Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Ask Congress: co-sponsor PAW & FIN Conservation Act of 2019

The Trump administration has just gutted the Endangered Species Act (ESA)—one of America’s bedrock environmental laws—to benefit the fossil fuel industry and developers at the expense of imperiled plants and animals. Please ask Congress today to protect endangered wildlife.

The ESA has been one of the most effective environmental statutes in America, with 99 percent of species listed now on the path towards recovery. Many threatened and endangered species protected by the ESA—such as the grizzly bear, grey wolf, bull trout, Canada lynx, and desert tortoise—are found within America’s National Wilderness Preservation System.

The Trump administration’s ESA rollback comes on the heels of a United Nations report which warned that one million plant and animal species are on the verge of extinction world-wide due to over-development, habitat destruction, and climate change, with alarming implications for the natural world and human survival. 

According to our friends at the Endangered Species Coalition, the "Trump Extinction Plan" weakens the Endangered Species Act in three ways:
  1. It removes protections for any new species designated as "threatened." States could even open hunting and trapping seasons on threatened species unless explicitly prevented from doing so.
  2. Under the ESA, listing decisions must be based on science alone. This rule upends that.  It encourages policy-makers to deny protections to wildlife and plants if industry lobbyists perceive a potential economic cost.
  3. It reduces the agencies’ ability to protect habitat, despite habitat loss being the leading cause of extinction.

These changes are clearly designed to ram through pipeline, road, logging, drilling, and fracking projects at the expense of threatened and endangered wildlife!

Over our 30-year history, Wilderness Watch has relied on the ESA to help protect threatened and endangered species that use Wilderness for part or all of their range. One current example is our lawsuit to stop the killing of grizzly bears at bait stations used by some hunters to lure black bears on national forest lands in Idaho and Wyoming, an unethical practice that is unbelievably still allowed within designated Wilderness in Idaho.

Please take action to defend and strengthen the Endangered Species Act by urging your members of Congress to co-sponsor and support the PAW and FIN Conservation Act of 2019 (H.R. 4348 and S. 2491).

- Wilderness Watch 

Wednesday, November 6, 2019

Tell the House: Stop pregnancy discrimination in the workplace. Pass the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (H.R. 2694)

The petition to the House of Representatives reads:
"Stop pregnancy discrimination in the workplace. Pass the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (H.R. 2694)."
Add your name:
Sign the petition ►
Even though it's illegal for employers to discriminate against pregnant workers, they still do it all the time.The current laws make it difficult for workers to identify and prove pregnancy discrimination. That's why many employers, from law firms and tech companies to fast-food chains and retailers, continue to get away with mistreating and even firing pregnant employees.
The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act would change that by strengthening protections for pregnant workers. House Democrats re-introduced this bill a few months ago, but with several 2020 Democratic presidential candidates publicly backing the bill now, there is renewed energy to push it forward.2 Add your name to help keep the momentum going.
Being fired after an employer finds out you're pregnant is most common in lower-wage jobs. In fact, workers named employers in the retail, accommodation, food service and administrative services industries in the majority of pregnancy discrimination complaints filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.3
And that's not all. Low-wage pregnant workers also face dangerous health risks. One-fifth of pregnant workers hold low-wage jobs that require long periods of standing and continuous repetitive motion, which can trigger health consequences in pregnancy.4 Despite this, many employers, like Walmart, still refuse to give adequate accommodations such as a lighter workload or schedule adjustments to pregnant workers.5 That needs to stop now.
The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act would provide clearer guidance to employers and strengthen protections for workers. It would:6
  • Clarify that employers must make reasonable accommodations for pregnant workers and workers who just gave birth.
  • Require that employers work with employees to determine appropriate reasonable accommodations, similar to requirements set in the Americans with Disabilities Act.
  • Protect pregnant workers from retaliation, coercion, intimidation, threats or interference by employers if they request or use an accommodation.
  • Provide protections for both pregnant job applicants and employees.
Twenty-seven states have already passed similar legislation with support from both Democrats and Republicans. It's past time for Congress to follow their lead.
Tell Congress: Pass the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act. Click the link below to sign the petition:
- Nicole Regalado, CREDO Action
Add your name:
Sign the petition ►
  1. Bryce Covert, "The American Workplace Still Won’t Accommodate Pregnant Workers," The Nation, Aug. 12, 2019.
  2. Anna North, "Elizabeth Warren says she lost her job when she got pregnant. Thousands of women every year say the same." Vox, Oct. 9, 2019.
  3. Covert, "The American Workplace Still Won’t Accommodate Pregnant Workers."
  4. Ibid.
  5. Vanessa Romo, Federal Commission Sues Walmart For Alleged Discrimination Against Pregnant Employees," NPR, Sept. 21, 2018.
  6. Nation Partnership for Women & Families, "The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act," May 2019.

Tuesday, November 5, 2019

Tell the House: Pass the Climate Displaced Persons Act

The petition to the House of Representatives reads:
"The climate crisis is exasperating an already severe global humanitarian crisis. The United States is more than equipped to help resettle climate-displaced people. Pass the Climate Displaced Persons Act now."
Add your name:
Sign the petition ►
By 2050, there could be more than 200 million climate-displaced people worldwide.1,2
Super storms, floods, hurricanes and droughts are already forcing people all over the world to leave their homes in search of a safer place to live. Many are seeking refuge in the United States, but the Trump administration is turning a majority away.By 2050, there could be more than 200 million climate-displaced people worldwide.1,2
Sen. Ed Markey and Rep. Nydia Velázquez introduced legislation that would allow climate refugees to safely enter the United States and re-settle here.3 This legislation is the first of its kind, offering a humanitarian solution to a growing global crisis. Speak out now to help us build a groundswell of support for this important bill.
In the powerful words of Rep. Velázquez, the Climate Displaced Persons Act will "not only reaffirm our nation's long standing role as a home to those fleeing conflict and disasters, but it will also update [that role] to reflect changes to our world brought on by a changing climate."4 It would:
  • Allow 50,000 climate-displaced people to resettle in the United States at the beginning of the next fiscal year.
  • Direct the secretary of state to create a federal position in charge of developing a "global climate resilience strategy."
  • Direct the president to track and maintain data on climate related displacement.
As we continue to fight for laws that will ultimately make our communities cleaner and more sustainable, the reality is that we also need laws that address the human cost of climate disasters head on. Women, children, people of color and indigenous communities bear the brunt of climate catastrophes. Showing Congress that there is massive support for the Climate Displaced Persons Act would help build momentum for humanitarian solutions that put the health, safety and well-being of people first.
The United States is more than equipped to help resettle climate-displaced people. But Trump and his climate-denying administration are using hate and fear to shut down our borders and attack immigrants and refugees. As climate change continues to threaten the livelihoods of communities around the world, it's more important than ever that we push for laws that address this crisis directly. Will you add your support for The Climate Displaced Persons Act now?
Tell the House: Make the United States a leader in fighting climate change and its consequences. Click the link below to sign the petition:
- Jelani Drew, CREDO Action
Add your name:
Sign the petition ►
  1. Baher Kamal, "Climate Migrants Might Reach One Billion by 2050," Inter Press Service, Aug. 1, 2017.
  2. Scott A. Kulp and Benjamin H. Strauss, "New elevation data triple estimates of global vulnerability to sea-level rise and coastal flooding," Nature Communications, Oct. 29, 2019.
  3. Jessica Corbett, "'We Have to Get This Right': Historic Bill in US House Would Create Specific Protections for Climate Refugees," Common Dreams, Oct. 24, 2019.
  4. Rep. Velázquez, "Velázquez Introduces Historic Bill to Protect Environmental Migrants," Oct. 23, 2019.

Monday, November 4, 2019

Stop the privatization of America's national parks

Imagine the possibilities...
The petition to the Department of the Interior reads:
"Don't allow America's national treasures to be destroyed by corporate greed. Stop all plans to privatize our national parks."
Add your name:
Sign the petition ►
Here's a frightening idea: Grand Canyon, sponsored by Coca Cola. Yosemite, brought to you by McDonalds. Acadia, a subsidiary of Aramark.
Under a scheme hatched by former disgraced Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, that could be the eventual fate of America's national parks.
Reporters recently uncovered shady plans between the Interior Department and national park profiteers, the RV and hospitality industries, and enemies of public lands to privatize national park campgrounds, allow commercialized food trucks and other services at parks, limit benefits for seniors and increase prices.1
This plan would be a massive giveaway to corporate interests and Trump donors who stand to profit from national park privatization. We must speak out now to stop it.
According to the recently discovered memo, the Trump administration’s “Made in America” Outdoor Recreation Advisory Committee recommends privatizing national park campgrounds, which are currently managed by the National Park Service, instituting blackout dates and restrictions on senior benefits, increasing fees, expanding infrastructure that could harm wildlife habitat, and allowing mobile food trucks and camp stores on national park grounds.2
These measures will not only limit access for seniors and low income people to these pristine public lands - selling out our national parks to private interests will also line the pockets of Trump donors. Jerry Jacobs Jr., the billionaire chairman of Delaware North, a massive food service and concessionaire with deep interests in America's national parks, sits on the “Made in America” committee, donated at least $167,700 to Trump and stands to make massive profits if the Interior Department follows through with this scheme.
Privatizing America's national parks is another example in a long line of actions by the Trump administration to hand over public lands to private interests and donors, whether it's the fossil fuel industry, mining companies or corporate food and lodging. According to Western Values Project Deputy Director Jayson O’Neill, "Privatizing America’s public campgrounds and jacking up national park fees to appease big-business concessionaires and powerful corporate campaign donors is just the latest egregious attempt to rip public lands out of public hands."3
Activism to protect our national parks from Trump donors and corporate interests works. Thanks in part to more than 143,000 CREDO members who signed our petition, the names of historic locations at Yosemite National Park will be restored to their well-known names, a big victory over billionaire Jacobs, who brought a frivolous lawsuit against the NPS.4
We must speak out loud and clear that our beloved national parks are America's public lands, not a private, money-making playground for billionaire Trump donors. Click the link below to sign the petition:
- Heidi Hess, CREDO Action
Add your name:
Sign the petition ►
  1. Frederick Reimers, "A New Plan to Make Camping in National Parks Worse," Outside, Oct. 21, 2019.
  2. Alexander Nazaryan, "Trump advisory council recommends expanding private business in national parks," Yahoo News, Oct. 11, 2019.
  3. Yetta Stein, "Plans to Privatize National Parks Outlined in Trump Admin Memo, Would Enrich Donors & Special Interests," Western Values Project, Oct. 11, 2019.
  4. Josh Nelson, "Victory: Yosemite keeps historic names," CREDO Mobile, Sept. 9 2019.

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Tell Congress: Pass H.R. 4813 Keep Big Tech Out of Finance Act

Petition to Congress:
"Pass H.R. 4813, the Keep Big Tech Out of Finance Act."`
Add your name:
Sign the petition ►
Mark Zuckerberg's recent testimony on Capitol Hill was a disaster. Lawmakers grilled Zuckerberg over the company's repeated privacy violations, the despicable content on its platform and its policy of allowing outright falsehoods in political ads.1
In addition to all that's already horrible, lawmakers also wanted to talk about an emerging Facebook disaster – its Libra project. Libra, like Bitcoin, is a cryptocurrency, but one under Facebook's control. In typically Zuckerbook fashion, he insisted last week that Libra should not be regulated like a bank or by the Securities and Exchange Commission.2
Zuckerberg wants Facebook to control a global currency with no oversight and no questions asked, even though his company repeatedly mishandles our private information. That's unacceptable, and Rep. Chuy García just introduced legislation that would put a stop to it.
Facebook is currently under investigation by 47 state attorneys general and regulators in multiple nations. It recently paid a record-breaking $5 billion fine for privacy violations that allowed a right-wing firm to help sway the 2016 election. It lied to advertisers about video metrics, lied to Congress in testimony and lied about the Cambridge Analytica scandal. Facebook has created a safe haven for white nationalism, right-wing hatred, racism, misogyny, ethnic supremacism and fake news that fosters violence worldwide. And now Zuckerberg is saying: Trust us.3,4
As Rep. García put it, "Given Facebook’s track record of evading criminal liability, abusing private data, and manipulating markets with their monopolistic power, regulators should be considering how to break up Facebook, not greenlighting a new, dangerous project like Libra."5 Libra would:6
  • Centralize corporate control by giving Facebook more power, undermining sovereign states and giving the corporate interests behind the project the ability to distort global currencies or undermine governments at will.
  • Promote tax dodging and money laundering by making it easier for people to hide their money in a new network with global reach.
  • Erode freedom with no clear limits on Facebook's ability to use data from Libra purchases, bake racist discrimination into its algorithms, change the rules in the future or demand that employees take payment in currency it controls.
  • Put consumers at risk with none of the guarantees, oversight and protections found in traditional banking.
Libra is already under pressure, with a handful of major partners dropping out even before Zuckerberg's testimony. But at a time when Big Tech is increasingly looking for ways to expand its monopolistic power and use vast reams of data to move into finance, we need a more thoughtful response. Rep. García's legislation, the Keep Big Tech Out of Finance Act, would prohibit Facebook and other big tech companies from preying on us with digital currencies – and we need to make sure every member of Congress knows it has our support.
Click the link below to tell Congress: Keep Big Tech out of banking:
- Heidi Hess, CREDO Action
Add your name:
Sign the petition ►
  1. John Constine, "Lowlights from Zuckerberg’s Libra testimony in Congress," TechCrunch, Oct. 23, 2019.
  2. Rep. Jesús “Chuy” García, "Congressman Jesús “Chuy” García Introduces Bill to Keep Big Tech Companies Out of Financial Sector," Oct. 23, 2019.
  3. Cecilia Kang, Mike Isaac and Nathaniel Popper, "Facebook’s Zuckerberg, Accused of Lying, Withstands a Washington ‘Beating,’" The New York Times, Oct. 23, 2019.
  4. Tony Romm, "Facebook will have to pay a record-breaking fine for violating users’ privacy. But the FTC wanted more." The Washington Post, July 22, 2019.
  5. Rep. García, "Congressman Jesús “Chuy” García Introduces Bill to Keep Big Tech Companies Out of Financial Sector."
  6. Public Citizen et. al., "Open Letter Calling for Libra Moratorium," July 2, 2019.

Tell Congress: Support the Students Not Profits Act 2019

The petition to Congress reads:
"Support the Students Not Profits Act of 2019 to make sure for-profit colleges don't get federal aid to exploit and undereducate students."
Add your name:
Sign the petition ►
For-profit colleges lie to students and leave them deeply in debt. They have been repeatedly caught promising a great education and career success in order to suck tuition dollars out of students and taxpayers. Some for-profit college campuses have gone as far as bribing local temp agencies to hire graduates for a day or two in order to artificially inflate “job placement” rates.1
But despite their grifter status, these colleges receive 15% of the total U.S. financial aid each year – and a third of them get almost all their revenue from federal sources.2For-profit colleges lie to students and leave them deeply in debt. They have been repeatedly caught promising a great education and career success in order to suck tuition dollars out of students and taxpayers. Some for-profit college campuses have gone as far as bribing local temp agencies to hire graduates for a day or two in order to artificially inflate “job placement” rates.1
Progressive champions Rep. Pramila Jayapal and Sen. Sherrod Brown want to put a stop to that. They recently introduced a bill, the Students Not Profits Act of 2019, that would cut off federal aid from for-profit colleges. Can you help build momentum for the bill today?
This crisis is even worse with Betsy DeVos at the Department of Education. News recently broke that her department gave almost $11 million to unaccredited art schools in Illinois and Colorado.3 She spent the last three years sabotaging the Obama-era Student Aid Enforcement Unit, a move seemingly designed to help give scam artists and predatory for-profit schools a free pass.4
It should be no surprise that a billionaire champion of school privatization would be siding with greedy corporations over students. DeVos clearly doesn't care that for-profit schools are responsible for 34% of student loan defaults, despite only enrolling 9% of post-secondary students.5 She doesn't care that students are going into massive debt for little to no employment reward. She just wants to help her billionaire buddies line their pockets.
Luckily, Rep. Jayapal and Sen. Brown are pushing back. Their bill would end subsidies to for-profit schools and ensure that taxpayers stop paying for the exploitation of so many of our neighbors, family members and friends. We need to build momentum for the bill now. Can you click the link below to add your name today?
- Heidi Hess, CREDO Action 
Add your name:
Sign the petition ►
  1. Alan Pyke, "The Inside Story Of How A For-Profit College Hoodwinked Students And Got Away With It," ThinkProgress, Feb. 28, 2015.
  2. Annie Nova, "Bill would make for-profit colleges ineligible for federal student loans," CNBC, Oct. 23, 2019.
  3. Danielle Douglas-Gabriel, "Trump administration let nearly $11 million in student aid go to unaccredited for-profit colleges," The Washington Post, Oct. 22, 2019.
  4. Danielle Ivory, Erica L. Green and Steve Eder, "Education Department Unwinds Unit Investigating Fraud at For-Profits," The New York Times, May 13, 2018.
  5. Americans for Financial Reform, "News Release: The Students Not Profits Act will protect public dollars from abuses at for-profit colleges," Oct. 17, 2019.

Sunday, October 27, 2019

Protecting what's downstream from the proposed Rosemont mine

If you attended the Envision Tucson Sustainable Festival, you might have seen this sign from Save The Scenic Santa Ritas. Look what's just downhill of the proposed mine... The Cienga Creek flows right into Tucson's aquifer - WHERE WE STORE OUR DRINKING WATER! The proposed mine will be built in one of the most biologically diverse regions of the country. Ecotourism is a big boom to our 23 billion dollar tourist industry. Birdwatchers come from around the world to enjoy it. If the mine goes through, tourists will get a clear view of the huge, gaping pit as they drive down scenic highway 83. The economic impact of the 400 jobs that the mine will create won't begin to equal even 1 % of what ecotourism brings to our state economy. The mine is expected to be in operation for 20 years, but the devastation to the region's diverse ecosystem and our water supply will last for hundreds of years.

Mark, a member of Sustainable Tucson's Environmental Advocates, sent me the Daily Star article: "Rosemont takes steps to get past ruling that blocks mine." That reminded me that we need to continue to stay on top of this issue.

Hudbay, the directors of the Rosemont Mine, are fighting to save their multi-million dollar project. And why wouldn't they? They don't have to pay any royalties to the people of Arizona and they can use as much of our water as they want. It's big profits for them.

What can we do?

1) Please, write a letter to the editor telling how the Rosemont mine will personally impact you, your business or your family. Be sure to follow the guidelines and word count limit of the target publication (up to 150 words for the Arizona Daily Star.)

2) This is a good time to urge our Members of Congress to overturn the 1872 Mining Law (that got us into this situation by defining hard-rock mineral extraction as the “highest and best” use of most public lands, tying the hands of federal and local governments when U.S. or foreign mining interests want to mine our public lands).

3) Ask your Members of Congress to codify the Waters of the US Rule into law (so any sitting president can't change it at will.)

The following blog has the information I presented to Rep. Kirkpatrick on that:


Find out who your Representative is: https://www.house.gov/representatives/find-your-representative

Contact info for Reps here: https://www.house.gov/representatives

Contact info for Members of Congress here: https://contactingcongress.org/

More Information on the Rosemont mine:


I've done my best to post up-to-date information on my blog: