Economic Crime, Economic Criminals
Economic crime is an important lens from which to view our ongoing local and national crisis.
It is more apparent each day that oligarchs and thieves are becoming more successful at stealing wealth. It is not really difficult to make the argument that this will characterize America’s legacy of at least the Trump era.
It is also not that difficult to make that case that economic crime has stolen our collective futures. The political and cultural landscape that we find ourselves in is one in which our well-being is on the verge of vanishing, perhaps forever.
With that in mind here are three news stories that you should know about.
Trump Proposes to Gut Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI) funding by 97%
This is big news if you live in Buffalo or in the Great Lakes
This week as the Trump administration continues to unravel, it was announced Great Lakes pollution and restoration clean-up through the GLRI will be effectively killed under new budget proposals by Donald Trump. The information was released as a part of the 2018 budget proposal circulated by the Administration this past week and obtained by several news sources. As of publication this remains a developing news story, but have no doubt that the elimination of environmental protections is the heart and soul of our leadership. This is a central part of the Republican led governments attempts to gut the EPA, which Trump has characterized as a “job killer”.
The EPA is one of the fundamental government agencies that help to protect human health and well-being through environmental remediation projects and programs. Environmental and ecological health are profound economic development foundations. It has proven time and time again to be the exact opposite of a “job killer.” This has been proven right here in Western New York.
GLRI funding has been the centerpiece of Buffalo’s often referred to economic renaissance. Whether or not there is actually an economic renaissance is subject for another story, but so much of our economic discussion of the past few years has its heart and soul based in environmental restoration, with much of it funded from contexts such as GLRI funding.
The most obvious example is the fact that GLRI money has been the engine that has helped to clean-up the Buffalo River and Niagara River Great Lakes Areas of Concern (AOC).
.A priority economic development goal for this region has been to find a way to de-list these areas of concern so that our quality of life and desirability for economic investment is best leveraged. Far from a job killer, the GLRI has been supported locally as a profound job creator. At least this is the position taken by virtually every elected official that does or has represented us for a generation. Brian Higgins has been one of the greatest champions of GLRI funding in the entire Great Lakes region. You might be surprised to know that the often dissembling Chris Collins has also championed and taken credit for some of this local GLRI funding. What he says and does next will be a real measure of his character. (more below)
Elimination of GLRI funding will hurt our region, perhaps even incapacitate our region for decades to come. The Trump Administration announced that it will release the final budget on March 13. Don’t hold your breath.
-A statement released by Buffalo Niagara Riverkeeper on Friday:
“The proposal virtually eliminates the “Great Lakes Restoration Initiative” (GLRI), which is the program that supported the massive restoration effort of the Buffalo River. The GLRI would have supported similar clean up efforts in Scajaquada Creek, the Niagara River, Black Rock Canal, Smokes Creek, Cayuga and Bergholtz Creeks, and Lake Erie. This is devastating news for our region and the Great Lakes.”
-An article posted Friday on Salon, stated
“The GLRI cuts constitute the largest total dollar reduction proposed by Trump for any single EPA program, other major targets include programs that would help Puget Sound and Chesapeake Bay, as well as research into climate change and chemicals that are dangerous to human beings. The cuts would also make it harder for the EPA to enforce pollution laws and ensure the safety of drinking and beach water.
-An article posted at Mlive on Friday February 3, quoted Paul Dyster, Mayor of Niagara Falls, New York:
“It would be a tragedy for the U.S. government to step back from its commitment to the Great Lakes, a resource that is critically important to the economic well-being and quality of life of the region. A tremendous amount of progress has been achieved over the past 5 years under the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, and that would be lost with these cuts, with so much more work left to be done.”
We do not know how long these important informational links will be avaiable but as of press time, we still have access to this information.
Great Lakes Areas of Concern
Congressman Collins and the GLRI
In the recent past, GLRI funding has been supported by former Erie County Executive and now Chief Congressional Trumpaholic — NY 27th District Congressman Chris Collins.
Collins has been way out in front in leading the often horrifying initiatives of the Trump administration. He was the first U.S. Congressman to endorse Trump in the campaign for President. He has been rewarded by having the ear of the administration and becoming on occasion, a spokesperson for the administration.Continued good luck with that Chris!
Last June Collins made a big announcement about a $180,000 GRLI funding initiative awarded to the Erie County Soil and Water Conservation District to clean phosphorus and sediment in the Cayuga Creek Watershed.
In his press release of June 28, 2016 Collins stated: “I congratulate the Erie County Soil & Water Conservation District on this significant recognition of their important work to protect the health of our waterways and communities. This grant highlights the need to fully fund the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative to continue protecting the Great Lakes, which are a vital economic and environmental asset for Western New York.”
Just Last November, Congressman Collins signed a letter from the Great Lakes Congressional Delegation to House and Senate Leadership praising Congressional efforts to restore the GLRI for five more years under the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA). The letter stated “As you know, the Great Lakes are a unique natural system of global economic and environmental significance. They represent the world’s largest system of fresh surface water, supplying drinking ware for more than 30 million Americas; supporting over 1.5 million jobs, generating $62 billion in wages each year: and they are home to over 3,500 species of plants and animals. (supporting) the programs listed above will ensure that the industry, ecosystem and beaty of the Great Lakes will continue to provide such a bounty for our constituents.”
It is important to note that Collins has taken responsibility for the Erie County Soil and Water funding. If you live in Erie County, this means that he represents you even if you do not live directly in his District. If you live anywhere in the Great Lakes, or in North America, he has a profound responsibility to you. If you call his office and are told that you do not live in his District, say in no uncertain terms that his votes effect you. Or use some choice phrase to represent your feelings.
Call his office:
Lancaster: 716 634-2324
Kleptocratic Kill Joys
Many of the republican/trump initiatives involve shrinking the government to a size where you can drown it in a bath tub. A big source of this argument comes from corporate kleptocrats that want to eliminate regulations so that they can pad their profits. They may argue that regulations are job killers, but that is just propaganda. Most regulations are designed to protect the public from the transfer of wealth from the people to the few at the top of the pile. Regulations protect jobs. More than that they help to protect workers right, wages, and health.Regulations support families, and, our collective futures. Families good. Trump bad. Sad.
They will kill you and in order to accomplish this goal. Don’t blink or you may not be able to dodge that bullet.
Kill the EPA
It was clear during the campaign that Trump wanted to dismantle the EPA. He was elected with that as a primary talking point. You and people you know may have voted for him. Whomever managed the election results was able to enable corporate criminals including Trump, other Republican and many Democratic elected officials, and the people that Trump relies on to put a target on our backs.
The transition team for the EPA was lead by Merchant of Doubter Myron Ebell. How many deaths from tobacco did this man champion. Did anyone in your family die from tobacco related disease? Myron Ebell should be prosecuted.
You probably know that the new EPA Commissioner Scott Pruitt, appointed by Trump and confirmed by the Republican controlled Congress, believes that climate change is a hoax, argues that reducing fossil fuel consumption is a disgrace, and is supported by the coal, oi,l and gas industry as a prophet of economic growth. He has led the war to dismantle the EPA so that profit takers could dismantle the health of the planted and the well-being of its residents.
Well, here let Bill Moyers tell the story: http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/39312-scott-pruitt-will-make-america-great-again-for-polluters
Other Links to Pruitt:
Trump Picks Scott Pruitt, Climate Denier to Lead the EPA - New York Times 7 December, 2016
Buffalo News Reporter TJ Pignataro is doing excellent work on covering this and other environmental issues. He has recent quotes from Congressman Collins. Check out his piece in Saturday’s Buffalo News.
More Horrible News on Bee Decline
A major new report reveals the rapid decline of native bee populations across the United States.
For this first-of-its-kind analysis, the Center for Biological Diversity conducted a systematic
review of the status of all 4,337 North American and Hawaiian native bees. The report indicates that while the decline of European Honeybees (Colony Collapse Disorder) has been well publicized, much less has been observed or documented relative to the species of Native bee’s in the US. The report also says that native bees play a vital role in functioning ecosystems and also add more than $3 billion in fruit-pollination services each year just in the U.S.
We will further evaluate and write about this report soon.
The Key Findings of the Report are:
• Among native bee species with sufficient data to assess (1,437), more than half (749) are
• Nearly 1 in 4 (347 native bee species) is imperiled and at increasing risk of extinction.
• For many of the bee species lacking sufficient population data, it’s likely they are also
declining or at risk of extinction. Additional research is urgently needed to protect them.
• A primary driver of these declines is agricultural intensification, which includes habitat
destruction and pesticide use. Other major threats are climate change and urbanization.
New York SEQRA Destruction
The anti-regulatory contagion has reached a fever pitch in New York.
New York State is quietly moving to eliminate the best environmental tools available to citizens and residents. And it is not just Republicans that are enabling anti regulatory strategies that will hurt people and the environment.
SEQRA, the State Environmental Quality Review Act has been slowly strangled by NY State elected officials including Governor’s and including Governor Cuomo over the past two decades.
Long challenged by state and city agencies in Buffalo, SEQRA has strayed far from its original intent to protect the environment, people, and communities from harm. All in the name of making development more friendly to the pay to play criminals.
The subjugation of SEQRA is an economic crime. Pay to play developers can and do overpower any rights to clean water and air and other natural and ecological benefits. This writes says that citizens and nature should have fundamental protections and rights. The extinction of nature, including native bee’s and all of the things that we need GLRI to help clean-up could have been better prevented if the full force of SEQRA had ever been used in New York State or by the City of Buffalo and by the culture of naivety that festers today.
Now new rules are more or less going to reduce SEQRA reviews to a checkbox on a sheet of paper that essentially asks the developer if they have or have not considered environmental protections for the proposed project. Check yes, -move on to other issues. Check no, -move on to other issues subject to review by some toothless low information soldier that may or may not know what SEQRA is. #idiocracy.
At some point, even that job will be eliminated as an efficiency and good government measure.
State and city agencies in Buffalo and across the Empire State have long been adverse to using SEQRA. Challenges to decisions are rarely upheld by the judiciary system. SEQRA has strayed far from its original intent, to protect the environment, people and communities from harm.
The new rules will guarantee abuse of environment and people, and the total abandonment of environmental safeguards in New York. Don’t worry. Maybe we will have some eviscerated version of the publicly funded GLRI to pretend to fix things. You know, so we wont kill jobs.
Friend of Greenwich and super SEQRA attorney Art Giacalone has just published an excellent piece on the dismantling of NY SEQRA. It is an important read and you can be sure that we will continue to cover this story. No one else is.