Archive for July, 2010

Cleanliness Is Next To …

July 24th, 2010 No comments

Cleanliness is next to …. Cancer

Ancient Proverb:

CLEANLINESS IS NEXT TO GODLINESS “This ancient proverb is said by some to have come from ancient Hebrew writings. However, its first appearance in English – though in slightly altered form - seems to be in the writings of Francis Bacon. In his ‘Advancement of Learning’ (1605) he wrote: ‘Cleanness of body was ever deemed to proceed from a due reverence to God.’ Near two centuries later John Wesley in one of his sermons (1791) indicated that the proverb was already well known in the form we use today. Wrote Wesley: ‘Slovenliness is no part of religion.’Cleanliness is indeed next to Godliness.'”

Modern Science: (click for research abstract)

Household cleaners may double risk of breast cancer – Household cleaners and air fresheners could be bad for women’s health, new research suggests.

By Richard Alleyne, Science Correspondent
Published: 6:30AM BST 20 Jul 2010

Women who regularly use household cleaners and air fresheners are at double the risk of developing breast cancer than those who never use the products.

The study of more than 1,500 women found that solid slow-release air fresheners and anti-mould products had the biggest effect.

Insect repellents, oven and surface cleaners also produced a slight increase.

“Women who reported the highest combined cleaning product use had a doubled risk of breast cancer compared to those with the lowest reported use,” said Dr Julia Brody, from the Silent Spring Institute in the United States,

“Use of air fresheners and products for mould and mildew control were associated with increased risk.”

My home is a healthy pigsty.

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EPA Whistleblower: Cover-up on Toxic Dispersants in Gulf

July 23rd, 2010 No comments

[Update: 7/30/10 – from MSNBC (video)

EPA Whistleblower Hugh Kaufman: We’ve Now Poisoned Thousands of Square Miles of the Gulf

O’DONNELL: Now, were you and others at the EPA making this case within the system, that arguing that we shouldn’t be using dispersants there? And what was the response?

KAUFMAN: Well, the working level troops in research, some of the toxicologists who have experience and education, were trying to get management to pay attention to the data that EPA had and has had for decades, but to no avail. There was a political decision made to let BP take the lead as opposed to the government being proactive, as we used to be.

O’DONNELL: Now, when you say a political decision, are you saying that that decision was made by EPA administer, Lisa Jackson, a Barack Obama appointee? Or was it made outside of the EPA?

KAUFMAN: The decision was made outside of the EPA, by political appointees. But I don’t have the vision to see how high up that was made. My vision is limited, because I’m in the middle of the bureaucracy.

Longtime EPA employee and truth teller Hugh Kaufman called the EPA handling of toxic dispersant “Corexit” in the Gulf a “coverup” and called for a Congressional investigation.

Last week, EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson faced tough questions in a Senate oversight hearing, particularly by Maryland Senator Barbara Mikulski, who suggested that Corexit could be the agent orange of the Gulf cleanup.

According to MotherJones story:

Kaufman, a senior policy analyst in the EPA’s Office of Solid Waste and Emergency Response, alleges that agency administrator Lisa Jackson sidestepped the issue last week in her answers to questions about whether the agency has the authority to call off use of dispersants in the Gulf. The agency, he says, is deliberately downplaying the threat”and its own role in regulating the chemicals”to protect itself from liability and keep the public from getting too alarmed.

Kaufman, as EPA Ombudsman, conducted the investigation of false statements by EPA that air in southern Manhattan was safe to breath after 9/11. He was fired by Christie Whitman for that investigation.

Kaufman appeared on Democracy Now! – it is a must watch video: (transcript available at that link too).

PEER’s DC Office has been working closely with several scientists and whistleblowers on scientific integrity and gulf response – see: News You Wont Get From The Hometown Cheerleaders. EPA’s failure to block Corexit are a focal point in those efforts.

Lisa Jackson has some explaining to do – but I have no faith that Congressional Democrats will conduct appropriate in depth investigation and oversight.

So it is up to the media to investigate EPA’s rubber stamp of BP’s plans to use Corexit – a move that saved them billions of dollars in cleanup liability and poisoned the Gulf ecosystem an thousands of workers and residents.

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Collapse of Cap & Trade Is A Good Thing – But for All The Wrong Reasons

July 23rd, 2010 No comments

Global warming crisis needs Urgency, Movement Politics & Civil Disobedience

Ironically, the death of the cap and trade global warming bill is a good thing, but for all the wrong reasons.

Perhaps the utter capitulation by both political parties to corporate interests will finally convince mainstream environmental groups to abandon both a failed insider political strategy and bad policy.

Politically, the Republican Party is hopelessly under control of the right wing global warming deniers – there can be no hope of courting their support.

But don’t blame just the Republicans.

That so called big green liberal John Kerry and the corporate Democrats are equally to blame. Three weeks ago, Kerry spinelessly signaled defeat: “We believe we have compromised significantly,” Kerry declared, “and we’re prepared to compromise further.” (Kerry was following in the footsteps of a humiliating lack of leadership by Obama at Copenhagen). (read another killer by Tim Dickinson of Rolling Stone)

So, politically, there’s no where to go – the Beltway enviro’s are all dressed up, with no one to lobby!

Worse, as a matter of policy, cap and trade is a terrible idea and suffers “multiple unfixable flaws” (see: EPA EMPLOYEES BLOW THE WHISTLE ON FLAWED CLIMATE BILLS — Agency Specialists Say Greenhouse Gas Offsets Unenforceable and Demand Probe.

As is usual, for good or bad, in environmental policy, NJ was there first.

During the Whitman Administration, NJ was one of the first states to adopt the so called “Open Market Emissions Trading” (OMET) model: NEW POLLUTION TRADING FOR FOUR STATES GUTS CLEAN AIR ACT — Whitman Trading Plans Emerge as First EPA Policies

Before the corporatization of the environmental movement, it used to be understood by environmental advocates that market trading schemes are a sham. Recall this 2001 Trenton press conference (I was there as NJ Sierra Club Policy Director).

By ALEX NUSSBAUM, Staff Writer
Date: 02-15-2001, Thursday

The state’s industries may be taking advantage of a law that allows them to buy or sell the right to pollute, environmentalists said Wednesday.

The five-year-old system that allows companies to trade air pollution credits has loopholes that make it impossible to tell if factories or power plants are really reducing emissions, critics said at a Trenton news conference.

Due to these fatal flaws, the OMET program was repealed . The termination of the program was announced in 2002, and made formal on February 25, 2004 by DEP Commissioner Bradley Campbell. [full disclosure, I worked for Campbell at the time]. (see: NEW JERSEY REJECTS EPA PLAN FOR TRADING POLLUTION CREDITS — Rebuked EPA Weighs Enforcement Against Companies Using Credits

But since then, market trading schemes have been embraced by the national beltway lobby driven environmental groups.

No politics, no policy.

Chris Hedges, in a horrifically painful but necessary piece of truth-telling “Calling All Future-eaters“  lays out what it will take politically:

As climate change advances, we will face a choice between obeying the rules put in place by corporations or rebellion. Those who work human beings to death in overcrowded factories in China and turn the Gulf of Mexico into a dead zone are the enemy. They serve systems of death. They cannot be reformed or trusted.

The climate crisis is a political crisis. We will either defy the corporate elite, which will mean civil disobedience, a rejection of traditional politics for a new radicalism and the systematic breaking of laws, or see ourselves consumed. Time is not on our side. The longer we wait, the more assured our destruction becomes. The future, if we remain passive, will be wrested from us by events. Our moral obligation is not to structures of power, but life.

With global warming impacts increasingly obvious to not only the scientist/modeler, but the man in the street, and nowhere to go politically, will the environmental groups go back to movement politics?

WE don’t need a weatherman to tell which way the wind blows, right?

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If I had a Hammer …

July 22nd, 2010 No comments

08311Well I got a hammer, and I got a bell;

And I got a song to sing, all over this land.

It’s the hammer of  justice; it’s the bell of freedom;

It’s the song about love between my brothers and my sisters, all over this land.

~~~ (Lee Hays and Pete Seeger (1958)) (watch it)

Photos from Ringing Rocks Park, Bucks County, PA. Cool place for a ramble over the rocks – bring the bike – the hill up from Rt. 32 is a real challenge. Most places hikers leave cairns, at RR, they leave hammers – and the rocks really do ring!






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DEP Attack on Baykeeper Masks Statewide Pollution Problems and Failure to Comply with FDA Food Safety Standards

July 21st, 2010 2 comments

DEP Shellfish Classification Areas

[Updates below]

I don’t like to beat a dead horse and I prefer to create stories instead of criticizing main stream journalism, but due to misinformation, I want to inject a few facts into the continuing misleading press coverage by the Star Ledger.

The Ledger’s coverage  has amplified misleading impressions – originally created by DEP Commissioner Martin’s June 7 press release by conflating FDA requirements, real shellfish health risks, and bogus DEP claims.

DEP has (I believe intentionally, as a diversion to cover their asses) created the false impression that the Baykeeper oyster restoration research (AKA “shellfish gardening”): 1) threatens closure of the $790 million NJ shellfish industry; 2) puts public health at risk; and 3) is the source of FDA oversight concerns.

All three claims individually are simply not accurate – taken together and in light of other relevant facts, they amount to a gross lie.

And today’s Ledger story reinforces that lie, which is inexcusable, because the facts of the matter have been outed (listen to Senate Environment Committee July 15 hearing testimony starts at 1 hour 20 minutes). Hit the links below and get the relevant facts.

Above is the most recent map of shellfish growing water classifications. As is obvious, NJ has a huge problem due to pollution that has resulted in the closure of the areas in red. The Baykeeeper project is a tiny dot in that red area in Raritan Bay (by Keyport).

More detailed and current classification updates and maps can be found by clicking here and here.

Here is FDA’s evaluation of NJ program and findings of deficiency.

Here is FDA’s June 2 warning letter to DEP Commissioner Martin threatening to shut down NJ’s commercial shellfish industry.

Here is DEP’s June 4 draft Vibrio parahaemolyticus Management Plan to reduce the risk of illness from pathogenic bacteria. It is one of DEP’s first efforts to satisfy FDA concerns.  Comprehensive Action Plans by DEP and DHSS to correct all deficiencies are due to be submitted to FDA by August 2.

Baykeeper’s research project includes 50,000 oysters, 80% of which are too small to sell commercially. In contrast, DEP’s Raritan Bay Shellfish Survey estimates that there are over 600 MILLION clams that are far more accessible, commercially marketable, and more readily poached.

Not only is Baykeeper research insignificant geographically, but the numbers of research oysters are dwarfed by other nearby, accessible, unsafe shellfish.

Any Statewide shellfish management plan based on an honest risk assessment would consider these facts and therefore would not deploy enforcement resources and focus on Baykeeper.

But instead of rational science based management, DEP has engaged in political science and media spin, by claiming: 1) the Bay-keeper restoration research is subject to poachers, 2) poachers may sell contaminated oysters in commercial markets; 3) as a result, someone might get sick and 4) the $790 million NJ shellfish industry might be harmed.

At the same time, while singularly targeting Baykeeper research, DEP’s June 7 press release failed to disclose 1) other known far more important facts regarding serious risks to public health from shellfish, 2) far more substantial deficiencies identified by FDA FY ’09 evaluation Report, and 3) the the FDA’s June 2, 2010 letter threat to close NJ shellfish industry.

As a result of DEP’s misleading June 7 press release, the news coverage got it all wrong from the get go.

But that all changed when we released the FDA evaluation Report, followed by disclosure of the June 2 closure warning letter to DEP Commissioner Martin.

The facts are that 1) FDA has threatened to close the NJ shellfish industry because the DEP and Department of Health and Senior Services do not have adequate resources, staff, boats, etc to test water quality, patrol shellfish waters, and monitor commercial shellfish processing and distribution operations; and 2) there are far greater risk to public health from shellfish that have nothing to do with Baykeeeper oyster research.

Many other NJ news outlets seem to understand this – and even moderate Mike Catania wrote an Op-Ed that questioned Commissioner Martin’s judgement.

On July 15, Kirk Moore of the Asbury Park Press reported

In his report Wolf [of FDA]  noted the growth of oyster restoration efforts in the New York-New Jersey harbor area and that the DEP has “an appropriate focus on the public health aspects of oyster/shellfish gardening.” The report called for adequate patrolling but does not demand removal as the DEP has done.

Moore nailed it down further in a follow-up July 17  FDA story:

Feds: N.J. didn’t patrol shellfish grounds

New Jersey has seriously neglected patrolling its shellfish grounds for years, with inadequate enforcement on more than two-thirds of its waters, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

[Baykeeper] Mans said the agency is “using our small research project to hide the larger problem” that DEP has for years been underfunding and understaffing its shellfish patrol program statewide.”

Patrols are not frequent enough to meet standards of the National Shellfish Sanitation Program, according to the FDA 2009 report, which was obtained and distributed last week by Bill Wolfe of Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility. A possible trigger for the DEP’s move against Baykeeper oysters appears in a comment halfway through the eight-page federal report, right after the document says New Jersey does not have enough officers on the water.

“There are increased demands placed on this Marine Enforcement Section (DEP’s marine patrol) from non-commercial shellfish oyster gardening requests in “closed’ harvest areas,’ ” the FDA report says.

But the FDA did not demand a shutdown of the oyster projects, only calling for adequate patrols

Mike Miller of the Atlantic City Press reported on the FDA concerns, and quoted an industry spokeperson to the effect that it is highly unlikely for poached shellfish to enter commercial market:

Oversight of New Jersey’s shellfish industry lacking, group finds

State oversight of the lucrative shellfish industry has fallen short of federal standards because of budget cuts, a public advocacy group said. […]

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration oversees New Jersey’s shellfish programs to ensure they are protecting the public from health risks associated with eating tainted seafood.

The federal agency’s 2009 evaluation faulted New Jersey for several shortcomings:

* The state had lax enforcement in 21 of 30 closed shellfish areas that are supposed to be patrolled by fishing regulators to keep poachers out.

* The state conducted inspections of processing plants and shellfish wholesalers infrequently.

* The state has taken 30 percent fewer water samples to classify shellfish grounds since 2008, when one of the state field employees retired.

The FDA report warned that fewer patrols of closed waters could harm public health. […]

But [Scot] Mackey  [spokesman for Garden State Seafood Association] said seafood, and shellfish in particular, is so carefully monitored that poachers would have trouble finding a market to sell illegal products in New Jersey.

“We don’t believe anyone would be able to harvest shellfish from a closed area and sell it commercially anywhere in the state,” he said.

Joe Tyrrell of NJNewsroom reports that the FDA itself has said that the DEP reaction to close down oyster research has nothing to do with them:

The FDA had nothing to do with Martin’s order to the Baykeeper or other research beds, according to Herndon [of FDA].

“This is a state decision alone… in consideration of limited patrol resources,” he said.

The DEP enforcement actions and incomplete and misleading press release claims create a false appearance of significant risk to public health from oyster research. This is a fraud and a cynical PR diversion by DEP.

The Star Ledger’s repeated misleading stories are a disservice to readers.

[Update #2 – 7/23/10 – Bergen Record nails it,  DEP to use state police boats to patrol New Jersey’s shellfish harvesting areas.  ~~ end update]

[Update #1: this is the kind of straight up bad news FDA regulatory safety story that DEP Commissioner Martin’s spin dodged: “New FDA report shows multiple lapses at J&J Plant” ~~~ end update]

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