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Raise your hand if you separate kitchen scraps, throw it in your green bin for municipal composting, and feel like you’re doing good for the environment.

Don’t be embarrassed, I’m with you here!

But, where does it actually go?  And, who is double checking to make sure it only contains organic matter? 

Global Community Monitor has recently launched a new Bucket Brigade in Arvin, CA; a city noted for having the worst air quality in The States.  The number one facility that the residents want to monitor, is a compost facility, that accepts municipal waste.

Nothing about this facility, Community Recycling, echoes the clean, green side of composting.  Recent, Bucket tests have even identified elevated levels of hazardous chemicals escaping across Community Recycling’s fenceline and into the community.

Is this progress?

Sure, it’s convenient for residents of Los Angeles County.  Waste Management delivers a little green bin to put in the kitchen, it’s then filled up with kitchen scraps, dumped into the large green waste bin and picked up by Waste Management weekly.  Residents in Alameda County, don’t have to go through the smelly, sometimes laborious job of composting themselves, but feel good about not throwing these items in the trash and often once a year get to go pick up free planting soil, generated by their ‘green’ waste.

But, residents of Arvin, CA live next to Community Recycling, a facility that accepts this ‘green waste’.  This facility is often impossible to drive past without choking and gagging a bit as you’re trying to have a conversation.  AND- from the looks of it, none of this ‘compost’ is something you’d want to use in your garden anyway!  Metal, plastics and even agricultural waste is visible in the ‘compost’ heaps and they have a contract with the Water District to accept grey water and sewage sludge to spray all over this ‘green’ waste.

What’s so green about that?!  Are we working towards a solution here or are we just relocating the problem?  Yes, municipal, curbside pick-up of green waste has many more people separating their food scraps from their trash, but at what cost?

Maybe the real solution here isn’t a free little green bin for kitchen food scraps, but rather a free little compost bin where residents can compost their own kitchen scraps into non-toxic planning soil to re-use in their garden.

Remember the national debate on the Keystone Pipeline?  The protests, the online petitions and the political mudslinging?  Well, get ready because a similar debate is brewing around hydraulic fracturing (a.k.a. fracking).  Although, President Obama did include natural gas development in his January State of the Union Address, Senate Republicans lack confidence in President Obama to move quickly and keep the fracking industry unregulated.  Prompting Senator Inhofe to introduce a bill, The Fresh Act, to “ensure that states – not the federal government – have the sole authority to regulate hydraulic fracturing within their state boundaries.”

So what’s the debate here?

Same as usual, Safety vs. Profit.

Energy companies repeatedly assure us that fracking is safe and poses no documented risks to human health.  Energy companies claim there is no confirmed evidence that it contaminates water wells or emits an alarming presence of volatile organic compounds that can elevate the risk of respiratory problems, reproductive issues and cancer.  There’s no direct connection, energy companies claim.  Therefore there is no need to regulate fracking under the Clean Air Act or Safe Drinking Water Act, despite the fact that these laws have regulated almost every other industry since the 1970’s!  AND, of course there’s no need to for the EPA or the public to know what chemicals are being injected into the soil, even if that soil is on their property.  Regulations like these would simply slow down our progress, and that’s “un-American”!

Yeah, we’ve all heard the rhetoric, but a lot of us have seen GASLAND too.  We watched the oil pouring out into the Gulf Coast for 87 days and although BP said Gulf Coast seafood is perfectly safe to eat, about 119 days after the spill, did you really believe them?  The fact is, the majority of us want stricter fracking regulations to ensure our own safety.

As part of the generation most impacted by the mass media.  I wonder, what if the Mayor of Amity Island took Martin Brody & Richard Dreyfuss’ advice and closed the beach down despite profits from the tourist  season?  Or, what if the Captain of the Titanic heeded the seven iceberg warnings by slowing down instead of being blinded by power and profit?  We’ve seen this scenario play out outside of Hollywood as well.  The Deep Water Horizon, Bhopal and countless other accidents have cost us lives when individuals in power compromise safety over profits.  Is the natural gas industry any different?  The top execs in the energy industry have an opportunity to make a lot of money here and we the people need to have oversight of the industry to protect our health and safety!

So let the oil and gas companies scream JOBS but we, the American people, value the health and safety of our families a little more.  President Obama needs to impose regulations on the natural gas  industry, close the Halliburton loophole and be sure not to let energy companies compromise our health over profits.  If fracking is not a risk to our air and water, it should have no problem adhering to the regulations within the Clean Air Act and the Safe Drinking Water Act.

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