Friday, December 10, 2010

Just released, online form to report environmental violations


The New York State Department of Conservation’s new online form to report environmental violators will increase public participation on keeping our environment healthy. This project to help New Yorkers become engaged in their environment is a critical component in monitoring the state of our environment—especially in these days where many bodies of government that we need to sustain our environment have been losing workers due to budgetary concerns.

DEC "TIPP" Program Goes Online - NYS Dept. of Environmental Conservation Once Telephone Only, "Turn in Poachers and Polluters" Now Available via Web The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) today announced the launch of an online form for citizens to report environmental violations. Report an Environmental Violation Online, the new web page assists those who can provide thorough and relevant information about an alleged violation. The form prompts the complainant to describe what occurred, when it happened and where the violation was witnessed. Complainants may remain anonymous or confidential. Detailed initial complaints assist DEC Environmental Conservation Officers (ECOs) in a timely and complete investigation of complaints and potential arrests against those who are violating environmental laws. "This is an expansion of DEC's successful 'Turn in Poachers and Polluters' (TIPP) Hotline," said Peter Fanelli, DEC Director of Law Enforcement, referring to the long-established telephone tip system. "Citizens have always played a vital role in helping DEC enforce state environmental laws and regulations. This new web tool gives them one more option for alerting us to potential problems." (December 7, 2010) New York State Department of Environmental Conservation

Of course, what will strike many is that this type of activity is sometimes called ‘snitching.’

What comes to mind about our reluctance to squeal (there are a lot of pejoratives on reporting to authorities) is the movie”Harry Brown”

“Set in modern day Britain, HARRY BROWN follows one man's journey through a chaotic world where teenage violence runs rampant.” Harry Brown Movie

In the movie, we revel in the violence that an old codger can still inflict when his neighborhood has disintegrated into a modern version of hell. It’s popular now to be the quiet man until things get so bad that one is compelled to whip out one’s gun or launch into an impressive martial arts maneuver and wipe out the bad people. In movies this is great stuff—a cathartic dream of Justice for the kind of violence that most mature adults might feel, but don’t actually tend to engage in, in real life. The underlying sadness of the movie for me is that events did not have to descend into violence. If Mr. Brown had been an active member of his neighborhood and worked with his neighbors to curb the trend towards anarchy in his neighborhood, he probably wouldn’t have had to become a gun-slinging vigilante to get his neighborhood back.

Becoming a responsible citizen and joining efforts in your community to take care of your community through work, joining, talking, and acting is not as flashy as pulling out a military weapon and killing everyone in sight. But life is not an action game. In fact, life is not a game at all. It’s, well.., life. If our environment descends into chaos and un-sustainability, you won’t get it back with a pistol, or a game cheat that will restore your character to life and reset all things that went bad.

If citizens are engaged in the running and shaping of their world by paying attention to the news, shaping the news, and volunteering to help to keep their community safe and healthy, it is much less likely that the bad people can come into your neighborhood and take over. In the same vein, if the public takes responsibility to learn about the environmental issues affecting their region, they can help prevent their water going bad, their air becoming un-breathable, or their planet warming up.

It has become too fashionable to be complacent about important issues, like our environment, and then kick into gear with a last-minute explosion of violence to solve our problems. That might work in the pre-designed world of fiction, but in the real world if you let that corporation or a bad guy dump toxins into your water source, poison is what you get to drink.

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