The drinking water crisis in Flint, Michigan has turned into an epidemic of environmental injustices. Flint, a city that is 57% African American, 37% White American, 4% Latino, and 4% mixed race sits about 68 miles northwest of Detroit. Michigan Governor Rick Snyder and President Obama have both declared a state of emergency because of the deadly lead contamination in the drinking water. Flint switched from Detroit’s water system to pulling water from the Flint River to cut costs. The corrosive water leached lead from the city’s old pipes and into the homes of residents. Lead has proven to be highly toxic, particularly to children.
FLINT, MI – JANUARY 23: Zariah Garner, age 9 of Flint, rests on a stack of water as national guard members and civilians carry cases to vehicles on January 23, 2016 in Flint, Michigan. Water is being handed out for free to citizens of Flint after a federal state of emergency was declared over the city’s contaminated water supply. (Photo by Brett Carlsen/Getty Images)
About 9,000 Flint children have been exposed to lead. At low levels, lead can lower a child’s IQ and cause learning and behavioral problems. At very high levels, drinking lead can cause kidney damage, seizures or death. Lead exposure in children moves into soft tissue like their liver, lungs, brain, and kidney, then settles in their bones. From then on, a child may test negative even though there is lead lodged in their body.
To worsen an already tragic situation, some state-run bottled water dispensaries that have been set up in order to provide residents with free bottled water for drinking, cooking and bathing have been requiring an ID. Undocumented immigrants in the state of Michigan are unable to obtain driver licenses, and since an ID may be required to obtain bottled water, it leaves undocumented families without the same help other residents are receiving. Requiring an ID also hinders the homeless from receiving water.
Maria, an undocumented Spanish speaking immigrant in Flint, has been drinking the lead contaminated water until a week ago, because she had not heard about the lead contamination. Very few resources have been released to notify Spanish speaking residents of the contamination and the dangers. Undocumented immigrants like Maria are also fearful to ask for water filters and bottled water because of the recent deportations in Michigan.
Saint Mary’s Church located on the East side of Flint where most undocumented immigrants live is giving bottled water and filters to anyone in need for free, no questions asked. They even have volunteers going door-to-door in the neighborhoods where most undocumented folks reside. If you would like to donate to help the church to continue to help those desperately in need, you can make a check payable to “Saint Mary Parish” and mail it to 2500 N. Franklin Avenue, Flint, Michigan, 48506. To read more about the situation, click here.
Tuesday, January 26, 7PM
Buncombe County Courthouse
60 Court Plaza, Courtroom 1A, Asheville, NC 28801
Arrive at 6PM to sign up to speak, and to attend a peaceful demonstration
This “fast-tracked” application from Duke Energy for a new fracked gas power plant should not be allowed to just slide through the process, increasing NC’s dependence on natural gas, without adequate consideration of the “downsides” by the NC Utilities Commission. Help us get plenty of public comments at the only public hearing on this proposed plant!
Duke Energy’s application to the NC Utilities Commission, submitted Jan. 15, is for a $1.1 billion project, consisting of:
- Two 280-megawatt, combined-cycle natural gas units
- An optional 186-megawatt natural gas combustion turbine, to be added by 2023 if the region doesn’t reduce its electricity demands.
While retiring the coal-fired units is a great stride for western North Carolina, committing the region to a future of dependence on fossil fuels is dangerous and unnecessary. Although Duke Energy has publicized plans for a 15-megawatt solar installation and utility-scale battery, their actual application does not seek permission to install either one, nor does it make tangible commitments to work with the community on energy efficiency efforts! Some talking points for your comments:
Click here for tips for commenting at a NC Utilities Commission public hearing.
Empowering communities to protect their environmental rights is what we’re all about here at Clean Water for NC. Sometimes that means working closely with a single neighborhood to organize against a proposed polluting facility or to get a safe water supply. In other cases, it involves connecting individuals, organizations, and communities together to face a widespread threat or existing environmental injustice, such as fracking, coal ash dumps or water privatization.
We know how important it is to bring people together to identify creative new strategies to work for Environmental Justice, share wisdom, and find hope and strength from each other! And we want to thank all our members for your generous donations this year to keep our work going strong (Not yet a member? You can click here to become part of Clean Water for NC’s ongoing work for safe water and environmental justice)!
Happy New Year from the staff and Board of Clean Water for North Carolina!
Just a few highlights from Clean Water for NC’s work this year:
- Together with 30+ organizations in the Frack Free NC Alliance, we are planning creative actions in case the legal injunction against fracking permits is lifted. CWFNC has worked with the Duke Environmental Law and Policy Clinic to help local communities enact protective moratoriums against fracking, and sued the Oil & Gas Commission to stop its power to overturn local ordinances!
- With partner organizations, we support a newly formed community-led alliance of residents impacted by coal ash. “A.C.T.” Against Coal Ash (the Alliance of Carolinians Together Against Coal Ash), has held two statewide meetings, mobilizing to protect Chatham and Lee County communities threatened by new coal ash dumps, and to call for safe removal or containment at sites with old, unlined ash dumps. It’s inspiring to see the new leadership coming from grassroots community members and working together inclusively to achieve priorities such as safe drinking water and coal ash disposal.
- Robeson County is one of the poorest in the state and has NC’s most diverse population, with high percentages of Native Americans, African Americans and Latinos. In the eagerness for jobs, environmental concerns have almost always been marginalized here. The combined threats of a dirty livestock operation, a coal ash dump and a major new gas pipeline have awakened a new movement that’s engaging the wider community! CWFNC’s Ericka Faircloth, herself a Lumbee, coordinated a Summit in November, with follow up efforts on all issues underway.
As local governments across North Carolina continue to take action to protect their residents and resources from potential hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”), the right to enact local ordinances has become a focal point in the ongoing debate about future natural gas extraction in the state. In recent weeks, the Counties of Stokes, Rockingham and Lee, as well as the towns of Stoneville and Walnut Cove, have joined Anson and Chatham Counties and the cities of Creedmoor and Bakersville in passing local ordinances that temporarily prevent fracking activities from occurring in their jurisdictions.
In November, Clean Water for North Carolina and some of our members, including two local elected officials, sued the State of North Carolina, the NC Department of Environmental Quality and the NC Oil and Gas Commission. We’re challenging the General Assembly’s granting of power to politically-appointed, regulatory Commissioners to block–or preempt–local government ordinances regulating oil and gas-related development, as well as the way in which the General Assembly stripped local governments of their right to regulate oil and gas development during the final hours of the 2015 legislative session.
At that time, new language was introduced into a technical corrections bill and then approved just minutes before the session ended, with little or no notice to voting legislators and the public about the contents or impacts of the amended bill’s provision. This tactic of “legislation by ambush” completely deprives North Carolinians of their right to instruct their legislators on how to vote on critical legislation.
Mayor Darryl Moss of Creedmoor, whose City Commission passed the state’s first fracking ordinance, is particularly disturbed that the legislative proponents of fracking resorted to such tactics. “It simply reflects the complete lack of public interest in their actions that they didn’t want the public, or even most legislators, to be able to see what they were doing. When we passed our ordinance in Creedmoor to protect ourselves from fracking, it was the result of months of research and debate, always at public meetings, and that’s how it’s happening in towns and counties across the state.”
Read the full press release
Read the November 5th filing