Mon. 5/14: Environmental actions in the House! 3 calls and one written action.

Call for each action separately (more accurate) or combine them. 5 minutes total max!

#1 – “NO” on H.R.4239 – “SECURE American Energy Act”. Migratory birds vs. Exxon and friends…

The Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA), enacted 100 years ago, helps protect over 1,000 species of birds from unauthorized hunting, toxic waste, wind turbines, oil spills, and other industrial threats.  The MBTA has been an effective tool to hold oil and gas industries (such as BP in the Deepwater Horizon oil spill disaster) accountable for the deaths of over a million birds.  However, Representative Liz Cheney (R-WY) has proposed an amendment into HR 4239, a larger (and very troubling) energy bill, that will gut this landmark legislation and shield corporations and industries from being held financially accountable for actions that negligently kill and injure wild birds.

Minimum Script: I am calling from [zip code] to urge Rep. [___] to vote “NO”  on HR 4239.

More script if you want it: I strongly oppose the gutting of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act by the Cheney amendment contained in HR 4239 and urge the strengthening of protections of our migratory bird populations.

Contact:
Rep. Julia Brownley: (CA-26): DC (202) 225-5811, Oxnard (805) 379-1779, T.O. (805) 379-1779
or Rep. Salud Carbajal: (CA-24): DC (202) 225-3601, SB (805) 730-1710 SLO (805) 546-8348
Other Contacts: http://www.phoneyourrep.com

#2 – “NO” on H.R. 2  –  Hey! What part of “farming” is starving kids? Oil drilling on AG Conservation lands? Poisoning water? Killing endangered species?

Flood your legislator with calls!  This “Farm” bill, up for a vote on WEDNESDAY, is a partisan Pandora’s box of hunger, federal over-reach, big business protections and environmental destruction. It’s not just about creating more hungry people, which we covered here.

It’s also about gutting farmer’s efforts to be more sustainable, and mitigating their farm’s effects on our air and water. This video describes what is NOT happening with the new farm bill.

It’s also about threatening forests, protected agriculture land and endangered species, and it’s about going back to the bad old days of inhumane conditions for our farm animals.

Today, with the help of nrdc.org, we’re going to go more thoroughly into the environmental issues of H.R. 2, where our  federal government would to overrule all our local protective laws.

  • Overthrows State protections: This bill includes HR 4879 – “Protect Interstate Commerce Act” (PICA), which prevents individual states and local governments from adopting their own regulations pertaining to animal welfare and abuse prevention as well as invalidate existing state laws local voters already approved that protect animals from abuse. Just a note…This bit of evil was created by Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa), who has sworn vengence on CA voters for approving humane conditions for chickens.
  • Preempting Local Pesticide Protections. The bill would prohibit local governments from adopting pesticide laws that are more protective than federal rules. (Section 9101)
  • Attacking Protections for Wildlife and Endangered Species from Pesticides. This bill eliminates the requirement that the EPA consult with the expert federal wildlife agencies, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and National Marine Fisheries Service, when approving chemicals that can harm endangered species, threatening endangered wildlife and hindering recovery of imperiled species. (Section 9111)
  • Exempting Pesticides from the Clean Water Act. The bill exempts pesticides applied directly to waterways from the Clean Water Act protections.  (Section 9117)
  • Expediting EPA Approval of Pesticides Without Agreed-to Protections. The bill would enact the “Pesticide Registration Improvement Act” in a form that provides long-term funding to EPA for expedited processing of pesticide approval applications, without accompanying measures to ensure that farmworkers and other pesticide applicators are safe. (Section 9119)
  • Secretly Delaying EPA Pesticide Protections.  The bill provides state regulatory agencies a secret chance to slow or effectively veto EPA pesticide protections before they become public or are even proposed.  (Section 9101)
  • Weakening Protections Against the Highly-Toxic Pesticide Methyl Bromide. The bill weakens restrictions on the pesticide methyl bromide, allowing a large amount to be used for any weakly defined “emergency”.  Cornell University reports that this chemical is an “extremely toxic vapor, …with effects ranging from skin and eye irritation to death.” as well as a  powerful ozone depleter.  (Section 9121)
  • Eliminating Key Conservation Programs. The bill eliminates the Conservation Stewardship Program, a program that promotes whole farm stewardship and sustainability across rural communities. Elimination will leave farmers with fewer resources and options to implement conservation on their farms. (Section 2801)
  • Allowing Mining and Oil & Gas Drilling on Agricultural Conservation Lands. The bill allows “mineral exploration” (usually defined to include mining as well as oil and gas development) on lands in the Agricultural Conservation Easement Program. The program was created to preserve agricultural lands as working farms. This provision would allow mining and oil and gas companies to extract resources from lands even though conservation easements funded by taxpayers were supposed to protect the same land. (Section 2603)
  • Weakening Endangered Species, Other Environmental Protections from Unfettered Logging. The bill contains numerous “categorical exclusions” which would allow for large scale land management projects to circumvent the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). It even removes critical habitat, wilderness areas or determinations under the Endangered Species Act as “extraordinary circumstances” that would require adherence to NEPA. Furthermore, it waives requirements to consult with the USFWS and NMFS on impacts of timber cutting on endangered species. This will lead to the selloff of our national forests without even basic public input and could impede the recovery of endangered species. (Subtitle C including Sections 8303-8321, 8503)

Minimal Script: I’m calling from [___] to ask Rep. [___] to vote “NO” on H.R. 2 – The Farm Bill.

More script is you want it: – I specifically object to the bill’s proposed work requirements for SNAP recipients, the rollback of programs that support healthy and sustainable farming practices, the PICA amendment and the environmental destruction that will be allowed again.

Contact:
Rep. Julia Brownley: (CA-26): DC (202) 225-5811, Oxnard (805) 379-1779, T.O. (805) 379-1779
or Rep. Salud Carbajal: (CA-24): DC (202) 225-3601, SB (805) 730-1710 SLO (805) 546-8348
Other Contacts: http://www.phoneyourrep.com

#3 – “YES” on these farming bills instead!

The Sierra Club has endorsed the following bills:

Local FARMS Act (H.R. 3941)
This is a bipartisan proposal meant to chip away at the 15.6 million U.S. households lacking adequate access to healthy food while helping small and midsize farmers secure a steady demand for the food they produce.

Is your rep. a cosponsor yet? Check here. (Brownley and Carbajal have NOT signed)

Organic Agriculture Research Act (HR 2436)
Organic food now accounts for more than 5 percent of total food sales, but the the USDA’s Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI) only spends about .01 percent of its budget on researching organic farming annually.

Organic research is a smart investment that will help American farmers keep up with the global economy. It’s critical that as demand for organic food grows, our farmers don’t miss out on opportunities to participate in an economy that often pays better, involves fewer toxic chemicals, and is good for our land and soil.

Is your rep. a cosponsor  yet? Check here. (Brownley and Carbajal HAVE signed)

Beginning Farmers and Ranchers Opportunity Act (HR 4316).
Click here for one page review. This bill advocates for the following:

  • Expanding beginning farmers’ access to affordable land.
  • Empowering new and veteran farmers with the skills to succeed in today’s agricultural economy.
  • Ensuring equitable access to financial capital and federal crop insurance.
  • Encouraging commitment to conservation and stewardship across generations.

More information here.

Is your rep. a cosponsor yet? Check here. (Brownley and Carbajal have NOT signed)

Check your Reps. cosponsorship and arrange this script accordingly.

Minimal Script: I’m calling from [___] to ask Rep. [___] to cosponsor and vote “YES” on H.R. 3941, and H.R. 4316. I want to thank Rep. [Carbajal and Brownley] for suppporting H.R. 2436.

Contact:
Rep. Julia Brownley: (CA-26): DC (202) 225-5811, Oxnard (805) 379-1779, T.O. (805) 379-1779
or Rep. Salud Carbajal: (CA-24): DC (202) 225-3601, SB (805) 730-1710 SLO (805) 546-8348
Other Contacts: http://www.phoneyourrep.com

#4 – Just say “NO” to Scott Pruitt’s newest proposal – “Strengthening Transparency in Regulatory Science” – Written Action – DEADLINE 5/30.

While it was first reported back in March that hopefully soon-to-be-ex-EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt would be proposing a new regulation that would only allow studies with public data to influence writing regulations, in the name of “transparency,” it has now been officially proposed. This new regulation would drastically reduce the pool of scientific research on which the EPA could base its rules, eliminating many environmental health studies that involve confidential patient information or proprietary details about companies. Pruitt is trying to ram this through in 30 days, seriously angering the scientific community, if their comments are any guide.

Leave your comment here.

You can read other people’s comments here for inspiration. They don’t have to be more than one sentence long.

Comment: I do health care research for a living. I am proud to be a co-author on 17 publications in peer-reviewed journals. Only 5 of these would meet the proposed requirement that evidence come from publicly available data. The other 12 are from projects where the data are subject to data use agreements and cannot be made public due to confidentiality agreements, but that does not make these publications any less trustworthy.

The scientific writing process is inherently critical. Before manuscripts are accepted for publication in reputable journals, experts in the field review them – demand more information, require alternative analyses, and reject statements that are not justified based on the results. References need to be provided, limitations need to be described, and alternative theories need to be discussed. Thats what peer-review means.

The whole scientific and statistical process of drawing conclusions is based on the idea of reproducibility. Methods need to be described with enough detail that other scientist can do the same thing. This duplication of research occurs a lot, especially if findings are unexpected, controversial, or groundbreaking. If results are not duplicated, then the theories are rejected. Only after initial studies are replicated and extended upon, a body of evidence grows and the public policy shifts accordingly.

The data for every study do not need to be publically open for the results to be useful. The results need to go through the peer review publication and replication processes. As such, the conclusions are based on strengths of evidences and are weighed according to their merit.

Its through this laborious process that science progresses. In health care, we know we dont have all the answers, but we also know that people are dealing with real problems today, while we search. There is often honest contention and ongoing debate about what the public health recommendations should be. Thats why we invest in scientific research. When this contention is methodology-based, its good and healthy because it leads to more robust research and stronger evidence.

This process works. Life expectancy in America was 47 years in 1900. Now it is much longer thanks to scientific research.

While publicly available data are great, the types of research that provide them are not always feasible. Submitting ones body to scientific investigation is a great altruistic act. Research participants and investigators usually enter into a relationship by signing an informed consent document, which includes a confidentiality agreement. This is not a conspiracy to bias outcomes. Confidentiality agreements exist because research participants want to contribute to the body of knowledge without making their health-related conditions and behaviors public information.

The proposed Strengthening Transparency in Regulatory Science regulation is seditious. It seeks to discard the majority of research where participants have confidentiality rights. The goal of the proposed Strengthening Transparency in Regulatory Science regulation is to weaken the input of scientific investigation in setting public policy.

Billion dollar industries make so much profit that they can spend unlimited amounts of money in lobbying to erode environmental protections that are in the civic best interest. The proposed Strengthening Transparency in Regulatory Science regulation throws away merit-based, evidence-based policy decisions and opens up government policy for hire.

 

Comment: (Many are asking for an extension of time – 30 days is ridiculous.) Dear Administrator Pruitt:

I write to respectfully request that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) extend by 60-days the deadline for receiving comments on the proposed rule, Strengthening Transparency in Regulatory Science, which was published in the Federal Register on April 30, 2018.

The American Institute of Biological Sciences (AIBS) is concerned that the current 30-day comment period does not allow sufficient time for the scientific community to fully analyze the proposed rule. It is thus not possible to submit detailed and substantive comments on a complex proposal that has such far-reaching and long-lasting impacts on public and environmental health.

We are concerned by the agencys proposal to stop the use of scientific studies that have underlying data that are not publicly available. Many studies that inform regulations rely on scientific data that cannot be made public for reasons such as patient privacy or industry confidentiality but are still important to consider when crafting rules. The data transparency requirement is also likely to impose a significant new cost on the taxpayer as new systems will be required to manage, store, present, and track down data, as well as redact sensitive personal information. This proposed rule change is likely to negatively impact the efficiency of the rulemaking process and result in increased costs to the taxpayer.

Please extend by 60 days the deadline for comments to allow for a more thorough and thoughtful rulemaking process.

 

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