Reading, Writing and Photography about
Justice, the Environment, Chaos,
and Cooperation in North America.
February 12, 2022
Craig Rock, editor and photographer, firstname.lastname@example.org
All images and writings copyrighted by the editor unless otherwise noted.
Use above email for permission to use material for non-commercial use.
What is Borderlands Digest?
Welcome to the online journal Borderlands Digest. This site is designed for teachers, journalists, community organizers, social justice groups and others who are focused on improving the quality of life in their communities. Stories, poems, and photographs center on the environment and people in the culturally diverse communities of North America. With a focus on the environment, criminal justice, and immigration, this digest/journal centers on three failures in modern day U.S.A.:
The failure of lawmakers to regulate businesses that pollute our air and water.
The failure of lawmakers to control gun violence including killings by criminals, the mentally ill, and the police.
the failure of our country to grant citizenship to the 800,000 young people who are temporarily protected from deportation by DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals).
Use the email that follows to subscribe to this free publication. Articles, poetry and photos are welcome. For consideration or for a free subscription to this newsletter, send me an email at email@example.com.
An Earth Justice Press Release February 2, 2022
Disaster at Fertilizer Plant
The Biden administration and EPA must act now to prevent chemical disasters, a joint statement from Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League, Center for Progressive Reform, Coming Clean, Earthjustice, Public Citizen, and Sierra Club
WASHINGTON, D.C. — A fire that erupted Monday night at a fertilizer plant in Winston-Salem, NC continues to burn endangering thousands of people in the area who have had to evacuate or shelter-in-place. The threat of a deadly explosion remains as the fire continues to burn out of control, threatening the health and safety of the nearby communities. This tragic chemical disaster poses unacceptable risk to those who live, work, or go to school near facilities like this, yet they regularly happen all over the United States, despite being entirely preventable. Communities at the fenceline of the chemical industry in other communities live daily with similar harm and threat due to major gaps in the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) federal rules on hazardous chemical storage, use, and industrial facility safety. It’s time for the EPA to prevent these harmful chemical disasters once and for all.
From the Editor
This month's edition will be short as I begin a second 6-month tour of the American West with stops in California's Gold Country, Washington's Olympic Peninsula, and British Columbia in Canada.
I know my last edition mentioned the value of people sticking around their communities to preserve valuable local traditions and instigate change when necessary in towns and cities around the country. But at 75 years old, my audience is limited and life is short, so off I go hopefully picking up new ideas and experiences along the way.
Air Quality Articles Featured
Articles on air quality are included on this one-page edition. The Earth Justice press release to the left covers a recent fire at a fertilizer plant in North Carolina. The article includes background information on chemical explosions and the dangers to nearby residents and first responders.
A second article about air quality is on the dangers of abandoned mines on public lands especially for Indigenous people who live near mining operations, past and present. Mining companies were given a blank check to tear up a good portion of public land under an 1872 law that has never been changed, in large part, because of influence of the mining lobby on Congress. In my January issue, two Democratic Senators (Catherine Cortez Masto, D-Nev., and Joe Manchin, D-W.V.) are noted, and how they were instrumental in killing a key reform bill sent to the Senate Committee on Natural Resources and Water by its counterpart in the House. The bill would have established federal royalties on mining profits at a rate between 4 and 8 percent. These funds could have offset some of our tax money used to fund Super Fund sites and other mining clean-up operations. It's a severe problem in the West when you consider that federal lands, for example, cover 96% of Alaska, 88% of Nevada, 75% of Utah, and 70% of Idaho.
The dollar costs for these clean-up operations is now in the billions with little or no contributions from the mining companies many of which are bankrupt. The HCN article goes on, "There are at least 140,000 abandoned hardrock mine features — such as the tunnels or toxic waste piles associated with mining — on federal lands. And that’s only what’s cataloged; federal officials estimate there may be more than 390,000 additional abandoned mine features on public lands that have yet to be identified." The above photo is part of a mining display at Berlin-Ichthyosaur State Park, currently closed. Links are provided below for both articles from High Country News (HCN).
Bad air inside these deserted mines has a personal meaning to me. When I was teacher in Virginia City, Nevada in 1996, our music teacher, John Montgomery and Jonathan Reece, a long time friend, set out to explore a deserted mining tunnel nearby. A few weeks before I was having a beer with John and he was describing the excitement of exploring abandoned mines. It's my understanding that once they were inside the tunnel, their movement caused poisonous air to mix with the cleaner air that allowed initial entry into the mine. Both men died each leaving behind wives and children. (Virginia City has 400 miles of old tunnels underneath the town.)
Of course, there are many other reasons that government entities have to regulate air quality. For example, many homes that are available for rentals and purchase to low income residents are located near heavy freeway traffic. Many studies have addressed the effects of air pollution and noise on local populations. This and other air quality challenges will be addressed in the future issues.
Other Articles, Links, YouTubes...
Also included in this February issue, is a YouTube feature on food production (below). Also featured is an article on Reno's new program on using deserted motels for affordable housing sites. Links include another article on the effects of wildfire smoke comparing the number of weeks of smoke on U.S. communities nationwide.
January's issue of this digest is available at the top of the page. Thanks for your interest in this publication. Let me know if you have questions, ideas, or wish to unsubscribe. Please share with friends.
High Country News Link January 28, 2022
The dizzying scope of abandoned mine hazards on public lands
Meet the People Getting Paid
to Kill Our Planet
From the New York Times - an Opinion Piece
Watch the Above Video on
Meet the People Getting Paid to Kill Our Planet
Another View From the Fence Post, February 8, 2022
Bonnie denounces Video on
People Getting Paid to Kill Our Planet
“Meet the People Getting Paid to Kill Our Planet,” Bonnie said, “I thought it was a horrible video. I think farmers, ranchers, forest owners are all great stewards of the land. I think they all depend on the productivity of the land, which comes from stewardship. Agriculture has the opportunity to be a critically important partner – in fact, it is already – stepping out in climate, water quality, wildlife and other ways. I was very disappointed with the video.”
Robert Bonnie, Agriculture Undersecretary for Farm Production and Conservation
Photo by Craig Rock
Effects of Wildfire Smoke
NPR California, September 28, Sacramento, CA
Dangerous Air: We Mapped
The Rise in Wildfire Smoke Across America
Here's How Did it
By Alison Saldanha
NPR’s California Newsroom partnered with Stanford University’s Environmental Change and Human Outcomes Lab to map the increasing prevalence of wildfire smoke across the United States. The months long analysis, based on more than 10 years of data collected by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, reveals a startling increase in the number of days residents are breathing smoke at the ZIP code level — across California and the Pacific Northwest to Denver and Salt Lake City in the Rocky Mountains and rural Kentucky and West Virginia in Appalachia.
and enter your zip code for a local report