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Today, doctors, nurses, and other public health experts joined Environment America, Environment Michigan, and the Sierra Club to release a letter signed by more than 400 health professionals, calling on Ford Motor Company to support federal clean car standards and shift to 100% zero-emission vehicles to protect our health.
The passionate support from leading health experts is in response to the auto industry lobbying the Trump administration to rollback clean car standards. When fully implemented, existing clean car standards are set to save 6 billion metric tons of dangerous global warming pollution and cut US oil use by 12 billion barrels.
"Ford is fighting to eliminate the standards that we know are working and are improving the health of our families and communities," said Nathan Murphy, Environment Michigan State Director. "It's the wrong path for Michigan and America."
According to the 2016 Climate and Health Assessment--a project of more than 100 public health experts and climate scientists--climate change poses a significant health risk to every American. Whether you're a child, elderly, or in between, the report says climate change will exacerbate current health threats and create new challenges.
Dr. Bruce Bekkar, an OB/GYN, explained, "If we don't bring climate change and air pollution under control, we're risking the well-being of not just the most vulnerable among us, but the very lives of an entire generation of U.S. children, from birth onwards."
"Air pollution accounts for an estimated 690 premature deaths and 1800 hospitalizations each year in the Detroit Metropolitan Area alone, at an estimated cost of $6.9 billion," said Dr. Amy Schulz, from the University of Michigan School of Public Health.
"Tailpipe pollution is a well-documented cause of serious health problems, many of which impact Detroit residents disproportionately. Rolling back or weakening the Clean Car Standards will create more health problems in Michigan and could even cost lives. We need to celebrate, support and strengthen the Clean Car Standards and not threaten them by weakening these safeguards." said Kindra Weid, a registered nurse and the Coalition Coordinator for Michigan Air, Michigan Health.
"We all want to breathe clean air, but it is especially important for people with lung conditions like asthma and for people at the ends of the age spectrum - for kids and for the elderly. Vehicle emissions have a known and measurable impact on health," added Dr. Toby Lewis, Associate Professor of Pediatric Pulmonology at the University of Michigan. "Implementing strategies that reduce or eliminate harmful vehicle emissions can make a real difference in how we breathe and our ability to lead healthy lives."
"We cannot allow Ford and Scott Pruitt to put our clean car standards in reverse," said Erica Dodt, Organizing Representative with the Sierra Club. "These widely-supported standards are driving our country's largest-ever effort to reduce pollution and we must put them in the fast lane as we move towards cleaner air in our communities."
Nurse Kathleen Slonager, Executive Director of the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, Michigan Chapter, explained: "We must not roll back the standards for clean air. We actually need to strengthen these policies. We have a real opportunity to pave the way for a cleaner energy future that reduces pollution and gives us cleaner and healthier air. By transitioning to clean, renewable energy and reducing energy waste, we can reduce the dangerous pollution that is linked to heart and lung disease."
"The Clean Car Standards are achievable and working, and we need to keep them moving forward, not backwards. Here in Michigan, Ford has the ability to build cleaner cars and the tools to give Americans cleaner choices for getting from point A to point B," Murphy concluded. "We're calling on Ford to support the clean car standards and steer us towards a cleaner, greener, healthier future."
With Environment America, you protect the places that all of us love and promote core environmental values, such as clean air to breathe, clean water to drink, and clean energy to power our lives. We're a national network of 29 state environmental groups with members and supporters in every state. Together, we focus on timely, targeted action that wins tangible improvements in the quality of our environment and our lives.(303) 801-0581
"As long as non-human primates are used in scientific experiments, we are morally obligated to provide them with sufficient social conditions that ensure their emotional wellbeing," one researcher argued.
Hundreds of scientists, doctors, and academics from around the world—including renowned primatologist Jane Goodall—on Wednesday urged the U.S. National Institutes of Health to review and ultimately end funding for "cruel experiments" on non-human primates at Harvard University.
In a letter led by Harvard Law School's Animal Law & Policy Clinic and the Wild Minds Lab at the University of St. Andrews School of Psychology and Neuroscience in the United Kingdom, 380 signatories urge senior National Institutes of Health officials to "review the protocols and justifications" related to the "funding of unethical experiments on macaque monkeys and other non-human primates taking place at Harvard Medical School."
\u201cBreaking: More than 380 scientists, including Jane Goodall, Ian Redmond and Richard Wrangham, join the Animal Law & Policy Clinic @Harvard_Law and the Wild Minds Lab @univofstandrews in calling on @NIH to stop funding cruel monkey experiments @harvardmed.\n\nhttps://t.co/i89Y1aA4ki\u201d— Harvard Animal Law (@Harvard Animal Law) 1675873266
As the letter details:
An NIH-funded Harvard Medical School lab run by neurobiologist Dr. Margaret S. Livingstone has used infant macaque monkeys to study visual recognition by depriving them of the ability to see faces, either by sewing their eyes shut or by requiring staff to wear welders’ masks around them. In some cases, the lab implants electrode arrays into the monkeys' brains.
By design, these experiments require maternal deprivation—a fact that drew the ire of scientists last fall, when Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) published an Inaugural Article by Dr. Livingstone entitled Triggers for Mother Love. The article describes the lab's practice of taking infant macaques from their mothers shortly after birth and attempting to appease the mothers' distress by giving them plush toys as "surrogate infants."
"As a primatologist with decades of experience in the field, I can say with complete confidence that we know that infant primates and their mothers suffer greatly when they are separated. We also know that depriving infants of the ability to see faces will have adverse impacts on their brain and eye development," Richard Wrangham, an anthropologist and primatologist at Harvard, said in a statement.
"Taking infant monkeys from their mothers to use in invasive brain experiments could only be justified by expectations of extraordinarily important benefits for the monkeys themselves, or for humans," he added. "Because that high ethical bar has not been met, I see no legitimate need for any such research."
"These studies fail on both scientific and ethical grounds."
Catherine Hobaiter, the principal investigator at Wild Minds Lab, asserted that "these studies fail on both scientific and ethical grounds."
"The doublethink argument that maternally separated individuals represent appropriate models for conditions such as anxiety, while arguing these methods do not cause significant distress, is fundamentally flawed," she said. "Our fundamental role as scientists is to update, refine, and redefine our understanding of the world around us. Doing so must include not only our theoretical positions, but our ethical responsibility to the animals we have given no choice in becoming our subjects of study."
Gal Badihi, a graduate research student at Wild Minds Lab, argued that "as long as non-human primates are used in scientific experiments, we are morally obligated to provide them with sufficient social conditions that ensure their emotional wellbeing."
"This is not only an ethical requirement," Badihi added, "but essential for research validity and integrity."
"The energy sector should be looking to the future of justly sourced renewable energy, not pushing outdated technology that exploits people and the planet."
More than a dozen groups intervened in a case in Wyoming on Wednesday to defend the Biden administration's decision to postpone the sale of oil and gas leases in the state, arguing that numerous court ruling and settled laws have affirmed the U.S. Interior Department is free to determine when such sales will go forward—or whether they will at all.
The legal groups Earthjustice and the Western Environmental Law Center are representing 17 national and local groups in the case, in which the state of Wyoming and two industry trade groups sued the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) in December over its postponement of sales that had been planned for 2021 and 2022.
The BLM currently has several sales scheduled for 2023, covering nearly half a million acres, but as Friends of the Earth (FOE) said in a press statement Wednesday, the groups "want the court to order the Department of the Interior (DOI) and the BLM to hold lease sales every three months across the West"—despite warnings from energy experts and scientists that fossil fuel extraction must be phased out in order to avoid the worst effects of the climate emergency.
"Today's filing demonstrates that we refuse to sit back and allow Big Oil to push for policies that perpetuate dirty energy," said Hallie Templeton, legal director for FOE. "The law is crystal clear: the federal government holds broad authority over whether, when, and how to lease public lands for oil and gas development. The energy sector should be looking to the future of justly sourced renewable energy, not pushing outdated technology that exploits people and the planet."
FOE is joined by groups including the Sierra Club, the Wilderness Society, Citizens for a Health Community, and the Western Organization of Resource Councils in defending the Biden administration's decision.
A U.S. District Court ruling in Wyoming in September 2022 affirmed that the administration can postpone the sales, and the U.S. Supreme Court has also ruled that the agencies "have broad discretion to determine the timing and scope of lease sales, including not holding them at all," FOE said in the press statement.
\u201cNEWS RELEASE: Conservation groups to defend @POTUS administration postponement of oil, gas lease sales. Again.\n\nWe won this case last year, too.\n\nhttps://t.co/pN5NO55VgM @Earthjustice @Wilderness @foe_us @CenterForBioDiv @MTEIC @PRBResCouncil @NPCA @WildernessWork @SierraClub\u201d— Western Environmental Law Center (@Western Environmental Law Center) 1675882076
Bob LeResche, a Powder River Basin Resource Council board member and chair of the Western Organization of Resource Councils, noted that the industry has already "stockpiled" more than 9,000 approved federal drilling permits.
"Forcing Interior to lease without fully weighing public impacts is industry’s attempt to continue looting public resources by accumulating excess leases at bargain basement prices," said LeResche. "The industry could continue drilling and producing as normal for decades even with no new leases."
The postponement represents a correction of BLM's longtime practice of "blindly" leasing public lands for oil and gas drilling "without actually understanding the impacts of development," said Peter Hart, an attorney with Wilderness Workshop.
"Now the agency is working to reevaluate its oil and gas management and to assess impacts, like those that new development will have on the climate," he added. "It just makes sense to pause new leasing until the program is brought into this century, and it is well within the agency’s authority."
In response to organizing efforts, "the $122 billion-dollar corporation has fought their workers every step of the way, including refusing to bargain a first contract in good faith, delay tactics, and a significant escalation in union-busting."
Independent Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont on Tuesday invited Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz to testify about the coffee giant's "lack of compliance with federal labor laws."
All 10 Democratic members of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) joined Sanders, who chairs the panel, in inviting Schultz to a hearing scheduled for March 9.
The letter—signed by Sanders and Sens. Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Bob Casey (D-Pa.), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), Tim Kaine (D-Va.), Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.), Tina Smith (D-Minn.), Ben Ray Luján (D-N.M.), John Hickenlooper (D-Colo.), and Ed Markey (D-Mass.)—gives Schultz until February 14 to confirm his attendance at the hearing.
"We greatly appreciate your assistance to the HELP Committee," the lawmakers told Schultz, whose wealth increased by $800 million during the pandemic to nearly $4 billion.
\u201cToday, I joined with my Democratic colleagues on the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee to invite Starbucks CEO @HowardSchultz to testify at a hearing on his company's labor practices.\u201d— Bernie Sanders (@Bernie Sanders) 1675884960
Since December 2021, when baristas in Buffalo made history by forming the first unionized Starbucks in the United States, workers at nearly 280 of the coffee chain's locations nationwide have voted to unionize. Organizers have won more than 80% of their campaigns despite the company's unlawful intimidation and retaliation tactics.
In response to mounting demands for better wages, benefits, and conditions, "the $122 billion-dollar corporation has fought their workers every step of the way, including refusing to bargain a first contract in good faith, delay tactics, and a significant escalation in union-busting," Sanders' office noted in a statement.
"There have been 500 unfair labor practice cases filed against Starbucks and its affiliates," the statement continued. "The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has issued 75 complaints in response to those charges and has sought emergency preliminary injunctive relief in five cases in the federal courts."
"Sanders has sent three letters to Schultz in the last year calling on the CEO to end the egregious union-busting campaign the company has deployed against its own workers," the Vermont Independent's office added. "Schultz has not yet responded to or provided the documents requested in the most recent letter Sanders sent in January 2023."