EPA Chief Met With Dow Chemical CEO Before Deciding Not to Ban Toxic Pesticide

GR: Our government believes its responsibility is to corporations and not to citizens. We really need to find and elect politicians that do not hold this belief. Pesticides are destroying pollinators and all the plants and animals that depend upon them. How can an “environmental protection agency” approve their use? What this shows is how easily corporations buy our president and his minions.

Dow CEO Andrew Liveris and President Donald Trump in February.

“U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) administrator Scott Pruitt met with Dow Chemical CEO Andrew Liveris before deciding to reverse an earlier EPA decision to ban the company’s toxic and widely used pesticide, chlorpyrifos.

“According to records obtained by the Associated Press, the EPA boss met with Liveris for about 30 minutes at a Houston hotel on March 9. Later that month, Pruitt announced that he would no longer pursue a ban on chlorpyrifos from being used on food, ignoring his agency’s own review that even small amounts of the pesticide could impact fetus and infant brain development.

“But EPA spokeswoman Liz Bowman insisted to the AP that Pruitt and Liveris were only “briefly introduced” at the energy industry conference where both men were featured speakers.

“They did not discuss chlorpyrifos,” the spokeswoman said. “During the same trip he also met with the Canadian minister of natural resources, and CEOs and executives from other companies attending the trade show.”

[GR: Lying perhaps, but never mind; the pesticide needs to be banned.]

“According to the AP, Pruitt also attended a larger group meeting with two other Dow executives, but Bowman said they did not discuss the pesticide.

“The Natural Resource Defense Council (NRDC), Pesticide Action Network and Earthjustice sued the EPA just days after Pruitt’s decision to reverse the EPA’s proposed ban on chlorpyrifos.

“The move adds to the Trump administration’s growing roster of decisions informed by ‘alternative facts,'” the NRDC’s Nicole Greenfield wrote in a blog post about the lawsuit. “Nearly two decades’ worth of scientific studies—including analyses by Pruitt’s own agency—have documented the numerous risks this bug-killer poses to children and pregnant women.”

“The American Academy of Pediatrics also sent a letter to Pruitt on Tuesday, urging the EPA to ban the pesticide and called the agency’s decision to allow its use a threat to children’s health.

“A lot has been reported about Dow’s seemingly close ties with Trump. The company donated $1 million to the presidential inauguration. Additionally, Liveris leads President Trump’s advisory council on manufacturing. In February, Liveris received Trump’s pen after he signed the “Enforcing the Regulatory Reform Agenda” executive order aimed at eliminating regulations that the administration claims are damaging to the U.S. economy, but some worry that the measure will roll back critical environmental protections.” –Lorraine Chow (EPA Chief Met With Dow Chemical CEO Before Deciding Not to Ban Toxic Pesticide)

Trump’s EPA Greenlights a Nasty Chemical. A Month Later, It Poisons a Bunch of Farmworkers.

GR:  Trump’s head of the EPA, Scott Pruitt, is a corporate shill who’s been placed in charge of limiting corporate excesses. Of course, people, wildlife, and natural ecosystems will suffer.

Pgian/iStock

“On May 5, more than 50 farmworkers outside of Bakersfield, California, were exposed to a highly toxic pesticide that apparently drifted from a nearby field—at a high enough level that “twelve people reported symptoms of vomiting [and] nausea and one person fainted,” reports the television news station Kern Golden Empire. “An additional twelve workers did not show signs of any symptoms,” the station reported. “However more than half of the farm workers left before medical aide arrived.”

“Public health authorities took the poisoning quite seriously. “Anybody that was exposed, that was here today, we encourage them to seek medical attention immediately. Don’t wait. Particularly if you’re suffering from any symptoms. Whether it’s nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, seek medical attention immediately,” Michelle Corson, public relations officer at Kern County Public Health, said in an announcement to the TV station.

“According to the news report, the poisoning was caused by a chemical called chlorpyrifos. A spokeswoman for the Kern County Department of Public Health said the department assumes chlorpyrifos was the active ingredient in the pesticide in question, but the matter is still under investigation by the Kern County Department of Agriculture and Measurement Standards. A spokesman for that office said test results pinpointing the chemical are pending but would not be done for at least a week. Dow AgroSciences, one of the main makers of the chemical, did not respond to phone calls and emails.

“Many public health experts, scientists, and environmentalists have for years been pushing for a ban on chlorpyrifos, and last year it was looking like the Environmental Protection Agency intended to instate one. According to the National Pesticide Information Center, exposure to the chemical through inhalation can cause initial symptoms like “tearing of the eyes, runny nose, increased saliva and sweat production, nausea, dizziness and headache,” followed by possible “muscle twitching, weakness or tremors, lack of coordination, vomiting, abdominal cramps, diarrhea, and pupil constriction with blurred or darkened vision.” Chlorpyrifos is an endocrine disrupter, and major studies (here, here, and here) have found strong evidence to suggest that even at very low doses, the chemical triggers effects among children ranging from lower IQ to higher rates of autism. More here.

“But in March, the EPA abruptly changed its stance on chlorpyrifos, greenlighting it instead of banning it. The decision, among the first major ones made by Scott Pruitt in his tenure as EPA chief, caused outrage in public health circles. Dow AgroSciences applauded the decision. “Dow AgroSciences remains confident that authorized uses of chlorpyrifos products offer wide margins of protection for human health and safety,” the company declared in a press release.” –Tom Philpott (More: Trump’s EPA Greenlights a Nasty Chemical. A Month Later, It Poisons a Bunch of Farmworkers. | Mother Jones.)

Pollution From Canada’s Oil Sands May Be Underreported

GR: Almost every day, we learn that the many forces contributing to climate change are more powerful than we thought, or we learn that they are occurring faster than we thought, or both. And apparently, the picture is even gloomier than all the bad news has told us, because our measurement methods have been faulty.

“Canadian scientists have found that the standard way of tallying air and climate pollution from Alberta’s oil sands vastly understates pollution levels there — by as much as 4.5 times, according to a Canadian government study published Monday.

“The study shows that air samples collected using aircraft may be a more accurate way to tally air and climate pollution from oil and gas production than using industry estimates.

Suncor Energy oil sands plant near Fort McMurray, Alberta, Canada.Credit: Suncor/flickr

“Accurate accounting of the oil and gas industry’s pollution is critical for scientists to understand how fossil fuel production affects the climate and to find ways to cut the pollution to address air quality and climate change, said Allen Robinson, director of the EPA-funded Center for Air, Climate and Energy Solutions at Carnegie Mellon University, who is unaffiliated with the study.

“Both the U.S. and Canadian governments rely on energy companies’ self-reported emissions estimates in order to count all the pollution from oil and gas operations. Few actual pollution measurements are taken.

“If official tallies underestimate the actual emissions, climate models will likewise underestimate the extent to which fossil fuel pollution is contributing to climate change, Robinson said. The Canadian research shows that the energy industry has been underreporting its emissions and it highlights the challenges the industry faces in accurately estimating emissions from very complex equipment.

“Scientists in both the U.S. and Canada have found that measuring greenhouse gases and other kinds of air pollution using satellites or air samples gathered from airplanes paints a vastly different picture of fossil fuel emissions than those reported by government environmental agencies.

“For example, research using satellite data found a previously undetected hotspot of methane — a potent greenhouse gas — over oil and gas fields in northwest New Mexico. Most leaking methane from oil and gas fields isn’t included in EPA emissions estimates.

“Another study, conducted by Harvard University researchers, used air samples gathered from towers and airplanes to show that methane emissions from various sources in southern states are five times higher than EPA estimates.

“The Canadian research team measured emissions of volatile organic compounds, or VOCs, in the air above oil sands operations in Alberta. VOCs, most of which are not greenhouse gases, have an indirect effect on the climate. They produce ozone, which is a greenhouse gas and can harm human health.

“Ozone can allow methane to linger longer in the atmosphere than it would under normal conditions. The longer methane, which has about 86 times the power of carbon dioxide to warm the globe over the span of 20 years, remains in the atmosphere the more it helps to warm the climate.” –Bobby Magill (Continue reading:  Pollution From Canada’s Oil Sands May Be Underreported | Climate Central.)

An oil sands operation in eastern Alberta. Credit: Kris Krug/flickr

Bed of Dan River is Poisoned by Coal Ash for 70 Miles: Turtles Emerging & Dying

GR:  Trump has removed protection from streams. He is probably unaware that the problem below is typical of many situations where mine wastes threaten or actually poison our streams. However, ignorance is not a satisfactory excuse. Can Trump believers continue to support actions that carelessly threaten people and wildlife across the country? Trump promised to remove regulations that restrict business and reduce employment. But did anyone expect he would do so blindly without regard for the long-term consequences? Poisoning people so mining companies can continue profitable operations is not the right way to go.

It’s worth noting that the Environmental Protection Agency forced Duke Energy to assess the coal ash problem. Without the EPA, the company would have simply ignored the problem and moved on. If it’s jobs you want, why not ask the EPA to force Duke Energy and other stream polluters to clean up their wastes? That would create many many jobs. So many.

Ongoing problem: Hibernating turtles are crawling out of the poisoned bed of the Dan River and Dying on the river banks in 2014 (Photo by Greenpiece).

“The bed of the Dan River is covered with toxic coal ash for 70 miles, killing hibernating turtles. The scale of this horrific, preventable catastrophe is now becoming evident.

“As arsenic laced coal ash continues to pour into the Dan River from the Duke Energy waste dump, turtles are crawling out of the poisoned river bed and dying on the banks. Duke Energy has been ordered to stop polluting the Dan River but a second pipe continues to discharge suffocating coal ash into the water following the massive failure of the first pipe under the waste pond. The river bottom is poisoned by toxic ash all the way from the waste dump in Eden to Kerr Lake 70 miles downstream. Federal officials say that the coal ash is suffocating animals that live in the riverbed.

Duke Energy's eroding ash deposits on the Dan River.

Duke Energy’s eroding ash deposits on the Dan River.

“Water treatment authorities say that they have successfully treated and filtered the river water to remove toxins and that Danville’s water is safe to drink. However, arsenic levels in the river continue to exceed federal safe limits. Heavy rains will wash the toxic waste further down the river over the coming weeks spreading the contamination over an increasingly large area.

“Federal officials said Tuesday that toxic coal ash has coated the bottom of a North Carolina river as many as 70 miles downstream of a Duke Energy dump where a massive spill occurred two weeks ago.

“The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service advised that a massive pile of coal ash about 75 feet long and as much as 5 feet deep has been detected on the bottom of the Dan River near the site of the Feb. 2 spill. Deposits varying from 5 inches deep to less than 1 inch coated the river bottom across the state line into Virginia and to Kerr Lake, a major reservoir. …

dan-river“The Dan River system in North Carolina and Virginia is home to two federally listed endangered species, the Roanoke logperch fish and the James spinymussel. The river also has another freshwater mussel, the green floater, which is currently being evaluated for protection under the U.S. Endangered Species Act.

“Officials said the coal ash is burying aquatic animals and their food. The ash, generated when coal is burned to generate electricity, could also clog gill tissues in fish and mussels.

“A second pipe under the huge waste pit has large gaps between sections where the toxic ash continues to drain into the Dan River. All of this mess could have been avoided had Duke Energy responded to environmental organizations’ lawsuits by properly disposal of the waste in dry, lined waste disposal facilities with impervious covers. Instead, Duke stonewalled and gave large sums of money to the Republican Party in North Carolina to get preferential treatment.” –FishOutofWater (Continue reading:  Bed of Dan River is Poisoned by Coal Ash for 70 Miles: Turtles Emerging & Dying.)