Brown: Clearing the air on people, issues hit by Trump’s EPA cuts


Frank Lagunas, a chemist with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (right with bullhorn) speaks at a recent protest rally over proposed federal budget cuts. Photo supplied.

Mark Brown@MarkBrownCST | email

The 1,000 or so employees of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency who cover a six-state region from Chicago may epitomize the faceless, nameless federal bureaucracy.

Few of us come in contact with them in their daily work or understand what they do, which doesn’t make that work any less important.

That’s why I sat down with four of those employees last week to put a face on the agency that President Donald Trump’s administration is looking to dismantle.

Felicia Chase, 39, is a geologist who has worked at the EPA for nine years, currently in water quality enforcement. It’s her job to ensure local communities take steps to prevent stormwater and sewage discharges from polluting local rivers and streams.


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Fukushima Nightmare is Far From Over — Radiation Levels Have Just Hit a Record High


Fukushima Nightmare is Far From Over — Radiation Levels Have Just Hit a Record High

By Carolanne Wright

Contributing writer for Wake Up World

When the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in Japan suffered a triple meltdown in 2011, people around the world were understandably in a panic about the environmental and health impact of the crisis. Throughout the following year, consistent reports of the disaster spread across newswires, shocking the public with the extent of the damage and ongoing radioactive contamination.

Even so, the situation gradually began to fade into the background as years passed and other news took center stage. But the problem of Fukushima hasn’t gone away. In fact, it’s become much more serious. In early February of this year, extremely high radiation levels recorded within the plant have brought us face-to-face with the reality that Fukushima continues to be a radioactive nightmare that threatens our environment, ecology and health for generations to come

A Continuing Environmental Catastrophe

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Michigan runs out of money pledged to cleanup

Michigan runs out of money pledged to cleanup

Lansing — Michigan has spent or obligated almost all of a dedicated source of funding needed to clean up and redevelop 7,000 polluted sites across the state, leaving lawmakers to question the Snyder administration on what, if any, plan there is to ask voters for permission to borrow more money.

A 1998 ballot measure authorized the state to issue $675 million in bonds for environmental protection along with waterfront and state park improvements. The money will dry up this year, and Republican Gov. Rick Snyder is proposing to shift nearly $15 million from another fund — one used to address 8,000 leaking underground fuel tanks — as a one-time “buffer” to continue the remediation of abandoned paper mills, foundries and other properties next year.

The proposal worries some legislators who already are upset about past raids on the tank cleanup fund, which is supported by a nearly 1-cent-a-gallon fee on gasoline and other petroleum products.

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Hazardous landfill, state inaction a toxic mix for Tennessee town

Hazardous landfill, state inaction a toxic mix for Tennessee town

Toxic waste, gusts of ammonia, small explosions and allegations of fraud are just some of the controversies surrounding a landfill next to a small town west of Nashville. Now the town’s residents are turning to the EPA for help.

CAMDEN, Tenn. – The first sign was a stifling ammonia smell that made pets and children sick.

Then, neighbors noticed a dusty residue on their cars. One woman drained her backyard pool after feeling a burning sensation when she swam.

In another incident, sounds of small explosions prompted the chief of police to rush to a scene to investigate a possible shooting or an exploding meth lab.  The noise turned out to be the combustion caused by heavy metals mixing with moisture after being dumped at the 42-acre Environmental Waste Solutions landfill.

Local officials say the EWS landfill is a threat to the 3,500 residents of this rural community about 90 miles west of Nashville. But after years of complaints and unsuccessful legal challenges since it opened in 2010, they say they cannot get state regulators to help.

Instead, officials with the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation have approved more than a dozen requests for “special wastes” – defined as “either difficult or dangerous to manage” – to be deposited in the landfill that was originally granted a permit to accept shredded tires and demolition waste. With TDEC approval, the landfill has taken in “special waste” from aluminum, coal and railroad industries, along with diesel fuel from a Superfund site.

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