Updates

Study: Superbugs To 'Kill More Than Cancer' By 2050

A new study out of the United Kingdom claims that if no action is taken, by 2050 an additional 10 million people per year worldwide will die from drug-resistant infections, and the total economic cost of inaction would be around $100 trillion.

The study, commissioned by UK Prime Minister David Cameron, says that antibiotic-resistant bacteria causes at least 50,000 deaths in the U.S. and Europe each year. Left unchecked, that number would rise to at least half a million people by 2050. The study also says that the impact of these superbugs would be most felt in Africa and Asia.

"In Nigeria, by 2050, more than one in four deaths would be attributable to drug resistant infections, while India would see an additional two million lives lost every year," said economist Jim O'Neill, who conducted the study.

NPR Gives Shout-Out To Environment America And "Star Power"

NPR gave a shout-out to our "Star Power" report in their piece on Sunday on solar and how utilities are fighting to preserve their old business model. NPR reported, "The battles over these changes can get as mean as political campaigns, and that's been the story in Arizona -- the nation's top state for solar energy, according to the advocacy group Environment America." 

"Star Power" was written by Frontier Group's Judee Burr and Lindsey Hallock and Rob Sargent, with Environment America Research & Policy Center.

After Recount, Measure 92 Supporters Concede

More than five weeks after the election, and with more than 1.5 million ballots counted and recounted, supporters of Measure 92, the initiative to require GMO labels in Oregon, conceded defeat, falling just 800 votes short of victory.

A post on OSPIRG's Facebook page reads:

"Measure 92 has been defeated. Oregon Right to Know, the organization in favor of Measure 92, conceded this morning as recount results came in showing that there were not enough votes to turn the Nov. 4th decision.

Although the measure was narrowly defeated here in Oregon, we have made tremendous progress in drawing attention to the hold that giant agribusiness companies have over our food system and also in educating the general public on the issue of GMO labeling. We achieved a lot in this campaign and although this time we did not win, we have made many steps toward getting our right to know.

Thank you to all OSPIRG members who supported this effort through donating your time and funds, having conversations with friends and family, and voting yes on Measure 92."

340 City And Town Officials Ask Massachusetts Governor-Elect To Support Solar

As Governor-Elect Charlie Baker prepares to take office, Environment Massachusetts released a letter on Thursday signed by more than 340 local officials from 135 towns and cities across Massachusetts, calling on the new governor and his administration to champion the growth of solar energy.

The letter asks Governor-Elect Baker to set a goal of getting 20% of Massachusetts' electricity from the sun by 2025, and speaks to the environmental and economic benefits that the rapidly growing solar industry has already brought to communities across the state.

"All across the state, solar energy is helping communities fight global warming and cut harmful air pollution, while providing a boost to the local economy," said Ben Hellerstein, campaign organizer for Environment Massachusetts."Solar is growing rapidly, but there's so much more that we can do. Today, local officials are asking Governor-Elect Baker to take solar to the next level, by committing to a goal of 20% solar by 2025."

"More Wind, Less Warming"

Environment America released a report last Thursday detailing the growth of wind power in the United States, and its potential as a viable clean energy alternative. The report, "More Wind, Less Warming," was written by Environment America's Julian Boggs and Rob Sargent, and Frontier Group's Tony Dutzik and Gideon Weissman.

Wind power is generating 24 times more energy now than it did in 2001. Right now, there is enough wind energy potential to power the entire country 10 times over. Yet, much of this incredible energy source is still untapped. Only about 4% of the country's power comes from wind energy. 

That's why Environment America is working toward a goal of generating 30% of America's energy from wind by 2030. This would help us meet and exceed the goals set out by President Obama to cut carbon pollution by 26-28% by 2025. 

PennEnvironment Wins Victory For Clean Water

Thanks to the work of PennEnvironment and the Valley Forge Chapter of Trout Unlimited (VFTU), action has been taken on an aging, failure-prone sewer pipeline. The pipeline, which has ruptured at least 3 times in the past three years, is responsible for flooding Valley Creek with 21 million tons of untreated sewage on just one occasion. 

According to coverage in The Mercury News, in September, PennEnvironment, along with VFTU, sent a notice to the township, announcing their intent to sue to enforce the Federal Clean Water Act. This week, state environmental regulators took their own action against the township, and created a legally binding plan to fix and replace the pipeline. 

"All along, PennEnvironment and Trout Unlimited have stated that our top priority is to see a comprehensive solution to the sewage pipeline ruptures plaguing Valley Forge and Valley Creek, and not to see the inside of a courtroom," said PennEnvironment Director David Masur. "The settlement with Pennsylvania DEP assesses an appropriate financial penalty for Tredyffrin's ongoing environmental violations, and contains a pro-active plan for avoiding future sewage blowouts."

You can read the full story here.

Illinois PIRG Scores Victory To Expand Voting Rights

Illinois PIRG announces that same‑day voter registration in Illinois is now permanent.

As our coalition's news release put it, "Illinois' antiquated voting system will be brought into the 21st Century thanks to the General Assembly's passage of SB 172, a sweeping voting rights bill that was signed into law [Wednesday] in the final hours of the Veto Session."

SB 172 will allow voters to register and vote on Election Day, expands early voting, offers grace period registration on university campuses, and modernizes our registration processes, among other provisions.

Election Day Registration serves as an important fail-safe option for those who have moved without properly updating their address and for those who tried to register but encountered administrative errors," said Abe Scarr, director of Illinois PIRG. "It will help Illinois to operate under a simple idea -- that anyone who wants to vote and is eligible should be able to participate in our electoral process."

Senators Urge Quicker Action On 'Bee-Killing' Insecticides

Environment America has gotten involved in the various efforts to save the pollinators (the bees and the butterflies). 

We're working to protect both honey bees and monarch butterflies from exposure to herbicides and pesticides that are wiping them out in the very short-term and wiping out the plants they need in order to sustain their species. 

But we're not the only ones concerned about protecting the bees. A number of senators joined the call urging the EPA to move quickly to reduce use of the pesticide that is largely to blame for wiping out the bee populations. Like Environment America, the senators are calling for EPA to use the new science that links neonicotinoids (a class of insecticide) to the declining bee population. In addition, the senators are calling for better labeling instructions. You can read the letter here. 

As the Environment America campaign says: No Bees, No Farms; No Farms, No Food.

8 Million Comments And Counting

Environment America, PennEnvironment, and Environment Maryland had the distinct privilege on Monday of delivering the 8 millionth public comment to U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in favor of cleaning up power plants -- culminating a 2+ year organizing campaign to make American voices heard for clean energy and climate solutions. #ActOnClimate

Successful Toy Safety Report Release In Connecticut

Impact Organizer Sean Doyle held a toy safety event on Monday at Connecticut Children's Medical Center. He was joined by Sen. Richard Blumenthal and the Coalition for a Safe & Healthy CT.

Fox, NBC, WTNH (ABC), News 3/WFSB (CBS), CT Television Network, Wili (Radio), CT Radio Network, Hartford Courant, New Haven Register all showed up for the event, and Doyle has interviews with Fox and WTNH Morning Shows scheduled for Tuesday.

We have had an estimated 150 toys recalled or taken off the shelves over the 29 years we've released this report.

1 In 5 Children

Fair Share organizers in Arizona and Virginia worked to raise awareness around childhood hunger last week before Thanksgiving. With 1 in 5 children at risk for hunger, it's time to raise awareness on the issue. 

According to David Elliot, Fair Share communications director, Organizer Nick Arent collected photo petitions in Virginia from people who expressed in their own words why we must end childhood hunger. And in Arizona, Organizer Kimberly Pope held a news conference outside a food and clothing bank that drew the interest of three TV stations and one radio station.

"Thanksgiving is a good time to remember that we can and must do better when it comes to ending childhood hunger in America," Pope told the assembled media. "When kids are hungry, they struggle to learn. When kids don't learn, they struggle in life. Still, 15.8 million American kids -- in big cities and small towns, in blue states and red states -- will go hungry today. That's 1 out of every 5 kids in America and almost one out of every three kids in Arizona. This has to be addressed by our leaders."

How Much Has Your Food Spent On Politics?

As folks were about to sit down around their Thanksgiving tables last week, PIRG revealed how much money was poured into our elections by some of the largest food producers in the country. We looked at campaign spending and lobbying from organizations like the National Turkey Federation and the National Potato Council. These groups spent hundreds of thousands of dollars in election contributions and on lobbying. 

The National Turkey Federation spent over $100,000 to lobby against issues such as the Clean Water Act and antibiotic use on factory farms while the National Potato Council poured another $100,000 into the 2014 midterm elections.

You can take a look at the full list here. 

Will Your Turkey Be Antibiotic-Free This Thanksgiving?

Pumpkin pie filling? Check. Potatoes? Check. Antibiotic-free Turkey? That's more difficult to answer. As many families across the country prepare to enjoy Thanksgiving meals, U.S. PIRG has been sending organizers to turkey farms to ask that very question and raise awareness about the threat the overuse of antibiotics on factory farms poses to public health. 

Jake Peters of NMPIRG earned a spot in the local news, and was quoted on channel 4 news with the following statement: "By making the choice to use an antibiotic-free turkey this Thanksgiving, you're providing a healthier option for your family and also making sure these drugs are going to be effective for our children and generations to come."

Annapolis 'Climate Frontline Tour' Highlighted Risks To Chesapeake Bay

This Saturday, Environment Maryland brought local and state leaders face to face with the effects climate change has already begun to have on Maryland, when we hosted a 'Climate Frontline Tour' in Annapolis -- one of four that Environment America's state affiliates are organizing this week as part of our Global Warming Solutions Campaign.

The Chesapeake Bay is home to booming industry, waterfront businesses, ecological diversity, and historical sites. But the Bay is already feeling the increasing strain of climate change with changes in temperature, sea level, acidification and ecological health. At the event, held at the Annapolis City Dock, Environment Maryland highlighted these adverse effects, as well as the unique opportunity we have with the Clean Power Plan to mitigate harm to our environment. Speakers included Dr. Anson Hines of the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center.

Oregon GMO Measure "Too Close To Call"

After weeks of deliberation, the Oregon ballot measure on GMOs is "too close to call" according to political analyst Tim Hibbits. The measure was originally predicted to fail, but as new election returns are counted, the gap between both sides has become increasingly closer. As of now, the Yes on 92 side is only trailing by 3,000 votes, making both sides about 50%.

 

It's uncertain when all votes will be counted, but with the gap closing steadily, it's safe to say that the fight isn't over yet. 

Climate Frontline Tours Kicking Off In Colorado On Friday

Colorado will be the first of four states to host a Climate Frontline Tour this Friday, Nov. 21. The purpose of the tours, happening next week in Maryland, Ohio and Virginia, is to bring state leaders face to face with the local impacts of global warming in their states and highlight the local solutions available.

Colorado's event will be held at INSTAAR, the Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research from 9 to 11 a.m. on Friday, Nov. 21.

The dates and times of the other events are as follows:

 

  • Virginia: VCU Rice Rivers Center on Nov. 22 from 10 a.m. - 12 p.m.
  • Ohio: Ohio State University Buckeye Grove on Nov. 23 at 11 a.m.
  • Maryland: The Annapolis City Dock on Nov. 22 at 11 a.m.
BREAKING: Senate Defeats Keystone XL Pipeline By One Vote

Tuesday at 6:00 p.m. ET, The New York Times reported that the Senate defeated a bill, 59 to 41, that would have approved the construction of the Keystone XL oil pipeline. The battle over approving the pipeline, which will carry petroleum from the oil sands of Canada to the Gulf Coast of Texas, ultimately became a proxy war for the Louisiana Senate seat, where Sen. Mary Landrieu and Rep. Bill Cassidy are locked in fight for votes in their oil-rich state ahead of a Dec. 6 runoff election.

Earlier in the day, Environment America Executive Director Margie Alt reminded us what was at stake in this vote: 

 

  • Pipelines spill and leak, and this one will be worse. Experts say that tar sands oil is especially tough, and the pipeline would cross one of our country's largest and most vital aquifers, not to mention the nation's bread basket.
  • Developing the tar sands is 'game over' for climate. James Hansen calculated the amount of carbon in the tar sands alone would add 120 parts per million of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere. We're at 400 ppm now. Scientists say we need to keep levels below 500 ppm to have a good chance of avoiding the worst impacts of global warming. You do the math.
  • Keystone would be one more big obstacle to tackling climate change. The State Department itself estimates that tar sands puts 17 percent more carbon into the atmosphere than normal crude. Building the pipeline would be investing in a future of tar sands and make it that much harder to keep the dirtiest fuel on earth in the ground.
  • It's a line in the sand. Finally, like it or not, the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline is our governments most high-profile, politically significant moment to take a stand and make real choices when it comes to tackling warming.
This Week: An International Social Media Surge To #saveabx

This week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) kicked off an annual "Get Smart About Antibiotics Week," in partnership with local government agencies, health care providers, and non-profit organizations, to raise awareness about the threats that the overuse of antibiotics pose to public health. Canada, Europe and Australia are also collaborating to host coinciding awareness weeks.

With momentum growing in PIRG's campaign to limit the overuse of antibiotics on factory farms, the CDC's awareness week represents a decisive call to action by our nation's public health authority. 

This week, PIRG will join the CDC in taking to social media to engage the public in discussion and raise awareness about the action needed to keep our antibiotics effective. Throughout the week, the CDC will be hosting "Antibiotic Resistant Twitter Chats" under the hashtag #saveabx, and we'll be joining the efforts with shareable memes. 

Read about Get Smart About Antibiotics Week here. 

Toy Safety Report Coming To A News Conference Near You

This year marks the 29th release of our annual toy safety report. As is tradition, we will be releasing the report the Tuesday before Thanksgiving, giving parents important tips for buying safe toys just in time for the holiday season.

This week, organizers on the antibiotics and democracy teams have started to organize toy safety news conferences at children's hospitals or child care centers, inviting legislators and key coalition partners, and taking the list of hazardous toys to stores to buy the visuals for the events. 

Our toy safety events always get a lot of media attention, and this year will be no exception. Unfortunately, our researchers have found toys, currently on store shelves, in every hazard category: choking, toxics, magnets and noise. Our toy safety reports have led to over 150 toy recalls and have helped parents and caregivers across the country navigate store shelves and find toys that are safe for kids.

Clean Water Network Back With A Splash

Late last spring, Environment America Research & Policy Center restarted the Clean Water Network, a nationwide coalition of local, regional and national groups, under its auspices. Reinvigorating the Clean Water Network will help build up an arsenal of grassroots support for clean water by creating a forum for groups across the country to stay updated on what's happening in Washington, get the resources they need to take action locally, and connect with their peers who face the same challenges. 

While each of the groups has its own local priorities, right now, the biggest thing for watershed groups to take action on in a nationally coordinated way is the EPA's Clean Water Rule, which would close loopholes in the clean water act and safeguard the waterways that these local groups are dedicated to protecting. And if all the local watershed groups across the country rally in support of the rule, they could be the force that takes it to the finish line.

That's where second-year Environment America Fellow Kimberly Williams comes in. 

This past week Williams organized a webinar briefing for local groups to learn more about the EPA's plan to restore protection to our waterways. More than 60 local organizations attended the briefing, which featured special guest EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy. During the webinar, Administrator McCarthy praised Environment America's work to bring together businesses, farmers, and regular citizens. She also emphasized how this rulemaking will help to protect the waterways we love, the important role that watershed groups play, and how glad she is that Clean Water Network is working on this issue.  

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