Here's the audio file (MP3/18.1MB/1:19:24) for this Saturday, October 18, 2008, session: Download C3_Nation
When considering people of color make up 30 percent of the U.S. population, journalists seem to be quite the non-representative sample: only 11 percent of an average newsroom is staffed by minorities. In this session, the panel suggested ways in which journalists can provide coverage of environmental issues that is compelling to communities of color. Linking environmental issues with things that happen within our everyday life was one example of how to take angles of environmental stories that can help people relate to issues and understand them better. Marley Shebala, a senior reporter for The Navajo Times, explained that, "going out and reaching people, trying to provide information to help them understand" is a good start to getting the community involved in pertinent environmental issues. Framing the issue in a way that encourages people to be motivated and become pro-active can also spur community involvement and awareness. With the right information, the issues themselves have the power to bring people together.
Here's the audio file (MP3/16.4MB/1:11:57) for this Friday, October 17, 2008, session: Download C2_Nation
It has become increasingly apparent that current U.S. energy policies are no longer enough to cut it in today's political climate and warming global climate. Accordingly, these energy policies have been a hot topic in the 2008 presidential campaigns. The presidential candidates' energy plans represent very different directions for the nation's energy and environmental policy. David Jenkins, government affairs director for Republicans for Environmental Protection, William Kovacs, vice president of the Environment, Technology, and Public Affairs department of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and David Sandretti, communications director for the League of Conservation Voters, convened on a panel moderated by Dan Radmacher, editorial page editor for The Roanoke Times, to discuss the presidential candidates' positions and the bearing of the 2008 congressional elections on environmental policy.
On many key energy issues, such as carbon emissions, eliminating dependence on foreign oil, nuclear technology, and government support for biofuels, the candidates have taken widely different stances. Obama has stated that he will turn carbon dioxide emission control entirely over to the EPA; McCain will likely leave regulation to legislators. McCain supports the construction of 45 new nuclear power plants to replace energy we now get from foreign oil; Obama's support for nuclear power is much more limited. Obama is in favor of continuing ethanol subsidies; McCain is opposed. Both candidates face the issue of quickly and effectively integrating the development of technology into the reduction of emissions.
The state of congress will greatly impact the direction of U.S. politics. For instance, a filibuster proof senate for the Obama administration would greatly change the direction of policy and the concessions made to Republican senators.
Here's the audio file (MP3/16.2MB/1:11:12) for this Friday, October 17, 2008, session: Download C1_Nation
The Nation By Aisha Radford
At the opening concurrent session focusing on national environmental issues, panelists discussed America’s failing infrastructures and the need for more funding to improve water systems, bridges, and transportation systems. Aging infrastructure continues to threaten America’s economy and the quality of life of many of its citizens.
In the 2005 Report Card for America’s Infrastructure, the U.S. received an overall grade of D. According to Andrew Herrmann, District 1 Director of the American Society of Civil Engineers, $9.4 billion per year is needed to eliminate bridge infrastructure problems.
Panelists agreed that establishing a plan for long term infrastructure development and maintenance must become a major priority for congressional leaders at federal, state, and local levels. Katherine Baer, Senior Director of Clean Water for American Rivers advocated to “have the Clean Water Act do what it is supposed to do, and be a technology driver.”
Jack Schenendorf, Vice Chairman of the National Surface Transportation Policy and Revenue Study Commission, focused his discussion on the need for America to push towards the development of a world-class transportation system in major metropolitan communities in order to get people out of their cars and into transit systems. “We can’t reduce greenhouse gas and petroleum usage unless we invest in better transportation,” he said.
Due to my quest for real coffee (with a double shot of espresso), I arrived at the end of the breakfast plenary discussing the environmental justice movement in the south. But I heard Shirley Stewart Burns provide an insider's perspective on the subject. "When I was preparing for this talk, I could not think of one instance of environmental justice in Appalachia," she said. "It is all environmental injustice." Burns is the author of "Bringing Down the Mountains: The Impact of Mountaintop Removal on Southern West Virginia Communities."
Burns went on to question the effects of coal mining on wealth, or lack thereof. "How could the most minerally rich area be inhabited by the poorest people in America?" she asked. She also provided stories of how local activists are spreading the word globally and taking a stand for their local land. She spoke of people like Judy Bonds, an ex Pizza Hut waitress, now of Coal River Mountain Watch, who travels the world talking about the devastation of mountaintop removal. She talked of Larry Gibson, who walked 400 miles to Washington, D.C., to speak with politicians about the local effects of this kind of coal mining.