Monday, October 05, 2015

EPA Strengthens Ozone Standards

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has strengthened the National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) for ground-level ozone to 70 parts per billion (ppb) from 75 ppb to protect public health. The updated standards will reduce Americans’ exposure to ozone, improving public health protection, particularly for at risk groups including children, older adults, and people of all ages who have lung diseases such as asthma. Ground-level ozone forms when nitrogen oxides (NOx) and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) react in the air.
EPA examined nearly 2,300 studies in this review of the ozone standards including more than 1,000 new studies published since the last review of the standards in 2008. Scientific evidence shows that ozone can cause a number of harmful effects on the respiratory system, including difficulty breathing and inflammation of the airways.
The revised standards could significantly improve public health protection, resulting in fewer premature deaths, and thousands fewer missed school and work days and asthma attacks. For people with lung diseases like COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) or the 23 million Americans and 6 million children living with asthma, these effects can aggravate their diseases, leading to increased medication use, emergency room visits and hospital admissions. Evidence also indicates that long-term exposure to ozone is likely to be one of many causes of asthma development. And studies show that ozone exposure is likely to cause premature death.  The public health benefits of the updated standards, estimated at $2.9 to 5.9 billion annually in 2025, outweigh the estimated annual costs of $1.4 billion. 
Local communities, states, and the federal government have made substantial progress in reducing ground-level ozone. Nationally, from 1980 to 2014, average ozone levels have fallen 33 percent, while the economy has continued to grow. 
To ensure that people are alerted when ozone reaches unhealthy levels, EPA is extending the ozone monitoring season for 32 states and the District of Columbia. This is particularly important for at-risk groups, including children and people with asthma because it will provide information so families can take steps to protect their health on smoggy days. 
EPA also is strengthening the “secondary ozone standard” to 70 ppb, which will improve protection for trees, plants and ecosystems. New studies since the last review of the standards add to evidence showing that repeated exposure to ozone reduces growth and has other harmful effects on plants and trees. These types of effects have the potential to harm ecosystems and the benefits they provide. 
The Clean Air Act provides states with time to meet the standards. Depending on the severity of their ozone problem, areas would have until between 2020 and 2037 to meet the standards.
The Clean Air Act requires EPA to review the ozone standards every five years to determine whether they should be revised in light of the latest science. Today’s action comes after a thorough review and public comment process.  The agency received more than 430,000 written comments on the proposed standards and held three public hearings. 

25th Annual National Black Farmers Association Conference

November 6-7, 2015

Holiday Inn Birmingham Airport Hotel
5000 Richard Arrington Jr. Blvd N
Birmingham, AL 35212
Room Reservations Call (205) 691-6900 Code: NBFA Rate: $69/night
Free Conference Registration
National Black Farmers Association
"Growing Opportunities For Farmers"
Our goal is to strengthen the capability to provide support for small, limited resource and socially disadvantaged farmers, ranchers and landowners. Farmers will have the opportunity to share and evaluate materials and programs from around the country that are successful.
About the National Black Farmers Association 
The National Black Farmers Association (NBFA) is a non-profit organization representing African American farmers and their families in the United States. As an association, it serves tens of thousands of members nationwide. NBFA's education and advocacy efforts have been focused on civil rights, land retention, access to public and private loans, education and agricultural training, and rural economic development for black and other small farmers.
The 25th Annual National Black Farmers Association Conference is an interactive two day program giving you practical knowledge and techniques to enhance your skills and networking, and financial resource capabilities for small, limited resource and socially disadvantaged farmers, ranchers and landowners. The presentations will focus on providing information on Agricultural programs and techniques in the areas of farm credit and financing, networking, communications, skills, legal and social services, farm management teaching tools, International markets, and many more. Sessions will feature a variety of speakers followed by an opportunity to interact one-on-one with presenters from the US government, private companies, and non-profit organizations. Several parts of the United States government regulate activities that impact agriculture (United States Department of Agriculture, United States Department of Commerce, United States Department of Interior, United States Food and Drug Administration, United States Environmental Protection Agency, and United States Department of Health & Human Services.
Below are the areas which we see US Government Agencies, Non-profit Organizations, and Advocacy and Social Justice groups assisting us in facilitation, program materials, break-out sessions, financial scholarships for New, Beginning and Socially Disadvantaged Farmers and Ranchers.
Financial Management      Forestry Incentives and Cost Share
Alternate Crops                 Livestock Production
Risk Management             Retirement and Estate Planning
Agribusiness                     Consumer and Small Business Banking
Marketing Strategies         Environmental Conservation and Protection
Farm Diversification         Accessing Farm Credit
Crop Subsidies                  Establishing Cooperatives
Rural Housing                   New Technology in Agriculture
Youth in Farming              Benefit of USDA Service Centers 
Seed Availability               Effects of New Farm Bill 
Financial Literacy             Food and Nutrition Services (SNAP)
The National Black Farmers Association (NBFA) appreciates your support. Please contact Dr. John Boyd, Jr. at (804) 691-8528 if you would like to a Sponsor or Exhibitor.
Online Conference Registration: 
Friday, November 6, 2015 – "Growing Opportunities For Farmers"
  8:00 am - 12:00 pm     Conference Registration
  9:00 am - 10:00 am     General Assembly 1 Greeting - TBD
                                   Welcome - Dr. John Wesley Boyd, Jr., NBFA Founder & President
                                   Keynote Speaker: Invited - USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack
10:00 am - 12:00 pm     Session I - Intro to Farming (USDA 101) - Kara Boyd, NBFA
                                   Program Coordinator; FSA (Latrice Hill, USDA, FSA Director of
                                   Outreach), Ag Census Update  (TBD, USDA, NASS)
12:00 pm -   1:00 pm     Luncheon Keynote Speaker -
                                   Invited Congresswoman Terri Sewell (D-AL)    
  1:00 pm -   1:45 pm    Session II  - AgrAbility (Chuck Baldwin, NAP Special Populations
                                  Outreach Coordinator, Purdue University) & Veterans in Ag (TBD)
  2:00 pm -   2:45 pm    Session III - Agricultural Advanced Technology - Pioneer (TBD)
  3:00 pm -   3:45 pm    Session IV - Financial Readiness for Farmers - PNC, CapitalOne
  4:00 pm -   5:00 pm    Session V - Update on AGOA & Cuban Trade/Agriculture - FAS 
  5:00 pm -   7:00 pm    Indigenous Dinner (host - Association of American Indian
                                  Farmers) - (Panelist - TBD)
  7:00 pm -   9:00 pm   Growing Galore (host - National Womens Farming Association &
                                  Our Girls Enrichment Program) (Guest of Honor Jupiter Strong)
Saturday, November 7, 2015 – "Growing Opportunities For Farmers"
   8:00 am - 12:00 pm    Conference Registration
   9:00 am - 10:45 am    Welcome - Dr. John Wesley Boyd, Jr.
                                   Greetings - TBD
                                   General Assembly II – USDA Lawsuit & Settlement Updates
                                   (Kara Boyd, President, AAIF & Dr. John Boyd, President NBFA)
11:00 am - 12:00 pm     Session VI - Environmental Regulations and Risks Facing
                                   Farmers (TBD - EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy)
12:00 pm -   1:00 pm     Luncheon Keynote Speaker
                                   Invited Congressman John Lewis (D-GA)
  1:00 pm -   2:00 pm    Session VII - USDA/NRCS & USDA/Forest Service (TBD)
  2:00 pm -   2:45 pm    Session VIII - USDA/APHIS (Kenneth E. Johnson, USDA, APHIS,
                                  OCRDI Director) & ASPCA (TBD - Nancy Perry)
  3:00 pm -   5:00 pm    Session IX - SNAP EBT - Farmer Market's Sign Up
  7:00 pm -   9:00 pm    25th Annual NBFA Awards Banquet
                                  Greetings - TBD
                                  Welcome - Dr. John Wesley Boyd, Jr.
                                  Keynote Speaker - (Invited – President Barack Obama)

Friday, September 11, 2015

Urban American Outdoors TV Show to Host Fishing Derby at National Mall

On Saturday, September 19th, 2015, a fishing derby is being held at the Constitution Gardens in Washington D.C.'s National Mall, for 250 urban youth.
The event is one of many outdoor events the TV Show, Urban American Outdoors, has hosted in many parts of the country since they began broadcasting in 1999. The show's creation was a reaction to the lack of diversity and inclusion found in the representations of outdoor and nature activities across the United States. These under representations were creating and reproducing myths that people of color weren't into the outdoors, which is false, but widely assumed because the right stories and images weren't being conveyed.
"When I was growing up in Oklahoma, outdoor activities like fishing, hunting, and hiking were a big part of my childhood, but for these outdoors activities, there were no people that looked like me in any marketing or advertising," says Wayne Hubbard, Host and Co-Founder of Urban American Outdoors TV Show, with his wife, Candice Price. The couple created the TV Show with the intent of having it broadcasted in the Kansas City regional area, but they quickly received offers for national distribution. The Kansas City based show features segments filmed all across the United States "People of color weren't being represented in outdoor TV shows, and when we first started pitching the pilot of the show, people responded with questions like, 'Do black people hunt and fish?' People treated the idea like a big joke. These responses were stark indications that the media was completely omitting people of color from their definitions of outdoors and nature activities."
The Department of the Interior and Department of Agriculture appointed Wayne Hubbard to the Wildlife and Hunting Heritage Council on August 27th, 2015. The TV Show has also received its 4th Emmy nomination this year for Environment-Program Feature/Segment, and has been the recipient of over 50 broadcasting awards from various organizations. In its 15th season, the syndicated show airs weekly across the United States and parts of Europe, early on Saturday or Sunday mornings. In Kansas City, the show airs on Bounce TV every Saturday at 7:30 am.
Fishing Derby held in Kansas City, Missouri in 2013, hosted by Urban American Outdoors

The fishing derby event is being coordinated with the U.S. Forest Service and the National Park Service to connect youth with nature. "People want to see themselves in advertisements. Day-to-day marketing needs to represent more diverse backgrounds of people to truly extend an invitation with open hands that our public lands belong to everyone and we all have a stake in their conservation," adds Hubbard. The fishing event is a catch and release event, teaching children the importance of maintaining healthy populations of fish and wildlife for conservation purposes. It also provides an opportunity to introduce urban youth to career opportunities that are traditionally not considered viable in their communities. Urban American Outdoors hosts events such as these to share the beauty of the outdoors and promote inclusion and diversity in decisions concerning its conservation and recreational uses. In its 15th season, the syndicated show airs weekly across the United States and parts of Europe, early on Saturday or Sunday mornings. In Kansas City, the show airs on Bounce TV every Saturday at 7:30 am. If the show isn't broadcasted in your market, you can contact your local TV networks with requests to have it aired.  (Huffington Post, 9/11/2015)
Fishing Derby held in Kansas City, Missouri in 2013, hosted by Urban American Outdoors

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Abuse of Black Businessman Sam Sibert: Pipeline Company Pioneer Has Tough Road

Sam Sibert

Sam L. Sibert was born in South Carolina and spent his formative years in Chicago, Illinois.

He graduated from Crane Tech High School in Chicago and became a recruit of Eastern Oklahoma State College. He spent two winning seasons at Eastern as their showcase center.

Sam left Eastern and was recruited to Texas Tech University. He later left Texas Tech to be recruited by Coach Lucius Mitchell at Kentucky State University.

As a Kentucky State Thorobred, Sams talents as center, supported his team to win two (2) of (3) consecutive NAIA Championships which have not been duplicated in over 40 years.

Mr. Sibert was noticed for his tremendous talents at the NAIA Tournaments in Kansas City, and was sought after by the NBA as well as the ABA. He was drafted by the NBA and placed in the top 20 players of college athletes, joining ranks with Julius Ervin, Bob McAdoo, Paul Westphal, and Sam’s teammate Travis Grant.   In 1972 Sam was drafted as the 1st pick by the Cincinnati Royals who later became the Kansas City-Omaha Kings.

After a successful tour with the professional basketball league, Sam redirected his career, and settled in Texas where he completed his college degree and then built a successful career in the Utility Construction Industry over 30 years. At the peak of his company’s success,

Basketball Retired Players Association (Dallas Chapter)
Sam Sibert
Has An Unarmed Black Business Been Murdered?

Black Business Matters

What happens to a dream deferred?  Does it dry up like a raisin in the sun? Or fester like a sore---And then run?  Does it stink like rotten meat? Or crust and sugar over—like a syrupy sweet?  Maybe it just sags like a heavy load.  Or does it explode? 

Langston Hughes, the poet wrote this excerpt of a montage of poems in 1951.  Now 64 years later, the realities of the inferences of Hughes’ poem speaks volumes to what happens when a businessman does everything that he is asked to do, but in return receives contempt and retaliation.  Such is the story of the S. L. Sibert Management and Construction Company in the Dallas/Fort Worth Texas. 

The story of Sam Sibert and the company he built over 25 years ago, starts off as a Cinderella-like beginning.   An opportunity presented itself in the utilities construction industry, and Sibert prepared and took advantage of those opportunities.  However, there is an old saying in this country that states that when you work hard and do your homework, you will succeed.   Right?  Not always.   For countless African American men and women in the United States, even when you work hard and do your homework, there are elements  who will do whatever it takes to create conditions that either attempt to make you fail or succeed in making you fail.

Let’s go back to 1989 when Sam Sibert and his wife, Rita, started the S. L. Sibert Construction Company, which was incorporated a few years later.  A prime contractor for TXU Utilities,  Mr. Sibert was awarded a major contract to build transmission and distribution of electric and gas in the Dallas /Fort Worth area.   Also, because of his reputation, he was given a contract to do major water system construction in Colleyville, Texas, one of the fastest growing suburbs.  The S. L. Sibert Company, grew to become the largest 100% African American owned utility construction company in the United States,  with up to 150 employees  at one time during its peak.  Now, in 2015, the S. L. Sibert Company Inc no longer exists and there are many in the communities of color wondering why.  Well let’s examine the many  reasons why the S. L. Sibert Company no longer exists.     

In 1990, the  S. L. Sibert Company worked under agreements, which completed construction  in electric and gas.  TXU  made changes in 2000  and added three additional contractors under an Alliance Agreement with given rates.  Mr. Sibert’s  company was moved to share in gas distribution only.    

        On October 1, 2004,  at 9:00 am., an entourage of  TXU company managers visited the corporate headquarters of the Sibert Company and presented Mr. Sibert with a closure agreement .(which ultimately would  have protected TXU with any contract disputes)  On that very day, TXU was set to sell it's gas division to Atmos Energy  by 12 Noon.  In  essence, this  terminated the TXU gas  contract with the Sibert Company.   Mr . Sibert  refused to sign, and was forced to accept the Atmos  agreement.  Atmost Energy purchased every gas  contract, without any changes under TXU, with the exception of the S. L. Sibert Company, who was given a separate contract.   This  contract did not include any of the original TXU agreement. 

        In February 2005,  the S. L. Sibert Company, Inc. , filed for bankruptcy, entered Chapter 11,  and was converted in January 2006 to a Chapter 7.  Mr Sibert started a second company , the  S. L. Sibert Management and Construction Company.   Sibert made  an  agreement with Atmos Energy  to repair , rebuild gas services and replace  compressed couplings in the Dallas/Fort  Worth area.   Even with the limited amount of work that Sibert was given  by Atmos,  he was able to add  employees, move to a new facility, and rebuild his fleet of equipment.   At the same time,  major gas pipelines were being built,  but,  S. L. Sibert  M & C , a prime contractor was not allowed to participate in the  bidding process.  To make matters worse, within two years,  Atmos Energy withdrew all contracts from the S. L. Sibert Company, with no explanation.   Other  gas contractors were  given  the contracts that had been withdrawn from Sibert. [News Story]     

Bruised, but not defeated, the S.L. Sibert  Management and Construction Company continued,  finding work in the state of Oklahoma,  in particular Oklahoma City and Enid, Oklahoma.   After preparing employees with new directives, and securing all of the licenses required to work in that state, the S.L. Sibert  Management and Construction Company soldiered on, only to be denied fairness once again.   S. L. Sibert  M & C  began construction for ONG, a subsidiary of  ONE OK,  the gas utilities company for Oklahoma, to do  major pipeline  replacement of  gas.

The Sibert Company worked for ONG  completing a  high pressured 12”and 16”steel pipeline  in Enid, Oklahoma.  This dual pipeline  carried the flow of gas to the northern  sections of Oklahoma.  A 36”water pipeline to a fertilizer plant, was not located by certified locators for the city, state, or ONG,  nor was the possible existence of the pipe mentioned to the Sibert Company. The pipeline was tapped by an excavator and high pressured water was released, which caused a delay in finishing the job.  A work order was submitted at the completion of the project, which included the expenses for the delay, however, this change order was denied by ONG.  The disagreements between the companies caused the additional contracts that Sibert had been awarded, unceremoniously taken away.  Was this a case of bad breaks, or was it the politics of dealing with an African American owned business capable of doing the job? 

Then came Chesapeake Energy. [Story]  And it doesn’t end there.,  In 2013 they returned to a division of Energy Future Holdings Corporation, Oncor, an electrical delivery corporation.  Sibert  had met with several company execs for a number of years to enter into an agreement to do contract work with Oncor.  He was awarded a contract, a small contract, to hire several employees to work in the service centers to do electrical work.  Note that Sibert was not allowed to manage nor supervise his employees.  Can we say setup?   A contract that was never meant to succeed in any way, was subsequently and unceremoniously taken away with unsubstantiated reasons, no explanations, just taken away after a 9 (nine) month run.   No company executive would meet with him to discuss the situation.   He was directed to the the V. P. of Community Affairs, an African American.  This meeting resulted  without  resolution.  Now let’s talk about the  community.

Here is a company that spent $1.5 million in labor costs per year for  15 years in the community and here are the Corporations who appear to have problems when there is  an experienced,  sustainable,  African American  owned  business  that  had proven itself to be  capable of being a prime contractor, treated with great disrespect.  What will the  “Community” think of this when the word gets out?    

So ….”What  happens to a dream deferred?”……