Rachel's Democracy & Health News #946
*"Environment, health, jobs and justice--Who gets to decide?"*
*Thursday, February 14, 2008*.............Printer-friendly
*Featured stories in this issue...*
Things We Could Do Together <#Things_We_Could_Do_Together>
Ken Ward offers twelve things that green groups could do about
climate change. For one, "a U.S. coalition framework could be agreed
upon within weeks if we put our minds to it, and a national convening
of U.S. environmentalists could and should be organized in September."
Virginia Town Bans Chemical and Radioactive Bodily Trespass <#Virginia_Town_Bans_Chemical_and_Radioactive_Bodily_Trespass>
A municipality takes precautionary action against chemical
exposures without informed consent ("chemical trespass"): Halifax, Va.
joins the growing list of communities recognizing the rights of
Model Municipal Ordinances To Control Corporations <#Model_Municipal_Ordinances_To_Control_Corporations>
In Pennsylvania, New Hampshire, California, and Virginia (so far),
municipalities have passed laws denying specific rights to
corporations. As you read through this extraordinary list of
innovative statutes, let your imagination roam: what if *your
town* took action to restrict corporate power? Who knows where it
U.S. Moving Toward Ban on New Coal-Fired Power Plants <#U.S._Moving_Toward_Ban_on_New_CoalFired_Power_Plants>
"What began as a few local ripples of resistance to coal-fired
power is quickly evolving into a national tidal wave of grassroots
opposition from environmental, health, farm, and community
organizations and a fast-growing number of state governments."
Theories of Cancer <#Theories_of_Cancer>
"The National Cancer Institute was generating maps of cancer
mortality in an attempt to unveil other possible environmental
carcinogens that could explain rising rates of cancer. And then Ronald
Reagan was elected President, and everything changed. By the
mid-1980s, I was hard-pressed to find the word 'carcinogen' in any
pamphlet on cancer that I collected from my doctors' various offices."
From: Grist Magazine <http://gristmill.grist.org/story/2008/2/12/124533/060>, Feb. 12, 2008
[Printer-friendly version] <http://www.precaution.org/lib/08/prn_ken_ward_to_enviros.080212.htm>
*THINGS WE COULD DO TOGETHER*
By Ken Ward <http://gristmill.grist.org/user/Ken%20Ward>
Hey, environmentalists! You passed the energy bill -- what're you
gonna do now?
Here are 12 things that could be undertaken with present resources:
*1. Use The Flood Threat.*
Our climate story should be about the civilization-busting and mass
extinction threat of Greenland <http://www.precaution.org/lib/greenland_ice_unstable.080208.htm> and Antarctic <http://www.precaution.org/lib/antarctica_warming_is_vulnerable.050125.htm> ice-shelf break-up
and rapid sea-level rise <http://www.precaution.org/lib/climate_code_red_1.080201.pdf>. This simple and honest story is far more
powerful than the shifting laundry list of climate impacts we now put
forward. The fatal flaw with any plan that skips around these terrible
truths is that they are discernibly dishonest, and false optimism
masks the only rationale that can move the U.S. to action. Climate
change is not going to be solved because it creates jobs. It is going
to be solved because Miami, New York, and San Diego are going
*2. Increase Solar Power in Iraq.*
We must jump climate from second-tier policy to macro-world view, on
par with ending slavery or defeating fascism. One means to do this is
advancing climate solutions to top-tier issues.
Why not, for example, propose that Iraq become the world's first solar
nation? The U.S. has spent $4.6 billion on reconstruction of the Iraq
electricity system. As of January 2008, electricity supply is 4,010
mW <http://www.brookings.edu/saban/%7E/media/Files/Centers/Saban/Iraq%20Index/index.pdf> (PDF), less than half of demand (8,500-9,000 mW, with half the
difference, about 2,000, supplied by neighborhood entrepreneurs
running small diesel generators), and barely above pre-invasion
levels. The grid is a constant target of sabotage. One thousand
employees of Iraq Electricity Ministry repair teams were killed last
year, and two of 17 transmission lines to Baghdad were operational in
Relying on World Bank estimates, the Iraq Ministry of Electricity
plans to spend $27 billion in the next eight years to add 4,000
mW. For $2 billion, and savings of $25 billion, the U.S. could
provide solar systems, battery storage and inverters for 260,000
residences, generating that same 4,000 mW, and leaving a
functioning, maintainable, and defensible electric grid. The purchase
would more than double global production of photovoltaics and a 50
percent set-aside for U.S. firms would represent a 12-fold increase
over 2006 production. Iraq is the one place in the world where
solar power is significantly cheaper than fossil fuels ($1.7
billion/mW versus $.13 billion/mW).
*3. Work Toward Unity.*
What hubris leads us to believe that we can avert cataclysm without
troubling to work together? No political issue of even middling
significance is ever pursued without a coalition to set strategy, pool
resources, and maximize political clout. We face the end of the world,
yet for two decades we haven't ever held a serious national leadership
meeting, let alone a national conference, to address it.
Our unwillingness to set aside organizational prerogatives and
professional considerations has several debilitating consequences. We
forgo power greater than the sum of our parts. We impose a heavy
psychic cost on our staff and supporters by failing to admit reality.
We communicate by our conduct of business-as-usual that we don't
believe our own story.
A U.S. coalition framework could be agreed upon within weeks if we put
our minds to it, and a national convening of U.S. environmentalists
could and should be organized in September. If our different visions
prove irreconcilable, then two coalitions should be formed to engage
in a spirited public debate, carrying on a long American tradition
stretching back to the Federalist Papers.
*4. Find a Supply-side Solution.*
Our solutions are utterly impractical within the time frame for global
action. Some private sector leaders who have begun to grapple with
slow, porous, end-of-the-pipe solutions are starting to talk about
"upstream" responses. Given the perilously short time frame for
action, there is no practical alternative other than restricting
fossil-fuel supply. Only an extractions cap and phase-down can
guarantee emissions reductions on the scale now required, and only a
unilateral withdrawal will establish market conditions in which
renewables can replace fossil fuels.
*5. Start an Emergency Climate Warning System.*
The world is functioning in the dark, without means to measure,
integrate, and analyze the massive changes now evident. Startling
reports on unexpected phenomena -- melting Siberian peat bogs, reduced
oceanic carbon uptake, speed-up in ice shelf movement, and so on -- go
An "Emergency Climate Warning System" for U.S. government funding of
state-of-the-art systems brought online at breakneck speed (permanent
camps on all major ice caps and shelves, regular sampling of major
ocean currents, a crash program to expand capacity for deep-ocean
monitoring, significantly expanded permafrost monitoring, super-
computers, commitment of military resources as necessary, dedicated
global satellite coverage of ice and oceans, and so on) is desperately
important. The critical point is to create a resource pool -- money,
power to draw on U.S. government equipment and personnel, and U.S.
political muscle on nations and institutions -- and crisis management
structure that can cut across disciplinary lines and fund
research based on climate change risk factors.
In articulating this critical need, the reality and risk of ice-shelf
collapse/sea-level rise is brought home, and opponents are sidelined,
as "conducting more research" is the obstructionists' main plank. A
means of expression consistent with academic standards and scientific
methodology is made available, permitting scientists to demonstrate
the depth -- near anguish -- of their concern while side-stepping the
fossil-fuel-sector-sponsored mire of debate.
*6. Campaign for Civil Defense.*
Climate civil defense campaigns should be launched in every major sea-
level U.S. city, pressing municipal governments to review plans,
zoning, and crisis management with rising sea levels and storm surges
taken into account. Using the Boston <http://www.tufts.edu/tie/climb/> and New York City <http://www.ccsr.columbia.edu/information/hurricanes/> studies as
models, these assessments will quickly show that the levees and
hurricane barriers required to meet even outdated forecasts are well
beyond local and state government capacities.
Climate civil defense planning is both morally urgent and also a
powerful strategic angle in climate campaigning. An abstract policy
debate is transformed into a bread and butter political matter of
contracts, budgets, zoning, and construction. The colossal price tag
for damages and the cost of averting them opens the road to liability
litigation and creates a political football that can usefully be
kicked up the line to states and the federal government. A distant,
abstract risk is made tangible. Opponents are forced to argue on
specifics and against prudent measures.
This new narrative is a more durable platform for action. Consider how
differently campaigning for carbon taxes would play out if the purpose
is to protect Manhattan, Miami, and San Diego from New Orleans-type
storm surges. As an organizing device, civil defense campaigning is
richer, less cerebral, and more relevant than our current, almost
entirely symbolic agenda -- and has great visuals (imagine kicking it
off with a surreptitious painting of blue lines in downtowns and
*7. Follow the Money.*
Investments in renewables are expected to reach $750 billion by 2016
according to Ernst & Young: a large increase over the baseline, but
insignificant compared to an anticipated $22 trillion in overall
energy supply investment needs by 2030, projected by the International
Energy Agency in "World Energy Outlook 2007 <http://www.worldenergyoutlook.org/>." Several factors tend
to mask this mammoth gap. Growth in renewables is celebrated without
reference to the bottom line, and the fossil-fuel sector has been
successful in removing relative investment rates between energy
sources as a factor in measuring corporate performance on climate,
being two examples.
It is dangerous to pretend that investment on such a colossal scale
does not preordain the conclusion.
The only current efforts that take direct aim at fossil fuels are the
successful drive by the NRDC and Environmental Defense to press
Citibank and other investment bankers not to invest in coal-fired
generating facilities, and the broader campaign by the Rainforest
Action Network, also focused on Citibank, to withdraw from fossil-
fuel-sector investments. These efforts should receive significant
support, but the central investment question must be broached more
directly. Global corporate campaigns should be launched calling for a
broad shift in energy sector investment. BP and ExxonMobil would be
appropriate targets for a South Africa-style divestment campaign,
bolstered with employment boycotts, seeking to invert current
fossil fuel/renewables investment ratios.
*8. Define the Political Bright Line.*
We must make the best of our last opportunity in a presidential
election to define a global solution and set the bar for climate
leadership. This cannot be achieved by pressing candidates to endorse
a laundry list of policies, but neither can it be accomplished by
securing broad statements of concern. We must put forward objective
criteria by which genuine leadership is distinguished from pandering.
We might, for example, define five qualities of leadership on which
our endorsements will hinge.
*Honesty*. The definition of precautionary <http://www.precaution.org/lib/pp_def.htm> global action is in
free fall, but candidates should be pressed to accept the present
precautionary position -- fast-as-practical return to a 350 ppm
concentration <http://www.columbia.edu/%7Ejeh1/RoyalCollPhyscns_Jan08.pdf> of atmospheric carbon [dioxide] and swift-as-possible
decline to pre-industrial levels.
*Courage*. We cannot both avert cataclysm and increase our use
of coal <http://www.columbia.edu/%7Ejeh1/mailings/20071219_DearPrimeMinister.pdf> (PDF), and no honest candidate will try to straddle this
fence. Wisdom. As the crisis deepens, there will be ever greater
pressure for techno-solutions (such as spreading billions of tiny
umbrellas in orbit, or putting gigantic pipes on the sea floor to
increase ocean water circulation). The wise candidate will oppose
quick fixes because the cure may be as bad as the bite, and because
moving to an environmentally sound planetary society is essential if
we are to escape the host of other crises looming in the wings.
*Vision*. A global solution will only be acceptable to peoples
and nations of the world if it is fair and does not quash dreams. This
will require adjusting western lifestyles in ways acceptable to first-
world populations, appealing to emerging middle classes, and
reinvestment of global wealth into a global solution (see Ross
Gelbspan <http://gristmill.grist.org/story/2007/1/29/172546/539>'s "Clean Energy Transition <http://www.heatisonline.org/contentserver/objecthandlers/index.cfm?id=6320&method=full>," or EcoEquity's "The Right to
Development in a Climate Constrained World <http://www.ecoequity.org/docs/TheGDRsFramework_highres.pdf>" [PDF]). A functional
response depends on U.S. leadership to focus technical development,
restructure global markets, and pay the bulk of implementation. Even a
low-ballpark number -- perhaps $1 trillion -- will be much higher than
any of the figures now bandied about.
*Leadership*. The world's only superpower must lead the drive for
a last-minute solution, and only America has the dynamism, naïvete,
and hope in national character necessary to tackle this staggering
challenge. To move the nation to action requires leadership from in
front, something candidates can demonstrate by handling ideological
obstacles to a muscular exertion of American power (market
intervention for Republicans and anti-internationalism of the
Democrats). Of these things, the toughest challenge -- for both
candidates and environmentalists -- is taking the no-coal pledge. All
four major presidential candidates up for major-party endorsements
support expanded reliance on coal. Unless we are able to exert
significant pressure, environmentalists should endorse no candidate
for president in 2008.
*9. Retire the Light Bulbs.*
We have exaggerated the importance of personal responsibility to the
point where even environmentalists believe that climate action is
primarily a matter of American lifestyle choices. To drive home the
point that functional climate solution can only be achieved by
American leadership on the global stage, we must dispel the notion
that personal decisions are anything other than symbolic. This can be
conveyed most dramatically by symbolically retiring the light bulbs.
*10. Involve the U.S. in the Global Stage.*
The energy bill is now energy law, for good or ill, and it's time to
declare domestic victory and focus on a last-minute global drive under
U.S. leadership. Our mono-focus on U.S. domestic emissions reductions
is ill-served to set the bar for a functional solution and insulates
U.S. campaigning from the global stage.
There is no single global goal more important than winning in the U.S.
And it is time for U.S. environmentalists to invite global action
aimed at the U.S. government by other nations, peoples, and
environmentalists -- private sector and public. An significant
investment of U.S. and European NGO funding is required to launch
effective global efforts, which must be of a never-seen-before scale.
To jump start a global energy-sector corporate-divestment campaign,
for example, might require thousands of campaigners covering 100
nations, a global advertising budget, a legal team to bring NAFTA
anti-trust actions against U.S. subsidies, and an international
student employment boycott campaign, perhaps launched in an
international convening in Philadelphia.
*11. Reclaim Earth Day.*
Letting environmental education and such visible symbols as Earth Day
slip away was a very poor decision, in retrospect. The constellation
of corporate sponsorship, school-controlled programming, lifestyle-
based environmentalism, and recycling-type service projects has
evolved into competing eco-lite world view that diminishes
environmental action and dumbs down environmental values. It is hard
to imagine a "labor education" movement espousing "voluntary unionism"
and holding a corporate-sponsored May Day, yet this is exactly how our
educational adjunct functions.
The simple remedy is to reclaim Earth Day -- our most important,
unifying symbol -- and to use this platform to speak to
environmentalists, not the general public. In order to address our own
ranks, we must acknowledge our fear, not ignore it. We are in
difficult circumstances that will only grow worse, and the odds of
winning are very low. By admitting these terrible truths, we will be
liberated from the fog of deception and paralysis in action that leads
us now to live schizophrenic lives. When we have reconstituted a
clear-minded, undoubtedly smaller and healthier core, then we can put
forward a pragmatic platform that would work -- even if the chances it
will be implemented are slight.
Earth Day, perhaps the only day of the year when working
environmentalists are exposed to music and art, represents our heart
*12. Revive Eco-fundamentalist Values.*
Environmentalism, as a world view rather than one civic good among
many, has a tiny base in the U.S. Lured by visions of majority
support, and driven by the demands of fundraising technologies, most
of our institutional energies have not been focused on this core. Now,
when we require a cohesive, disciplined, and energetic base, we find
that our castles are built of sand.
One response to our predicament that has gained surprising support is
to give up being environmentalists <http://astore.amazon.com/gristmagazine/detail/0618658254/102-1183543-3665742>. Because they are values rather
than views, I, like most environmentalists, am unable to toss out my
beliefs merely because they are unfashionable.
It is idiocy of the highest order to try. Even if climate cataclysm
were averted by some technical wizardry, the world is still faced with
a host of other calamities waiting in the wings; crises that
environmentalists are largely alone recognizing and striving to
address. To dispense with environmentalism would be to throw away the
only tool humankind has fashioned to dig ourselves out of this hole.
Only environmental principles of action provide the rationale for a
precautionary solution. Only environmental vision contemplates
wholesale revamping of global structures, and considers the benefits.
Only environmentalists believe that there is a moral cost to
extinction. Only environmental values will permit humanity to live
happy, free, and productive lives in large numbers over the long term.
Environmentalism must undergo a revival, not burial. To accomplish
this, we must first rid ourselves of the notion that our primary
purpose is to craft policy. Even most critics of the U.S. climate
agenda spend their energies debating substance, but it is not our job
to lobby for carbon markets or mileage standards, nor should efforts
to reshape our approach be concerned with devising alternative
policies, for three reasons:
Nothing we now advocate is remotely within reach of a global solution,
and no amount of tinkering can fix it. The political cost of
abandoning a two-decade-old agenda is small compared to the gains in
freeing our time, energy, and thinking.
The global response now required is on a scale greater than World War
II, the Marshall Plan, and Eastern Bloc reconstruction combined. We
can only paint that effort in broad strokes and cannot possibly
conceive the details. Trying to do so is as useless as 1930s
interventionists trying to develop World War 11 military strategy.
It is our job to change political conditions in the world's only
superpower, so that American power, money, and might are brought to
bear on a functional, global solution and dangerous techno-fixes are
avoided. I have argued that this outcome is most likely when climate
impacts become severe enough to disrupt business as usual <http://gristmill.grist.org/story/2007/4/20/113733/015>. Only then
will we enter fluid political circumstances, when a brief window of
opportunity for large-scale social change may open. Victory in such
conditions is won by small, zealous numbers, not weak majorities.
Whether by this or some other strategy, our goal is to win an abrupt
shift in U.S. policy, accepting that civilization is on the line and
that bringing American might to bear in a desperate, last-minute drive
by humanity is the only practical means to put a global solution in
place. Very few Americans are willing to face these terrible
realities. Self-identified environmentalists, it turns out, aren't
much better at it than anyone else, but there is a core of people with
existential world views -- many of whom do not consider themselves
environmentalists -- who are fearful, desperate for plausible action,
and increasingly angry with transparently half-hearted measures. These
are true environmentalists, whether they use that term or not, and it
is toward this core that our institutional resources and energies
should be directed.
Some may argue that these 12 items are hardly simple -- and it is true
that this agenda would take hard work, a marked change in thinking,
and internal conflict of a sort we have not recently experienced. But
we have all the necessary resources already in hand. The green groups
and Environmental Grantmakers Association <http://www.ega.org/> have the money (over $1
billion in climate funding alone), staff, membership, public respect,
political capital, technical skill, and infrastructure to take on this
agenda and more. The only roadblocks are internal.
In editing this story, we changed the title (in Grist it was
originally "A post-energy-bill agenda,"), added some additional
clarifying links in the text, and modified the units of measurement to
accord with standard international units (e.g., megawatts = mW). --
Rachel's News editors
 Based on formula in Solar Eagle <http://www.fas.org/man/eprint/iraqsolar.pdf>: A Study Examining Photovoltaic
(PV) Solar Power as an Alternative for the Rebuilding of the Iraqi
Electrical Power Generation Infrastructure (PDF), C. Austin, R. Borja,
J. Phillips, Naval Post Graduate School, June 2005.
 Solar Iraq would total 3,750 mW solar photovoltaics. Total solar
PV world production in 2006 was between 1,744 mW (2007 Marketbuzz
Report <http://www.solarbuzz.com/Marketbuzz2007-intro.htm>) and 2,521 mW (Earth Policy Institute <http://www.earthpolicy.org/Indicators/Solar/2007_data.htm#fig3>); and U.S. solar PV
production, according to Earth Policy Institute, was 154 mW.
 Assessing US Climate Policy Options <http://www.rff.org/rff/Publications/CPF_AssessingUSClimatePolicyOptions.cfm>, R. Kopp, W. Pizer,
Resources for the Future, November 28, 2007.
 I would vest WCWS [ECWS?] control with NASA's Goddard Institute
for Space Studies.
 See, for example, the Bali letter, presented here by the American
Coal Council: http://www.clean-coal.info/drupal/open_letter_UN_cli
 College campuses are ripe for divestment campaigns, and students
could both target university investments and launch employment
boycotts against major oil companies. Government-controlled funds,
union pension funds, private foundations, and other NGOs are also
Copyright 2008. Grist Magazine, Inc.
Return to Table of Contents <#Table_of_Contents>
From: The Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund, Feb. 11, 2008
[Printer-friendly version] <http://www.precaution.org/lib/08/prn_halifax_va_outlaws_chem_trespass.080211.htm>
*VIRGINIA TOWN BANS CHEMICAL AND RADIOACTIVE BODILY TRESPASS*
On February 7, 2008, the Town Council of Halifax, Virginia, voted
unanimously to adopt an ordinance banning corporate chemical and
radioactive bodily trespass. Enacted to confront concerns about the
proposed uranium mine in adjacent Pittsylvania County, the ordinance
establishes strict liability and burden-of-proof standards for
culpable corporations and government entities that permit and
facilitate corporate bodily trespass.
The ordinance also strips corporations of constitutional protections
within the town. The Town of Halifax thus becomes the 10th
municipality in the nation to refuse to recognize corporate
constitutional "rights," and to prohibit corporate rights from being
used to override the rights of human and natural communities.
The ordinance adopted by the Halifax Town Council also recognizes the
rights of natural communities and ecosystems to exist and flourish
within the town and provides for the enforcement and defense of those
rights, and prohibits corporations from interfering with the civil
rights of residents, including residents' right to self-government.
The ordinance was drafted for the Halifax Town Council by the
Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund <http://www.celdf.org>, a Pennsylvania-based
nonprofit law firm.
Ben Price, Projects Director for the Legal Defense Fund commented that
"The people of the Town of Halifax have determined that they do not
consent to be irradiated, nor to be trespassed upon, by toxic
substances that would be released by Virginia Uranium, Inc., or any
other state-chartered corporation. The people have asserted their
right and their duty to protect their families, environment, and
future generations. In enacting this law, the community has gone on
record as rejecting the legal theory behind Dillon's Rule, which
erroneously asserts that there is no inherent right to local self-
government. The American Revolution was about nothing less than the
fundamental right of the people to be the decision-makers on issues
directly affecting the communities in which they live. They understood
that a central government, at some distance removed from those
affected, acts beyond its authority in empowering a few powerful men -
privileged with chartered immunities and rights superior to the people
in the community -- to deny citizens' rights, impose harm, and refuse
local self-determination. The people of the Town of Halifax have acted
in the best tradition of liberty and freedom, and confronted injustice
in the form of a state-permitted corporate assault against the consent
of the sovereign people."
Shireen Parsons, the Legal Defense Fund's Virginia Organizer,
commended the action of the Halifax Town Council, stating that, "The
council members demonstrated courage and solidarity in their
commitment to justice and their duty to govern in the interest of
protecting and preserving the health, safety and wellbeing of the
people from whom they derive their power. This is the beginning of
something wonderful in Virginia."
Halifax Town Council member Jack Dunavant said of the decision, "This
is an historic vote. We, the people, intend to protect our health and
environment from corporate assault. It's time to invoke the
Constitution and acknowledge the power of the people to protect our
own destiny and end this era of corporate greed and pollution."
The Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund, located in
Chambersburg, Pennsylvania, has worked with communities resisting
corporate assaults upon democratic self-governance since 1995. Among
other programs, it has brought its unique Daniel Pennock Democracy
Schools to communities in 26 states in which people seek to end
destructive and rights-denying corporate acts routinely permitted by
state and federal agencies. In Pennsylvania alone, more than 100
municipalities have enacted ordinances authored by the Legal Defense
Return to Table of Contents <#Table_of_Contents>
From: CELDF, Feb. 13, 2008
[Printer-friendly version] <http://www.precaution.org/lib/08/prn_celdf_ordinances.080213.htm>
*MODEL MUNICIPAL ORDINANCES TO CONTROL CORPORATIONS*
The Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund (CELDF) in
Chambersburg, Pa., provides a Local Ordinance Drafting service for
municipal governments in Pennsylvania.
This project has been immensely successful at bringing community
empowering ordinances to local governments.
Two popular ordinances drafted by the Fund are: (1) The Southampton
Township Farm Ownership Ordinance <http://www.celdf.org/OrdinanceLibrary/tabid/61/ctl/Edit/mid/397/SouthamptonAntiCorporateFarmingOrdinanceFAQ/tabid/84/Default.aspx> -- modeled after the statutes of
eight mid-western states (Anti-Corporate Farming Laws in the
Heartland <http://www.celdf.org/AntiCorporateFarmingLawsinHeartland/tabid/130/Default.aspx>) which prohibit corporate ownership of farms; and (2) The
Wayne Environmental Protection Ordinance <http://www.celdf.org/OrdinanceLibrary/tabid/61/ctl/Edit/mid/397/WayneTownshipEnvironmentalProtection/tabid/85/Default.aspx> -- which grants the power
to the Township Supervisors to exclude corporations with criminal
histories from operating within the Township. The Wayne Ordinance was
passed in 1998 by Wayne Township, Mifflin County. The Southampton
Ordinance was developed in March of 1999, and has become law in a
dozen townships. CELDF ordinances have been presented for passage to
local governments in Ohio, Virginia, New Hampshire and Oregon.
Other ordinances available for passage include (1) The Corporate
Ownership and Disclosure Ordinance <http://www.celdf.org/OrdinanceLibrary/tabid/61/ctl/Edit/mid/397/TownshipOwnershipandControlDisclosure/tabid/89/Default.aspx> -- requiring corporations doing
business in a local area to file their articles and bylaws with the
local government, (2) The Solar Ordinance <http://www.celdf.org/Home/tabid/36/Ordinances/tabid/61/Ordinances/Solar/tabid/98/Default.aspx> -- requiring the
installation of solar hot water heaters in any new residential housing
developments; (3) The Recycling Ordinance <http://www.celdf.org/OrdinanceLibrary/tabid/61/ctl/Edit/mid/397/Recycling/tabid/96/Default.aspx> -- requiring local
governments to use high content, chlorine-free recycled paper for
office operations; and (4) The Noxious Odors Control Ordinance <http://www.celdf.org/OrdinanceLibrary/tabid/61/ctl/Edit/mid/397/MonroeOdorControl/tabid/90/Default.aspx> -
regulating noxious odors released from large agricultural operations.
The Legal Defense Fund not only incorporates progressive statutes and
language into local Ordinances for passage at the local government
level, but also accepts requests from Townships for customized
Ordinances that they can present for passage.
Currently, the Environmental Protection Ordinance <http://www.celdf.org/OrdinanceLibrary/tabid/61/ctl/Edit/mid/397/WayneTownshipEnvironmentalProtection/tabid/85/Default.aspx> is listed with the
Pennsylvania State Association of Township Supervisors (PSATS) as a
Model Ordinance for passage by Township Supervisors and Borough
Councils in Pennsylvania.
Through this program area, CELDF has drafted the following Ordinances
for use by local governments and grassroots community organizations
(click on Ordinance title to read full text):
Mahanoy Township Sustainable Energy Ordinance <http://www.celdf.org/Ordinances/MahanoyTownshipSustainableEnergyOrdinance/tabid/419/Default.aspx> -- sets up a local
energy policy that prohibits any new unsustainable energy production
within the municipality, and commits the community to a gradual
transition to sustainable energy production for homes and businesses.
Montgomery County Anti-Corporate Takings and Securing Local Self-
Governance Ordinance <http://www.celdf.org/Ordinances/MontgomeryCountyAntiCorporateTakingsandSecur/tabid/418/Default.aspx> -- Prohibits corporations from taking private
property by power of eminent domain.
Blaine Township Corporate Land Development Ordinance <http://www.celdf.org/Ordinances/BlaineTownshipLandDevelopmentOrdinance/tabid/387/Default.aspx> -- Prohibits
use of corporations for land development, with limited exceptions .
Blaine Township Corporate "Rights" Ordinance <http://www.celdf.org/Ordinances/BlaineTownshipCorporateRightsOrdinance/tabid/386/Default.aspx> -- eliminates
constitutional privileges from corporations at the municipal level.
The Ordinance, in effect, eliminates Fourteenth Amendment protections.
Proohibits corporate contributions to candidates for elected office
within the Township.
Blaine Township Corporate Mining and Democratic Self-Governance
Ordinance <http://www.celdf.org/Ordinances/BlaineAntiCorporateMiningOrdinance/tabid/401/Default.aspx> -- prohibits mining corporations from purchasing mineral
rights or land for mining, and prohibits mining corporations from
interfering with the civil rights of residents, including residents'
right to self-government.
New Ordinance Prohibiting Land Application of Sewage Sludge <http://www.celdf.org/Ordinances/NewSewageSludgeOrdinance/tabid/357/Default.aspx> -
Updated and more powerful than The Rush Township Sewage Sludge
Ordinance <http://www.celdf.org/OrdinanceLibrary/tabid/61/ctl/Edit/mid/397/RushTownshipSewageSludge/tabid/88/Default.aspx>, this new Ordinance was drafted with municipal government
and citizen input in Schuylkill County, Pennsylvania. It bans
corporations from engaging in the land application of sewage sludge,
recognizes citizen right to sue on behalf of ecosystems and codifies
the right of citizen enforcement.
Southampton Anti-Corporate Farming Ordinance <http://www.celdf.org/OrdinanceLibrary/tabid/61/ctl/Edit/mid/397/SouthamptonAntiCorporateFarmingOrdinance/tabid/83/Default.aspx> -- (The Southampton
Family Farm Protection Ordinance) -- prohibits agribusiness corporate
ownership of farmland and limits corporate involvement in farming.
Adopted by ten local governments in Fulton, Bedford, Bradford,
Indiana, and Cumberland Counties in Pennsylvania.
FAQ: Southampton Anti-Corporate Farming Ordinance <http://www.celdf.org/OrdinanceLibrary/tabid/61/ctl/Edit/mid/397/SouthamptonAntiCorporateFarmingOrdinanceFAQ/tabid/84/Default.aspx>
Wayne Township Environmental Protection Ordinance <http://www.celdf.org/OrdinanceLibrary/tabid/61/ctl/Edit/mid/397/WayneTownshipEnvironmentalProtection/tabid/85/Default.aspx> -- (The Wayne
"Three Strikes and You're Out" Ordinance) -- enables local governments
to prohibit corporations from doing business in certain localities if
the corporation has a history of violating statutory and regulatory
laws. Adopted by local governments in Fulton and Mifflin Counties in
Pennsylvania. A version of this Ordinance is under review by groups in
Humboldt County, California as the model for a potential Countywide
Summary of Wayne and Southampton Ordinances <http://www.celdf.org/OrdinanceLibrary/tabid/61/ctl/Edit/mid/397/SummaryofWayneandSouthampton/tabid/86/Default.aspx> -- Local Control and
Corporate Power -- an overview of the two ordinances listed above.
The Thompson Corporate Personhood Ordinance <http://www.celdf.org/OrdinanceLibrary/tabid/61/ctl/Edit/mid/397/ThompsonCorporatePersonhood/tabid/87/Default.aspx> -- eliminates
constitutional privileges from corporations at the municipal level.
The Ordinance, in effect, eliminates Fourteenth Amendment protections
from corporations in a municipality, and will be used to establish a
test case for corporate personhood in the U.S. Supreme Court. One
local government in Pennsylvania is considering the Ordinance.
Anti-Corporate Water Withdrawal <http://www.celdf.org/Ordinances/AntiCorporateWaterWithdrawal/tabid/254/Default.aspx> -- prohibits corporations from
owning, withdrawing, or hauling water from the community. Eliminates
constitutional privileges from corporations at the municipal level.
The Rights of Nature Ordinance <http://www.celdf.org/Ordinances/RightsofNatureOrdinance/tabid/133/Default.aspx> -- asserts that natural communities
and ecosystems possess inalienable and fundamental rights to exist and
prosper and prohibits corporations or business entities -- or persons
acting in corporate or business capacities -- from denying those
rights, or interfering with the vitality or functioning of those
communities or ecosystems. It further prohibits the Township from
enforcing any law which would abridge the rights of natural
communities and ecosystems.
The Rush Township Sewage Sludge Ordinance <http://www.celdf.org/OrdinanceLibrary/tabid/61/ctl/Edit/mid/397/RushTownshipSewageSludge/tabid/88/Default.aspx> -- Authorizes a municipal
government to assess a fee for every ton of sewage sludge applied by
sludge corporations to farmland or mine reclamation sites in a
municipality. The fee is then used to test whether the content of the
sewage sludge meets state regulatory requirements. This Ordinance has
been adopted by more than seventy communities across Pennsylvania.
However, industry influence in the state assembly threatens to preempt
local democracy and perhaps nullify the Ordinance.The Legal Defense
Fund has developed a New Ordinance Prohibiting Land Application of
Sewage Sludge <http://www.celdf.org/Ordinances/NewSewageSludgeOrdinance/tabid/357/Default.aspx>, which is designed to challenge such usurpations and
assert local control.
Sewage Sludge Land Application Registration Form <http://www.celdf.org/scm/ord/ApplicationForm.pdf> (PDF File)
Saint Thomas Township Surface Mining Ownership and Control Ordinance <http://www.celdf.org/Ordinances/AntiCorporateMiningOrdinance/tabid/215/Default.aspx>
-- prohibits non-family owned corporate or synidicate ownership of any
real estate used for surface mining, or corporate engagement in
surface mining in the Township, and provides for certain limited
exceptions to corporate or syndicate ownership, and for enforcement
and penalties for violation of the Ordinance.
Windsor Township Product Retailing Ordinance <http://www.celdf.org/Default.aspx?tabid=125> -- prohibits persons
from using certain corporations or syndicates for the retail selling
of products; provides for certain limited exceptions, and provides for
enforcement and penalties for violation of the Ordinance.
Windsor Township Corporate Land Development Ordinance <http://www.celdf.org/Default.aspx?tabid=124> -- prohibits
persons from using certain corporations or syndicates for land
development; provides for certain limited exceptions, and provides for
enforcement and penalties for violation of the Ordinance.
Township Ownership and Control Disclosure Ordinance <http://www.celdf.org/OrdinanceLibrary/tabid/61/ctl/Edit/mid/397/TownshipOwnershipandControlDisclosure/tabid/89/Default.aspx> -- requires
corporations doing business in local government jurisdictions to file
copies of the corporation's articles of incorporation and bylaws with
the local governing authority. This Ordinance is currently under
review by two local governments in Pennsylvania.
Township Defense of Civil Liberties Ordinance <http://www.celdf.org/Ordinances/LocalCivilRightsOrdinance/tabid/134/Default.aspx> -- nullifies authority
granted to federal agencies illegitimately conferred by Congress under
the authority of the USA PATRIOT Act that infringe upon the civil
liberties and civil rights of the residents of the Township. Nullifies
the USA PATRIOT Act, the Homeland Security Act, and regulations and
Executive Orders implemented under the authority of those laws for
residents of the Township, the Township Supervisors, and employees of
the Township. It further prohibits Township employees from engaging in
unlawful detentions or profiling of citizens in violation of their
rights and liberties as defined by the Fourteenth Amendment and
prohibits Township employees from voluntarily cooperating in the
violation of those rights.
National Animal Identification System Ordinance <http://www.celdf.org/Ordinances/NationalAnimalIdentificationSystemOrdinance/tabid/255/Default.aspx> -- Nullifies the
National Animal Identification System (NAIS) at the municipal level;
eliminates ability of agribusiness corporations to privately enforce
the NAIS; eliminates all corporate claims to constitutional "rights"
and powers; recognizes right for independent family livestock farmers
to make a living from farming.
Sustainable Energy Ordinance <http://www.celdf.org/Ordinances/SustainableEnergyOrdinance/tabid/256/Default.aspx> -- Prohibits unsustainable energy
production within a municipality, defined as energy produced from
fossil fuels and nuclear sources; establishes a Sustainable Energy
Policy at the municipal level; mandates transition towards renewable
energy use within the municipality; provides municipal monies for that
transition; eliminates all corporate claims to constitutional "rights"
Corporate Chemical Trespass Ordinance <http://www.celdf.org/Ordinances/CorporateChemicalTrespassOrdinance/tabid/257/Default.aspx> -- Recognizes the right of
people to be free from involuntary corporate chemical trespass;
requires a municipality to sue corporations and corporate managers for
compensation for trespass; eliminates all corporate claims to
constitutional "rights" and powers; creates a category of criminal
violation for chemical trespass; provides municipal monies for
Anti-Corporate Waste Hauling Ordinance <http://www.celdf.org/Ordinances/AntiCorporateWasteHaulingOrdinance/tabid/258/Default.aspx> -- Prohibits corporations
from hauling certain types of toxic, hazardous, and nuclear waste
through a municipality; eliminates all corporate claims to
constitutional "rights" and powers.
The Monroe Odor Control Ordinance <http://www.celdf.org/OrdinanceLibrary/tabid/61/ctl/Edit/mid/397/MonroeOdorControl/tabid/90/Default.aspx> -- requires agribusiness
corporations to use best management practices to control noxious odors
emanating from their facilities. This Ordinance is currently under
review by two local governments in Pennsylvania.
Rockland Township Water Supply Protection Act <http://www.celdf.org/OrdinanceLibrary/tabid/61/ctl/Edit/mid/397/RocklandTownshipWaterSupplyProtection/tabid/91/Default.aspx> -- (The Rockland Water
Usage Ordinance)- requires any new, corporate, large users of water
supplies within a local jurisdiction to prepare a Water Impact Study
to show that industrial and commercial use of water will not have an
adverse impact on groundwater supplies. This Ordinance has been
adopted by five local governments in Pennsylvania and is under
consideration by three other local governments.
Fly Control Ordinance <http://www.celdf.org/OrdinanceLibrary/tabid/61/ctl/Edit/mid/397/FlyControlOrdinance/tabid/92/Default.aspx> -- Requiring Best Management Practices -
requires all new large-scale agricultural operations to adopt a
management plan for the management of flies, and to pay a permit fee
that enables the municipality to create an oversight and enforcement
authority for those facilities.
Ordinance Banning Genetically Modified Crops <http://www.celdf.org/OrdinanceLibrary/tabid/61/ctl/Edit/mid/397/GeneticallyModifiedCrops/tabid/93/Default.aspx>, and Vindicating Local
Self-Government. -- bans the use, sale, and transfer of genetically
modified crops within a municipality, and eliminates the authority of
agribusiness corporations to sue the municipality over the local law.
Township Environmental Impact Statement Ordinance <http://www.celdf.org/OrdinanceLibrary/tabid/61/ctl/Edit/mid/397/TownshipEnvironmentalImpactStatement/tabid/94/Default.aspx> -- requires all
corporations proposing a particular project within a particular
municipality to draft an Environmental Impact Statement, and then
select the "most environmentally sound" alternative to the project
Ordinance Establishing Preferential Bidding for Locally Owned
Businesses <http://www.celdf.org/OrdinanceLibrary/tabid/61/ctl/Edit/mid/397/PreferentialBiddingforLocallyOwnedBusinesses/tabid/95/Default.aspx> -- enables a local government to select an entity other
than the "low-bidder" for the awarding of contracts and bids, enables
a local government to prefer locally owned businesses over other
business entities submitting bids for particular projects.
Recycling Ordinance <http://www.celdf.org/OrdinanceLibrary/tabid/61/ctl/Edit/mid/397/Recycling/tabid/96/Default.aspx> -- requires a municipality to use a certain
percentage of recycled paper products.
Solar Ordinance <http://www.celdf.org/Home/tabid/36/Ordinances/tabid/61/Ordinances/Solar/tabid/98/Default.aspx> -- requires new housing developments to install
solar- powered hot water heaters within those residences.
Ordinance Creating an Environmental Advisory Council to the Township <http://www.celdf.org/Ordinances/tabid/61/ctl/Edit/mid/397/EnvironmentalAdvisoryCouncil/tabid/99/Default.aspx>
- creates an Advisory Council within a local government to advise the
local government on environmental issues.
Sunshine Act Local Ordinance <http://www.celdf.org/Ordinances/tabid/61/ctl/Edit/mid/397/SunshineActLocal/tabid/100/Default.aspx> -- creates a higher standard for local
government than under State Sunshine Act laws, for the production of
documents by a local government to a requesting resident of that
"The first truth is that the liberty of a democracy is not safe if the
people tolerate the growth of private power to a point where it
becomes stronger than their democratic state itself. That, in essence,
is fascism -- ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or
by any other controlling power. Among us today a concentration of
private power without equal in history is growing." -- President
Franklin Delano Roosevelt. (One Thousand Americans, George Seldes,
Return to Table of Contents <#Table_of_Contents>
From: Earth Policy Institute <http://www.earthpolicy.org/Updates/2008/Update70.htm>, Feb. 14, 2008
[Printer-friendly version] <http://www.precaution.org/lib/08/prn_u.s._moves_toward_coal_ban.080214.htm>
*U.S. MOVING TOWARD BAN ON NEW COAL-FIRED POWER PLANTS*
By Lester R. Brown
In a report compiled in early 2007, the U.S. Department of Energy
listed 151 coal-fired power plants in the planning stages and talked
about a resurgence in coal-fired electricity. But during 2007, 59
proposed U.S. coal-fired power plants were either refused licenses by
state governments or quietly abandoned. In addition to the 59 plants
that were dropped, close to 50 more coal plants are being contested in
the courts, and the remaining plants will likely be challenged as they
reach the permitting stage.
What began as a few local ripples of resistance to coal-fired power is
quickly evolving into a national tidal wave of grassroots opposition
from environmental, health, farm, and community organizations and a
fast-growing number of state governments. The public at large is
turning against coal. In a September 2007 national poll by the Opinion
Research Corporation about which electricity source people would
prefer, only 3 percent chose coal.
One of the first major coal industry setbacks came in early 2007, when
environmental groups convinced Texas-based utility TXU to reduce the
number of planned coal-fired power plants in Texas from 11 to 3. And
now even those 3 proposed plants may be challenged. Meanwhile, the
energy focus within the Texas state government is shifting to wind
power. The state is planning 23,000 megawatts of new wind-generating
capacity (equal to 23 coal-fired power plants).
In May, Florida's Public Service Commission refused to license a huge
$5.7-billion, 1,960-megawatt coal plant because the utility could not
prove that building the plant would be cheaper than investing in
conservation, efficiency, and renewable energy sources. This argument
by Earthjustice, a non-profit environmental legal group, combined with
widely expressed public opposition to any more coal-fired power plants
in Florida, led to the quiet withdrawal of four other proposals for
coal plants in the state. Republican Governor Charlie Crist, who is
keenly aware of Florida's vulnerability to rising seas, is actively
opposing new coal plants and has announced that the state plans to
build the world's largest solar-thermal power plant.
The principal reason for opposing new coal plants is the mounting
concern about climate change. Another emerging reason is soaring
construction costs. And then there are intensifying health concerns
about mercury emissions and the 23,600 U.S. deaths per year from power
plant air pollution. (See data at www.earthpolicy.org/Updates/2008/U
Utilities have argued that carbon dioxide (CO2) from coal plant
smokestacks could be captured and stored underground, thus helping
keep hope for the industry alive. But on January 30, 2008, the Bush
administration announced that it was pulling the plug on a joint
project with 13 utilities and coal companies to build a demonstration
coal-fired power plant in Illinois with underground carbon
sequestration because of massive cost overruns. The original cost of
$950 million when the project was announced in 2003 had climbed beyond
$1.5 billion by early 2008, with further rises in prospect. The
cancellation effectively moves the date for any coal plants with
carbon sequestration so far into the future that this technology has
little immediate relevance.
Some utilities are being refused licenses for coal plants because they
have not examined alternative methods of satisfying demand, such as
increasing the efficiency of electricity use. For example, insulating
buildings greatly reduces energy needs for heating and cooling.
Shifting to more-efficient light bulbs would save enough electricity
to close 80 U.S. coal power plants.
The Sierra Club, the national leader on this issue, is working with
hundreds of local groups to mount legal challenges in state after
state. Other national groups that are actively involved include the
Rainforest Action Network, the Natural Resources Defense Council, and
Environmental Defense. Information on the grassroots momentum to
oppose coal plants is tracked on the Web site Coal Moratorium NOW! <http://cmnow.org/>.
States that are working to reduce carbon emissions are banding
together to discourage other states from building new coal plants
simply because it would cancel their own carbon reduction efforts. In
late 2006, for instance, the attorneys general of California,
Wisconsin, New York, and several other northeastern states wrote to
Kansas health officials urging them to deny permits for two new coal
power plants of 700 megawatts each. The permits were subsequently
denied, citing that carbon dioxide is an air pollutant and should be
regulated, as determined in an April 2007 Supreme Court ruling. And in
a letter on January 22, 2008, a similar grouping of states urged South
Carolina's Department of Health and Environmental Control to refuse a
permit for the proposed 600-megawatt Pee Dee coal plant.
Sidebar: FOR ADDITIONAL INFORMATION
>From Earth Policy Institute
Lester R. Brown, Chapter 11 :"Raising Energy Efficiency" and Chapter
12: "Turning to Renewable Energy" in Plan B 3.0: Rescuing a Planet
Under Stress and a Civilization in Trouble <http://www.earthpolicy.org/Books/PB3/index.htm> (New York: W.W. Norton &
Lester R. Brown, "Ban the Bulb: Worldwide Shift from Incandescents to
Compact Fluorescents Could Close 270 Coal-Fired Power Plants <http://www.earthpolicy.org/Updates/2007/Update66.htm>," Eco-
Economy Update, 9 May 2007.
Janet Larsen, "Setting the Record Straight: More than 52,000
Europeans Died from Heat in Summer 2003 <http://www.earthpolicy.org/Updates/2006/Update56.htm>," Eco-Economy Update, 28 July
Lester R. Brown, "Wind Energy Demand Booming <http://www.earthpolicy.org/Updates/2006/Update52.htm>: Cost Dropping Below
Conventional Sources Marks Key Milestone in U.S. Shift to Renewable
Energy," Eco-Economy Update, 22 March 2006.
Janet Larsen, "Coal Takes Heavy Human Toll <http://www.earthpolicy.org/Updates/Update42.htm>," Eco-Economy Update, 24
Frances C. Moore, "2007 Second Warmest Year on Record: Northern
Hemisphere Temperature Highest Ever <http://www.earthpolicy.org/Indicators/Temp/2008.htm>," Eco-Economy Indicator, 10
>From Other Sources
Opinion Research Corporation, "A Post Fossil-Fuel America: Are
Americans Ready to Make the Shift? <http://www.cleanenergyaction.net/101807_CLEAN_survey_report.pdf>," a National Opinion Survey
Produced for Citizens Lead for Energy Action Now (CLEAN), 18 October
Steven Mufson, "Coal Rush Reverses, Power Firms Follow: Plans for New
Plants Stalled by Growing Opposition <http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/09/03/AR2007090301119.html>," Washington Post, 4 September
Ted Nace, "Stopping Coal in Its Tracks: Loosely Affiliated Activists
Draw a Hard Line and Hold It <http://www.precaution.org/lib/08/prn_no_new_coal_plants_orion.080123.htm>," Orion Magazine (January/February
2008), p. 64.
National Energy Technology Laboratory, Tracking New Coal-Fired Power
Plants: Coal's Resurgence in Electric Power Generation <http://www.cmnow.org/NETL%20New%20Coal%205.2007.pdf> (Pittsburg,
PA: U.S. Department of Energy, 1 May 2007).
For a detailed list of plants cancelled in 2007 and a list of
currently proposed coal plants:
Coal Moratorium NOW!: Progress Towards a Coal Moratorium <http://cmnow.org/59plants.pdf>
Sierra Club's National Coal Campaign <http://www.sierraclub.org/environmentallaw/coal/plantlist.asp>
For information on the growing momentum against coal:
Coal Moratorium NOW! <http://cmnow.org/>
Coal Swarm <http://www.coalswarm.org/>
Leading organizations taking action against coal:
Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) <http://www.nrdc.org/coal>
Rainforest Action Network <http://www.ran.org/new/dirty_money/home/no_new_coal>
Sierra Club <http://www.sierraclub.org/coal>
To find out whether you receive electricity from coal plants
associated with mountaintop removal mining:
I Love Mountains <http://www.ilovemountains.org/myconnection>
For information on contacting your local and federal representatives
to stop coal:
Architecture 2030: How to Stop Coal <http://www.architecture2030.org/current_situation/stop_coal.php>
Coal's future is also suffering as Wall Street turns its back on the
industry. In July 2007, Citigroup downgraded coal company stocks
across the board and recommended that its clients switch to other
energy stocks. In January 2008, Merrill Lynch also downgraded coal
stocks. In early February 2008, investment banks Morgan Stanley, Citi,
and J.P. Morgan Chase announced that any future lending for coal-fired
power would be contingent on the utilities demonstrating that the
plants would be economically viable with the higher costs associated
with future federal restrictions on carbon emissions. On February 13,
Bank of America announced it would follow suit.
In August 2007, coal took a heavy political hit when U.S. Senate
Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada, who had been opposing three
coal-fired power plants in his own state, announced that he was now
against building coal-fired power plants anywhere in the world.
Investment banks and political leaders are beginning to see what has
been obvious for some time to climate scientists, such as NASA's James
Hansen who says that it makes no sense to build coal-fired power
plants when we will have to bulldoze them in a few years.
In early November 2007, Representative Henry Waxman of California
announced his intention to "introduce legislation that establishes a
moratorium on the approval of new coal-fired power plants under the
Clean Air Act until EPA finalizes regulations to address the
greenhouse gas emissions from these sources." If a national moratorium
is passed by Congress, it will mark the beginning of the end for coal-
fired power in the United States.
We may be on the verge of a monumental victory in the worldwide effort
to stabilize climate. In our new book, Plan B 3.0: Mobilizing to Save
Civilization <http://www.earthpolicy.org/Books/PB3/index.htm>, I propose cutting carbon emissions 80 percent by 2020.
The first step is to stop building any new coal-fired power plants. If
the United States imposes a moratorium on such construction, as
Denmark and New Zealand have already done, it would send a powerful
signal to the rest of the world, bolstering the effort to cut carbon
emissions. The next steps are to quickly exploit the vast worldwide
potential to raise energy efficiency and to massively develop
renewable sources of energy, such as wind, solar, and geothermal, in
order to phase out existing coal-fired power plants.
The world is moving toward a political tipping point on the climate
issue. If it comes soon enough, we may yet avoid catastrophic climate
# # #
Lester R. Brown is President of the Earth Policy Institute.
For a more detailed discussion of this issue, see Chapter 2 in Plan B
3.0: Mobilizing to Save Civilization, available for free downloading <http://www.earthpolicy.org/Books/PB3/index.htm>
Return to Table of Contents <#Table_of_Contents>
From: The Times Literary Supplement (London, U.K.) <http://entertainment.timesonline.co.uk/tol/arts_and_entertainment/the_tls/article3277880.ece>, Jan. 30, 2008
[Printer-friendly version] <http://www.precaution.org/lib/08/prn_theories_of_cancer.080130.htm>
*THEORIES OF CANCER*
*How paradigms shift and culprits change in the fight against the
disease, and what concerned citizens can do about it*
By Sandra Steingraber
SECRET HISTORY OF THE WAR ON CANCER
505pp. Basic Books. £16.99.
978 0 465 01566 5
Contested illnesses and the environmental health movement
356pp. New York: Columbia University Press. £19 (US $29.50).
978 0 231 12948 0
One advantage of being a long-time cancer survivor -- besides the
obvious -- is that it provides a front-row seat in the auditorium of
ideas about the disease's causation. Theories go in and out of fashion
over the years, paradigms shift this way and that, and the patient is
viewed differently by the medical community depending on which idea is
currently on top.
I was diagnosed with bladder cancer in 1979, when I was twenty years
old and just at the beginning of my career as a biologist. At that
time, US newspaper headlines featured Love Canal, the upstate New York
community whose residents had been evacuated a year earlier when
20,000 tons of industrial chemicals were discovered buried under their
basements. Toxic-waste activism in the United States was in the
ascendant, the newly formed US Environmental Protection Agency was
committed and passionate, and major environmental legislation had been
recently enacted by Congress to defend clean air and clean water in
the name of human health.
After breaking the bad news from the pathology lab, my urologist asked
me about tyres: automobile tyres. Had I ever vulcanized tyres? His
second question was about textile dyes. Any exposure to the colour
yellow? And had I ever worked in the aluminium industry?
Back at the university, I began to research the causes of bladder
cancer. Indeed, there were data on dyes and bladder cancer going back
to the nineteenth century. In fact, there was absolute proof that
certain textile dyes caused bladder cancer in humans. And yet,
mysteriously, this evidence had not resulted in the abolition of these
chemicals from the economy. Other suspected bladder carcinogens, for
which the evidence was highly troubling, if not outright damning, were
produced and used by the industries in my home town. The National
Cancer Institute was generating maps of cancer mortality in an attempt
to unveil other possible environmental carcinogens that could explain
rising rates of cancer.
And then Ronald Reagan was elected President, and everything changed.
No one asked me any more about my possible environmental exposures. In
fact, by the mid-1980s, I was hard-pressed to find the word
"carcinogen" in any pamphlet on cancer that I collected from my
doctors' various offices. Meanwhile, in the medical literature, the
search for cancer clusters that might point towards environmental
contributors became a disparaged practice. The new focus of the
National Cancer Institute was on "lifestyle" explanations for cancer.
As a young adult I hadn't really had enough time to develop bad
habits. In fact, I was a vegetarian who ran four miles a day. Thus
there was no explanation for my situation. "Some kind of fluke", said
one of my doctors. Wherever I lived, I dutifully submitted to cancer
check-ups. By the 1990s, the new explanation for cancer was genetic,
and I started receiving lots of questions from young intake doctors
about my family history. I had fun with this. I would describe in
detail my mother, diagnosed with breast cancer, my various uncles with
prostate and colon cancers, and -- the crowning point -- my aunt who
died of the same kind of bladder cancer that I had. The young doctors
took furious notes. I would always pause a few beats before adding,
"Oh yeah. And I'm adopted". (There is no evidence for a hereditary
link to bladder cancer. And there never has been.)
Today, I'm a forty-eight-year-old professor in Ithaca, New York, and
during my last renal ultrasound, the technician asked me casually if
I'd ever worked with textile dyes. I suppose Al Gore should get the
credit: the environment is once again on the collective radar screen.
Two new books expose and explicate the ongoing social contest that is
at the heart of our shifting understanding about cancer. They are both
important and deserve to be read together. Devra Davis's book examines
the historical forces at work when doubt is cast on the environmental
evidence. Phil Brown's book explores the opposing social movements
that are struggling to rescue this evidence and to bring about public
health policy change based on it.
Devra Davis's Secret History of the War on Cancer is a big, sprawling
book whose argument is more implicit than it should be. Her
autobiographical style -- which served her so well in her earlier
treatise on public health, When Smoke Ran Like Water -- often gets in
the way of her analysis here. Nevertheless, Davis, who directs the
Center for Environmental Oncology at the University of Pittsburgh
Cancer Institute, is an epidemiologist and public-health scientist at
the top of her game. In her new book, she reveals what she knows about
the interlocking structures of government and corporate interests, and
how these relationships have affected the social construction of
knowledge about cancer. Davis deserves to be taken seriously as a
former adviser to the World Health Organization, a public-health
servant in both the Carter and the Clinton Administrations, and the
founding director of the Board on Environmental Studies and Toxicology
in the National Academy of Sciences.
The basic thesis of this book is that 1.5 million lives have been
lost, because Americans failed to act on existing knowledge about the
environmental causes of cancer. This failure has been created by at
least eight different factors, both acting together and independently
of each other. The first is the cowardice of research scientists, who
publish thoroughly referenced reports but pull their punches at the
end, by claiming that more research needs to be done before action can
be taken. Statements like these are then exploited by those who profit
from the status quo. Like the cigarette industry during the 1960s, the
chemical industry has learned how to buy time and create wholesale
public doubt from small data gaps and remaining scientific
Meanwhile, Davis argues, regulatory agencies have become unresponsive
to new scientific evidence altogether. Hamstrung by small-government-
is-better reforms of the Reagan Administration, environmental and
public agencies shrank even as the science began pointing to the need
for more regulation. As for the government agencies and charities
whose mission it is to eradicate cancer, these institutions, too, have
had meaningful work on cancer prevention compromised by corporate
interests. Throughout the 1980s, for example, the chief executive
officer of Occidental Petroleum served as the chair of the National
Cancer Institute's advisory board. Ultimately, the so-called War on
Cancer is not really a war at all, argues Davis, but a cunning re-
The evolutionary history of epidemiology itself has also played a role
in muffling the evidence for environmental harm. With its necessary
focus on workers -- who are exposed to the highest amounts of
suspected carcinogens -- epidemiologists require access to industry.
The price for access, too often, is the promise of secrecy. Having
struck a Faustian bargain, occupational epidemiologists can have --
and have had -- their funds withdrawn if they go public with their
A further factor involves the court system. Davis shows brilliantly
the ways in which various kinds of scientific evidence -- such as
animal research -- have been gradually declared inadmissible in legal
cases, thanks to clever lawyering. "Basically", says Davis, "before
you can collect damages, you must get cancer or some other awful
disease, show that someone else already got it from the same things
you did, prove that you had specific exposures to a particular agent,
find the firm that caused your harm and can now pay for it, and prove
that they knew the exposure was harmful."
The last two factors involve outright harassment of researchers,
including Davis herself, and plain old terrible timing, which has
occurred at least twice in the last century, as when major treatises
on the environmental contributors to cancer were released, first on
the brink of the First World War, and then again right before the
Second World War. Indeed, Davis's crowning achievement with this book
is her resuscitation of old publications, along with secret memos and
various other original manuscripts, which show how much we used to
know about the role that chemical exposures play in the burden of
cancer. Some of these were subsequently doctored to serve particular
The Secret History of the War on Cancer is a remarkable piece of
sleuthing from one of our most brave and knowledgeable scientists, on
a topic that affects millions. Having closed Davis's book, one should
immediately open Phil Brown's Toxic Exposures, which focuses on the
ways in which environmental-health activists and their advocates in
science are challenging the carcinogen-deniers that Davis writes
about. Like Devra Davis, Brown, a medical sociologist at Brown
University, has been a researcher in the field of environmental health
for several decades, beginning with his groundbreaking work on the
Woburn cancer cluster, made famous in the Hollywood movie A Civil
Action. His new book represents many years of work. Toxic Exposures
can be read as a guidebook for those wishing to understand the
environmental-health movement, which, according to Brown, is the Civil
Rights movement of our times. As he demonstrates, almost all cases of
cancer clusters and contaminated communities, from Love Canal onwards,
have been discovered by citizen activists -- not by scientists, nor
government agencies. This is because no governmental agency or
scientific body engages in routine surveillance that would uncover
sentinel health events. It is also because cancer registries, which
could function as early-warning systems, publish their results in
obscure almanacs and do not actively investigate communities where
cancer rates are elevated. Often, as Brown notes, these communities
are never even informed that their cancer rates are statistically
But, in the cases where citizens have engaged in their own lay
epidemiology and have become environmental detectives in their own
communities, new avenues of scientific research have been made
possible, which, in turn, have spurred on better environmental
decisions. When sympathetic scientists work hand in hand with these
activists, new forms of knowledge are created that challenge the
lifestyle and hereditary foci of conventional epidemiology.
In one my favourite examples from the book, Brown describes how
science alone failed to produce regulations sufficient to reduce lead
poisoning among children. It was only the efforts of black and Latino
rights groups -- most notably the Black Panthers and the Young Lords -
in the 1960s that finally led to the social changes necessary to get
lead away from children's brains. Once that happened, science had the
human experiment it needed to prove that exposures to an environmental
toxicant at levels once considered acceptable and unavoidable were not
safe or necessary after all.
Brown's book systematically examines citizen-science alliances in
three disease areas: breast cancer, asthma and Gulf War Syndrome as
reported by US veterans of the first Iraq war. While individual
readers who are not sociologists will no doubt be drawn, by personal
experience, to one of the three, all offer important lessons about the
construction of scientific knowledge. It was fascinating to learn, for
example, how environmental -justice activists working on asthma
clusters in urban areas are now forcing scientists to investigate the
health effects of very fine particles, which are not yet regulated by
the Environmental Protection Agency.
In the end, Phil Brown's analysis of contested illnesses makes a
strong case for better health tracking to monitor diseases, and better
chemicals tracking to monitor the flow of hazardous substances in
consumer goods, in the jet stream, in our groundwater, and in our
tuna-fish sandwiches. Toxic Exposures also makes clear that neither
will happen without citizen participation in the scientific process.
Sandra Steingraber is the author of Living Downstream: An ecologist
looks at cancer and the environment, 1997, and Having Faith: An
ecologist's journey to motherhood, 2001.
Copyright 2008 Times Newspapers Ltd.
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