Tuesday, March 5, 2019

We Are The Champions

Victory party for LEBOR activists

We Are The Champions
by C.A. Matthews
photos by Adrian Matthews

It's nice to be on a winning team. The game was tough and the battle scars run deep, but the satisfaction of bringing home the trophy makes it all worthwhile.

Alas, there's no time for relaxation and complacency. Our opponents won't leave us alone. They want a rematch. They want it now.

Welcome to phase two of community activism! Just because you finally wrangled your citizens' initiative onto the ballot and got the voters to pass it doesn't mean your work is over.  Far from it.

The activists of Toledoans for Safe Water woke up the next morning after the passage of the first American rights of nature law, the Lake Erie Bill of Rights (LEBOR),  to discover the first (of what will probably be many) legal challenges filed against the new amendment to the city's charter to keep Lake Erie and Toledo's drinking water supply clean.
Watching election results and signing the banner
So, what's next for our intrepid "out-of-state extremists" (as the negative radio ads smeared the local activists)? More education of the public is definitely needed. The people need to understand how LEBOR can work to protect their water supply. A groundswell of support needs to be generated to challenge the moneyed interests of Big Agriculture and Big Oil & Gas. 

It can't be assumed that the voters won't be persuaded by Big Business lobbyists into overturning LEBOR or passing a corporate-sponsored initiative (introduced statewide by politicians in their employ) that would effectively kill LEBOR's protection of the lake. Negative campaign ads and outright lies must be effective for at least a portion of the population, or else why would the corporations spend so many millions of dollars on them?
Group victory hug

Activists must be forever vigilant to those forces who would undo the good they have worked so hard to enact. 
Tish O'Dell & Markie Miller address the troops

It seems unfair that once you've gained a win you have to defend it constantly, but that's how both sports and our corrupt system of government works. The Citizens United ruling says "Money is speech" and those with the most money usually win. Big Ag interests certainly believe this to be the case. The first lawsuit against LEBOR is being financed by their deep pockets, utilizing a first class law firm, supposedly by a "family farm" that has taken over $2 million dollars in government subsidies over the years and uses the endocrine disruptor atrazine on their crops.(Watch this short video where the owner of this factory farm actually praises this toxin!)  It's seems likely that the concentrated animal feeding operations or CAFOs are going to be next up to the legal bar.

If I could ask these agri-businessmen  one question, I'd ask, "Why do you think toxic chemical run-off polluting Lake Erie is a good thing?" I doubt they'd give me an answer.

But for today at least we "radical environmentalists" can sing We are the champions! and mean it.  The 99% have a historic win under our belt. The world is a better place because of it.

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 We can beat the corrupt system--together!

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Power to the people--not the corporations!

From Friends of the Earth:
Toxic pesticides are harming bees, butterflies and our environment. But they also have devastating effects on our health. And farmworkers -- people who help bring food to our tables and work with these pesticides on a daily basis -- are some of the most impacted and least protected.

Farmworkers currently have far too few protections from exposure to toxic pesticides. They aren’t protected from working long hours in extreme temperatures. And on top of all that, they aren’t guaranteed to receive overtime pay when working extra hours in these dangerous conditions -- unlike nearly all other hourly workers. 

Now, progressive champions in Congress are taking steps to fight for farmworker rights. They’ve introduced landmark legislation to fight discrimination against farmworkers. But for this bill to pass it will need a groundswell of support from people like you across the country. 

The fight for a healthy and just food system is not only about getting toxic pesticides out of agriculture. It’s also about ensuring farmworkers receive basic workplace protections. 

Around the country, more than 2 million farmworkers work in fields harvesting the food that feeds us all. These workers are the backbone of our entire food system. But they are excluded from protections in the 1938 Fair Labor Standards Act.

As a result, they aren’t ensured to be paid overtime for their work. This means Big Ag can exploit them to maximize its profits. The Fairness for Farmworkers Act could change that if signed into law. But the only way to ensure Congress passes this historic legislation is if they feel the pressure from engaged constituents like you. 

The discrimination against farmworkers was wrong in 1938 and it is still wrong today. Farmworkers toil each and every day providing food for people like you and me around the country. But unlike most workers, they do not receive overtime pay -- completely undermining and undervaluing the work they do. 

It’s time for that to change. This is a historic opportunity for workers’ rights. Your Members of Congress need to hear from you to pressure them to pass this legislation -- it’s the right thing to do. Can we count on your support? 

Standing with you,
Lisa Archer,
Food and technology program director,
Friends of the Earth Action
From Climate Hawks:

The Federal Trade Commission is considering serious penalties for Facebook’s violations of federal laws and court orders regarding our privacy and our data. The latest report is that the FTC is considering fining Facebook to the tune of $1 billion. Even though that sounds like a lot, it’s just a drop in the bucket for the tech giant.

Facebook won’t stop selling users’ data and privacy for profit until they’re broken up. This is a critical moment for us to take back control of the internet from big corporate monopolies. Facebook owns too many apps, from Instagram to WhatsApp.

Adding insult to injury, just a few weeks ago, Facebook -- alongside Google and Microsoft -- came under fire for sponsoring a conference that promotes climate denial. We can’t accept these tech giants claiming to be good corporate actors, but then turning around and doing the opposite.

Your fellow climate hawk,

RL Miller
From Friends of the Earth:
Donald Trump plans to nominate former oil and gas lobbyist David Bernhardt to serve as the next Secretary of the Interior. This would put him in charge of our wild places like Bears Ears National Monument. 

Bernhardt has been serving in a senior role at the agency for two years -- first as Deputy Secretary, then as Acting Secretary after Ryan Zinke stepped down. In that time, his former clients have received favorable decisions from Interior, and Bernhardt has helped open our public lands to the fossil fuel industry. And he’s left a long record of corrupt decisions and potential ethics violations.

If he’s confirmed, Bernhardt will surely continue this extreme anti-environmental agenda -- with devastating impacts on our wild places and communities. Congress can block this unconscionable nomination, but they will only act if they hear from engaged constituents like you. 

The science is clear: Time is running out to prevent climate chaos. We need to change course now. The only way to do so is with environmental supporters in government, not climate deniers -- and definitely not Big Oil cronies. 

Yet the Trump Administration continues to stack critical agencies like the EPA and the Department of the Interior with Big Oil cronies, lobbyists, and climate deniers. Bernhardt has even helped dismantle protections for endangered fish to benefit one of his former clients and Trump supporters in California, where he was a lobbyist for years.  

David Bernhardt will not protect our public lands and the communities that depend on them. He’s already proven that he’s willing to make deals in the interest of his Big Oil friends. So we need engaged Friends of the Earth members like you to speak up and demand Congress block Bernhardt’s nomination -- our environment depends on it!

Make no mistake, Trump’s pick for Interior Secretary is not a coincidence. He’s intentionally trying to give the fossil fuel industry an even stronger foothold in government. The result will be another ally who will bend over backward to ensure his Big Oil friends have their pick of where to drill. 

Bernhardt is riddled with conflicts of interests and he will not fight for the public good. His confirmation would jeopardize some of our most beautiful natural landscapes and the communities who depend on them for the benefit of fossil fuel interests.

The Secretary of the Interior Department plays a key role in directing the management and protection of our public lands and the wildlife which inhabit them. This is a position that requires someone who truly understand the needs of the environment and communities and will work to protect it. The evidence is clear: Bernhardt would do the opposite. He must be stopped. 

Standing with you,
Nicole Ghio,
Senior fossil fuels program manager,
Friends of the Earth Action

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