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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The March for Water

wsci_01_img0139On March 22, local environmental groups Anahuak and Urban Semillas will convene the March for Water as part of International World Water Day.  Environmental leaders Raul Macias and Miguel Luna are behind the effort to bring attention to our local, state and international water supply-crisis.

Given Miguel and Raul’s initiative and drive, I expect thousands of marchers along the 5 km route from Los Angeles State Historic Park to Taylor Yards along the Los Angeles River. (Organizers note that 5km is actually 1km less than the average distance that an Asian or African woman typically travels to gather water in an undeveloped setting.)

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Something Fishy

Will eating more California fish really make you more healthy?

Will eating more California fish really make you more healthy? Photo: Curt Degler

The California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Evaluation (OEHHA) has decided that you need to eat more fish, no matter what the health consequences. The state now says that the solution to our obesity and heart disease epidemics isn’t eating fewer In-N-Out double doubles, but to consume more sport fish caught off the shores of California. Don’t worry that many species are riddled with harmful chemicals. And don’t be troubled by the fact that factory fishing has led to the collapse of most major fishery stocks. We can always lean on fish farms and our remaining struggling fisheries to put fish on the table.

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Environmental Bill of Rights

I consulted with a number of environmental leaders in the community to devise an Environmental Bill of Rights for residents in the City of Los Angeles. Most of the rights are applicable to all local communities and has been sent to a number of elected officials, with the hope that they can serve as a catalyst for a sustainable city plan for Los Angeles. I hope everyone uses the bill of rights as a tool to advocate for a more sustainable community that protects the rights of all people and nature.

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