• PLAN remarks at Mining Oversight and Accountability Commission

    October 31, 2013

     

    TO: Nevada Mining Oversight and Accountability Commission

    FR:  Bob Fulkerson, State Director, PLAN

    RE:  Methyl Mercury from Nevada Mining

     

    At the MOAC meeting of June 26, 2013, I raised serious allegations that the mining industry was largely responsible for methyl mercury poisoning of Nevada waters and fisheries. I cited UNR research suggesting that mercury emissions from tailings facilities and active heap leach operations are now probably double the amount of mercury being released into the air, compared to that being reported under state requirements.  I said that the technology exists to decrease mercury pollution from these sources, but neither the mining industry or the Nevada Division of Environmental Protection seems to care.  

     

    In response to questions about this from this committee, the  NDEP adminstrator basically blamed sources other than current Nevada gold mining for contaminating Nevada’s fisheries and waters.

     

    And she said that the NDEP mission of promoting economic development prevented her agency from coming down too hard on mining. Since none of the economic development authorities have environmental protection in their mission statements, why should NDEP’s mission include economic development?

     

    More importantly, I urge you, in the strongest possible terms, to get to the truth about mercury contamination in Nevada.  Please place the issue of unregulated fugitive mercury emissions from mining tailings and heap leach operations on your next meeting agenda. We can suggest specific experts for you to invite.

     

    According to the EPA’s Toxic Release Inventory, mining accounts for 98% of all toxic pollutants released in Nevada. Every day, methyl mercury from active gold mines is polluting our water and contaminating our fish and wildlife.  Please don’t let it continue to happen under your watch.

     

    And in anticipation of today’s agenda regarding reclamation, in which we’re sure to hear rosy assurances of success, the General Accounting Office reported recently that: “We determined that 57 hardrock operations (in 12 western states) had inadequate financial assurances—amounting to about $24 million less than needed to fully cover estimated reclamation costs.” Nevada’s share of that $24 million is $23,853,662 (more than 99.4% of the total of the 12 western states.)  And, according to the Environmental Protection Agency, the cost for cleanup of abandoned hardrock mines could run as high as $54 billion. Much of that cost could ultimately be borne by U.S. taxpayers.

     

    Meantime, every year the industry takes billions in gold and other hardrock minerals without compensating taxpayers as a whole, states like Nevada, or covering cleanup costs. This must change.

  • TAKE ACTION: Senate to vote on Rep. Watt’s confirmation!

     

    Check out the message below from our friends at the New Bottom Line who are fighting every day to put the economic interest and financial security of working American families first.TakeAction

     

    Take action and tell Senator Dean Heller not to block the confirmation of Mel Watt as the director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency

    —–

     

    NBL-color

    We just found out that President Obama and Senate leadership is pushing Rep. Mel Watt’s Confirmation forward!

    After months of inaction, the Senate is close to a vote to Confirm Rep. Mel Watt to become the permanent regulator for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, who together control more than half the mortgages in the US.

    The vote might happen this week, so we need to prevent a potential filibuster and make sure that our Senators vote to confirm Rep. Watt.

    Can you take 1 minute and call your Senators to urge them to confirm Rep. Mel Watt to head Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac so we can keep millions of homeowners out of foreclosure and get our housing market and economy back on track?

    Call 866-200-6444 today.

    When you connect with your Senator tell them:

    My name is ______________ I am urging you to vote to confirm Representative Mel Watt to lead Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac as head of the Federal Housing Finance Agency. Representative Watt is extremely well qualified and deserves an up or down vote and a speedy confirmation.

    Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have been without a permanent regulator since President Obama took office. Homeowners and communities deserve better!

    In April, Rep. Watt was nominated by President Obama to replace acting director Ed DeMarco — a Bush-era appointee — as permanent director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA).

    As a 20-year member of Congress, Rep. Watt has supported principal reduction, championed anti-predatory lending legislation, and was a key supporter of the Dodd-Frank Act. Rep. Watt knows what it takes to get the housing market and economy back on track.

    Senators from both sides of the aisle, including Republican Richard Burr and Democrat Elizabeth Warren, have endorsed Rep Watt and recognize that he is extremely well-qualified to be our nation’s next chief housing regulator. But some Republican senators oppose his nomination on party lines.

    Call now to urge your Senators to vote for cloture to make sure Rep. Watt’s nomination can come up for an up or down vote. Voting for cloture limits debate and guards against a Senate filibuster, which would make an up or down vote impossible. We can’t let a few Senators block Rep. Watt’s confirmation.

    Call your senators now at 866-200-6444!

    Thank you!

  • Come Out for Health Care!

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    Celebrate National Coming Out Day with Out2Enroll, a collaborate effort of the Center for American Progress, the Federal Agencies Project, and the Sellers Dorsey Foundation to educate the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender communities about the options now available under the Affordable Care Act. The educational campaign launches on October 11 to coincide with National Coming Out Day and will include a website specifically tailored to the LGBT communities and will include information on such topics as coverage available to transgender people, obtaining family coverage, applying for financial assistance with a same-sex spouse, finding LGBT-friendly health care providers in your area, and how to find help if you experience discrimination when applying for coverage or obtaining care.

    This focus on access to health care is grounded in the need to erase long-standing health disparities for the LGBT community. Research by the Center for American Progress has demonstrated that 1 in 3 LGBT persons in the US are uninsured, a major obstacle to ensuring equality for all. However, there are now options under the Affordable Care Act and as of October 1, Nevadans are able to shop online for health insurance plans at Nevada’s Health Link, an insurance marketplace created under the Affordable Care Act.

    For more information or to sign up for updates, please visit:

    Silver State Health Exchange

    HealthCare.gov

    The Center for American Progress

    Out2Enroll

    To find insurance coverage or to compare prices for individual or small business plans, please visit the Nevada Health Link.

  • March Against Monsanto in Las Vegas

     

    Check out this blog from PLAN Intern Sarah Short who is a Master of Social Work student from the University of Southern California. Join thousands of people around the world this Saturday as they March Against Monsanto and demand our food be safe and labeled.

     

    Saturday October 12, 2013 – March Against Monsanto

    This Saturday, hundreds of marches will be held across the U.S and the world to bring awareness of the increase in genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in our food supply. The world wide “March Against Monsanto” will bring together activists and concerned citizens to protest corporations, like Monsanto, that continue the practice of manipulating our crops and controlling farmers through litigation to produce crops that have not been proven safe. Monsanto also seeks to profit off of climate changemonsanto

    Currently, over 85% of corn and 91% of soybeans are genetically modified, this means, the DNA from another species (bacteria, insects, or viruses) are artificially combined to produce plants that resist herbicides and produce their own pesticides. Corn and soybeans are not the only crops thing being altered by Monsanto, thousands of other plants and animals have as well, such as: pigs injected with human grown genes and fish with cattle growth genes. It is estimated that nearly 75% of foods in our supermarkets contain genetically modified ingredients.

    Despite the fact that 18 countries have banned, and over 60 countries require labeling of GMOs, Congress has yet to pass any laws to required labeling. While other countries refuse to allow GMOs in their food supply until proven safe, the US has decided to allow them until proven unsafe: we are their science experiment. The FDA has the authority to label over 3,000 ingredients in our food, such as: milk, peanuts, and soy. The FDA also has the authority to label GMOs, yet they will not. Interestingly, the Deputy Commissioner of Policy at the FDA spent over 10 years working as an attorney representing Monsanto.

    Numerous studies have questioned the safety of these new genetically modified organisms and the risk to human health and the environment could be disastrous. In contrast to studies questioning the safety of GMOs, the USDA has claimed NO pre-market studies will be performed on crops and biotech companies are responsible for performing their own safety studies. In response, Monsanto has stated: “There is no need for, or value in testing the safety of GM (genetically modified) foods in humans”.

    Please join hundreds of others to show your concern against the use of GMOs in our food supply!

    March Against Monsanto | Saturday, October 12, 2013 | 10:30 am | Freemont Street East, Las Vegas

  • Downtown Las Vegas needs a curfew that’s fair and just

    Our Field Director Howard Watts III penned this blog about the proposed curfew in Downtown Las Vegas. The Las Vegas City Council recommending committee will decide tomorrow, October 1st, if the City Council votes on this new ordinance.

     

    Over the last several months, the forces of “economic revitalization” have ramped up a longstanding campaign to remove unhealthy or unwanted elements from Downtown Las Vegas. A more realistic phrasing is that the powers that be are forcibly removing anybody that doesn’t fit their idea of Downtown. Over the past decade, this administrative “disappearing” has focused primarily on homeless people and the low-income African American community which was literally walled off from the core of Downtown during a freeway expansion (they have successfully pushed to get a gateway between the two areas re-established. Fremont-Street-East-street-scene-edit

    Recently, as more bars and liquor stores have combined with increased popularity to create a rowdy party atmosphere along the Fremont Street East corridor, authorities have taken to barricading streets, over-enforcing open container laws, and relying on the intervention of the Rangers, a private security force established by billionaire Tony Hsieh, to ensure his newly relocated employees feel safe during their own after-work partying. Now, after collecting anecdotal evidence from Las Vegas Metro Police on underage drinking and hearing the bemoaning of some downtown businesses, the Mayor of Las Vegas introduced a new curfew ordinance. While there is already a curfew in effect throughout the city and even county, this would create a special zone in which minors without specific business downtown would be subject to citation and detention starting at 9:00 pm on weekends (the current curfew for weekends is midnight). This zone would have originally covered a substantial portion of central Las Vegas, including thousands of residents, many of whom are low income and people of color. This would have criminalized the children playing in their neighborhood streets, going to the nearest store or restaurant, or utilizing the social services and community centers within the area. Both child and parent would face fines and potential detention.

    Upon learning of this policy proposal (PLAN’s Las Vegas office was within both the first and second proposed set of boundaries), we educated our youth volunteers about the effects it could have on their activities as well as popular cultural events like First Friday, and in the process of our research discovered the flaws in our current citywide curfew. We released a statement and testified on changes to the curfew that would restrict a new zone only to the bar and casino-filled “adults only” area and reduce fines and penalties to keep young people out of the school to prison pipeline. We also highlighted the need to build a downtown that is inclusive for all people, the need for social services to address  issues of substance abuse, and a focus on controlling the flow of liquor in Downtown Las Vegas by policing distributors as strictly as we police consumers. Thanks to this pressure, we got the curfew area reduced to our ideal size, and we are continuing to push for a reduction in penalties for curfew violations. This has also helped energize young people in a current issue that directly affects them, showing the importance of civic engagement, and is creating an opening for us to take on issues of Correctional Justice at the state and local levels. A final ordinance could be voted on as early as October 2.

  • March for Justice in Reno and Las Vegas

    This Saturday thousands of civil rights activists from across the country will meet in Washington, DC and march for voting rights, economic freedom, civil liberties and equality for all to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom.

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    The March on Washington was organized by a coalition of civil rights, labor and religious organizers in 1963. They welcomed close to 300,000 marchers from across the country; it was at that march where Dr. Martin Luther King gave his historic ‘I Have A Dream Speech.’

    The energy in Washington this weekend will be just as powerful as it was 50 years ago. The March on Washington is credited for the passage of both the Voting Rights Act and the Civil Rights Act, and recent actions including a brutal voting rights decision from the Supreme Court, has renewed the call to action to fight for justice and civil rights.

    If you can not make it to Washington this weekend, there are events happening in Las Vegas and Reno. We hope that you can join PLAN and other community organizations in celebrating the March on Washington, and renewing our vows to social justice for all Nevadans.

    Reno – March for a Dream

    Bruce R Thompson Federal Courthouse
    400 South Virginia Street
    Reno, NV 89501

    Saturday August 24th

    10:00am – Noon

    For more information:
    NAACP Reno/Sparks Branch #1112
    Phone: (775) 322-2992
    P.O. Box 7757
    Reno, NV 89510
    Email: info@renosparksnaacp.org

    Las Vegas Celebrates the 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom

    8:00 AM – March starts at Doolittle Community Center 1960 J Street, Las Vegas NV 89106

    9:00 AM – Program begins at the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr statue on Martin Luther King Boulevard and Carey Avenue

    For more information:
    Our Own Voices
    Rodney Smith
    (702) 430-6685
    Email: rodney@ourownvoices.com

    PLAN will be registering voters at the Las Vegas rally with Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., stop by and say hello!

  • Are you ready for an immigration listening session with Mark Amodei, Reno?

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    This Friday August 23rd Congressman Mark Amodei (District 2) is hosting an immigration listening session for his constituents. Right now immigration reform activists (pictured above) are preparing for the listening session by practicing, developing questions, and calling on PLAN activists to attend.

    It’s the August Recess, a month long break our Members of Congress have from their Congressional duties in Washington, DC. They’re home in Nevada talking to constituents, visiting small businesses, and holding town halls. A town hall is an opportunity for you to speak directly with your elected officials. Friday is your opportunity to ask Congressman Amodei directly what he will do to guarantee there is a vote in the House THIS YEAR for immigration reform that keeps families together and provides a pathway to citizenship for the 11 million undocumented immigrants living in the United States.

    If you’re in the Reno area Friday, we hope you will attend. Here are the details:

    Congressman Mark Amodei Immigration Listening Session

    Friday August 23, 2013

    10:30am – Noon

    Washoe County Commission Chamber, Building A

    1001 East 9th Street, Reno NV 89512

    Prior to the listening session there will be a vigil at 9:30 AM with immigration activists,

    feel free to join us!

  • Take action against fracking in Nevada

    This morning our state director sent the following message to our activists. Take a look, and take action to stop fracking in our state!

    TakeAction

    Dear Activist,

    Our friends at the Western Organization of Resource Councils just sent this compelling alert on how you can influence new Bureau of Land Management policies on fracking on federal lands. I’ve pasted it below and encourage you to submit comments today! 

    Since our state has not acted to protect Nevada from the dangers of fracking, we must demand federal regulators step in before our fragile lands and precious waters are completely plundered.
    Thanks!
    Bob

     

    Begin forwarded message:

     

    Dear Bob,

    This is our last week to tell the Obama Administration that its rules for fracking federal oil and gas wells don’t do enough to protect clean air and water.

    Send your comments to the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) today.

    Fracking pumps toxic, cancer-causing chemicals into the ground, threatening water resources. It fouls the air and can lower property values.

    Last spring, the BLM first proposed new rules for fracking on federal lands – and for private lands that lie over oil and gas owned by the federal government. They were a good start but, unfortunately, the White House and BLM gave in to pressure from the oil and gas industry and proposed different rules headed in the wrong direction.

    The latest requirements for public disclosure of chemicals and well safety tests are weaker, not stronger.

    Tell BLM that people living near oil and gas drilling need stronger protections for their health, water, air, property and quality of life.

    BLM’s fracking rules should:

    • End the use of open pits to store fracking wastewater.
    • Require all wells to be tested to make sure they are isolated from groundwater. 
    • Require disclosure of chemicals before fracking.
    • Require oil and gas companies to do baseline water quality tests to document whether contamination occurs after drilling and fracking, and share the results with residents.
    • Set “no drill” zones around homes and water supplies.

    To comment, go to WORC’s Action Page by noon, Friday, August 23. We’ll deliver your comment to the BLM before the close of the comment period.

     

    Best Wishes,

    Keep up with WORC on Facebook.

    Subscribe to WORC Action Alerts & News Updates.

  • Three town halls in Clark County TONIGHT!

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    Clark County’s Congressional Representatives are holding town halls August 20th – that’s tonight!

    It’s the August Recess, a month long break our Members of Congress have from their Congressional duties in Washington, DC. They’re home in Nevada talking to constituents, visiting small businesses, and holding town halls. A town hall is an opportunity for you to speak directly with your elected officials.

    Tonight three of Nevada’s three Members of Congress who represent parts of Clark County are holding town halls. Below you’ll find information for each town hall. We strongly encourage you to attend!

    Congressman Steven Horsford: Voter Rights and Social Justice Town Hall with Congresswoman Maxine Waters

    West Las Vegas Library Theater, 951 West Lake Mead, Las Vegas, NV 89106, 6:00PM

    Congresswoman Dina Titus: Fraud Prevention Fair for Immigration

    East Las Vegas Community Center, 250 North Eastern Avenue, Las Vegas, NV 89101, 5:30PM

    Congressman Joe Heck: Spring Valley Town Hall Meeting

    Victoria Fertitta Middle School, 9905 West Mesa Vista Avenue, Las Vegas, NV 89148, 6:00PM

  • Immigration Summer — Important Dates

    Congress is on break from their duties in Washington, DC during the “August Recess”. Nevada’s Members of Congress will be home in Nevada, and we need you at town halls, visiting your Member, calling their office and writing letters to the editor. The time is NOW for immigration reform — poll after poll, no matter the demographic, Nevadans overwhelmingly agree: our immigration system is broken, it needs to be fixed this year with a pathway to citizenship that keeps families together!

    We’ll be adding more events as they come up. 734495_10151495908356509_1608823817_nContact Astrid if you want to volunteer: asilva@planevada.org 702-791-1965

    • Write a letter to the editor :

    Las Vegas Sun

    Las Vegas Review Journal

    Reno Gazette Journal

    • Throughout the month of August, Mi Familia Vota will be canvassing and phone banking, talking to voters in Congressional District 3. Please contact them to volunteer: marisolm@mifamiliavota.org or 702-776-8205

     

    • August 12th-August 15th: Congressman Joe Heck is meeting with community organizations to talk immigration reform. Contact his office to make an appointment with your organization, church, school, club, etc…the Congressman needs to hear from his constituents!

     

    • August 12th, 13th, 14th, and 15th at 9:00am, noon, and 5:00pm: Families, workers, immigration activists and constituents of District 3 will meet in the parking lot of Congressman  Joe Heck’s office for prayer, and to share personal stories. Congressman Heck’s office is located just off of Interstate 215 and Eastern Avenue: 8872 South Eastern Avenue, Suite 220, Las Vegas, NV 89123

     

     

    • August 16th: Breakfast with Congressman Mark Amodei at Jack’s Cafe in Reno, NV 7671 South Virginia Street, 8:00am

     

    • August 16th: Labor and community activists attending the Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance convention will stage an action on the Strip to call for a vote on citizenship in the House, around noon.

     

     

    • August 20th: Public Assembly with ACTIONN, PICO, Justice for Immigrants, 6pm, Little Flower Catholic Church in Reno, NV. Click here for more information.

     

     

    • August 23rd: Town hall with Congressman Mark Amodei — details (location and time) have not been released by his office