Even as the Environmental Protection Agency finally attempts to limit carbon dioxide pollution from coal plants, it is meeting resistance at the state level, thanks to a secretive campaign by the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC).
If Republicans win control of the U.S. Senate this year, Senator Jim Inhofe (R-OK), a lawmaker famous for his belief that the entire body of climate science research is a "hoax," will take control of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, which oversees matters relating to pollution and environmental problems.
For Chris Kobayashi and her husband, Dimi Rivera, it all started with Japanese cucumbers. "In 1997 we said, 'OK, let's grow Japanese cucumbers, but let's grow it organically,'" Kobayashi tells me as we walk around her farm in Hanalei Bay on Kaua'i's North Shore. "You know, because they are crispy, crunchy, and yummy and you can eat the skin and everything."
Given its fragile and unusually rich ecology, the Hawaiian island of Kaua'i seems ill-suited as a site for agricultural experiments that use heavy amounts of toxic chemicals. But four transnational corporations -- Syngenta, BASF Plant Science, DuPont Pioneer, and Dow AgroSciences -- have been doing just those kinds of experiments here for about two decades, extensively spraying pesticides on their GMO test fields. As a result, the landscape on the southwest corner of the island has become one of the most toxic chemical environments in all of American agriculture.