Episodes

Living Downstream

Penny Davidson Eglin2

'Living Downstream' Exposes Agent Orange Plight in Florida

Last year we brought you the story of civilian workers at Eglin Air Force Base in Florida, who tested the defoliant Agent Orange during the Vietnam War. Today these workers are in their 70s and 80s and suffer from the same diseases that Vietnam veterans have shown were caused by their exposure to the herbicide. While surviving veterans receive disability benefits as a result of their exposure, these civilian workers do not. Earlier this year NPR’s mid-day show, Here & Now, featured our story of the civilian workers at Eglin. That broadcast has prompted more individuals to come forward who say they too are suffering medical problems caused by exposure to Agent Orange at Eglin. The story also sparked interest by law firms in a potential class action on behalf of those affected. Jon Kalish reports… Read more about the class action lawsuit…
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Environmental Justice for Non-Recognized Tribes

Non-Federally Recognized Tribes Struggle to Protect Environmental and Cultural Assets By Debra Utacia Krol and Allison Herrera Read more about federally non-recognized tribes. Valentin Lopez was handed a dilemma: how to honor his elders’ admonition to fulfill an ancestral directive to guard and protect the ancestral lands of the Amah Mutsun Tribal Band, a small tribe along California’s Central Coast and parts of the San Francisco Bay Area. “In 2006 the tribal elders came to a council meeting,” says Lopez, who’s served as chairman of the 600-member tribe since 2003. “They said our creation story tells us the Creator gave us the responsibility to take care of Mother Earth and all living things, and Creator has never taken away or rescinded that obligation. We have to find a way to do that.” Lopez left that meeting “just shaking my head…
This centuries old oak tree at Pepperwood compressed

Firing Forests to Save Them: Could Native Traditions Save Lives?

When we imagined a podcast about environmental justice – it was before the Tubbs fire here in Sonoma County – and the deadly fire seasons of 2017 and 2018. Even so, we wouldn’t have thought of Indians and their relationship to fire as a matter of environmental justice. But producers Allison Herrera and Debra Utacia Krol have a different viewpoint. They’re members of a Western tribe – and see the increasingly destructive fires in Northern California as a matter of the Anglo society forgetting lessons that Native Americans have known for millennia. Fire, they say, can be an important – even necessary – part of the landscape. Fire helps clear habitat for animals and space for plants. And smaller fires can allow us to avoid the cataclysmic fires that leveled neighborhoods in Santa Rosa and the surrounding communities – especially in the past…
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Living Downstream: The Klamath Water Wars

This is the story of a 15-year conflict over what would be the biggest dam removal ever, a modern cowboys and Indians tale that shows how victories for Native American rights still come with fits of racism and armed conflict, and how rural folks learned to make peace (and collaborate on an 1800-page Congressional bill). It’s a complex story about a fight over shared (and limited) water, with both sides fearing the disappearance of traditional lifestyles. Written and produced by Emrys Eller and his brother Greg Eller. Language alert: some salty language courtesy of real folks who lived this story. Read more about the Klamath River Dam removal. (Image: John C. Boyle Dam on the Klamath River in southern Oregon. This is one of the dams scheduled for demolition within the next few years. Credit: Wikipedia/Bobjgalindo) Editor's Note: This…
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Living Downstream Visits Birthplace of Environmental Justice

This story comes from Warren County, North Carolina. In the early 1980s, Warren County became a flash point in the fight for something that didn’t have a commonly used name at the time: environmental justice. These days, members of this small, “majority-minority” community are taking new approaches to raising environmental consciousness. Jereann King Johnson and Joe O’Connell have teamed up to tell the story of local environmentalism in the present day. Jereann has been involved in social justice work in the county since the 1970s. She knows Warren County intimately. Joe, on the other hand, was drawn to this story through his work as a folklorist. He lives in Durham, about an hours drive to the south of where our story takes place. Learn more about PCBs and global environmental justice conflicts. (Image: Anti-PCB demonstration 1982.…
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Fire and Rain: Living Downstream Reports from Borneo

The peat swamp forests of Borneo are the site of a failed agricultural experiment. Planners believed that rice should grow in the swamps, but it couldn't. Even today, experiments with growing oil palms and other trees are changing the forests, with little positive to show for these efforts. As indigenous people lost their livelihood, carbon poured into the atmosphere from uncontrolled fires. Daniel Grossman reports: Learn more about peat fires in Indonesia. Read an article by The New York Times on the same region of Indonesia. (Image: Smog and smoke over Borneo and Indonesia, 1997. Credit: NASA)
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Trailer Park Activists of Coachella Valley Fight for Health

You may be familiar with Coachella from hearing about the annual music festival there. But for 10 years, journalist Ruxandra Guidi has been visiting farmworkers in the area, learning about the deplorable conditions in which they live. There’s now some hope that community health workers are making a significant difference in the lives of workers. Here’s Ruxandra with the story – and stay tuned afterwards for a conversation with her detailing how she gains the trust of folks whose lives she’s documenting. Learn more about Coachella Valley trailer park activists. READ: Amid California's Toxic Dumps, Local Activists Go It Alone, by Ruxandra Guidi (In this historic photo by Dorothea Lange, migrant farmworkers pull carrots in the Coachella Valley. Credit: Library of Congress) Ruxandra Guidi reported and produced this episode of Living…
Red Water Pond Jean Hood and Peterson Bell Standing Black Tree Mesa

Uranium: A Toxic Legacy at Red Water Pond Road

For the Navajo people Mother Earth is sacred. She places her mineral riches below ground. That’s where they’re meant to stay. If the Earth’s elements are hauled up to the surface, Navajos believe they can turn monstrous -- or they can unleash the monsters in humankind. Uranium mining produces radionuclides and other toxic wastes full of heavy-metals. Transformed for weaponry and fuel, uranium can affect human genes, according to the Journal of Environmental Radioactivity. To get at uranium deep underground requires scouring the earth with chemicals to extract the raw ore and its poisonous bedfellows. What’s left are soils that blow contaminants through the air as dust, and wastewater that seeps deep into underground aquifers and pollutes groundwater. The residents of the Red Water Pond Road community in New Mexico have lived with uranium…
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Smackdown: City Hall vs. Big Oil

"Smackdown" tells the story of Richmond California, a working class town that grew up in the shadow of a massive Chevron refinery. The refinery emits a toxic soup of chemicals and residents suffer an asthma rate that is double the national average. Explosions and fires have periodically shaken the refinery since 1989. But Chevron is also the biggest employer in town and its taxes supply tens of millions of dollars for city services. Can Richmond maintain a healthy economy while transitioning away from fossil fuels and lessening its reliance on Chevron? And what role does electoral politics play in the mix? In October, 2018, Chevron settled a suit brought by the U.S. EPA, requiring it to pay nearly $3 million in damages, and spend about $160 million dollars upgrading refineries around the United States, including the facility in Richmond,…
BillyMcLean Von Jones

Forgotten Civilians of Eglin Air Force Base

During the Vietnam War the U.S. military defoliated large swaths of Vietnam with Agent Orange to deprive enemy forces of jungle cover. In the process it exposed American soldiers to this toxic chemical as well. Our own civilians back in the U.S. were also exposed to Agent Orange, along with other herbicides. They were involved in testing herbicides at an Air Force base in Florida throughout the 1960s. Dozens of civilians involved in the testing at the base say that more than 40 years after their exposure, they are ill and dying. (Billy McLean (L) and Von Jones pictured. Credit: Jon Kalish) Jon Kalish reports from the Florida panhandle on Agent Orange and "The Forgotten Civilians of Eglin Air Force Base." Learn more about Agent Orange. Terell Ratlin died soon after being interviewed by Jon Kalish for this story Lawyer Victor Yannacone on…

Preview: Living Downstream Addresses Environmental Justice

Here's a preview of our 12-part podcast, featuring stories from California and the rest of the country (and the world). We're doing a deep dive on environmental justice issues. The timing couldn't be better, as the media is now turning its attention to this issue with full force. Most recently, the…

Living with Lead: Public Housing on a Superfund Site

In East Chicago, Indiana, authorities built a public housing project on land once occupied by a lead smelting operation. The area has been declared a Superfund site, and residents of the housing project, but not the surrounding area, have been moved. After we produced this episode of our podcast,…

Environmental News

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    November 26, 2019

    On Thanksgiving, Remembering an Anniversary

    On November 20, 1969, American Indian activists traveled to Alcatraz to begin an occupation of the prison island. It lasted 19 months. They were focused on the sovereignty and lost rights of native peoples. That anniversary has been celebrated this fall — first on Indigenous Peoples Day October 14…
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    November 14, 2019

    California Burning Podcast: The Science of Fire Behavior

    The Camp Fire was the most destructive fire in California’s history. 19,000 homes were destroyed and at least 85 people were killed. But with so many fuel-laden forests, the question becomes not why this happened, but why we haven’t seen more disasters of this scale? Matt Fidler, the creator of the…
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    November 13, 2019

    Impacts Expected on Russian River After Kincade Fire

    The Russian River provides water to as many as 700,000 local residents; close to a million visitors use the river for recreation in the summer. Reporter Pamela Lorence visited Healdsburg last week to meet with Don McEnhill, the head of the nonprofit group Russian Riverkeeper. He told her how…
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    November 05, 2019

    'Halloween Do-Over' Brings Joy to Healdsburg After Fire

    by Matt Villano When it became clear that Healdsburg was downgrading its evacuation status on Halloween, two local women figured most people would miss out on the typical trick-or-treat experience. The women, Elena Halvorsen and Mandy Carpenter, both have kids in the local public school, and both…
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    Oct 23, 2019

    Survivors of Camp Fire and Tubbs Fire Look Back and Ahead

    Over the past two weeks, art lovers have been visiting studios throughout Sonoma County. Art Trails, which organizes the visits, was about to start…
  • Oct 14, 2019

    Fire Survivors React to Power Shut-off

    Millions of Californians had their power shut off last week by Pacific Gas and Electric Company as a way to help prevent wildfires from starting…
  • Prevent Wildfires
    Oct 03, 2019

    Smokey the Bear Has Affected Forest Management for Decades

    Fire season in California has been getting longer and more intense. One major reason for the severity is fire suppression. Putting out fires is a…
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    Sep 06, 2019

    Study Shows Climate Change Could Threaten Oyster Habitat

    Research from the University of California at Davis published last month shows that climate change could dramatically shrink oyster habitat. KRCB’s…
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    Aug 29, 2019

    Controlled Burns Could Help Prevent California's Megafires

    Over the past two years, California has been devastated by the worst wildfires in its history. As those fires continue to grow in frequency and…
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    Jul 29, 2019

    Gray Whale Mystery

    Are Gray Whales the Canary in the Climate Coal Mine? WATCH VIDEO. NorCal Public Media explores the mystery of Gray Whales washing up on California…
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    Jun 27, 2019

    Experts Showcase Fire Resistant Building Materials

    As we head into summer, homeowners are looking for ways to protect their properties from wildfire. KRCB's Adia White attended an event at the Santa…
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    Jun 12, 2019

    Why Food Reformers Have Mixed Feelings About Eco-Labels

    Dan Charles June 12, 2019 Hear this Morning Edition Story Take a walk through the grocery story; the packages are talking to you, proclaiming their…
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    Jun 08, 2019

    Living Downstream: The Klamath Water Wars

    This is the story of a 15-year conflict over what would be the biggest dam removal ever, a modern cowboys and Indians tale that shows how victories…
  • Jun 07, 2019

    Against All Odds, Paradise Students Graduate on Home Campus

    Around two hundred graduates walked across the Paradise High football field on Thursday night. They were all smiles and laughter, proving that the…
  • San Bernadino
    Jun 04, 2019

    Grist Finds Link Between Pollution and Infant Death in San Bernardino

    The online shopping economy appears to be having a deadly impact on children’s health in San Bernardino County. A new investigation by Grist Magazine…
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    May 30, 2019

    Citizen Input Sought for Santa Rosa's Future

    In 2009, Santa Rosa created a state-mandated plan that looked ahead to the year 2035. The plan made certain assumptions, and was created to optimize…

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