A Religious Awakening

Justice delayed is justice denied.

I’ve been going to temple since I was 3 years old. Although our family is very involved in the University Synagogue community, I’m certainly not a devout and strongly observant Jew. In fact, I always felt more Jewish by culture (lots of meals at Junior’s, Canters and Zucky’s growing up) than by faith.

I’ve always been struck by the fact that so much of the local environmental leadership is Jewish (Andy Lipkis, Felicia Marcus, David Nahai, Adi Liberman,  Fran Diamond, Madelyn Glickfeld, the late Dorothy Green, Sara Wan, David Beckman, Laurie David, and so many more). Clearly, the importance of social action in the community means a lot more than Tikkun Olam and Tu Bishvat.

Yet personally, the environmental ethics and priorities of the local Jewish community has never strongly influenced or impressed me. Until recently.

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Day and Night

EPA chief Lisa Jackson tests water in Compton Creek.

Wednesday was a rewarding whirlwind: An extraordinary afternoon in the Compton Creek, a stimulating evening roundtable at the Skirball, and an after-hours meal in Venice. 

A few weeks ago, the federal Environmental Protection Agency reached out to Heal the Bay to let us know that chief Lisa Jackson would be visiting the L.A. area and that she wanted to visit Compton Creek.

Heal the Bay contacted Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas’ office and the Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority to set up a tour for Jackson at Compton Creek. The agreed-upon plan was to announce the long-anticipated purchase of the four-acre soft-bottomed section of Compton Creek and a request to Jackson for federal assistance to develop a flood-control improvement plan based on a low-impact development approach rather than raising the walls on the river.

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Emergency Urgency

EPA chief Lisa Jackson should be leading the cleanup effort.

The Gulf oil crisis continues to grow with no end in sight. The numbers are staggering:  more than 1,000 dead birds, another 300 or so dead sea turtles, more than 85,000 square miles of Gulf closed to fishing, 150 miles of coast and wetland soiled with oil, 40 million to 80 million gallons of oil wreaking havoc on the Gulf ecosystem and well over $5 billion in liability for BP and the gang. Inexplicably, blame for the ongoing blowout has stuck to President Obama like crude on a pelican’s wings. It isn’t fair, but the consequence is still potentially devastating.

A few words of advice for the administration from a member of the environmental peanut gallery:

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Fish Justice

Heal the Bay's Angler Outreach team. The program has educated over 80,000 anglers over the past 8 years on the health risks of eating contaminated fish. Image:Heal the Bay

Usually, we hear about the need for Environmental Justice because of the health tragedies that were allowed to get out of control. Asthma rates near the ports. Cancer Alley along the lower Mississippi. Pesticide-induced Cancer clusters near Macfarland and now, the cleft palate cluster near Kettleman Hills’ Hazardous Waste Facility. Rarely does the public hear about an Environmental Justice win, without the associated, demonstrated environmental health tragedy.

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Ground Control to Guy

Poetic Social Mission: Behind the Webcast in Mumbai

Poetic Social Mission: Behind the Webcast in Mumbai

Today’s guest blogger is Refugio Mata, Inland Outreach Coordinator at Heal the Bay

On the heel’s of NASA’s “bombing” of the moon, another event was beamed to earth from space. The two events had nothing to do with one another, but together they turned eyes heavenward. Continue reading

Fishing for Compliments

Heal the Bay's Oralla, center, with other honorees

Heal the Bay's Orrala, center, with other honorees

The U.S. Environmental Protections Agency recently honored the Palos Verdes Shelf Fish Contamination Education Collaborative by awarding the group its National Citizen Excellence in Community Involvement Award.  Heal the Bay has been a member of the collaborative since its inception and our Pier Outreach Program has been one of the cornerstones of the effort to educate fish consumers in the Southland about the health risks of consuming DDT- and PCB-contaminated fish. The Pier Outreach Education Program, led by HtB staffers Frankie Orrala and James Alamillo, has educated more than 70,000 anglers at piers and jetties from Santa Monica to Long Beach on contaminated fish issues since 2002.

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A Real Beach Bummer

Sewage has closed Tel Aviv beaches for 60 days in a row

Sewage has closed Tel Aviv beaches for 60 days

Imagine this scenario. An old sewer line ruptures because tons of garbage gets piled on top of the ground above it. The sewer spews over 1 million gallons per day into the nearby river. As a result, the health agency closes miles of popular beaches to protect the public.

The closure continues for days, weeks and on to two months, yet no one repairs the broken sewer line despite the constant media attention and the outcry from beach-dependent businesses.

 It may sound a bit like L.A. in the early 1980s, but this is Tel Aviv today.

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