote, 'level the playing field' when it comes to running for office. Why isn't that clear evidence that it's unconstitutional?"
Leveling the playing field against rich and powerful interests is "clear evidence" that an act is unconstitutional? Could anything be clearer than that of what this Court's ultimate intentions are, as I argued in Friday's post about a new Court-authored Gilded Age?
And so, after striking down Arizona's attempt to level the playing field in favor of competitive elections, the Roberts Court just a few months later "laughed off" claims in Citizens United that, as American Prospect put it, "allowing corporations to jump into a campaign might give them unfair sway over successful office seekers."
As Justice Kennedy wrote for the majority: "Independent expenditures, including those made by corporations, do not give rise to corruption or the appearance of corruption. The appearance of influence or access, furthermore, will not cause the electorate to lose faith in our democracy."
Conservatives were inflamed when liberals "found" a right to privacy in the Constitution to support a woman's right to choose. But now conservatives have extrapolated from the First Amendment a right of the rich to buy our democracy and to actually have those investments protected in court.
As the Roberts Court ruling in Citizens United reveals, while liberal "judicial activism" works in a democratic direction by emancipating individuals from past social and legal constraints while empowering a government that is itself independently accountable through elections, conservative "judicial activism" empowers an unaccountable upper class and, in the name of "freedom," emancipates that elite from democracy itself, thus undermining popular government.
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But in October of 2009, Scott Walker inexplicably ordered the transfer of $19,000 in Operation Freedom funds and financial control over to his then Deputy Chief of Staff, Tim Russell who had no experience running a non-profit. Mr. Russell then allegedly stole thousands of dollars from Operation Freedom and used the money to pay for Caribbean and Hawaiian vacations and a political trip to Atlanta to meet with Herman Cain's presidential campaign. Walker Investigations.Joe 'Ragman' Tarnovsky, United States Army (28 January 1968 to 22 Oct 1970) e-mails us: "The following award is being presented to Scott Walker, Kevin Kavanaugh and Tim Russell for actions BELOW and INFERIOR AGAINST VETERANS: The Distinguished RAT BASTARD Tail for Thievery and Lack of Accountability."
Mr. Kavanaugh, Scott Walker's close friend and political appointee to a Veterans Commission, faces several serious felony and misdemeanor charges for embezzling at least $42,232 from the Military Order of the Purple Heart between 2006 and 2009. Mr. Kavanaugh allegedly took the money from donations that included more than $28,000 given by former state Rep. Mark Gundrum, who had donated his legislative salary to the group while serving on active military duty in Iraq. Mr. Kavanaugh is also alleged to have stolen money earmarked for children of Wisconsin military service members killed in Iraq and Afghanistan. The criminal complaint said he and his wife had credit card debt exceeding $40,000. Control of Operation Freedom funds was transferred from the Military Order of the Purple Heart to the Cudwoth Legion Post in February 2009, a chapter of American Legion, a nationally recognized veterans organization. Walker InvestigationsThen there's Multiple Kelly Rindfleisch.
So Rindfleisch just admitted in her court filing that these statements are true, and that she only took the Milwaukee County job as a campaign position for the election season. Put this together with then-County Exec Walker being the sole person signing off on Rindfleisch's hiring and promotion, and you see that Scott Walker brought Kelly Rindfleisch on as a campaign worker, but paid her out of the County Executive's Office, in clear violation of state law. And lastly, let's not forget that Rindfleisch admits in the chats that she does projects for Tim Russell and has the separate laptop and computer system. And what did Scott Walker do on the night the Darlene Wink resignation happened, and the Walkergate web was starting to be revealed? He sent Tim Russell (who Rindfleisch was doing projects for on the separate laptop and wireless system, remember) the following message: 'We cannot afford another story like this one. No one can give them any reason to fo another story. That means no latops, no websites no time away during the work day, etc." (Scott Walker) via JakeWriter Ernest A. Canning ( Vietnam vet (4th Infantry, Central) notes:
To establish proper venue in Milwaukee County, prosecutors allege in the Rindfleisch complaint that, per her personnel file, "Rindfleisch claimed her residence as 133 South 93rd Street, West Allis, Wisconsin," which just happened to be the residence of "James Villa, former Chief of Staff for the Milwaukee County Executive Office and long-time personal friend of Scott Walker. He served as informal advisor to the Friends of Scott Walker in 2010." According to WPR, in his change of venue motion, Gimbel alleges that the case against Rindfleisch should not be heard in Milwaukee County Circuit Court because she did not actually reside in Milwaukee County at the time she was employed in the Milwaukee County Executive Office. However, the official complaint alleges that Villa testified Rindfleisch began living in his home several days per week "to fulfill her residency requirement as a Milwaukee County employee." According to the prosecutors' complaint, that allegation was confirmed by "chats" pulled from Rindfleisch's laptop. County employment as cover for campaign activity WPR reports [emphasis added]:
"The governor has distanced himself from Rindfleisch, although a copy of her personnel file obtained by Wisconsin Public Radio shows Walker was the only person to sign off on her hiring. He was also the only person to approve her promotion two months later."In last month's article on the continuing "John Doe" investigation, we noted that Rindfleisch's promotion to Walker's Deputy Chief of Staff placed her less than 25 feet from the door of Walker's office as County Executive. That was at the same time, according to the Rindfleisch complaint, that she was routinely using a secret email system set up by Walker's former Deputy Chief of Staff Tim Russell to carry out extensive campaign activities on behalf of Walker's campaign arm which calls itself Friends of Scott Walker. But the complaint also alleges that Rindfleisch began her illegal participation in campaign activities during office hours from the moment she began working in the Milwaukee County Executive Office. The change of venue motion, placed in the context of the allegations contained in the Rindfleish complaint, suggests that extraordinary efforts were made to evade the residency requirement in order to bring a political operative (Rindfleish --- who was also previously tied to the Assembly Republican Caucus Scandal that put several high-ranking state officials in jail several years earlier), into the Milwaukee County Executive Office in order to misuse that position for the political advantage of Walker in his 2010 gubernatorial campaign. The fact that Walker signed off on both her initial hire and her later promotion strongly suggests that Walker was in on the scheme from day-one. That inference is reinforced by the "smoking gun" 5/14/10 emails between Walker and Russell and between Rindfleisch and Russell. That series of emails reveals that Rindfleisch pulled the plug on the secret email system just ten minutes after Walker told Russell, in the wake of public exposure of former Milwaukee County employee Darlene Wink's illegal political missives sent during office hours: "We cannot afford another story like this one?That means no laptops, no websites, no time away during the day, etc." All-in-all, these points seem to back up our contention from last week, in the wake of the establishment of his new Legal Defense Fund, that Scott Walker may be now be a target of prosecutors in the long-running "John Doe" investigation which has already led to the indictments of four of his former top deputies.Further notes Caning:
The fact that Walker signed off on both her initial hire and her later promotion strongly suggests that Walker was in on the scheme from day-one. That inference is reinforced by the "smoking gun" 5/14/10 emails between Walker and Russell and between Rindfleisch and Russell. That series of emails reveals that Rindfleisch pulled the plug on the secret email system just ten minutes after Walker told Russell, in the wake of public exposure of former Milwaukee County employee Darlene Wink's illegal political missives sent during office hours: "We cannot afford another story like this one?That means no laptops, no websites, no time away during the day, etc."Scott Walker is toast. If his aides stealing from veterans is not enough to catch the Wisconsin electorate's eyes as the mainstream press tries to hide the story, alternative media like this stays busy and keeps these low lives' actions to the fore.
by Jessica Goad
The United States is home to some of the most stunning and unique natural areas in the world, including 397 national parks, 101 national monuments, and 556 national wildlife refuges. But many more public lands?managed by the federal government and owned by all Americans?are worthy of protection for future generations. This Earth Day it?s worth thinking about the places that have strong local coalitions calling for protection that should be granted this year.
The road to protection could be a long one, though. Due to partisan gridlock Congress has not sent the president a single piece of land-designation legislation since March 30, 2009, when President Barack Obama signed into law a bill protecting 2 million acres of wilderness and 1,000 miles of Wild and Scenic Rivers from development. Both Republicans and Democrats have introduced more than 20 wilderness bills in the 112th Congress, but not only has a single one not passed, none has even come up for a vote.
President Obama has slowly begun building his conservation legacy by establishing a national monument at Fort Monroe and protecting the Grand Canyon from new uranium mines. But he has the authority to do much more.
Here are the top five places that have both local community and political support, and are therefore good candidates for protection during the remainder of this calendar year:
Located on the very southern edge of New Mexico outside of Las Cruces in Doņa Ana County, the Organ Mountains and Desert Peaks are iconic symbols of the state and its diverse heritage. Covering more than 400,000 acres, the area consists of rugged and wild mountains, high grasslands, black lava fields, wildlife habitat, and Spanish and Native American cultural sites.
The Organ Mountains could be protected in a number of ways. The fastest and surest way would be for President Obama to use his authority under the 1906 Antiquities Act to designate the area as a new national monument. Congress also has taken steps to protect them: Sen. Jeff Bingaman (D-NM) sponsored the Organ Mountains-Doņa Ana County Conservation and Protection Act (S. 1024), and even right-wing Rep. Steve Pearce (R-NM) has shown his support for the area by introducing the Organ Mountains National Monument Establishment Act (H.R. 4334).
No matter how it happens, protecting the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks would be a significant homage to the people and history of New Mexico during the state?s centennial anniversary this year.
Spanning 16,000 square miles across northwest and central Montana, the Crown of the Continent is one of the most unsurpassed mountain regions in the world and a testament to the success of large-scale, public-private partnerships. Protecting it is key to linking a vast ecosystem that spans from Canada to Yellowstone. This area consists of the newly expanded Rocky Mountain Front Conservation Area, the wild North Fork of the Flathead River, and a plethora of mountains and valleys.
Over the next year and beyond, many federal agencies will work to expand and protect the proposed Crown of the Continent Conservation Area. Because approximately 40 percent of the area is public land, partnerships with private entities are essential. This year?s efforts will focus on the acquisition of conservation easements, which are land-preservation agreements between willing local landowners and the federal government or land trusts. The result will be the continued protection of this impressive yet fragmented wild place.
Fort Ord on Monterey Bay, California, is a former army base that was home to more than 1.5 million U.S. soldiers. In operation from World War I until the end of the Cold War, it was closed in 1994 as part of the Army?s Base Realignment and Closure process. Since then 7,000 of its acres have been managed by the Bureau of Land Management for conservation, wildlife habitat, and recreation. More than 86 miles of trails on the site have made it a world-class mountain biking destination. A wide variety of stakeholders have voiced support for protecting Fort Ord including the Vet Voice Foundation, the International Mountain Bicycling Association, local veterans, and nearby businesses.
No bills have been introduced to protect Fort Ord in Congress, so the only route for its protection would be for President Obama to declare it a national monument under the Antiquities Act. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar visited the site in January and expressed support for a national monument, and veterans have asked that if designated, the monument be known as the Fort Ord Soldiers National Monument.
The Alpine Lakes Wilderness Area is located in the Cascades mountain range in Washington. It is part of the Wenatchee and Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forests. Its nearly 400,000 acres are home to more than 700 mountain lakes formed by glaciers, wet temperate forests, vast meadows, and jagged peaks. Due to its proximity to Seattle and Portland, Alpine Lakes is one of the most popular outdoor spots in the state and one of the most visited wilderness areas in the nation.
An opportunity exists this year to expand the existing area by 22,000 acres. Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) and Rep. Dave Reichert (R-WA) have introduced bipartisan legislation to protect adjacent areas and add 40 miles of local rivers to the national Wild and Scenic Rivers system. They introduced the Alpine Lakes Wilderness Additions and Pratt and Middle Fork Snoqualmie Rivers Protection Act (S. 322/H.R. 608) in February 2011, which is a top wilderness bill candidate for passage this year if Congress decides to move forward on it.
The existing Beauty Mountain and Agua Tibia Wilderness Areas are made up of more than 30,000 acres of rock formations, chaparral, canyons, and unique wildlife habitat in Riverside County. Their proximity to San Diego makes their natural beauty accessible to the growing, diverse population of the city. It is a favorite area of day hikers, equestrians, and other outdoor recreation enthusiasts.
Protecting the Beauty Mountain and Agua Tibia areas has bipartisan support. In fact, on the very first day of the 112th Congress, Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) introduced the Beauty Mountain and Agua Tibia Act (H.R. 41) to expand both wilderness areas by a total of 21,000 acres. Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) introduced companion legislation (S. 1574) in the Senate in September 2011.
Both Congress and the Obama administration have ample opportunity for the remainder of 2012 to protect some of America?s best places. All of the areas outlined above have local?and frequently bipartisan?support. It?s time for policymakers to take the next step and ensure that these special places are preserved for future generations to enjoy and appreciate.
Jessica Goad is Manager of Research and Outreach for the Public Lands Project at the Center for American Progress. This piece was originally published at the Center for American Progress for its Earth Day series.
Other Earth Day Posts:
To the long list of 20th-century liberal achievements making progress toward equality and liberation of race, sex and income that repugs are rapidly reversing, you can add protecting health and safety.
Yes, now giant corporations are demanding the right to bring back deadly poisons that were permanently banned decades ago.
In a match that some would say was made in hell, the nation's two leading producers of agrochemicals have joined forces in a partnership to reintroduce the use of the herbicide 2,4-D, one half of the infamous defoliant Agent Orange, which was used by American forces to clear jungle during the Vietnam War. These two biotech giants have developed a weed management program that, if successful, would go a long way toward a predicted doubling of harmful herbicide use in America's corn belt during the next decade.
The problem for corn farmers is that "superweeds" have been developing resistance to America's best-selling herbicide Roundup, which is being sprayed on millions of acres in the Midwest and elsewhere. Dow Agrosciences has developed a strain of corn that it says will solve the problem. The new genetically modified variety can tolerate 2,4-D, which will kill off the Roundup-resistant weeds, but leave the corn standing. Farmers who opt into this system will be required to double-dose their fields with a deadly cocktail of Roundup plus 2,4-D, both of which are manufactured by Monsanto.
But this plan has alarmed environmentalists and also many farmers, who are reluctant to reintroduce a chemical whose toxicity has been well established. The use of 2,4-D is banned in several European countries and provinces of Canada. The substance is a suspected carcinogen, which has been shown to double the incidence of birth defects in the children of pesticide applicators in a study conducted by University of Minnesota pathologist Vincent Garry.
Some agricultural scientists advocate developing a system of integrated weed management to replace the unsustainable use of chemicals. But the big agrochemical companies have no interest in supporting the sustainable agriculture that would put them out of business. So long as there are billions of dollars to be made in selling herbicide and herbicide-resistant genetically modified seed, there won't be much research money available to explore the natural alternatives to the destruction of our nation's heartland.
Chemical farming is not an effective system with toxic side effects that we just have to live with; chemical farming is a massive, lethal failure that poisons the very food supply it purports to benefit.
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Cross posted from The Stars Hollow GazetteThis is your morning Open Thread. Pour your favorite beverage and review the past and comment on the future.Find the past "On This Day in History" here. April 22 is the 112th day of the year (113th in leap years)[...]
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