Non-Profits Sue Monsanto Over Misleading Labeling of Popular Herbicide Roundup

Washington, DC- Two nonprofit organizations filed a lawsuit against Monsanto for misleading the public by labeling its popular weedkiller Roundup as “target[ing] an enzyme found in plants but not in people or pets.” This lawsuit claims this statement is false, deceptive, and misleading, because the enzyme targeted by glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup, is, in fact, found in people and pets.

 

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Modern Medicine, Patent Protection and Degenerative—or Regenerative—Healthcare?

There is the possibility of inexpensive and effective healthcare for all. OCA Executive Director Ronnie Cummins has called this system “Regenerative Healthcare.” From my point of view, this is our only hope for the future, as it integrates and unites whole foods grown in healthy soils, ecological mindfulness, nature-based medicine, enlightened psychology, the Arts for Healing, and Spiritual Altruism in one holistic model.

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Cuomo signs budget to provide $5 million for NY shelters

We applaud New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and the state legistlature for including the Companion Animal Capital Fund in the 2017-18 state budget, which creates a $5 million funding source that provides independent humane societies, SPCAs, and nonprofit and municipal shelters with matching grants for capital projects -- something that is desperately needed by many of New York’s shelters, which are in desperate need of repairs and upgrades.

We applaud New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and the state legistlature for including the Companion Animal Capital Fund in the 2017-18 state budget, which creates a $5 million funding source that provides independent humane societies, SPCAs, and nonprofit and municipal shelters with matching grants for capital projects — something that is desperately needed by many of New York’s shelters, which are in desperate need of repairs and upgrades. Photo by Dennis M. Rivera Pichardo/AP Images for The HSUS

Yesterday, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed a 2017-18 state budget that includes a little-noticed item—one that until this year never found its way into fine print in the state’s spending plan. It’s a $5 million funding source, designated as the Companion Animal Capital Fund, that provides independent humane societies, SPCAs, and nonprofit and municipal . . . 

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Sheriffs stand strong against animal cruelty, and so do we

Our work with law enforcement agencies across the country has allowed us to crack down on a wide array of animal cruelties -- like cockfighting.

Our work with law enforcement agencies across the country has allowed us to crack down on a wide array of animal cruelties — like cockfighting.
Photo by Meredith Lee/The HSUS

Yesterday, we hosted John Thompson, the deputy executive director of the National Sheriffs’ Association, at our national headquarters and bestowed upon him a Humane Leadership Award for helping bring humane sensibilities into the consciousness of the nation. Thompson is straight out of central casting as a law enforcement man, yet his heart is just as . . . 

The post Sheriffs stand strong against animal cruelty, and so do we appeared first on A Humane Nation.

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Who Pays for the Hidden Costs of Coal?

By John Finnigan

The Public Utilities Commission of Ohio is still deciding whether to approve bailouts for FirstEnergy’s and Dayton Power & Light’s (DP&L) old, inefficient coal plants. The Ohio-based utilities want their customers to shoulder the costs of keeping these unprofitable coal plants running.

Coal plants aren’t cheap to operate. And as natural gas, wind energy, and solar energy have become increasingly affordable in recent years, coal can’t compete anymore. Moreover, subsidizing coal plants is not just a matter of higher electricity bills. We need to take into account the hidden costs of coal, which we all have to pay.

Health costs

Coal pollution harms human health and the environment. The American Lung Association reports that people’s breathing difficulties, including asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, bronchitis, and lung diseases, are worse when forced to breathe dirty air from coal plants. Coal plant emissions also cause heart attacks, strokes, cancer and birth defects. Lowering pollution from coal plants, on the other hand, can save lives.


Who Pays for the Hidden Costs of Coal?
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Climate costs

Coal pollution also contributes to climate change, which economists report will result in global costs of $1.2 trillion annually. This includes the costs for health care, premature deaths, harm to our food and water supply, and damage to our economy. We all pay for these costs in the form of higher taxes, higher health insurance premiums, higher food and water costs, repair costs for catastrophic weather events, and higher costs for goods and services.

Clean-up costs

Another area of hidden costs is the clean-up costs. The residue from burning coal is known as coal ash. Utilities bury millions of tons of coal ash in the ground at their power plants, which are often located on rivers to receive coal supplies on barges. The coal ash is stored in underground dams that can break and infiltrate the water supply.

Clean energy resources like wind, solar, and energy efficiency do not spew pollution into the air, meaning they do not lead to the high health or economic costs imposed by dirty coal power.

In 2014, a Duke Energy coal dam collapsed, spewing thousands of tons of coal ash into the Dan River. Duke Energy spent $15 million in direct cleanup costs and paid $102 million in fines and additional cleanup costs. Fortunately, Duke Energy is the largest utility in the country and is well capitalized, so Duke Energy’s shareholders – rather than its customers – had to pay these costs. But that’s not always the case with coal ash spills – some utilities leave customers with the bill.

Coal mining also produces toxic waste, including heavy metal residue from mining and deadly chemicals used for processing the coal. Another disaster occurred in 2014, when a pipe broke at a coal treatment plant, leaking 10,000 gallons of a deadly chemical into the Elk River in West Virginia. For days, the water supply was toxic for the 300,000 residents of Charleston, and the companies responsible paid a $151 million settlement for clean-up costs. Area residents and businesses also incurred $61 million in economic losses.

Bankruptcy costs

Coal plants keep losing money, causing financial stress for the industry. Large companies like Duke Energy are not always available to pay for clean-up costs. Many coal mining companies have filed for bankruptcy in recent years, including Arch Coal, Alpha Natural Resources, and Peabody. When these bankruptcies occur, taxpayers are left to pay for the clean-up costs.

For example, when Peabody filed for bankruptcy, the company filed claims for $2.7 billion worth of clean-up costs in the states where it operated mines. Peabody was allowed to emerge from bankruptcy by agreeing to pay $1 billion in clean-up costs. Taxpayers will pick up the tab for the remaining $1.7 billion.

Water costs

As part of the energy-water nexus, different power sources require different amounts of water, and coal plants use a lot of water. Meanwhile, climate change stresses the U.S. water system and enhances the likelihood and severity of drought.

Coal plants also discharge millions of gallons of extremely hot water into our lakes and rivers, killing fish and destroying their habitats.

The upside of clean energy

Clean energy resources like wind, solar, and energy efficiency do not spew pollution into the air, meaning they do not lead to the high health or economic costs imposed by dirty coal power. There is no toxic ash or residue left to clean up at a wind turbine. If a solar company files for bankruptcy, customers won’t be saddled with millions in clean-up costs. Finally, wind, solar, and energy efficiency require virtually no water to make power.

By subsidizing utilities to keep running their old coal plants, we all pay today in the form of higher energy bills. And we will all pay again tomorrow, when we pay for the hidden health, economic, clean-up, and water costs. With all these costs, and all the benefits of clean energy, why in the world should Ohio customers subsidize FirstEnergy and DP&L to keep operating their old coal plants?

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As Oil and Gas Industry Goes Big in the Permian, Efforts to Tackle Emissions Will Be Telling

By Jon Goldstein and Ben Ratner

Much ink has been spilled recently about big new oil and gas investments in the Permian Basin across West Texas and Southeastern New Mexico. What some are dubbing “Permania” includes a more than $6 billion investment by ExxonMobil in New Mexico acreage and an almost $3 billion one by Noble Energy across the border in Texas, among others. But a large question remains: will these types of big bets also come with the needed investments to limit methane emissions?

It’s not just an academic question. The answer will go a long way toward revealing if industry actors plan to operate in a way that serves the best interest of local communities and taxpayers. Unfortunately, New Mexico is currently the worst in the nation for waste of natural gas resources from federal lands (such as those that are found in large parts of the state’s Permian Basin). Largely avoidable venting, flaring and leaks of natural gas from these sites also puts a big hole in taxpayers’ wallets, robbing New Mexico taxpayers of $100 million worth of their natural gas resources every year and depriving the state budget of millions more in royalty revenue that could be invested in urgent state needs like education.


Meanwhile, at least one estimate shows a doubling of methane emissions in recent years on 2.1 million acres of Texas’ Permian Basin lands managed by the University of Texas, and students and faculty are calling for needed reductions. There’s good reason to believe that the rest of the Texas Permian has seen similar increases in methane emissions.

The answer to this million dollar waste question will also reveal if these large oil and gas companies plan to “walk the talk” on their commitments to reduce emissions. Methane is the primary component of natural gas and a potent greenhouse gas, more than 80 times more potent pound for pound than carbon dioxide in the short term.

For instance, Darren Woods the new Chairman and CEO of oil giant ExxonMobil recently stated in his first blog as CEO: “I believe, and my company believes, that climate risks warrant action and it’s going to take all of us – business, governments and consumers – to make meaningful progress.” If Exxon invests $6.6 billion in New Mexico drilling sites (more than the entire U.S. Environmental Protection Agency annual budget proposed by President Trump for comparison) but doesn’t make the necessary investments to capture fugitive methane emissions, these words will ring hollow. Conversely, by choosing to set a positive example through implementing methane controls, increasing transparency, and engaging responsibly on methane policy development, Exxon could chart a positive path and set an example worth following.

This is because scientists estimate that methane emissions are already responsible for roughly one quarter of the warming we are experiencing today, and the oil and gas industry is the largest source of industrial methane emissions in the U.S. What’s more, addressing methane pollution will also help alleviate local air quality concerns such as in Eddy County, New Mexico’s number one oil producer and recipient of a failing grade for ozone smog pollution from the American Lung Association.

The “layer cake” of oil and gas resources beneath New Mexico and West Texas may be an energy bounty, but in order for the people of these states to reap the full benefit (and minimize the risks to their health and climate) these companies will have to invest in leading technologies to capture methane waste and pollution. Neighboring states like Colorado have put state methane rules in place for just this reason and their economies have benefited as taxpayer revenue goes up while new methane mitigation small businesses thrive and entrepreneurs invent the next generation of solutions. These states should do the same and oil and gas companies can help show leadership by standing up and advocating for sensible methane policies, just as Noble Energy did with success in Colorado.

As Exxon’s Mr. Woods wrote, “by taking advantage of human ingenuity, embracing free markets and enacting sound government policies, we can meet the world’s energy needs and meet all of our shared aspirations in an environmentally and socially responsible way.” We could not agree more. As all eyes shift to the Permian, there is an opportunity – and an obligation – to put the market to work reducing emissions and to support sound methane emission government policies to set a level playing field and provide an assurance to the public that all companies are operating responsibly.

That’s the only way Texans and New Mexicans will be able to have their cake and eat it too during the next anticipated development boom. And it’s the only way that companies from Exxon and Noble to smaller drillers can address the global concern that methane emissions leaks away the credibility of natural gas in the transition to a low carbon energy economy.

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