Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Around their table - environmental bloggers answer relevant sustainability questions.

(A few weeks ago, Sara Allen asked what would be the one bill we would back in Congress this year. You can see the answers on her site here.)

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Jeffrey Davis - Eco Snobbery Sucks
I'm not political, in general. I don't vote. I don't keep up with what legislation is or isn't being submitted or passed or dying on the floor. I live, as a friend of mine says, according to my passions. One thing I hate to see is our government attempting to legislate morality...and that goes for environmental morality too (if you want to call it that). Forcing people to make choices that if not made would result in legal penalties doesn't change anything, in my opinion. It is simply behavior modification. The only hope at that point is that such behavior will take root, but even if it does it will be rooted in shallow ground.

I personally feel like it's better (in both life and environmental areas) to encourage people to dig deeper into the things they're passionate about. If you're passionate about the great outdoors, then figure out how you can reduce your impact on the nature that you love. If you love fashion then discover ways to buy the most ethically produced clothing and accessories possible.

....but here's the kicker, I don't think we should take our own individual passions and hold them up as the "best" causes out there. They're the best to the individual, so let's encourage that in each individual...not legislate it.

Brendan DeMelle - DeSmogBlog
A bill to repeal Citizens United and end corporate personhood.

Beth Fiteni - EcoBeth
If I could back one bill through Congress, it would be a bill that I doubt exists now-- it would be a bill to ban any conditions that create the equivalent of a factory farm. In other words, it would do away with battery cages and increase the amount of land needed to raise cattle, pigs, etc. per head. This would ideally have the effect of reducing the number of animals being raised, thus decreasing the related water pollution from manure lagoon runoff, and also greenhouse gas emissions associated with the production of meat/dairy (18% of global greenhouse gases, according to a 2006 Food and Agriculture Report entitled "Livestock's Long Shadow"). It would also obviously reduce animal suffering, as well as improve conditions of farm workers. It would probably cause the price of animal products to rise, but higher prices would lead to lower consumption, which would be a big health benefit to the public.  (The 2009 American Dietetic Association Statement on vegetarian diets states: "The results of an evidence-based review showed that a vegetarian diet is associated with a lower risk of death from ischemic heart disease. Vegetarians also appear to have lower low-density lipoprotein cholesterol levels, lower blood pressure, and lower rates of hypertension and type 2 diabetes than nonvegetarians. Furthermore, vegetarians tend to have a lower body mass index and lower overall cancer rates.")

I believe several states and the UK have made some small legislative steps in this direction, but there is far more that could and should be addressed.

Edward Hall - LightSource
Either/both the Net Neutrality Bill or Election Reform Bill.  Neither is really active today, but nothing will change till we clean out big company interests from our national and local elections.  The only hope we have is the level playing field provided by the internet and Net Neutrality which keeps private interests from taking advantage of it (a public good).  With a level Internet we can at least make up for the distortions in our politics driven by big companies, which ultimately keep us from really getting anything done.

Meris Michaels - Toward Better Health
Given the inertia of Congress, the move by city and state governments to propose or adopt legislation regarding environmental issues seems more promising:

California - clear labeling of all future salmon sold in state, following the imminent approval of GMO salmon.

Concord, Mass. 2011 - banned sale of bottled drinking water in town.  (The production of plastic water bottles uses 17 million barrels of oil each year.)

Connecticut billthat would prohibit the manufacture, sale, and distribution of all thermal receipt paper containing BPA in Connecticut. (March 2011).

San Francisco - ordinance requiring retailers to post easy-to-find information on each cell phone’s radiation output.  

In 2011,  Oregon introduced a bill requiring retailers to place warning labels on cellphones and on packaging of wireless devices, advising consumers of possible risks associated with radio frequency exposure.

Jessica Reeder - Love and Trash
How about H.R.204? It would cut Congressional pay rates by 5 percent. Other than that, there aren't really many environmental bills on the table right now that I can support.
But I sure wish we would get on the bandwagon with the Kyoto Protocol.

Shane Shirley-Smith - Environmental Booty
This is such an easy question for me to answer!  Because I so strongly believe that much of the illness that affects us today is a result of chemical exposure, I support Senate Bill S.487, “The Safe Chemicals Act” of 2011.    Be it farm worker’s exposure to pesticides that leaves her with cancer or a little boy’s asthma triggered from exposure to the cleaning supplies her family uses, chemicals are making us sick.  The current Toxic Substances Control  Act (TCSA) of 1976 is not just outdated, it is not protecting us from the onslaught of toxic chemicals we are exposed to.  In fact, under the TCSA, the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) is required to prove harm before it can regulate a chemical.  Seems kind of backward right?  Wouldn’t you think it makes more sense to make the companies that develop, create and sell chemicals prove that they are safe for consumers before they are made available for sale?  DUH!

Showing their commitment to treasure self, people and planet and protect families from toxic chemicals linked to serious health problems, Senators Frank Lautenberg, Barbara Boxer, Amy Klobuchar, Charles Schumer and others introduced Senate Bill S.487, the "Safe Chemicals Act" to upgrade America’s outdated system for managing chemical safety.  This important legislation would make Industry bear the legal burden of proving their chemicals are safe and lays out a plan to protect consumers.

"The Safe Chemicals Act is a win for both public health and the economy. Smart businesses want to help make reform happen because it’s in their financial interest to make safer, healthier products," said Andy Igrejas, Director of Safer Chemicals, Health Families.

I wrote a blog post about one of my favorite green moms and stars, Jessica Alba, and her plea to all of us to support The Safe Chemicals Act of 2011.   I would love for you to take a moment to read it.

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