Environmental Activities

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I called to the mountains
but they didn’t reply.
Perhaps the distance truncates
the force of my lamentations.
Or perhaps they don’t care;
I belong to a race of terracidal maniacs
who’ve killed her kin.
Likewise the flowing waters
strain to avoid my legs, kicking at
lily pads,
perhaps marking it as insult to injury,
striking the earth when she is down.
We are porcelain and too dainty
for survival.
My hands coated in red dirt
is phony: I’m a closeted urbanite
with product
in my
hair.
I should bake myself
in the sun. I should bury myself
in hay and clippings.
I should….but I won’t.
There is work to be done.…

Environmental Road Rage

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The endless string of red ruby taillights, like a necklace outlining the curves of a sleeping beauty does not incite pleasurable images, rather it sends me into a rage. “How dare you cause a traffic jam in my mountains,” I scream in typical Coloradoan road rage. I swerve off to a frontage road only to get stuck behind Denver plates going under the speed limit. “Must be from California or Texas,” I fume as I yank my mother’s three-quarter ton pick-up into the on-coming lane to pass on a blind corner. It’s a normal Sunday drive home from work, taking an hour and a half to travel fifteen miles. I’m livid by the time I get home.
I am a native, said with condescension and righteous snobbery; born and raised (by my transplanted Californian mother) in Colorado’s beautiful mountains. I remember when Vail and Eagle were separate towns. I remember skiing when snowboarders were dangerous herds of out-of-control kids, before terrain parks and sick jibbers. I learned to drive on the switchbacks of Fall River Road, and lost kids in my high school to the unprotected cliffs of Oh My God Road. These mountains thirty miles west of Denver are my mountains.

Back in Colorado for a post-college internship, after spending four years attempting to pry open my mind, I was conflicted in a new way. They were still my mountains; but my driver’s license had Oregon written across the top. Still a native I get pulled over so the cop can verify that I am my mother’s daughter, and oh how I’d grown. I now understand economy and the need to relocate for the numerous reasons that life proposes, but my mountains are being trampled by thousands of summer-heat melting Denverites. Heading west and up to break from city heat, they hike off trails increasing erosion; they start camp fires without rings, not putting them out completely; they invade small tourist towns making daily life for residents nearly impossible; their kids graffiti rocks; their trash floats down creeks; their million dollar houses destroy entire mountain slopes, creating uninteresting views and displacing wildlife. They are destroying the mountains that I love. It seemed an unstoppable spiral motivated by an unreasonable expectation of ownership (theirs and mine) and economics. 
Then I saw Colorado 1870-2000, by William H. Jackson & John Fielder. This photo history of Colorado compared landscape photos taken by Jackson in the 1800’s with photos taken by Fielder from the same spots in 2000. The comparisons showed once seemingly booming towns, now empty meadows desecrated by harsh winters or wildfires. Growing population centers then, now Lake Dillon. For pages the then and now photos showed me that though I worried for my docile mountains, they always had the upper hand. Blizzards; rock, mud and snow slides; floods, fire, wind, and draught have kept man’s transgressions in check far as long as man has attempted to inhabit the folds of the Rockies and conquer their peaks.

Once in a while out-of-town drivers force a scream from behind my steering wheel for their incessant braking, but now I worry less for my powerful mountains loved my Mother Nature herself, and I laugh when I hear of her demolishing storms and construction thwarting weather and plate movements. Millions of years from now, she will be here and we will not, and I’m ok with that.…

CFLs for the Environment: Good or Bad

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CFL bulbs or compact fluorescent lamps are said to be a god send for the environment. It helps reduce the amount of energy consumed by an average household. Although LEDs are the better option, they are smaller in size and therefore a large number is needed to emit the same amount of light a CFL will emit.

CFL is good for the environment in the sense of its energy efficiency. But the components used for the manufacturing of CFLs include mercury. It is very poisonous and could be injuries to health. That is why CFL users are advised not throw it out amongst other plastic wastes which end up in landfills. CFLs are to be recycled separately because of its mercury content. Even if it breaks in front of someone it is advised that he/she remove themselves from the place and lock the door and let the gas flow out during the course of an hour.

CFLs are a god send but they need to be handled carefully. As if now it can only be disposed of by recycling. This is a mandatory requirement in US. But not in most other parts of the world. I hope new laws will come into place for its disposal and other governments will follow the US example.…

Downwinders At Risk Environmental Group Battles Politics

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For ten years one group has been fighting pollution near Dallas/Fort Worth, TX.

Downwinders At Risk, a 501© (4) group with an education fund which is a 501© (3) organization actively works to end cement kiln incineration of hazardous waste at the Midlothian industrial complex.

Even the famous Erin Brockovitch has helped with efforts.

“We document and expose the dangers of cement kiln incineration and other hazardous industrial practices,” said Becky Bornhorst, a board member of Downwinders. “We educate the public and provide concerned citizens the means to help reduce toxic industrial air pollution.”

Bornhorst said the group promotes public policy designed to improve the quality of air for children, the elderly, and all at-risk people.

Anyone can become a member by volunteering, donating, or taking action online at downwindersatrisk.org. They have approximately 2,500 members.

Some of the organization’s latest accomplishments include joining with other Texas groups in filing a lawsuit against the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for failure to bring Dallas/Fort Worth (DFW) into compliance with the Clean Air Act. In May they reached a historic settlement with local, state, and federal governments to put DFW on a faster track for clean air.

Downwinders spent two years in negotiations with Holcim Cement and the EPA over a permit application that would increase production and emissions at their Midlothian plant. Holcim agreed to install and test new pollution control technology, provide $2.25 million dollars for other projects aimed at reducing ozone forming emissions in the DFW area, provide monitoring for particulate matter for three years, up to $120,000 over five years for an independent scientist to review compliance and operations at Holcim, and to reduce the limits of ozone-forming emissions previously requested by the company.

Downwinders and a group of Midlothian citizens successfully opposed TXI’s attempt to discontinue use of pollution control equipment and joined with that city’s residents to feature Brockovich at a town hall meeting.

The organization is taking the lead in local grassroots efforts to write a new State Implementation Plan for ozone pollution, says Bornhorst.

“We don’t have much time,” she said. “In February recommendations from local officials was due. Then the plan goes to Austin. Citizens who want to influence public policy need to act now or lose the chance to impact things.”

The group’s goal is to reduce toxic industrial air pollution in North Texas. They have support from citizens, the PTA, local doctors, and the Sierra Club.

The group was founded by Sue Pope and Jim Schermbeck.

Bornhorst said what makes Downwinders unique is that it has survived as unaffiliated local grassroots groups for over a decade, something rare in the country, even rarer in Texas.

“Downwinders serves as an information clearinghouse for national and international citizens’ groups,” said Bornhorst. “People fighting cement plant pollution in New York, Montana, South Carolina, Pennsylvania, Oklahoma, and Michigan as well as Puerto Rico, Great Britain, Croatia, and Mexico have asked and received our assistance.”

Bornhorst urges other groups such as hers to never give up.…