Progressive Democrat Newsletter Issue 210

This week the Right Wing seemed to be all about tea, or something. Which is odd because all I heard from them was whining. It should have been wine and cheese, not tea, because it was all whining and cheesy cliches that really are meaningless if you scratch the surface. It led the anti-America Texas governor to even suggest Texas might want to secede. He might want to study some American history (even though he seems to hate American democracy) and he might discover that secession is a dead end, and was something largely opposed by the likes of George Washington, James Madison and, in particular, Andrew Jackson. Isn't it really ironic that at least one of these secessionist wine and cheese...I mean "tea parties" was in front of a statue of Andrew Jackson when THIS is what Andrew Jackson had to say about secession in his "Proclamation to the People of South Carolina" during the nullification crisis:

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Bush's parting gift to industrial livestock producers

This is my first post in a series on George W. Bush's gifts to corporate interests and major Republican donors during the final weeks of his presidency. (Please send me tips at desmoinesdem AT regarding other below-the-radar executive branch actions.)

This news came from the Sustainable Agriculture Coalition's e-mail newsletter:

EPA Administrator Signs Off on Final CAFO Rule:  Last Friday, as a "Halloween trick" for the environment and public health, EPA Administrator Stephen Johnson signed a revised Clean Water Act final regulation for Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation (CAFO) permits and effluent limitations.  EPA revised the CAFO regulations in response to legal challenges to a 2003 CAFO final regulation, brought in the case Waterkeeper Alliance Inc. v. EPA by both environmental organizations and the CAFO sector.  

The revision opens a gaping hole in the 2003 regulation by allowing a CAFO, no matter how large, to self-certify that the CAFO does not "intend" to discharge to the waters of the U.S.   EPA ignored the recommendation of the federal Second Circuit Court of Appeals to establish a regulatory presumption that large-scale CAFOs discharge pollutants.  The presumption would have required that a large-scale CAFO demonstrate to regulatory authorities that it is designed and can be operated to avoid all discharges of regulated pollutants.  

EPA also rejected making improvements in technology that reduce harmful bacteria and other pathogens that threaten public health, a problem aggravated by the development of antibiotic resistant pathogens in CAFOs.  The revised rule does include one improvement required in Waterkeeper -- that a CAFO nutrient management plan must be included in a Clean Water Act permit for the CAFO and made available for public review and comment.

EPA is expected publish the revised final regulation in the Federal Register before the end of November. In the meantime, a copy of the unofficial version of the revised regulation is posted on the EPA website. You can also register on the website for a November 19 EPA webcast about the revised CAFO regulation.

SAC will be urging the new Administration to revisit this rulemaking on an expedited basis.

Why am I not surprised that industrial ag profits are a higher priority than the environment and public health?

I hope that the Obama administration will put this on the list of actions to be overturned quickly.

If you care about food policy and sustainable agriculture, you should bookmark the community blog La Vida Locavore, featuring Jill Richardson (known to Daily Kos readers as OrangeClouds115) and Asinus Asinum Fricat, among others.

Jill's recent posts indicate that Obama will likely improve food safety and may move us in the right direction in several other agricultural policy areas.

I can't say I'll be very optimistic if Obama taps Tom Vilsack for secretary of agriculture. He did little to address pollution from conventional farming or to promote sustainable agriculture during his two terms as governor. The Organic Consumers Association doesn't hold back in this piece: Six Reasons Why Obama Appointing Monsanto's Buddy, Former Iowa Governor Vilsack, for USDA Head is a Terrible Idea.

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For All You Meat Lovers

Many people might be reluctant to abandon their medium-rare, barbecued steal or pork chop because of the environmental and food-supply ramifications. For those people there is another reason, your own health.

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Progressive Democrat Newsletter Issue 175

I hope everyone had a great 4th of July. Jacob saw his first real fireworks display and loved it at first. We were watching from the 12th floor of a building right on the waterfront, so it was spectacular. Unfortunately, he was coming down with a fever and by the end was pretty unhappy. He is fine again now.

This was a big week, both locally where my friend qualified for the ballot for NYC's Sept. 9th primary election, and nationally where Obama's surge continued even as the Democrats once again showed less spine than we would like them to. More below.

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Progressive Democrat Newsletter Issue 170

The primary is over and our nominee is Barack Obama.

This was going to be a historic moment no matter what. Once the field narrowed to Obama and Clinton, we KNEW we would make history. We would have either the first black or first woman nominated for President by one of the two major parties. Well, THIS, folks, is history. Real and amazing history. We have now done what our parents couldn't do.

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