Why I am an Environmental Activist

When I was in ninth grade, we learned in social studies that the Athabaskan tar sands in Alberta, Canada were a source of future resource wealth. Flash forward to 2018 and the tar sands oil has morphed into the Keystone XL pipeline issue. New technologies for extracting oil—shale oil extraction and fracking—are even more harmful to the environment than traditional oil wells, whether in the ocean or on the lands of Texas or New Mexico.

We are living through a time when the effects of climate change increasingly affect our daily lives. Climate change does not just mean global warming. It means all kinds of extremes, extreme drought, extreme hurricanes, extreme flooding, extreme sustained cold temperatures. It means unusual winters of very cold or too much “above average.” It means more Harveys, Irmas, Marías are in store.

At the same time we are living through a time when an administration in Washington, DC wants us to close our eyes and pretend that we don’t understand what is happening. That climate change is not real and its very mention can be vanished from government websites. They hope we don’t connect the dots (which is the true purpose of propaganda). Taking the usual route of following the money, however, we see that only corporate interests are served by this blindness.

We are also living through a time where many people would like to hand off a better world to their children and grandchildren. Others don’t want posterity to judge us for our neglect and blindness to what surrounds us. That’s the motivation behind state and local governments who choose environmentally friendly policies, and the motivation of citizens who get actively involved with protecting the environment. That’s why I am an environmental activist. –FBC

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Glyphosate–really that bad?

Glyphosate is sold commercially in the U. S. A. as Roundup®.  It has been touted as a unique herbicide and safe to humans.  There has been controversy about possible carcinogenicity–whether or not it increases the risk of malignancies.  Proponents and defenders of the widespread use of glyphosate claim that correct use of the herbicide does not raise the risk of malignancy and that animals exposed to glyphosate in studies were given very high doses.

Lawsuits have sprung up like weeds since the IARC classified it as a probable carcinogen in 2015 and when it became known earlier this year that Monsanto arranged for other scientists to bombard published studies with criticisms and dismiss unfavorable findings. An investigation was opened into possible collusion between an EPA regulator and Monsanto.  There is also evidence that Monsanto wrote some of their own safety reviews and had the names of outside scientists put on the papers.  Legal documents that were unsealed can be found at Right to Know along with links to press coverage.

GPAMA created a petition calling for the elimination of the use and sale of glyphosate in our four-county region. You can help us by downloading the petition and collecting signatures.  Please mail signed petitions to us (address on petition) or contact us at 505.750.2708 or greenparty.abqmetro@gmail.com to arrange pick-up of the signatures.

Other options exist for weed control, beginning with integrated pest management (IPM).  This process often refers to insects as well as weeds.  Cinnamon oil, clove leaf oil, essential oil of lemongrass, citric acid, and concentrated vinegar have all been used in commercial products approved for organic crop production and are effective when chemical agents are used as a last resort.

Zoning?

Why is zoning important?  Perhaps you noticed announcements for three important zoning meetings this month for three different bodies in the ABQ metro.  Zoning ordinances are the regulations imposed by cities and counties describing how land may be used and setting requirements for allowable developments and land uses.  Ideally, interests are balanced, and the general welfare of the public is promoted and preserved.

The Bernalillo County Commission approved the Santolina master-planned development west of Albu(r)querque.  This was highly controversial and remains so.  The next meeting about Santolina focuses on an agreement with the water authority (ABCWUA).  Development can not go forward without an agreement.  An important point is that the existence of paper water rights does not mean there is water available for tens of thousands of people the developers say will move to the development even though area population appears to be decreasing.  In addition, the Commission previously approved tax increment financing for the developers–that is future taxpayer money goes to the developers to help pay the costs of development.  Santolina Master Plan

The City of Albuquerque is overhauling the zoning code.  This effort has met significant resistance from city residents who are not developers and commercial realtors.  The notions of transit-oriented development and increased density sound good in theory with regard to reducing emissions and sprawl, respectively.  However, many of the claims made to justify the major changes are not valid.  Albuquerque is not seeing an increase in population, and the majority of millenials and boomers do not want to live in high-rise apartments in an urban center.  Further, Sector Development Plans (SDPs), documents created to guide development of particular areas of the city, will be eliminated.  SDPs have been created with significant neighorhood participation and have served unique areas of the city well.  IDO

Finally, Sandoval County is considering a draft Oil & Gas Ordinance to address concerns about negative effects of extraction, particularly fracking.  Unfortunately, the draft ordinance appears to be lacking in requirements for environmental impact studies and consideration for historical sites and wildlife areas.  The latest news in this saga is that Sandoval County may consider using Special Use Permits on a case-by-case basis rather than moving forward with work on an Oil & Gas Ordinance.  Sandoval County P&Z

Fracking, in a town near you?

The request by SandRidge Exploration and Production, L. L. C. to the Sandoval County Zoning Commission for a Zone Map amendment to allow drilling and hydraulic fracturing (fracking) in Sandoval County was met with prompt and significant public opposition. The people of Sandoval County have good reason to be concerned about the possibility of fracking, as do the people of Bernalillo County. While proponents may claim lower electricity prices or facilitated compliance with EPA pollution standards or job creation, they may minimize or ignore harmful effects. These include aquifer contamination, air contamination, surface destruction, decreased property values, high-volume water consumption (millions of gallons per well), bedrock destabilization, and the resultant negative health consequences from items on this lengthy list.

The Green Party of the Albuquerque Metropolitan Area (GPAMA) serves Sandoval, Bernalillo, Torrance, and Valencia Counties. GPAMA strongly recommends denial of the Zone Map amendment request ZNCH-15-003 and encourages residents of Sandoval County to voice their opposition to the request.

References:

https://journalistsresource.org/studies/environment/energy/fracking-shale-gas-health-effects-research-roundup

https://journalistsresource.org/studies/environment/energy/fracking-groundwater-poison-shale-gas-oil

http://www.environmentamerica.org/sites/environment/files/reports/EA_FrackingNumbers_scrn.pdf

 

There’s that sign again.

Banner and Bummer

First, take note of the last photo affiliated with this story.  That is the GP banner popping up at various protests, marches, and rallies in the metro area.  Second, recognize the antagonism between the governor of one corporate party and the state legislature, both houses with majorities of the other corporate party, unveiled in the article.  That is the other sign to note:  a putative two-party system that leads to bickering instead of co-operation.  Minor parties can lead the way to more representative governance.  If no party holds a strong enough majority, it is forced to work with other parties to get the work of governing done.  The breadth of the populace getting representation is greater.  Alliances may change from one issue to another, but more meaningful dialogue may occur and reinforce the notion of service in public service.  In a two-party system, the corporate parties simply take their turns at the trough.  The Green Party is the party for people, planet, and peace.

Green Party Caucuses

Hello Greens.  The Green Party of the United States is a federation of state parties.  Participation at the national level, as a member of the National Committee or one of the many standing committees, requires approval by one’s state party.  The identity caucuses, however, do not.  The Women’s Caucus, the Black Caucus, the Latinx Caucus, the Lavender Caucus, and the Youth Caucus all exist to assure that the Green Party is diverse and hears historically underrepresented voices.

If you are so inclined, learn more about these opportunities to participate in the Green Party.

Having Our Say

Here are two examples of Greens speaking (or writing) to people and to power.  The first is an excerpt from the guest column by B. Burris written late last year for the Albuquerque Journal.

Neoconservatives and the military-industrial complex are eagerly supporting Clinton over Trump in anticipation of a return to the more aggressive foreign policy orientation of George W. Bush.

Some say, “Well, we have to vote for the lesser of the two evils.” I myself have voted in this way much of my life. However, although lesser-evil voting seems to make sense in the short run, when one looks at the effect over time, its problems become clear.

Repeatedly voting for the perceived lesser evil lowers standards and creates a “race to the bottom.” By voting for candidates who do not share our values just because they seem better than the opposing candidate, we have given carte blanche to party elites to choose the nominee. As a result, both parties have moved to the right in recent decades: the Republicans to the far right and the Democrats to the center right. Both parties are increasingly influenced by corporate donors and the military-industrial complex.

I have decided to say “enough is enough” and reject both of the corrupt and undemocratic political parties.

I am working with others to build a progressive alternative by supporting the Green Party and their presidential ticket of Jill Stein and Ajamu Baraka. The Green Party is an international party with parties in almost 90 countries.

Green parties have been particularly influential in Western Europe and Scandinavia, where they work for environmental and social democratic policies. The German Green Party, founded in 1980, has participated in coalition governments for many years.

Green parties have been at the forefront of raising environmental concerns and addressing climate change, but they also prioritize social justice, grass-roots democracy and nonviolence/peace. To learn more about Green party politics, you can find its U.S. platform at gp.org/platform. It is a detailed and excellent platform.

Whomever you vote for on Nov. 8, I would encourage you to vote based on your values rather than your fears. The more that we vote out of fear, the more fearful our world becomes. The more that we disregard our values, the more corrupt and amoral our society becomes. Vote not for the lesser evil but rather for the greater good.

The following image is the recently published letter by P. Rogers taking on the state legislature for failing to curb predatory lenders.

pred_lend