Day 90: The Health Impact of Coal on Your State

The Record on Coal

DAY 90 ACTION: Learn about the health risks posed by coal-fired electricity and find out how close you live to a coal-fired power plant.

More than 1 billion gallons of coal ash were released from the Kingston Power Plant in Harriman, Tennessee in late 2008. Credit: Energy and Policy Institute

“It isn’t pollution that’s harming the environment. It’s the impurities in our air and water that are doing it.” – Dan Quayle

In 2010, coal was the largest single source of U.S. power, supplying 44% of electricity. But a combination of aging coal plants, environmental standards, and lots of cheap natural gas from the fracking boom toppled “king coal.” April 2015 marked the first time in U.S. history that natural gas made up a bigger share of the electricity market (31%, up from 22% in 2010) than coal (30%).

In some regions, solar and wind are beating coal in the market. There are twice as many workers in the solar industry as the coal industry.

Coal is carbon intensive; for the same amount of electricity, it produces twice the carbon dioxide of natural gas (solar, wind, and nuclear produce no greenhouse gases). When burned, coal also releases soot, smog, and heavy metals such as mercury and arsenic into the air. 

Since 1900, more than 100,000 people have been killed in U.S. coal mining accidents; another 200,000 have died from black lung disease. Communities near mountaintop mining operations suffer from elevated rates of many illnesses; those living near coal-fired power plants face air pollution and the occasional catastrophic coal ash spill

The Clean Air Task Force created this helpful map, to show you where coal plants are located and the health harms they cause.

Today’s Action: Learn about coal’s role in electricity production and its impact on public health. Look up power plants near you and their health effects!

Day 89: Get the Vote out in the GA-6th!

Get Out the Vote for Jon!

DAY 89 ACTION: No matter where you live, you can phone bank for the GA-6th election. Make some calls, and then follow the election results!

Democratic Candidate Jon Ossoff. Credit: Daniel Schwartz/Jon Ossoff for Congress

“We need to be focused right now on taking back the House. It starts right here in Georgia’s 6th District.” – Jon Ossoff

Today is the special election in Georgia’s 6th District. This affluent Atlanta suburb was once represented by Newt Gingrich; it’s been a safe Republican seat for 40 years. So when Trump nominated Congressman Tom Price to be the Secretary of Health and Human Services, no one thought much about the race to replace him.

Then, Jon Ossoff happened. The 30-year old filmmaker and former Hill aide has raised $8 million and is polling at about 45% in a field of 18. If he wins 50% of the vote today, he can win the seat outright and avoid a runoff on June 20th.

Nate Silver has weighed in on Ossoff’s chances. For weeks, Bannon has been following the Ossoff campaign and getting briefed on polls. Yesterday, the President got involved, tweeting: “[t]he Super Liberal Democrat in the Georgia Congressioal [DT’s typo, not ours!] race tomorrow wants to … allow illegal immigration”. Politifact weighed in, finding the statement mostly false.

We covered this race on Day 36, and contributed to the campaign. Now, 53 days later, a lot of excitement has been generated. But today, it’s all about getting out the vote.

Today’s Action: Get out the vote! If you live in Georgia, knock on doors. No matter where you live, sign up to call voters and remind them to vote. Then, follow the election results online!

Day 87: Relax! Don’t Do It.

Rest Up. We have a Long Road Ahead of us.

DAY 87 ACTION: Take a breather.

Breathe in. Breathe out.

“Each person deserves a day away in which no problems are confronted, no solutions searched for.” – Maya Angelou

For the past 86 days, we have been calling and writing Congress, becoming more active in our community, getting to know our neighbors, and joining our local library.

But sometimes, we need to rest.

It’s a marathon, not a sprint. What good are we if we’re tired, stressed, and worn out?

Some may be celebrating the end of Passover or the Easter holiday with family and friends. And everyone can take a day to enjoy the beautiful spring.

Today, let’s gather our strength, regenerate, and relax. We will get back to fighting Trump tomorrow.

If you struggle with quieting yourself:

* Get acquainted with Norwegian Slow TV.

* Go for a walk. It’s good for your mental health!

* Read a book. It can relax you!

Today’s Action: Relax!

Day 86: Where are Trump’s Taxes?

Trump’s Tax Returns

DAY 86 ACTION: Tell the President to Share his Taxes!

Where are Trump’s tax returns?

“Taxes are the price we pay for civilization.” – Oliver Wendell Holmes, Supreme Court Justice, 1902-1932

Every major party candidate since Gerald Ford in 1976 has published tax returns for the public’s review. That ended with Donald Trump. Trump never released his tax returns during the election, and in January, told the press that he doesn’t think Americans “care at all.”

But 74% do care, and want to see Trump’s returns. Why? Because they would tell us how Trump earns his money, and could reveal ties to Russia.

March 1, 1914 was established as the first tax day, about a year after the 16th Amendment authorized taxes and six months after the Revenue Act of 1913. In 1955, the day was moved to April 15. 

This year, tax returns are not due until April 18. That’s because April 15 falls on a Saturday, and Monday is a holiday in Washington, DC.

Honor the usual Tax Day by calling on Trump to release his tax returns!

Today’s Action: Join a march today to call for Trump’s taxes. Sign this petition to ask Trump to release his taxes. Demand transparency from the President!

Day 85: Fight White Supremacy

Fight White Supremacy

DAY 85 ACTION: Abraham Lincoln was murdered by a white supremacist. Support the work of groups that fight hate.

Currier and Ives painting of President Lincoln’s assassination.

“Now by God I’ll put him through. That is the last speech he will ever make.” – John Wilkes Booth to a companion, at Lincoln’s last speech, April 11, 1865

On Good Friday, April 14, 1865, John Wilkes Booth shot President Lincoln while the President and his wife watched a play in Ford’s Theatre. President Lincoln died the next day.

Booth was a white supremacist and Confederate who swore to kill the President after hearing him call for black suffrage in a speech. In Lincoln’s murder, writer Ta-Nehisi Coates has noted, racism cost us “one of the wisest statesmen this country has ever produced.” Hate crimes target certain people; they diminish all of us.

Sadly, 152 years later, this is still a problem in America. The Anti-Defamation League reports that the numbers of white supremacists have not grown appreciably since 2009, but hate groups have become more vocal and more violent. In the first 2 weeks after Trump’s election, more than 700 hate crimes were reported across the country, often invoking Trump’s name.

Racism is not acceptable. We can and must do better.

Today’s Action: Learn how the Anti-Defamation League, the Southern Poverty Law Center, and other groups are fighting back against racism and hatred. Then show them your support! Volunteer, donate, and/or thank them through social media.

Day 84: Visit a Public Library

The Public Library

DAY 84 ACTION: Learn more about the public library and its role in your community. Make sure you have a library card, and check out a book to read!

Children line up in front of the Brownsville Public Library. When this Brooklyn-based library opened in 1914, it was thought to be the first kids-only public library in the world.

‘The only thing that you absolutely have to know, is the location of the library.’ – Albert Einstein

It’s National Library Week! And while our President doesn’t read, public libraries play a vital role in our communities and in American history.

In 1731, Benjamin Franklin helped found the Library Company of Philadelphia, a lending library providing free access to books. This may have been the first public library, an American institution now replicated around the world. (The LCP was supported by shareholder subscriptions; local government funds today’s libraries.) The US has more public libraries than McDonalds restaurants.

Libraries serve important roles in the community. They host children’s book events, social programs for the elderly, and classes. They offer computers and Internet access, so members can apply for jobs or do schoolwork. More recently, public libraries have stepped up to debunk fake news and provide sanctuary spaces for immigrants.

Find your local library on this list and see what programs they’re offering! Apply for a library card if you don’t already have one, and check out a book to read. It may not be satisfying in quite the same way as burying the White House in an avalanche of books, but it’s close. We promise.

Today’s Action: Learn more about your local library and get involved! Check out a book to read, attend a library event, or volunteer. In this age of fake news, celebrate the public library’s role in providing free access to quality information.

Day 83: Protect SNAP and School Food Programs

Farm Bill Food Assistance

DAY 83 ACTION: Email your member of Congress and tell them to protect food assistance programs in the Farm Bill!

Credit: Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Program

At the recent House hearing on food stamps, Rep. Jodey Arrington (R-TX), quoted the Bible (2 Thessalonians 3:10) to argue that food stamps should be cut: “If a man will not work, he shall not eat.”

Yesterday we talked about the SNAP program, the largest but by no means the only food assistance program in the Farm Bill. Other Farm Bill programs include the Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Program, which provides vouchers to the elderly for trips to the farmers market, and the children’s Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program.

House Republicans have set their sights on these programs. Some want to slash funding, or block grant the program (i.e., let states decide how to allocate, rather than giving to families directly). Others want to impose more work requirements, or drug testing. Still others want to prohibit using stamps to purchase junk food, despite studies that show SNAP recipients buy soda (5 cents on every $1) and candy (2 cents) at the same rate as everyone else. (Meanwhile, the GOP wants to end Michelle Obama’s healthy school lunch program.)

We need to defend nutrition programs early and often. Now is the time to start, as Congress begins hearings on the next Farm Bill.

Today’s Action: Email your Representative and ask them to protect SNAP and school lunch programs in the upcoming Farm Bill. If you tried to follow the SNAP budget yesterday, tell them about that experience to make your request personal!

Day 82: Food Stamps

Up Ahead: Food Fight

DAY 82 ACTION: Learn about the history of food stamps, and try to live on food assistance for one day.

Credit: Getty Images. People no longer receive “food stamps” like these; more often, benefits are provided on debit cards.

In 2015, 42.2 million Americans lived in food insecure households.

Every 5 years, Congress passes a Farm Bill to fund crop insurance, farm subsidies, conservation, and food assistance. Food assistance is the largest expense; the 2014 Farm Bill allocated $756 billion over 10 years to this category.

Food stamps began as a New Deal idea; for 4 years in the Depression, food stamps fed 20 million Americans. 30 years later, President Kennedy revived the concept as a pilot program. In 1964, President Johnson signed the first permanent food stamp program into law.

In 2008, Congress changed the name to SNAP and expanded the program to meet the needs of a record number of people seeking benefits – 29 million people a month. But in 2014, the House forced a cut of $8 billion from SNAP. And the GOP is gearing up to make deeper cuts this round. 

Here’s what the average American receives in monthly food assistance under SNAP. Look up your state; for instance, in Indiana, that amount is $124.66. Now divide that number by 30. In Indiana, that works out to a daily food budget of $4.15. Today, only spend the daily allowance for a food stamp recipient in your state.

Today’s Action: Learn about the SNAP and try to live on a food stamp budget for one day.

Day 81: Passover

Passover Begins Tonight

DAY 81 ACTION: Learn about Passover.

Rev. Channing Phillips, Rabbi Arthur Waskow, and Topper Carew on April 4, 1969, at the first Freedom Seder. Credit: NPR (courtesy of Arthur Waskow).

Passover celebrates the liberation of Hebrew slaves from Egypt.

5.3 million Americans – or 2.2% – are Jewish. Not all Jews are religious, but many American Jews will celebrate Passover as it begins tonight.

Passover tells the story of Moses leading the Israelites to freedom. Moses is an important figure in Judaism, Islam, and Christianity.

Families begin Passover with a Seder, to recall the flight from Egypt. Wine and foods like matzah, a lamb shank bone, a hard-boiled egg, and bitter herbs are shared, while the Haggadah is read.

Jews have had to flee their homes more than once in the millennia since Moses led his people from Egypt, to escape persecution and death. In 2015, 664 Jews were victims of hate crimes in the US, more than twice the number of Muslims targeted for violence. 

And yet, some Jews have used Passover to focus on liberation and justice more broadly. After the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Jews in Washington, DC reached out to the African-American community. One year after Dr. King’s death, on April 4, 1969, 800 people celebrated the first Freedom Seder at Lincoln Congregational.

**If you have 9 minutes, watch this video about the first Freedom Seder.**

Freedom Seders continue – we participated in one last week. And Haggadahs have been written for immigrants and the environment, too.

Today’s Action: Learn about Passover and the Freedom Seder. Read a Haggadah.

Day 80: Register Friends to Vote, Part 2

Voter Registration Drive, Take 2!

DAY 80 ACTION: Share voter registration info with 5 more friends and family members. Post your state’s form on social media!

Anti-suffrage headquarters in New York, 1911. Credit: Harris & Ewing/Library of Congress.

Only 36.4% of eligible voters went to the polls in the mid-terms in 2014, the lowest turnout in 70 years.

We talked about voter registration on Day 16. Since that time, you and many others have made calls, written letters, attended town halls, and otherwise made your voices heard. (By the way, a recent poll by Lake Research Partners found that women have made 86% of anti-Trump calls to Congress!)

These actions are only the first step. We also need to hold elected officials accountable on Election Day. 2017 will feature important races, including state elections in New Jersey and Virginia, and 5 special elections in the House of Representatives (the first is April 18 in the GA-6th!) And the all-important mid-terms are just 37 months away.

As we’ve mentioned, 51 million eligible voters are not registered in the US. Some have never registered. Others make life changes and forget to update their registration. Think about your social circle – just in the last few months, people may have turned 18, or moved out of state or overseas. 

Sharing voter registration information is important, and one-stop websites make it easier than ever. Here are the only links you need:

Today’s Action: Run a second voter registration drive! Email registration information to 5 people you know; ask them to forward it to 5 people THEY know. And post it on social media!