California and 23 other states sued the administration after the Transportation Department and Environmental Protection Agency moved this week to jointly revoke a legal waiver that enables the state of California to set stricter standards for greenhouse gas emissions from vehicle tailpipes. The New York Times describesthe lawsuit as a “starting gun in a sweeping legal battle over states’ rights and climate change that is likely be resolved only once it reaches the Supreme Court. The decision could ultimately have wide-ranging repercussions affecting states’ control over their own environmental laws, the volume of pollution produced by the United States, and the future of the nation’s auto industry.”
An opinion piece in the Guardian warns that climate change is fueling extreme—often racist and anti-immigration—politics around the world. “Although we think about climate breakdown as an environmental issue, for many people around the world its consequences will be felt as primarily social and political... Climate breakdown will create volatile social situations. Large numbers of people could be forced to move within their countries and across borders – both near and far. Extreme environmental events and rapid change could also destabilise economies, leading to unemployment, pressure on resources, spiralling living costs and political and social unrest. Hope not Hate’s work in communities across the country over 15 years has taught us that this type of scenario threatens peaceful coexistence, and opens the door to those who seek to capitalise on the politics of hate… Societies faced with economic insecurity, real or perceived competition for resources, pressured public services and rapid social and cultural change can quickly grow disaffected if faced with unresponsive politicians and no hope of change. In these situations, diversity can become division, a situation that provides fertile ground for those who wish to break apart shared identities and common cause, and create a “them and us” mentality.… Keeping our societies united and tolerant in the face of the pressures created by the climate crisis is an integral part of the global fight for climate justice, but governments, policymakers and NGOs are not yet ready for this challenge. We must plan ahead so we can resist and repel any backlash to people fleeing the consequences of the climate crisis, and build coalitions between the environmental and social justice movements.”
This month, the Austin City Council approved $150,000 to fund logistical support services for women seeking abortions. The funds will be channeled through local abortion-rights nonprofits and can be used to pay for babysitters, transportation, hotel rooms, and other expenses low-income women encounter when seeking abortions. National Public Radio reports that this move is an “effort to push back against a new Texas law that went into effect Sept. 1. The state law bans local governments from giving money to groups that provide abortions — even if that money doesn't pay for the actual procedure… The city's leaders and staff are still working out how women will qualify for the money and what groups to contract with, but it's expected that some groups that are already doing this work across the state will be getting city support. Among those groups is Fund Texas Choice, a statewide nonprofit group that provides travel arrangements for abortion appointments for women in Texas who can't afford them. Sarah Lopez, an organizer with the group, says the group's help can include providing women with gas money, bus tickets or ride-shares — and sometimes a hotel room to recuperate in. More often than not, Lopez says, she's helping women who are already parents and who can barely afford the procedure itself — let alone all the costs that come with actually making it to the appointment. For many of these women, she says, just a little help goes a long way.”
Purdue Pharma, maker of OxyContin and other opioid products, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection on September 15. Reuters reports that “a bankruptcy filing usually halts lawsuits immediately. But Purdue is preparing for some states to argue their lawsuits cannot be halted by a Chapter 11 filing because their legal actions were brought to enforce public health and safety laws - exempting them from the usual bankruptcy rules that would stop their complaints. As a result, Purdue is asking the judge for a separate ruling to stop the litigation with the aim of allowing the company to continue negotiating with plaintiffs to resolve lawsuits. Purdue has reached a tentative deal to settle lawsuits with 24 states and five U.S. territories, as well as lead lawyers for more than 2,000 cities, counties and other plaintiffs, the company said. Two dozen states remain opposed or uncommitted to Purdue’s proposed settlement and some have said they want more information about the Sacklers’ finances and want a larger contribution from the family. Several filed new cases against the Sacklers before Purdue’s bankruptcy filing.” The Associated Press reports that the structure of the tentative settlement agreement leads some critics to label settlement funds as “blood money”: “The settlement agreement basically requires the settlement payments to be made based on the future sales and profits of opioids. That doesn’t really feel to me like the right way to do this,” Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker said this week… Under the deal, valued by Purdue at potentially more than $10 billion over time, the Sacklers would give up ownership of the company, and it would be reconstituted as a “public benefit trust.” Its profits from opioids, as well as from overdose antidotes and addiction-treatment drugs, would go toward the settlement. While OxyContin and other prescription drugs like it have what are widely accepted as legitimate medical uses — namely, relieving severe pain — activists and others are troubled by the prospect of the continued sale of Purdue’s opioids in the U.S. and overseas. “It’s blood money paying for blood money,” said Lynn Wencus, of Wrentham, Massachusetts, whose son Jeff died at 33 of an overdose in 2017. “It’s ludicrous. The whole thing would be almost comical if we weren’t talking about human lives here.”
Preliminary results from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Youth Tobacco Survey indicate that more than one in four high school students in the U.S. reported using e-cigarettes in the past 30 days, with 60% of teens reporting using fruit, menthol, and mint flavors. CNBC reports, “public health advocates say e-cigarettes have erased years of progress in reducing smoking rates among minors and is getting a new generation addicted to nicotine. They blame market leader Juul, which is partially owned by tobacco giant Altria, for making vaping trendy among young people who view smoking as unfashionable. While vaping rates among high school students hit a new high, teen smoking hit a new low of 5.8%. Juul makes sleek devices that are easy to use and to hide. Its nicotine pods are available in flavors many say are too appealing to kids, such as mango and mint. They pack a powerful punch, with one pod containing as much nicotine as a pack of cigarettes.” A new study from the University of Kansas finds that e-cigarette advertising appeals to youth who are not currently using nicotine products and that youth tend not to question information, including health claims, promoted by such advertisements. “Participants said advertising for e-cigarettes made them want to try the products. They pointed to multiple flavors, the idea that they were a safe alternative to traditional cigarettes and the way they made vaping look cool as the main reasons. Multiple respondents said the ads mentioned they were healthier than cigarettes, leading them to believe they would not get addicted. "These e-cig companies steal the entire playbook from the tobacco industry," [Yvonnes] Chen said. "You see the 'cool factor,' the sex appeal and all the same tactics cigarette companies used in advertising. But before now we haven't looked at how those approaches are perceived by adolescents."