What have we done for you lately?
We are constantly developing cases and campaigns, engaging with communities impacted by pollution, and working toward cleaner and healthier ecosystems to help humans and wildlife thrive. Our lawsuits and other efforts focus on protecting and empowering the most vulnerable among us; especially children, seniors, and threatened species.
See below for some highlights of recent media coverage of OCE's actions and achievements, as well as information on our current advocacy work. Our full case list is available here.
Follow us on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter for updates on what we're doing, reading, eating, thinking about, and other musings about why we do what we do.
Cargill Salt & Cayuga Lake
Cargill is a huge company with all kinds of operations throughout the world (check out this Mighty Earth report on Cargill to learn more about the various aspects and impacts of Cargill’s global business).
In mid 2019, we took action to address the negative environmental impacts of a Cargill salt mine located on one of the finger lakes in upstate New York, Cayuga Lake. We are working closely with individuals who care about these pollution sources, as well as local groups leading ongoing efforts to protect Cayuga Lake including Cayuga Lake Environmental Action Now or CLEAN [website|facebook].
The pollution we seek to address includes chloride, sodium, free cyanide, salt dust, brine, chlorine, and other troubling compounds. Impacted waterways include Minnegar Brook, Gulf Creek, and Cayuga Lake, which is an important drinking water source for several communities.
Pollution reports have shown for years that spills of salt and leaks of polluted water regularly enter these waterways.
Improving Recycling on Long Island
The Long Island Recycling Initiative is a team of concerned citizens focused on recycling practices and programs in Long Island. Its mission is to bring transparency, efficiency and best practices to recycling programs across Long Island. Because of the patchwork-quilt of townships, villages, hamlets, and garbage districts that currently oversee the waste management and recycling functions of Long Island, it is especially challenging for policy makers and waste management businesses to identify and resolve problems in the system and adopt best practices proven to work in other jurisdictions across the country. Through research into the current state of affairs as well as best practices and policies, Long Island Recycling Initiative intends to identify opportunities and aid the towns and villages of Long Island in increasing their recycling rates. Learn more and access resources at https://www.lirecycling.org.
Governmental Transparency & Public Advocacy
Throughout its history, OCE has successfully challenged and exposed governmental agencies that fail to meet their responsibility to protect and serve the public. This anti-corruption and pro-transparency work reflects our commitment to educate communities about environmental issues, to investigate noncompliant and negligent polluters, to enforce environmental laws and regulations, and to encourage reform at the highest levels of government. From its start, OCE has built a strong reputation as an effective public interest watchdog by enforcing laws that require governmental agencies to disclose key information about how they manage our natural resources.
OCE is committed to holding publicly-funded agencies and governmental staff accountable to ensure that the public interest remains a central component of our democracy. We fight for full enforcement of public disclosure laws like the Freedom of Information Act (“FOIA”), including the provision that records be provided without charge when disclosure of the requested information is in the public interest. In the most recent development in our multi-year legal campaign to get documents from the National Marine Fisheries Service, we beat back the federal government’s attempts to sharply limit when public interest groups could be reimbursed for the time they spend trying to get information from agencies.
For more insight into how we have obtained information from agencies and prevailed in our appeals for fee waivers, or to share your experiences seeking documents from state and federal agencies, please contact us.
Nature is special.
This is one of OCE's short interviews with cute kids talking about ecological issues. Children tend to intuitively understand the fundamentals of what we need to do to protect the environment and live more sustainably: treat animals with respect and empathy, waste not, keep learning, try to live in harmony with the natural resources and ecosystems that support and sustain life on Earth.
Above all, we must continue to work toward healthy air, water, and ecosystems so that future generations have the chance to thrive in an ever-changing world. As Chester notes, "we have to, we have no choice."
Biomass in the South
The biomass industry in the southeastern United States has expanded 10-fold in the past 10 years. Rural communities bear the brunt of the industrial pollution from this industry, which primarily exists to export wood pellets to Europe. Wood pellets have increased in use due to a loophole in the European Union’s accounting system that is based on the notion that biomass can be carbon neutral because trees grow back and absorb carbon as they grow. But burning wood pellets emits large amounts of greenhouse gases and replanted trees take many decades to grow enough to absorb as much carbon dioxide as the industry emits, and not all the saplings survive. Additionally, the manufacturing process is extremely dirty and dangerous for public health.
OCE is engaged in formal permit challenges of nearly a dozen facilities, many of which are owned and operated by Enviva, Drax, and German Pellets. We face uphill battles in most of these cases, but we will continue to pressure state officials to require basic pollution controls and compliance with legal pollution limits in order to protect nearby communities. Our coalition is strong and led by talented attorneys at the Environmental Integrity Project.
Sick of Sewage in Florida
Our Children's Earth Foundation has a long history of advocacy related to protecting people and ecosystems from one of the more disgusting realities of modern life: sewage pollution. We've brought lawsuits and worked with cities throughout the United States to ensure that aging, leaky, and otherwise inadequate sewage infrastructure is updated, and that impacted residents have a voice in developing solutions. Spills and overflows of raw and partially-treated sewage occur regularly in metropolitan areas, and the worst instances result in massive die-offs of fish, birds, and other animals that rely on nearby waters.
We are currently involved in a regional effort in Florida's Tampa Bay area to address sewage system failures that have garnered national and international headlines since mid-2016, when hundreds of millions of gallons of raw and partially treated sewage were discharged to Tampa Bay, Boca Ciega Bay, and other waters adjacent to the Gulf of Mexico.
OCE @ RWF!
The Right Whale Festival raises local awareness for the endangered North Atlantic Right Whale (E. glacialis), so-named because it was deemed to be the "right" whale to hunt during the height of the whaling industry, because its docile and curious nature made it easy to kill. Sadly, Right Whales were hunted nearly to extinction, and remain in peril.
Check out the coverage of OCE at the 2016 event including a short interview with us via Channel 4 News at: http://www.news4jax.com/news/florida/duval-county/jacksonville-beach/festival-works-to-save-right-whales-from-extinction
Public health concerns at Elkhorn Slough
Our Children's Earth got a grant from the Rose Foundation to raise awareness and protect public health in the Moss Landing area, where anglers and their families are being exposed to dangerous levels of mercury and PCBs in certain fish tissues, especially leopard shark and bat ray.
California's Office of Environmental Health and Hazards Assessment (OEHHA) recently issued a consumption advisory urging children and women of child-bearing age to avoid eating these species entirely while also limiting consumption of several other species: asian clam, speckled sanddab, and surfperches.
If you or anyone you know fishes at Elkhorn Slough, please take note of OEHHA's important health guidelines, read OEHHA's full report, fill out the short survey on our Elkhorn page, and contact us with any questions.