Category Archives: Energy & environment

This Cancer Survivor’s Story Shows What Gutting the EPA Would Mean for Public Health


Donald Trump wants to slash the EPA’s budget and defund public health programs — which could cost people like Heather Von St. James their lives. This is her story.

Heather Von St. James has a friendly, Midwestern quality to her voice. Speaking to her over the phone, she comes off relaxed and assured, passionate yet polished.

But when you ask her about Donald Trump, something in her voice starts to change. There’s an exasperation, a sense of controlled but forceful frustration just under the surface of her jovial tone.

“It just makes me so angry,” was the first thing she said when I asked her what she thought of Trump’s decision to place Scott Pruitt at the head of the EPA.
That’s because Heather knows firsthand the devastation that could happen if Trump and Pruitt’s attempts to gut the EPA are successful.

At 36 years old, Heather was diagnosed with mesothelioma, a rare form of cancer caused by exposure to asbestos. She’s one of about 7 to 9 percent of mesothelioma patients who has lived more than five years after diagnosis, and one of even fewer who have actually defeated the disease. Since recovering 11 years ago, Heather has poured her time into fighting for regulations that limit Americans’ exposure to asbestos and championing protections for environmental health.

And she was seeing important progress in regulating pollutants and carcinogens like asbestos through the EPA — until Trump entered office. …

keep reading and view video at Greenpeace

The inaugural payoff?

Today’s New York Times shows that “Trump Inaugural Drew Big Dollars From Donors With Vested Interests” by NICHOLAS CONFESSORE, NICHOLAS FANDOS and RACHEL SHOREY, 4/19/17.

Naturally inaugural chairman Thomas Barrack Jr would claim that those big dollars came “in support of the coming together of our country and its people to commemorate the cornerstone of our American democratic process.”

See a lengthy list of donors in “Donald Trump inauguration bankrolled by corporate giants: Many companies, executives have business before federal government” by Dave Levinthal, Center for Public Integrity, 4/19/17/

But we also read that “Pesticide maker tries to kill government risk study” by Michael Biesecker, The Associated Press, Daily Local News, 4/20/17.

Concretely, Dow Chemical is trying to get the EPA to reverse its finding that many Dow products threaten many already endangered species.

Dow contributed $1,000,000 to the inauguration. How much influence does that tidy sum purchase in the swamp?

Climate change is not just theoretical

Besides the high temperatures, increasing storm intensity, glacial melt-off, there is also environmental destruction. From “Abrupt Climate Change Is Happening Faster Than Before” by Bruce Melton, Truthout, 4/15/17:

…Across western North America, a single species of native beetle has been driven berserk because of warming. As recently as the 1990s, it took the mountain pine bark beetle (MPB) two years to raise a family. But today, summer is two-thirds longer than it was in our old climate; spring and fall come a month sooner and later, respectively, every year.

It is so warm that the MPB can now go through two life cycles a year, radically increasing the number of beetles on the attack. These little beetles are about the size of a grain of rice; up to 10,000 beetles can attack a single tree. However, since about the turn of the 21st century, the beetles have multiplied so quickly that they’ve killed 60 to 90 percent of 89 million acres of forest. This is 20 percent of western North American forests.

Our forests are undergoing an eco-regime change. The trees that live here now cannot cope with the insect populations enhanced by warming and they are being replaced by species that will be able to withstand the onslaught. The pine beetle attack in British Columbia alone has allowed forests in that region to go from a small carbon sink to a large carbon source. In the worst year in British Columbia, carbon emissions were equal to 75 percent of all carbon emissions from forest fires across all of Canada from 1959 through 1999….

read the full report at Truthout

State budget must address safety concerns and environmental effects of pipeline infrastructure and natural gas drilling

Rep. Carolyn Comitta (D-156), March 9, 2017

HARRISBURG, March 9 – State Rep. Carolyn Comitta, D-Chester, today urged members of the House Appropriations Committee to include in its ongoing state budget negotiations a strong funding plan to address the consequences of natural-gas drilling on the environment and public safety.

Comitta made those remarks before members of the House Appropriations Committee, which today concluded three weeks of public hearings on Gov. Tom Wolf’s proposed 2017-18 state budget.

Comitta said while there are myriad concerns to address in the annual state budget, including adequate investments in schools and job training initiatives, a great concern in her Chester County legislative district is the natural-gas pipeline infrastructure and its effect on environmental and public safety. She encouraged the committee to ensure adequate funding for the Department of Environmental Protection and Department of Conservation and Natural Resources and for the legislature to remain focused on it.

“Right now, pipelines are coming through our state, passing by our homes, our businesses and our schools,” Comitta told the committee….

keep reading and view video of Rep. Comitta’s remarks to the committee at Rep. Carolyn Comitta