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300770_2598161672603_309586047_nBorn and raised in California and coming from a family of activists, I was raised around community and union organizing with my father and grandpa in the United Farm Workers Union in Central and Southern California.  As a child I soon embraced and lived by the social equality emphasis my parents evoked on me as farm workers.  As a teen still in Middle and High School, I organized and was in charge of walking precincts in political campaigns in the Los Angeles area as well as in the Coachella and Central Valley.

I have devoted hundreds of hours in volunteer work organizing communities with farm workers’ rights and environmental justice with Organizations such as The United Farm Workers Union, Committee for A Better Arvin and Center on Poverty, Race and the Environment. While in High School, I also was responsible for organized walk-outs in support of the Dream Act and Dreamers.

Furthermore, my passion for social and environmental equality for everyone has lead me to this new Bucket Brigade Organizer position with Global Community Monitor in Kern County  and I am excited to defend the human right to breath clean air and work towards bringing justice to the community in collaboration with various other local, grassroots organizations.

Dateline Houston, Texas:  Houston we have a problem: Six little inches of air will determine whether millions of dollars will be spent to clean up the air of millions of people in the Oil and Chemical Capital of the World.

Houston has one of the largest urban networks of air monitors and some of the worst air pollution in the nation.  This is all thanks to their Master Un-Plan.  Thanks to the complete lack of any zoning regulations; freeways, refineries and chemical plants sit right on top of neighborhoods, schools, day cares, hospitals and the like.  Ozone alert days telling everyone to stay inside are a frequent occurrence.

Despite all the monitors in this vast area, the federal determination about Houston’s air quality index for the smallest and most hazardous particle may come down to how about 6 inches of the hundreds of square miles of air is measured.

Two key State run monitors for the pesky PM 2.5 micron size particle are in the bustling Ship Channel area of Galena Park, home to hundreds of major industrial air polluters and the ginormous Port of Houston, filled with trucks, tugs, tankers and diesel powered engines.  All of these are large contributors to PM 2.5 pollution.  The Federal health based standard for PM 2.5 is 12 micrograms per cubic meter over a 24 hour period.

If the two State monitors in the Ship Channel average over 12 this year, the area will be in violation of the Federal Standard to protect human health and be faced with spending hundreds of millions of dollars to clean it up.  Much of that cost would be passed on to the polluters to clean up their emissions.

The State uses standard air monitoring technology, which captures air through a 3-inch intake, so together the two monitors are breathing in 6 inches of air total in this vast region.

And those monitors are supposed to be very thoughtfully located to accurately represent that huge zone.  One has to pause here and question the wisdom and accuracy of these assumptions, but these are the cards we are all currently dealt by our State and Federal Agencies’ clearly outdated protocols and systems.

Right now the more important of the two monitors is located on the very edge of a little community known as Galena Park.  Most of the residents of Galena Park are nowhere near the monitor.  The current average level of PM 2.5 pollution at the Galena Park site is sitting at 11.6, just shy of a violation.

And that’s right where many local politicians, the Port, industry and the State of Texas want to keep it, below 12.

Maybe that’s why several million dollars was spent by these folks to pave dirt roads in the Port adjacent to the monitor site.  And why trees were planted as a buffer to filter particles before they get sucked into that precious 3 inches of Houston’s air.

However, community members in Galena Park together with the non-profit Air Alliance Houston got trained by the Global Community Monitor to do their own independent tests to get to the bottom of what most of the residents of the area are breathing.

Results from 6 months of tests show that the levels of PM 2.5 (taken at 5 sites including schools, City Hall and neighborhoods) are averaging an unhealthy 15.6, well above the Federal standard.

According to recent peer reviewed studies, the levels of fine particles in the air that is often available for breathing in Galena Park could cause hospitalization, heart attack, stroke or premature death.

Of course these areas did not get the benefits of extra paving on Port roads near them and not a single sapling either.

It’s curious that three little inches of air got so much attention and investment so a machine could breathe healthy air, while the 10,000 residents of Galena Park get unhealthy air and zero investment.

But then again you have to consult the Master Un-Plan: unlimited and unplanned growth is encouraged in Texas.

Like Governor Rick says, “We’re open for business in Texas.”  It’s becoming clearer exactly what that means to people trying to breathe in booming places like Houston.

At this rate it’s anybody’s guess how much longer Texas will be “Open for Breathing”.

Now, for the longer answer. Mobile 045

One of the big reasons why we, the strong Environmental Justice activists that we are, missed this is because the Central Valley is primarily comprised of multiple environmental justice communities.  Often times these are marginalized, low income communities off of the beaten path of our usual day-to-day lives, that are bearing the vast majority of the burden associated with our heavily industrialized society.  These are the sacrifice zones, where we send our hazardous waste and where the oil is refined to power our homes.

The problem here, is that there are beautiful and diverse communities living in these sacrifice zones.  The communities are home to families, with children and grandparents; they include vast resources, like fertile farmland; and like almost like every place in the world, they have a lot to teach us.  When the big corporations write them off as collateral damage, it is a grave injustice for the people that live there and an immense disservice to us all.

Image from cbc.ca

The reason we missed this is because this proposed coal plant is slated for a sacrifice zone, a place where many corporations want us not to see, in hopes that the land and even the people will be forgotten about, and they can continue with business as usual.

The solution, is to empower these communities, raise their voices of concern high and stand in solidarity with our fellow human beings.  We need to demand that human lives be prioritized over corporate profits and collectively call for safe business practices, no new sacrifice zones and NO NEW COAL PLANTS!

Yep, it’s 2013 in California- a state usually thought of as one of the most progressive in the country, yet there are plans (the temporary permits have already been issued) to build a brand new coal plant in California’s Central Valley.

For the non-Californians out there, the Central Valley is a much different place than the well-known cities, like San Francisco and Los Angeles.

Image from Angela Fardo

California’s Central Valley has some of the worst air quality in the country, a severe lack of water and is often referred to as  America’s Bread Basket.  This facility would further exacerbate the troubling trend in air pollution, it’s expected to use at least 4,600 gallons of water every minute and farmers are outraged at the potential toxic emissions, which could cover their livelihood with mercury.  And when we’re talking about “one of the most productive agricultural regions in the world” we’re not just talking about putting a few family farmers out of business.

So obviously, residents in California’s Central Valley are pretty concerned about about the proposed facility, for obvious reasons, primarily because it’s just a terrible idea.

Not only is coal a major contributor to climate change, the entire life-cycle of coal power drastically increases particulate pollution within the communities living near these dirty coal operations.  It’s estimated that 24,000 people die prematurely, each year, from pollution associated with coal fired power plants.

Image from Coal-is-Dirty.com

The majority of environmental groups have launched mega-campaigns to lower our nation’s dependence on such a dirty energy source, and the battle against coal power has been around for decades.

So- how did we miss this?!

The short answer it that it’s not being referred to as a coal plant.

The Hydrogen Energy California (HECA) plant is slated for construction in Kern County, California and has even cleared the initial hurdles, receiving a draft air permit from the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District (SJVAPCD).  The idea is that this plant will accept petroleum coke and coal, 300+ truckloads daily, and turn it into hydrogen fuel.  Ta-da, you have a brand new clean energy plant in California!

Isn’t this the same business practice that Stringer Bell used to sell drugs on the streets of Baltimore in The Wire, or more applicable the same strategy used by oil companies to market tar sands crude as ‘clean energy’?  It’s simple, if your product has a bad reputation in the public market, change the name.

And, coal has one of the worst reputations.

But- stay tuned for the long answer…………..

So often, we, in the environmental justice movement are bombarded with immense challenges and often heartbreaking losses from corporations that seem undefeatable, legislators that don’t seem to make decisions with the people’s best interest in mind and legal systems that are unbearably slow.  And no matter how hard we work on one issue, there’s always that other one that seems to slip past us.

We know we’ve got a difficult task ahead of us, and no one will argue that this isn’t tough work.  But, here’s the thing, we need to celebrate our victories along the way or else we’ll all end up feeling defeated, and essentially will be defeated.

Every year, The Goldman family hosts a ceremony for the annual Goldman Prize recipients.  Many of us pull out our best outfits and dust off those dress shoes to go celebrate six grassroots leaders that have made significant and widely beneficial changes within their community.  We’re reminded change is possible and rejoice in their presence and maybe even secretly hope that shaking their hands will give us a little more patience and strength in our own challenges for grassroots change.

However, since the Goldman Prize is only awarded to six individuals from around the world, once a year, we’d like to outline a few more victories to give us all a little more patience and strength in our fight for environmental justice.

  1. New York: Tonawanda Coke was found to be in violation of the Clean Air Act.

    Image from the Buffalo Record

When nearby residents started collecting samples with GCM’s Bucket Brigade, sample results revealed startling high levels of benzene, levels that were 75 times higher than acceptable health standards, in the surrounding air.  The EPA and local legislators took notice and began their own investigation and in March 2013, after a long and complex trial, a guilty verdict was reached by the jury!

     2.    India: Sterlite Copper Plant ordered closed after gas leak.

On March 28, 2013 nearly 5,000 people marched to the Sterlite Copper Plant in protest of a toxic gas leak that occurred five days before.  Two days later, “officials from 10 governmental departments arrived by the vanload”.  Hours later, the plant had been shut down and the electricity connection to the copper plant had been disconnected.

     3.    Little Village, Chicago, Illinois: 2 Coal Fired Plants to shut down

Image from warresisters.org

Although this is a victory honored with the Goldman Prize it still deserves much mention here.  A Harvard study linked more than 40 premature deaths, 550 emergency room visits and 2,800 asthma attacks every year to the toxic emissions from the two plants, with children being the most vulnerable to the plants’ pollution.  After a ten year grassroots battle, residents earned support from Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel.  Faced with expensive requirements to upgrade pollution controls and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, the owners announced the shutdown of the Crawford and Fisk coal burning plants.

     4.     Installation of air monitors along the fenceline of dangerous oil refineries

Many residents living in environmental justice communities believe,rightfully so, that they at least have the Right to Know what’s in the air that they are breathing.  That will allow them to make informed decisions for their health and the health of their families.  As fair as that sounds, residents are often faced with strong opposition from their industrial neighbors on this very subject.  So when oil refineries start footing the bill to install air monitors on their fenceline, we need to chalk that up as a win! 

In 2004, monitors at an oil refinery in Rodeo, CA were upgraded to include a real-time, public internet feed.  In May 2012, the BP refinery in Whiting, Indiana agreed to install air monitors along their fenceline and rumor has it that Chevron in Richmond, CA is working with the City to install similar equipment at their refinery.

      5.     An estimated 40,000 people gathered in Washington, D.C. for the Forward on Climate Rally in February 2013.

Image from campusprogressive.org

Anyone who’s ever done any kind of movement organizing knows just how hard it is to get 40,000 people to stand together in solidarity for something, and anyone who’s spent a February in D.C knows how unbearably cold it can be.  So let’s recognize how big of a win this is!  Our message about how dirty tar sands oil is has

reached the masses.  It was only a few years ago, people thought I was collecting signatures on a petition against Tarzan.  This past February, those 5,000 signatures collected were distributed to the White House in connection with one of the largest climate justice rallies in US history.

All of these victories have help people breathe easier, created less pollution in the air, less asthma and an opportunity for people to actually have their inherit right of living with clean air.  Although, we can only list out these five at the moment (we need to get back to turning our work in CA’s Central Valley into something that will make this list!) there are many more!  Have one that we missed?  Feel free to tell us about it below!  We share our challenges, we need to remember to share the victories as well.

Hopefully, these big victories will remind us- “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”  

This is a guest blog written by April Lane, a Bucket Brigade leader on the front lines in Arkansas.

oil spill 302On Friday March 29, 2013 an Exxon Mobile Pipeline ruptured sending oil some experts compare closely to tar sands oil through a subdivision in Mayflower, Ark. The pipeline blew at approximately 2 p.m. and was discovered by area residents soon after. The subdivision that sits right off of I-40, one of the busiest interstates in the state, never knew the pipeline was even there and it is just now being marked.This subdivision also sits just a creek and railroad track away from the Mayflower school. As the wave of oil made it through the subdivision it found a drainage ditch and then it hit the creek that runs down the side of the railroad tracks.  It ran to a pipe that goes under the interstate and comes out on the other side into Lake Conway and a wildlife habitat.  

Estimates are now saying that at least 10,000 barrels of heavy Canadian crude oil were lost in the incident. On Saturday, March 30th crews arrived from out of state to begin the clean-up. It was then that we learned that the pipe had leaked from 2 p.m. Friday until Saturday morning at approximately 3 a.m. oil spill 367The efforts were led by the county and state agencies at first and they had a lot of trouble getting the blockade to hold to keep the oil contained. Residents were evacuated but not everyone chose to leave. A few residents decided to stay and still reside inside the “hot zone.” Local teams have been working around the clock at the various places throughout this junction in town that this oil has popped out at.  But once you have walked the streets and surveyed the area in its entirety you can’t help but ponder, “how will they ever get it all cleaned up?” oil spill 379
Sunday, March 31st new wildlife effects were discovered surrounding the Lake. Ducks were found covered in oil. Some made it through but many did not and the window to helping the one’s that can be saved is closing rapidly. The total amount of wildlife that has been affected is still unknown and numbers continue to rise. More alarming than the loss of wildlife is that local residents have already begun to notice the effects. The first resident we approached on Saturday was one of the effected residents who chose to evacuate but only after her son began having wheezing, diarrhea and nausea from the fumes. Many residents outside of the hot zone in the surrounding neighborhoods that run next to where the spill occurred are experiencing symptoms. They describe the odor as being so strong that you can “cut it with a knife” and following the spill on Friday they began having a metallic like taste on their tongue and severe headaches followed by nausea. All of their questions have been left unanswered and the only answer they have received is that the air is safe.  Monday and Tuesday followed with an increased influx of companies and out-of-state license plates. oil spill 339

Today, our Attorney General Dustin McDaniel toured the area and described the neighborhood where the spill originated as a scene out of the walking dead. I would say I think it is clear to everyone that has walked the streets and the various locations surrounding the lake that this is an event that not only will take months to clean up but will also have an impact on the town of Mayflower and the residents that will ripple outwards 
into the surrounding areas that will last much longer than anyone is currently addressing.  However, the after-school sports practice involving 8 to 10 children practicing outdoors directly across the railroad tracks from where the spill occurred clearly emphasizes that appropriate measures to limit exposure to area residents are not yet being enforced to the fullest as to limit panic and further public outcry demanding answers and action.

oil spill 301

 

How many of us have had to work with someone that just didn’t do their job?

In the professional world, we face this all of the time; and considering the lackluster economy, there’s probably someone ELSE out there that is more than willing to do the work.

Especially, when you’re paying them!

Well, when we’re talking about governmental agencies, it can be more complex because you can’t just fire a governmental agency.

I was at a community meeting a few weeks ago, where the Air District came out to discuss the local air quality amid deep community concerns over the presence of manganese in recent air samples.  

The Air District dismissed the health concerns and telling the community that they have nothing to worry about since the manganese levels were below one health based standard, although above various other health based standards.

When a community member asked the air district staff if he would raise his children in the community based on the air quality.  The answer was a resounding NO.  

Needless to say after that, the meeting didn’t go so well.

After the (rightfully so) angry parents regained composure, one woman from the community stood to ask another question.

Image from SierraClub.org

“You’re the air district, you care about clean air, right?  So do we, but why do we have to fight you for our right to breathe clean air?”

Unfortunately, this can be the harsh reality when dealing with air pollution in Environmental Justice communities.  Many residents are upset at the company because of a lack of communication, no emergency evacuation plan, lies about expansion plans, accidents, etc.  Residents then turn to the regional air district for support. It seems like a natural ally in the fight for clean air.  But the reality is that the air district is, most likely, not going to be an ounce of help.

This is extremely disempowering, especially since the Air District’s mandate is ensure our air is clean.  That’s their job and that’s why we pay them! 

Imagine if we were talking about a landscaper, a contractor or even a babysitter!  If you came home one day to find your child bleeding, and the babysitter just said, “Oh, don’t worry about it,” would you invite the babysitter back?

Too bad we can’t do that with air districts and other governmental agencies.

We’ve seen this with other air districts and environmental agencies before.  It’s not uncommon for them to discredit community based air monitoring results, while refusing to do their own air monitoring.  If you want public information from the SJVAPCD about an facility’s emissions, good luck, and if you’re extremely persistent with the follow-up, you might even get a call from someone working at the agency, just to make sure you have the odor complaint line.

The agency folks assure you that they’re investigating your complaints and looking into your sample data, then months later- they claim that you never submitted your complaint or sent along your air monitoring data.  “The investigation is closed…”

All of that will leave you sitting there, rereading the form email from the air district, knowing that the sample results you sent them are long lost somewhere at the air district along with your public info requests, most likely next to the phone in which you’ve left all of those odor complaint messages.

The problem here is that air districts and other environmental agencies often do not act as though they have the communities’ best interest in mind.  The community meetings, public info requests and ‘on-going investigations’ act more like a smokescreen to make it look like they are doing their jobs.  

The reality is, is that if they really did their jobs…………….

They’d have a lot more work to do!  If the Air District acknowledged elevated levels of toxic substances in our air, they would have to do more comprehensive air monitoring.  They’d need to work with residents to identify local hot spots and sensitive locations like schools and daycares.  They’s need stricter regulations and stronger enforcement policies for polluters.  BUT, no one wants to open that can of worms!  

On  the surface, no one wants to create more work for themselves and no one wants to illuminate a problem that requires money (that we don’t have!) to fix.  Although there are also a series of deeper issues that can contribute to the agencies not doing an adequate job of protecting our safety.  

We’ve seen a number of professionals move from governmental jobs to industry jobs and vise versa.  We can’t help but wonder where their allegiances lie.  On top of that we’ve got a lot of corporate donations and heavy lobbying on government by the very industries that are polluting our communities.    

So, almost as if on cue, we’ll hear once again “The air’s fine.  Keep calm and carry on.”

Now where do we go from here?  How can we ensure that our air is safe for us and our children to breathe?  Will it require long term reform of our governmental agencies or ongoing grassroots pressure from the communities living on the fenceline of heavy industry?  

Either way, exposing this charade is a good place to start!

Alright folks, it’s the day we’ve all been waiting for!

Drum roll please……………….

Image from MSNBC

Cal/OSHA has issued its fine on Chevron for the Aug. 6th fire at the Richmond Refinery!

Yup, it’s nearly a million dollars, the most the agency has ever imposed on an oil refinery in California, but is it enough to make Chevron change its ways?

Rep. George Miller has his doubts, stating “I believe it alone is an insufficient assurance to the West County residents and the refinery’s workers that they will receive the necessary safety protections they deserve.”  He even continues to say that, “Our community needs more than just promises that safety will improve. We need to see actual changes at this facility implemented and verified.”

Although, it seems the residents of Richmond have George on their side, Chevron is not willing to surrender just yet.  Chevron is planning to appeal the fine, sending this ruling back to the depth of bureaucracy while the Richmond community lays waiting for a potentially worse disaster.

Chevron has already had two major fires in the past five years!  With the pipes at the Chevron Richmond Refinery acting as a ticking time-bomb, how are residents expected to believe that Chevron is putting safety first?

OSHA claimed that Chevron did not even follow the recommendations of its own inspectors to replace the corroded pipe that ultimately ruptured and caused the fire; did not follow its own emergency shutdown procedures when the leak was identified; and did not protect its employees working at the leak site.

Ok, so back to the $1 million dollar fine.  Has the sticker shock worn off yet?

The reality is that $1 million dollars to Chevron means something much different than $1 million to me (and probably you, too).  And, the fine, in and of itself, is not going to protect the families living in the community.

15,000 people were rushed to local hospitals following the Aug. 6th fire.  Independent testing of the fallout following the fire showed the presence of highly carcinogenic chemicals on our window sills, outdoor furniture and play equipment.  Does a million dollar fine compensate for that?

The more we talk about the amount of the fine, the less we’re talking about the safety of the community residents.  It’s really clear to see that Chevron is putting profits over people, YET AGAIN!

So how are we really going to hold Chevron responsible?  Cal/OSHA took the lead by issuing the largest fine allowed by the State, but we – the community residents- need to make sure it’s enforced.  We need to make sure Chevron is following through on its commitment to safety with persistent follow-up.

Image from Fit For Life: Richmond, CA

Agencies move slow and court proceedings move even slower, but we can never forget the risks Chevron poses to our community and we must fight tirelessly to ensure that Chevron is operating in the safest possible way, to protect our children, parents and the broader community.

Image from Hartford.com

Ever played “Old Maid”?

Remember that card game where each player has to pick cards from each others’ hand trying not to get stuck with the ‘Old Maid’ card?

Fracking has become a little like that, similar to a ponzi scheme or a fool’s game, where everyone is trying to sell the leases and natural gas before the bubble breaks and still turn a profit.  This economic bubble is created by too much natural gas on the market, causing a price drop and therefore the underpinnings of initial investment will come undone.  The person or company left holding the natural gas investments when this bubble breaks will be the ‘Old Maid’ (aka: lose a lot of money in the investment).

Image from Energy.gov

With this ‘overabundance’ of natural gas below the surface, gas prices are dropping so quickly, some even call the fracking practice uneconomical.  According to the Philadelphia Inquirer,  “From an average of $8.85 per million British thermal units in 2008, natural-gas prices fell sharply to $4.39 in 2010, and $3.94 in 2011. In [January], prices dropped below $2.50, and they are expected to stay under $5 for another decade.”  It’s starting to seem as if the only way to turn a profit on it is by exporting it to Europe and China where gas prices are much higher.

But, exporting it leaves the “America’s Domestic Energy Source” messaging to fall flat on its face.

Image from Care2.com

To complicate the natural gas market even further, businesses like Chesapeake Energyare known for ‘flipping land’ to be fracked.  They do initial exploration, make projections and then sell the land at a higher cost. Chesapeake Energy is no newcomer to Airhugger.  We highlighted their toxic fracking fluid spill in Pennsylvania last April.  And now they’re back in the news, some even calling them the next Enron, or blaming them for creating a financial bubble worse than the housing crisis.   And, with the drop in gas prices, they’ve had to make some risky financial deals and move very quickly to sell these leases so as to not become the ‘Old Maid’.

So, not only does fracking risk our clean and healthy environment, it also puts at us great economic risk.  We’ve all heard the promise of hundreds of jobs, although the figure is highly debatedand the number may be far lower than predicted, but now it seems as if any jobs fracking creates will only last until this economic bubble breaks.  When the fracking bubble breaks, people will lose their jobs and investments.  This has the potential to add even more stress to our already strained economy.

Image from Cleveland.com

Now, the silver lining here is that this economic perspective shows the light at the end of the tunnel.  Once fracking becomes vastly uneconomical, there is a very strong chance we’ll see the end of the practice entirely.  But, the big question here is ‘when?’.  We’ve already heard so many concerns over contamination and environmental degradation and many are very worried about the potential health risks associated with fracking.  How many more wells will be drilled too close to homes, schools and community centers before the economics prove the practice obsolete?

Most people don’t understand how government works.

On a recent trip to Bakersfield, California, Global Community Monitor attended a day long tour of several Central Valley communities and an introductory meeting with community members, non-profit organizations, emergency responders and government agency representatives focused on environmental and public health issues.

Teresa DeAnda started the day with an introduction of her personal experience about how she saw and felt pesticides being sprayed near her home. After being passed along to five government agencies, she was still unable to file her original complaint. Sometimes dealing with government agencies feels like Dorothy getting directions from the Scarecrow.

Image from Verdoux

Whether it is pesticide spray, strange dust on your car and home or oil refinery flares going off for hours, it is all too common for communities to not have a clear line of communication with the responsible government agency.

The goal of the day long tour and meeting was to kick off a new project: the Kern Environmental Enforcement Network (KEEN) building on successful projects in the Coachella and Imperial Valleys.

The Imperial Visions Action Network (IVAN) brought together these same stakeholders: community members, non-profits, emergency responders and agency reps to bridge the gap on community issues. Community members and agencies can be like oil and water – they just don’t mix. The IVAN pilot made it possible for these unlikely partners to work together. The project provided a website for communities to document complaints (in person or online), producing a map of the problem and showing patterns for areas of high complaints.

The IVAN project included a task force that met monthly and had the insight to bring in a “problem solver” that worked to shepherd the community complaints to the appropriate agency and see the investigation through.

The collaboration resulted in 170 cases reported, 62 solved, 44 of which were reported violations that brought in over $90,000 in penalties. The act of actively seeing a complaint through and closing it after a thorough investigation is extremely rare and something Bucket Brigaders would like to see more of.

The IVAN online model was established using the Louisiana Bucket Brigade’s iWitness Pollution Map for gulf coast residents after the BP oil spill in 2010 as a model. The iWitness map is active today and has received 5,464 complaints from residents in two years.

GCM and the Bucket Brigade strongly believe that community members have a valuable and necessary role in env

Lupe with CRPE talks about pollution from Community Recycling, Clay Rodgers from the Water Board looks on.

ironmental planning, reporting and enforcement. Whether it is documenting air quality complaints or taking their own air samples, with community information and involvement with government agencies, communities can better understand how government works and improve their community at the same time.

GCM is hoping the task force and “problem solver” for Kern County will have the energy, good will and the follow through that it takes to address the many issues in the Central Valley. The KEEN project is just getting started, so stay tuned! We plan to be posting environmental complaints from Arvin, CA…….

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