2007 ENVIRONMENTAL JUSTICE AND AIR POLLUTION WORKSHOP (9/8/07)
The 2007 Environmental Justice and Air Pollution Workshop: Best practices in Collaboration, Tools, and Resources was held at the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Region IX, 75 Hawthorne Plaza, in downtown San Francisco.
The workshop was divided into two groups - the first dealt with issues linked to a Collaborative Track and the second Tools and Resources.
I picked the best and attended both workshops and found the Tools and Resources workshop to better fit the work that I am involved with on the local, national, and international level.
I really did not know about this unique workshop that the organizers take over a year to put together. Because of circumstances at the Hunters Point Shipyard and more with Lennar Corporation's adverse impacts - two officials came to the Bayview Hunters Point. I made their acquaintance and one thing led to another and I was graciously allowed to participate at this workshop.
On the first day some protestors from the Bay Area signed in to join the workshops and took control of the welcome and plenary session - leaving a very sour taste on everyone present. I hope such nonsense never, ever takes place again.
Such fools - far from achieving anything betray their ignorance and in doing so bring shame on all those hard working advocates that have to deal with all local, state, and federal enforcement and policy making entities.
As the workshops went on throughout the first day - the participants moved on - making progress. Around 1 p.m. no one from the group protesting was found at either workshop. This was true till the end of the workshop on the first day. On the second day none of the protestors attended - further damaging their cause and stating to everyone decent and discerning the ignorance and arrogance of a few misinformed and haughty misfits that go parading as if they know something about advocacy and less about the true environmental movement. Time will tell.
The in thing in today's world is Air Pollution. We also have Climate Change and Global Warming all pleading and begging for attention. A couple of degrees in climate change can create drastic scenarios that can devastate large areas. Huge burst of explosions - a hundred times more powerful then an average atomic bomb can kill thousands and leave millions without homes and necessary facilities. Bring life and good living to a halt.
In recent weeks we have seen two hurricanes hit land in various places at the same times. We see large masses of icebergs melt and we have seen a rise in the oceans all over the world. Drought and wild fires have adversely impacted millions all over the world. I saw this during my recent trip to Melbourne, Australia.
Permanent micro-climates in remote places like Mount Kilimanjaro, in Tibet, far high and up the mountains of Peru and Argentina - point to melting of the permanent and lasting snow caps and drastic change in the climate - bring great harm to agriculture, live stock, and living.
This workshop did not take the time to address the above. But, for sure in the future water will be a commodity very sparse and telling that will affect human beings all over the world. An important aspect that affects climate change is pollution and we did not have one single expert to address this pertinent, critical, and very poignant subject.
More so, with the EPA making policy changes linked to particulates and pollution emissions at every level affecting millions in small villages, towns, and large cities, all over the United States of America and beyond. In today's world our pollution affects the whole world and we learn this dramatically when the Chernobyl incident took place. We learn this when there are very large fires in one part of the world. Our Nation high pollution emissions have affected others, all over the world.
Two years ago - right here in San Francisco I testified and look forward to the new progressive standards governing - particulates and the adverse impacts on all living beings. A change that will in many areas permit those with breathing problems and other ailments - get some long delayed reprieve and bring about a healing, long over due.
The Environmental Protect Agency (EPA) in recent years has failed America in a big way. We saw this clearly when 9/11 took places and thousands of innocent workers were exposed to toxic dust and among them Asbestos friables. The White House initiated memoranda to suppress the true information and in doing so betrayed millions of Americans. It did this to keep Wall Street from moving while harming innocent human beings. It put money before human beings and failed us all for eternity. It betrayed the human faith we put in the White House and those that live in that so called august building built by Blacks.
The EPA has much to learn but this workshop should have spent months in gathering sound information. Information sent out to Community Based Organizations that should have been permitted to express their desire to attend such a workshop and contribute to this great Nation.
A mechanism should have been put in place to bring the best minds from the community to work with the EPA so that together we all could travel to a better place.
At this workshop leading colleges and universities could have been given an opportunity to bring their ideas and aspirations to this workshop. Lacking was any sound input from the youth and those young enough to contribute to Society and this world.
A couple of panelists bragged too much about themselves. Some times projecting their egos and killing the message all together. The East Coast and Mid-America and the West Coast and the other regions all have a rainbow of issues. A common denominator is Air Pollution. We had a golden opportunity to bring to the fore these issues - come out with solutions tied to genuine case histories that could evolve moving to the next workshop. There was no such mechanism in place because the emphasis was placed on antiquated models of workshop that are Smithsonian to say the least. The issue of jurisdiction, policy making, adjudication, and solution finding, and stakeholder ship, national and international cooperation should be our goal to bring a healing, mitigation, and abatement on various fronts linked to Air Pollution and the many adverse impacts. Not one session dealt with this subject or issue in a holistic manner.
The First People present stated many times they were shafted by the EPA. The fact is that the First People the Native Americans of this Nation have been shafted by local, state, and national enforcement entities. We must learn before it is too late to respect those that taught the wise how to respect Mother Earth.
We are on this Earth as caretakers and when we leave this Earth we must leave it a better place. As one - that represents the First People of San Francisco the Muwekma Ohlone - I stated to all that I welcome the guests and I cajoled them to take our vision to make this Earth healthy to a better place. Anything short of that will bring our demise sooner not later.
The Earth will remain, heal itself and deal with those entities that - survive. If they are smart they will not repeat the mistakes of frail human beings - many wicked in their ways and defiant enough to bring harm to millions.
The organizers took over one year to put this workshop together and reviewing just the basic model of this workshop - not knowing the facts they did well to bring about change and offer the best the next time around.
Many came to me when I offered my sincere remarks some words rocked the boat. My words come after much pondering, careful thinking, and always discerning. Good leaders know the way, show the way, and go the way. Federal workers should no longer fail to not think about solutions, holistic solutions, and offer help, advice, and support where they can within the laws and policies of fair practice to those they work for.
Managers should encourage those under them to participate and encourage the talented to share their wealth of experience and good will. After all the tax payers pay their salaries and America as a whole stands to benefit.
While some shy away from issues spiritual I was bold to state my convictions and many came to me and thanked me for my statements.
I hope - those that visited San Francisco and those that read this article take the best from the workshop and look and take kindly the suggestions I make. It is good to call a spade a spade because in today's world of Spin and Media - sugar coating is common - accountability, transparency, and good old American values are relegated to the back burner.
Greed, corruption, corporate machinations, political slight of hand, and other evil doings have harmed our children and our Elders. Mother Earth is weeping. There are decent Federal workers too many to mention, there are millions that are decent and hard working Americans and others that deserve the best. But some one, some where in great numbers must act.
The EPA will never be perfect, I am not perfect, and many projects in this world are NOT perfect. To move ahead we must open our hearts and be sincere. With bias thoughts and crooked deals behind close doors - we can easily do down the precipice and drown in a cesspool of abject misery.
With honest, hard work, and willingness to serve and support our constituents and fellow workers, striving to work with other amiable agencies we can and should bring progress. There is no such abject thing that those that do evil and cause harm can do it forever. In the end the TRUTH prevails.
It may take a Katrina to open our eyes. The Superfund sites all over this Nation to reveal our stupidity linked to pollution. The lack of monitoring and enforcement within many agencies to uphold Quality of Life Issues - on so many levels of living and building. The Truth takes time to reveal and manifests itself slowly but in the end the Truth sets one free and with it comes healing, hope and progress.