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Here’s something we can do to head off Fracking in West Virginia (and elsewhere)…

I received this e-mail today from  Josh Fox at Gasland. I hope you will read it and follow his suggestions.:

Dear Friends:

I want to call your attention to some critical news and ask you to quickly take action:

FIRST: USDA GATE!!!

BREAKING NEWS: USDA Reverses Itself and Exempts Rural Properties with Gas Drilling Leases from NEPA

ACTION:  Call President Obama and tell him:

“Please do not allow the USDA to exempt housing loans from a full NEPA review.”

White House Phone numbers:  202-456-1111 and 202-456-1414

Here’s the background and the reasons why you should call:

In a move that has angered hydrofracking opponents, the USDA did an about-face and reneged on earlier statements that its popular rural housing loans on properties with gas drilling leases would have to comply with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), and today authorized an Administrative Notice stating that rural housing loans would be excluded from NEPA.  On Monday, The New York Times had reported the USDA was planning on issuing an Administrative Notice to the opposite effect, telling staff that loans on properties with gas leases must undergo a full environmental review as required by NEPA before mortgage loans are made or guaranteed by the agency.

“The proposal by the Agriculture Department, which has signaled its intention in e-mails to Congress and landowners, reflects a growing concern that lending to owners of properties with drilling leases might violate the National Environmental Policy Act, known as NEPA, which requires environmental reviews before federal money is spent,” the Times wrote.   The article quoted the program director for rural loans in the Agriculture Department’s New York office saying that, “We will no longer be financing homes with gas leases.”   “Approval of such leases would allow for a number of potential impacts to possibly occur which would need to be analyzed in a NEPA document that would be reviewed by the public for sufficiency,” another USDA official was quoted as saying.

See the full New York Times article HERE.

But in an email statement yesterday, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack reversed those positions and said, “USDA will not make any policy changes related to rural housing loans…The information provided to Congressional offices on March 8, 2012 was premature and does not reflect past, current or future practices of the department.   Tomorrow, I will authorize an Administrative Notice reaffirming that rural housing loans are categorically excluded under the National Environmental Policy Act.”

Friends, this is a very important development and one that we need to speak up about.  A full NEPA review, like the type the agency was talking about affirming, would have been more transparent, more rigorous and comprehensive.  USDA staff experts in the NY office as well as in DC made clear in emails that the law and the science require that mortgages with drilling leases shouldn’t be exempt from NEPA.   This 180-degress turn by Secretary Vilsack contradicts both science and law.

Excluding NEPA review of fracking’s environmental impacts is a significant move.  It means that environmental review of rural housing loans would be limited to the EPA‘s far less comprehensive national study of fracking, which is focused exclusively on drinking water and does not admit public comment.   Doing a NEPA analysis would have ensured that federal agencies issuing loans are complying with the law.  In fact, officials expressed concern the agency would be vulnerable to lawsuits if they didn’t conduct the NEPA reviews thoroughly enough.  But exempting rural housing loans from NEPA means that gas drilling leases will also be exempt from legal recourse and other basic public interest protections the law was meant to provide.  It also means that when property values drop precipitously due to contamination from gas drilling, sometimes to as low as 10% of their original value as we’ve seen in Pennsylvania, the American Taxpayer is going to be left holding the bag.   

Not only is this is unlawful, it’s just not right.

Call President Obama and tell him:

“Please do not allow the USDA to exempt housing loans from a full NEPA review.”

White House Phone numbers:  202-456-1111 and 202-456-1414

SECOND: EPA VINDICATES DIMOCK FAMILIES!!!

BREAKING NEWS: EPA confirms Dimock water is unsafe.  The Gasland team and I provided Pro-Publica with the unreleased water tests.  The families in Dimock, PA have high to explosive levels of methane as well as chemicals known to cause cancer and heavy metals that exceed the agency’s “trigger level” in their water wells.  The families have been vindicated.  Science triumphs over spin.

Please read the full Pro-Publica story HERE.

Thanks for taking action and being a part of a profound movement to stop fracking!

–Josh

The USDA seems to be in the pocket of the gas companies. It should be the representative organization of the American rural citizenship.

As Josh says: “Science triumphs over spin.”

Suppose you were killing weeds in your garden and producing birth defects, too.

Monsanto‘s Roundup, which has been associated with deformities in a host of laboratory animals, may have a similar impact on humans.. One laboratory study done in France in 2005 found that Roundup and glyphosate caused the death of human placental cells and abnormal embryonic cells. Another study, conducted in 2009, found that Roundup caused total cell death in human umbilical, embryonic and placental cells within 24 hours. Yet researchers have conducted few follow-up studies.

“Obviously there’s a limit to what’s appropriate in terms of testing poison on humans, but if you look at the line of converging evidence, it points to a serious problem. And if you look at the animal feeding studies with genetically modified Roundup ready crops, there’s a consistent theme of reproductive disorders, which we don’t know the cause for because follow-up studies have not been done.

“More independent research is needed to evaluate the toxicity of Roundup and glyphosate and the evidence that has already accumulated is sufficient to raise a red flag.”

– Jeffrey Smith, executive director of the Institute for Responsible Technology

We have been critical of Monsanto for soft-peddling Roundup, as have members of the scientific community. In 1996 New York State’s Attorney General sued Monsanto for describing Roundup as “environmentally friendly” and “safe as table salt” (although I don’t think anyone from Monsanto would sprinkle Roundup on their spaghetti.) Monsanto, while not admitting any wrongdoing, agreed to stop using the terms for promotional purposes and paid New York state $250,000 to settle the suit.

Roundup Ready seeds are now proliferating 80 % or more of the seed market (if you don’t believe me try purchasing a heritage corn seed at any major supplier like Home Depot or Lowe’s. While they are occasionally there, most products are Monsanto GMO seeds that are Roundup Ready.) Driving by fields and fields of weed-free Roundup Ready corn yesterday, I rolled up my car windows so as not to breathe in any of this crap.

If you want to track the GPA‘s review of glyphosphate, go HERE. BTW, this is the same EPA that the Republicans want to have defunded. I wonder who is getting most of the contributions from Monsanto?

If You buy ROUND UP you are helping to build Monsanto’s income while destroying our agriculture.

I’m going to print an article in the morning’s HuffPo intact. I suggest you read it AND go to all the links involved AND to most of their links. What you will discover is that there is a worldwide problem, both in providing us with increased birth defects and dreadful diseases as about ten major chemical companies, with Monsanto in the lead, spreads its poison around the world.

—–

 

Roundup Birth Defects: Regulators Knew World’s Best-Selling Herbicide Causes Problems, New Report Finds

by Lucia Graves at HuffPo

WASHINGTON — Industry regulators have known for years that Roundup, the world’s best-selling herbicide produced by U.S. company Monsanto, causes birth defects, according to a new report released Tuesday.

The report, “Roundup and birth defects: Is the public being kept in the dark?” found regulators knew as long ago as 1980 that glyphosate, the chemical on which Roundup is based, can cause birth defects in laboratory animals.

But despite such warnings, and although the European Commission has known that glyphosate causes malformations since at least 2002, the information was not made public.

Instead regulators misled the public about glyphosate’s safety, according to the report, and as recently as last year, the German Federal Office for Consumer Protection and Food Safety, the German government body dealing with the glyphosate review, told the European Commission that there was no evidence glyphosate causes birth defects.

The report comes months after researchers found that genetically-modified crops used in conjunction Roundup contain a pathogen that may cause animal miscarriages. After observing the newly discovered organism back in February, Don Huber, a emeritus professor at Purdue University, wrote an open letter to Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack requesting a moratorium on deregulating crops genetically altered to be immune to Roundup, which are commonly called Roundup Ready crops.

In the letter, Huber also commented on the herbicide itself, saying: “It is well-documented that glyphosate promotes soil pathogens and is already implicated with the increase of more than 40 plant diseases; it dismantles plant defenses by chelating vital nutrients; and it reduces the bioavailability of nutrients in feed, which in turn can cause animal disorders.”

Although glyphosate was originally due to be reviewed in 2012, the Commission decided late last year not to bring the review forward, instead delaying it until 2015. The chemical will not be reviewed under more stringent, up-to-date standards until 2030.

One of the things you will discover as you tour the links (and their links) are facts like Monsanto’s GMO corn seed (which accounts for 83% of our corn crop) is registered by the EPA as an “insecticide” due to chemical contents built into the seed. I don’t know if I have ever thought of a vegetable or grain as an “insecticide”— certainly a good reason for growing organic.

In another article in HuffPo a month ago there was this finding:

“Recent research claims that Monsanto’s Roundup Ready genetically modified crops contain an organism, previously unknown to science, that can cause miscarriages in farm animals.”

It doesn’t look like any research was followed by the previous findings into whether this caused similar miscarriages in humans. As the Washington Post commented on Monsanto’s “Roundup Ready Seeds (RRS) that are spreading throughout our Nation’s agriculture:

 

“You can’t recall them the way you can a car or a plastic toy. They’re out there for good. And no one knows what their full impact will be.”

Will have more to come on this topic… meanwhile, I’m getting back to the all-organic Shepherdstown Community Garden (where we are finding that it is quite a hard task to avoid the chemical subjugation of growing things.)