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Why This Matters: Climate change leaders have long argued that industrial livestock farming, meat processing, coal mining, and coal-fired power plants are bad for human health and climate change. Now COVID is attacking these workers at rates that are shocking — 58% of the workers at one particular meatpacking plant tested positive for the virus. And coal miners are at greater risk than they should be because safety rules are not being enforced in mines — they are only guidelines and there is little oversight by the MSHA. These workers may be deemed essential for the purposes of keeping coal and meatpacking plants open, but their individual safety is not a priority.
Meatpacking Plants Are “Dangerous”
Presidential candidate Joe Biden told NBC News that he “feared for meatpacking workers. He said such plants, along with nursing homes, have become “the most dangerous places there are right now.” He continued, “They designate them as essential workers and then treat them as disposable,” Biden said of the meatpackers. The numbers of plant workers testing positive are unconscionable. NBC News reported that:
at a Tyson plant in Waterloo 444 workers test positive, which was 17% of those tested
at a Tyson plant in Columbus Junction 221 workers test positive, which was 26% of those tested
at the Iowa Premium Beef plant in Tama, 258 workers tested positive, which was 39% of those tested
Regardless of the President’s executive order keeping them open, Tyson Foods said in a statement, “We have and expect to continue to face slowdowns and temporary idling of production facilities from team member shortages or choices we make to ensure operational safety.”
Protecting Coal Miners
West Virginia Public TV reports that there are tools that the MSHA could use, including more inspections, making sure miners know they can report unsafe conditions without fear of retribution, issuing emergency standards, and making public which mines have confirmed cases of the virus. They said that “MSHA did not respond to questions about why it had not made safety precautions mandatory.” And older miners have a high rate of black lung disease and worry that they would not survive if they got the virus. And local clinics that treat black lung disease have actually closed temporarily in order to protect their patients.
This week we were so excited to get to sit down with Nathaniel Stinnett, executive director and founder of the Environmental Voter Project, to get some insights about the recent election and what climate activists can learn from it. Nathaniel brings some truly valuable insight into who climate voters are, what happened with the Latinx […]
by Amy Lupica, ODP Contributing Writer On Wednesday, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) joined Parler, a conservative social media app that claims to promote and protect “freedom of speech.” Since the app’s launch in 2018, it has garnered notoriety for its policy of not fact-checking or censoring content on its platform, placing itself in opposition […]
Wilton Gregory, appointed the first African American Catholic cardinal, is an ally in the fight against global warming. He not only believes in climate change, but he also has supported the Pope’s landmark environmental treatise— “Laudato Si:’ On Care for our Common Home” —when many archbishops in the United States did not, and put together a plan to address the Pope’s concerns about climate change that has been an inspiration for other faith leaders in Boston, Columbus, Minneapolis, San Diego, and other cities.
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