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  • Emboldened by the Obama administration, the Environmental Protection Agency asserts its authority as the nation's eco watchdog.

    In addition to the economic woes of the “noughts”—the years from 2000-2009—it was also a lawless era for environmental protection in the United States. Bush administration efforts at “dismantling safeguards, ignoring climate concerns, marginalizing sound science and catering to industries that endangered Americans’ health and natural heritage” meant our watchdog, the Environmental Protection Agency, was little more than an idle spectator to the carnage.

    Now, after its decade on the sidelines, it appears the sheriff is back in town.

    The EPA’s futility under Bush was no accident. Bush-appointee Stephen Johnson routinely rolled over to White House demands, allowing business concerns to trump sound science. He was a company man through and through, more noted for his loyalty and subserviance than for competence on the job.

    Those days are gone. The revitalized EPA, headed up by Obama-appointee Lisa Jackson, has begun cleaning up Bush-era dirty work.

    Just this week the EPA reversed its controversial 2008 decision on bisphenol-A (or BPA), which deemed the plastic common to food containers and plastic bottles safe for use. BPA has now been placed on a master list of “chemicals of concern.”

    Meanwhile, over in West Virginia, the EPA is halting, or at least severely restricting, a mountaintop mining operation in Logan County, West Virginia. To do so, it has to nullify a permit issued by the Army Corps of Engineers—the body responsible for issuing mining permits. It’s a rare assertive step for the agency, which has used its veto power over potential sites only twelve times in the past, and never for a site already in operation.

    Justification for the intervention closely mirrors concerns raised in a scientific study earlier this year—namely, that the operation will adversely affect a local ecosystem with one of the highest levels of biodiversity in North America.

    “We see this as confirmation that they’re taking their responsibility...very, very seriously," said ecologist and Appalachian Voices Program Director Matthew Wasson.

    It’s not exactly a radical step—that the Environmental Protection Agency should take concrete steps to protect the environment—but it’s a damn good start. And with legislators reluctant to tackle climate change, the EPA may be our our best, and only, hope.

    Fortunately, it’s well-equipped for the task; the EPA has a new mandate to regulate carbon emissions, it has legal authority to require coal plants to reduce pollution, and the Obama administration has given it its badge back, so to speak.

    At last, the laws of the land are being given a shootin’ chance.

    - Lance Steagall




    "Time's Up" Sweater

    From Lingua Franca $380.00

    Made from 100% cashmere, and hand-stitched in NYC, Lingua Franca's striped sweater makes its message clear in bold red lettering: Time's Up. The TIME'S UP Legal Defense Fund receives $100 from the sale of each sweater to help their team fight to offer subsidized legal support to those who have been subjected to sexual harassment, assault or inequality in their more

    Girl Power Chocolate

    Chocolate + Cause $4.00

    A dark chocolate version of the best-selling salted caramel bar from Creighton's Chocolaterie, this GIRL POWER snack's sales yield a percentage of the profit to Girls Out Loud. This organization works with teenage girls and offers mentoring, workshops and more in order to encourage confidence, resilience and hopefully the ability to recognize their own greatness. Price is in more

    Hope In The Era Of Trump's Climate Foolishness

    The Editorial Board of The New York Times

    One year ago, on June 1, President Trump dismayed the world by announcing his intention to withdraw the United States from the global Paris climate agreement. He has since shown no inclination to ease up on his efforts to nullify virtually every initiative the Obama administration took to limit greenhouse gases from power plants, cars, trucks, and oil and gas operations. more

    Immigration and Climate Change

    By Lauren Markham

    Last year I traveled to southern Guatemala, the source of one of the largest migrations of unauthorized immigrants to the United States in recent years. It’s clear why people are leaving: Guatemala is a country rife with political conflict, endemic racism against indigenous people, poverty and, increasingly, gang violence. But there’s another, lesser-known dimension to more

    Free California of Fossil Fuel

    By Bill McKibben

    For generations — maybe since the gold rush — California has been where our dreams gather, the Elysian coast where palm trees sway in the ocean breeze and entire industries rise to sate our fantasies and our appetites. A bite of an orange is endless summer. Now, in this scariest of seasons, California is also where our nightmares collect. At the moment, the largest fire in more

    Pesticide Studies Won E.P.A.’s Trust, Until Trump’s Team Scorned ‘Secret Science’

    Backed by agrochemical companies, Trump administration and Congress are moving to curb the role of human health studies in regulation.

    SALINAS, Calif. — José Camacho once worked the fields here in the Salinas Valley, known as “the Salad Bowl of the World” for its abundance of lettuce and vegetables. His wife still does. But back in 2000, Mr. Camacho, who is 63, got an unusual phone call. He was asked if he wanted to work for a new project studying the effects of pesticides on the children of more

    Coal Is Killing The Planet. Trump Loves It.

    UN Scientist Issue Dire Report

    If we keep burning coal and petroleum to power our society, we’re cooked — and a lot faster than we thought. The United Nations scientific panel on climate change issued a terrifying new warning on Monday that continued emissions of greenhouse gases from power plants and vehicles will bring dire and irreversible changes by 2040, years earlier than previously forecast. more

    During the lead-up to the 2016 presidential election, Donald Trump won over voters in coal country by claiming he would keep mines open, and retain coal as a prominent energy source in the U.S. His argument was an economic one: He knew that miners were worried about their jobs, and that many did not see a path forward should the mines close. But closing mines does more