- Around the world today, more than 141 countries are cleaning up litter, planting trees and flowers, and trying to be greener, in celebration of Earth Day. Earth Day was founded by environmental enthusiast, Senator Gaylord Nelson
of Wisconsin in 1970, as a day of appreciation for and awareness of the planet and all its natural resources. In 1990, Earth Day went international under the leadership of Denis Hayes
On the East End, our economy and way of life is intricately woven into the environment, as many rely on the fishing and farming to make a living. It is imperative that those of us on the East End make everyday Earth Day, by promoting environmentally friendly practices, and becoming stewards of the land and sea.
The Sustainable Southampton Advisory Committee is working tirelessly, to ensure that the Town moves toward a more sustainable future. The appointed volunteer members are bringing the community together by utilizing an online community calendar to highlight special events and ongoing projects.
All interested parties are welcome to submit events from Earth Day and beyond for the interactive Sustainable Events Calendar at www.southamptontownny.gov/sustainable
, and residents are encouraged to check the calendar regularly.
"Schools, community groups, non-profit organizations and anyone interested in sustainability is welcomed to publicize their efforts commemorating Earth Day 2011 and beyond," stated Town Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst
"The actions of local individuals can add up to a significant collective impact for our Town," said Kate Schertel
, co-chair of the Sustainable Southampton Education Subcommittee. "Compiling as many sustainability events as possible into one calendar will show the cumulative efforts throughout our area, and give our Town Board support in moving ahead as they plan for a more sustainable future."
In Bridgehampton, The South Fork Natural History Museum
and Nature Center will be holding an Earth Day Open House on Saturday, April 23 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. A birding for beginners class led by SoFo Executive Director Frank Quevedo
will take place from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m., so be sure to bring along a pair of bincolulars! From 1:30 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. nature educator Crystal Possehl
will lead a bluebird story time and field walk for children ages two to four. She will also lead children five and up on the same program from 2:45 p.m. to 3:45 p.m.
Also on Saturday, The Quogue Wildlife Refuge
will host an Earth Day celebration from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. The celebration will include nature walks, live animal presentations, children's crafts, environmental exhibitors and self guided kayak and canoeing trips. Visit www.quoguewildliferefuge.org
for more information.
Representatives Tim Bishop
, Earl Blumenauer
and Frank Pallone
announced the introduction of H.R. 1596, the Superfund Reinvestment Act, to restore polluter-pays provisions for cleaning up America's most toxic and polluted sites.
"There are three options to deal with toxic sites—nobody pays, everybody pays or the polluter pays," said Bishop. "Nobody pays is not an acceptable option because we cannot allow pollution to fester and endanger public health. Right now, everybody pays, which is unfair because every taxpayer and business is on the hook for the behavior of a handful of industries. The fair, commonsense solution is that polluters should pay. Let's remind polluters what we as parents tell our children—clean up your own mess."
"This Earth Day, we are reaffirming the commonsense idea that companies should pay to clean up their own toxic waste," said Blumenauer. "It is unfair to pass the burden on to taxpayers who bear no responsibility for the polluted industrial sites that threaten communities across this country. Without reauthorization, millions of Americans will be needlessly exposed to toxic waste while industries dodge billions of dollars in pollution taxes. It's time to put the burden for cleanup back where it belongs: on polluters."
"Reauthorizing the Superfund tax is important to everyone living and working in New Jersey because we have more Superfund sites than any other state in the country," said Pallone. "These toxic sites are a threat to public health as well as a danger to the environment. Reauthorization will provide Superfund with the resources it needs to clean-up sites fully, without unnecessary delay, and make the polluters pay the costs."
Superfund sites are some of the most contaminated in the nation. 70 million Americans—including 10 million children, live within four miles of a Superfund site. They are exposed to toxic waste such as arsenic, benzene, PCBs, mercury and a range of solvents, leading to health problems such as infertility, low birth weight, birth defects, leukemia and respiratory difficulties. Communities that are home to these sites can face restrictions on water use and recreational activities as well as economic losses as property values decline due to contaminated land.
Before 1995, the Superfund trust fund was subsidized by taxes on the chemical and petroleum industry. When a large pollution problem occurred, and the responsible party could not be found, could not pay, or refused to pay, the Superfund was tapped to pay for the cleanup. This program has resulted in the cleanup of more than 1000 toxic waste sites in communities all over the U.S., freeing residents from health risks and fears that come with living next to toxic waste.
Because Congress has not reauthorized the taxes, the cleanup of Superfund sites is paid for out of the general treasury. Without the contributing taxes, the Superfund has had less money available for cleanup work. This is happening as costs for work to restore Superfund sites are on the rise. In some cases, the EPA no longer has enough money to launch cleanups and can lose leverage to make companies clean up polluted sites.
The Superfund Reinvestment Act would reinstate the Superfund taxes on polluters to their previous levels. This includes taxes on the petrochemical industry and a corporate income tax of 0.12 percent on the amount of a corporation's modified alternative minimum taxable income that exceeds $2 million. The President's FY 2012 budget, which calls for reauthorization of these taxes, estimates that they would raise about $2 billion per year and $20.8 billion over 10 years.