Justice Updates – Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Did you find your orange ribbon? Get it out, dust it off, and plan to wear it on Friday, June 7th. Tell anyone who asks that too many people have been killed by gun violence and you want gun safety legislation that can make a difference.

Stop the rollback of NEPA.  The hallmark of democracy is that all citizens have a right to speak and be heard. The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) is one of the only federal laws that allows people to voice their concerns about the impacts federal projects have on their communities.  Imagine the government trying to put a highway through the property of one of our motherhouses and/or ecology centers, wouldn’t we want an opportunity to speak against it?

Under NEPA, federal agencies must perform an environmental review for each proposed major federal action. The current administration has begun dismantling these requirements including how agencies should address greenhouse gases and waiving NEPA reviews completely.

Because NEPA reviews are centered on the voices from the communities impacted, they give people — especially people of color — the power to fight against these systemic inequities to protect their families and communities. In fact, from harmful pollution to the real impacts of climate change disasters, race is the single biggest indicator of how likely an individual is to experience negative environmental and public health impacts. That is environmental racism. Communities of color face greater environmental and public health hazards because they have less power and access to fight back. And since communities of color are already impacted first and worst by these environmental challenges, rolling back NEPA protections will only exacerbate existing injustices.

Contact your senators and representatives and tell them to stop the administration from gutting NEPA.  The Harvard Law School Environmental and Energy Law Program provides more information.

Revoke the Authorization for Use of Military Force.  After the attacks on September 11, 2001, Congress passed the Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) that granted the President the authority to use all “necessary and appropriate force” against those whom he determined “planned, authorized, committed, or aided” the September 11 attacks. In 2016, the Office of the President published a brief interpreting the AUMF as providing authorization for the use of force against al-Qaeda and other militant groups.  AUMF has been used to allow military action in Afghanistan, the Philippines, Georgia, Yemen, Djibouti, Kenya, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Iraq, and Somalia.  Now the administration has declared there is a threat coming from Iran.

H.R. 1274, introduced by Congresswoman Barbara Lee, is a bill to revoke Congress’ two-decade-old authorization of military action. Without Congress’s approval, the administration could extend military action into Iran and even Venezuela.

According to Win Without War, “presidents from both parties have distorted Congress’ 2001 AUMF beyond belief – to justify global war and counterterrorism operation in 80 countries over 18 years.  The never-ending war in Afghanistan. Hidden drone strikes across Africa. Torture in Guantanamo Bay and Abu Ghraib prisons. The erosion of civil liberties across the United States.”

Call your representative and tell him/her that any military action should be approved by Congress and to support H.R. 1274.

Good news…more money to study gun violence.   Everytown for Gun Safety reports that the House Appropriations Committee has allocated $50 million in a 2020 federal spending bill to study both the causes of gun violence and the solutions to help prevent it. Gun violence kills 100 people, and injures hundreds more, every day in our country. More than 20 years ago the NRA fought aggressively to persuade Congress to block funding for gun violence research, resulting in the so-called Dickey Amendment. As a result, funding for gun injury prevention fell by over 90 percent over the last two decades.

The money would go to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The research would look at the causes and effects of gun violence, and different gun safety prevention strategies. Building on what we already know works, it could point the way toward effective new approaches for ending gun violence in America.

Since the Dickey Amendment in 1996, gun violence research has been severely underfunded by the CDC and NIH. In 2018, out of a total budget of more than $8.2 billion, the CDC devoted merely $199,000 to firearm-related research. $50 million of research funding would signal a sea change in the federal commitment to ending gun violence.

Now, this spending bill is moving to the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives for a vote — and we need their support for this funding. Please call your Representative and encourage him/her to vote for this funding.

Sowing hope for the planet.   At the UISG Plenary, Sr. Sheila Kinsey, FCJM presented this 17-minute video to highlight how Sisters are responding to the cries of the earth and the plights of the poor.


Posted in News, Peace & Justice Weekly Updates

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.