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Sunday, November 4, 2018

Science in Our Upcoming Elections, State by State


Another fascinating article out this week, this one on the national elections, state by state.

Slide 6 of 53: To some degree, California and its nearly 40 million residents face almost every issue in the country. Where the Golden State sets itself apart, though, is in how its solutions to those issues can often set a national standard. Climate change is at the root of its most pressing issues—a five-year drought, more-frequent wildfires, and water scarcity—but the state’s long-running push to expand renewable energy is facing challenges. Gov. Jerry Brown and some state lawmakers worry that President Trump’s embrace of fossil fuels will interfere with state’s 12-year-old effort to cut greenhouse-gas emissions and its new plan to go carbon-free by 2045. Thanks to a range of measures—capping industrial emissions, setting high vehicle fuel-efficiency standards, and providing incentives to switch to solar—the initial plan has met its goal of slashing greenhouse gases to 1990 levels four years ahead of schedule. (That’s more ambitious than targets in other states, which aim to cut emissions to higher 2000 levels.) In August, however, the Trump administration proposed revoking California’s authority to impose its own automotive standards. These and other federal climate-change rollbacks might be enough to sway voters, according to some analysts. The state is also a bellwether in the national debate about internet freedom. Home to the nation’s leading tech companies, California is working to fill the regulatory vacuum left by the June federal repeal of Federal Communications Commission net neutrality regulations. This past August, state lawmakers passed a bill that will bar internet-service providers from slowing or blocking websites, and restrict “zero-metering,” the practice of not counting preferred services and apps against a customer’s monthly data limits. But days after Gov. Brown signed the bill into law in September, the Justice Department filed a legal challenge against it, arguing that internet runs between states, and is therefore subject to federal oversight.


Lots of these issues have to do with flooding, wildfires, chemical runoff and corporate farming.

Missouri’s contribution to this is fascinating and at the forefront of an issue and change.

Image result for beyond meat
Missouri: The fake-meat debate

Missouri has become the epicenter of a fracas between meat producers and the burgeoning “fake meat” industry, a market that has jumped 24 percent since 2015. This past May, the legislature passed a bill that bars makers of flesh substitutes from using the word “meat” on their labels. Backed by the Missouri Cattlemen’s Association and pork producers, the bill could stifle growth of a new industry, according to meat substitute producers. Columbia-based Beyond Meat, for instance, could likely have to change its name, and warns that the measure could result in job loss. The company, together with University of Missouri researchers, has developed plant-based burgers, chicken strips, and sausages that closely resemble real meat. Beyond Meat CEO Ethan Brown says the bill would do little to convince consumers to opt for the real thing.

This part is especially interesting.

In late August, vegan food maker Tofurky, along with the Animal Legal Defense Fund and the American Civil Liberties Union of Missouri, filed suit against the state, arguing that the new law stifles free speech and hampers competition.

From Kansas, it’s one more example, and a great one, of why we need newspapers and their reporters. In this, the Wichita Eagle-Beacon came to the rescue.

Slide 17 of 53: This past summer, an investigation in the Wichita Eagle newspaper found that hundreds of residents drank and bathed in water fouled with the dry-cleaning chemical perchloroethylene (PCE) for more than six years—and that state officials failed to inform the communities. At one site, PCE levels in the groundwater were 8.1 parts per billion; EPA limit is 5 ppb. As many as 22 other contaminated sites may have gone unaddressed, according to the investigation. A 1995 state law lobbied for by the dry-cleaning industry appears to be largely to blame. The Kansas Drycleaner Environmental Response Act included a provision that directed state regulators to refrain from looking for contamination from dry cleaners and “make every reasonable effort” to keep sites off the EPA’s Superfund list. Residents are calling for the state to scrub up the areas and for lawmakers to strike the part of the legislation that bars checking for PCE leaks in groundwater.

Kansas: Dry-cleaning chemicals in residents’ water

This past summer, an investigation in the Wichita Eagle newspaper found that hundreds of residents drank and bathed in water fouled with the dry-cleaning chemical perchloroethylene (PCE) for more than six years—and that state officials failed to inform the communities. At one site, PCE levels in the groundwater were 8.1 parts per billion; EPA limit is 5 ppb. As many as 22 other contaminated sites may have gone unaddressed, according to the investigation. A 1995 state law lobbied for by the dry-cleaning industry appears to be largely to blame. The Kansas Drycleaner Environmental Response Act included a provision that directed state regulators to refrain from looking for contamination from dry cleaners and “make every reasonable effort” to keep sites off the EPA’s Superfund list. Residents are calling for the state to scrub up the areas and for lawmakers to strike the part of the legislation that bars checking for PCE leaks in groundwater.

All these, from state to state, point out why we so desperately and completely need government—state and federal both. If we don’t have these governments, there are no ways to keep our air, water and soil clean and clear. Corporations would be able to do whatever they wish, people and animal life be damned.

You might also check out Arkansas, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Virginia and their issues, especially.


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