This Fall We Celebrate a HUGE Victory for Clean Water, Thanks to You!

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By Jennifer Peters, National Water Programs Director – On Twitter: @EarthAvenger

For years Clean Water Action and our allies have been fighting to rein in the largest toxic water polluter in the U.S. – coal-burning power plants. It’s no secret that coal-burning power plants pollute our air with unhealthy chemicals. What is not as well known is these plants have also been dumping arsenic, lead, mercury, selenium and other nasty pollutants directly into our lakes, rivers, streams, and bays for decades – far more than any other polluting industry.

At the end of September, the U.S. Environmental Protection (EPA) finally closed this longstanding polluter loophole in our nation’s Clean Water Act. Thanks to this power plants will no longer have a free pass to pollute our water with chemicals that are known to cause cancer, lower children’s IQs, or harm fish and other aquatic life. These first-ever national limits will reduce the water pollution from power plants by 1.4 billion pounds a year, protecting public health and water quality across the nation. Read more…

Posted on October 5, 2015  | Filed Under Global Warming and a New Energy Economy, Making Democracy Work, Protecting America's Waters | Leave a Comment

Should We Protect our Water? A Day of Contrasts in our Nation’s Capital

By Lynn Thorp, National Campaigns Director – On Twitter: @LTCWA

Two events today illustrate the divide on clean water protection here in our nation’s capital.

The first was today’s finalization of Clean Water Act limits on toxic water discharges from power plants. Controlling this pollution has been a priority campaign for Clean Water Action since the proposed rule came out in 2013. EPA finalized a strong proposal and deserves a lot of credit for slogging through interference from many sides, especially polluter lobbyists. Today’s announcement demonstrates this Administration’s commitment to exercising its authority to control pollution and protect downstream communities and our nation’s valuable water resources. Read our statement here. Read more…

Posted on September 30, 2015  | Filed Under Making Democracy Work, Protecting America's Waters | Leave a Comment

Pope Francis: Bringing it in DC

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By John Noël, National Oil & Gas Campaigns Coordinator – On Twitter: @Noel_Johnny

On Thursday morning I joined tens of thousands of people on the National Mall for the Rally for Climate Justice. Inside the Capitol, Pope Francis delivered a moving speech to Congress. Outside, large screens projected the Pope to the thousands gathered on the lawn. People were transfixed – you could hear a pin drop in the crowd for the entire 45 minute speech. Read more…

Posted on September 28, 2015  | Filed Under Global Warming and a New Energy Economy, Healthy, Safer Families and Communities, Making Democracy Work, Protecting America's Waters | Comments Off on Pope Francis: Bringing it in DC

Polluting our Democracy: Big Oil’s Grip on Sacramento

By Andrew Grinberg, California Oil & Gas Program Manager – Follow Andrew on Twitter.

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Image courtesy of Stop Fooling CA –

Over the last month, the power and influence of the oil industry in the California Legislature has been clear. News outlets showed how a group of polluter-friendly Democrats in the Assembly did the bidding of the oil industry, and removed the mandate that Californians reduce their consumption of petroleum by 50% by 2030 from SB 350. The final version of SB 350, which passed on the last day of session, is a strong bill that continues to put California at the forefront of clean energy and climate policy. It’s just not as good as it could (and should) have been. Also well documented, was that Big Oil forced the tabling of SB 32 (Pavley), which would have introduced ambitious new greenhouse gas reduction goals. Thanks Big Oil!

While SB 350 and SB 32 earned all the headlines, what seemed to slip past most Capitol reporters was the failure of many other bills aimed at stopping pollution from the oil industry. Sure, a few good bills about oil spill response and pipeline safety were successful, but only after a catastrophic oil spill in Santa Barbara AND the oil industry successfully negotiating amendments to weaken the bills (much like SB 350). So, a partial victory.

The Western States Petroleum Association (WSPA), the trade association that represents big oil companies in our part of the country, is the single biggest spender on lobbying in California. In 2014, WSPA alone spent almost $9 million of the $15 million spent by the oil industry in the Capitol. Over the last 15 years, Big Oil has dropped a whopping $143.3 million on lobbying and effectively controls a number of legislators through their ability to spend big on elections and legislative campaigns. 2015 expenditures are not yet public, but the campaign to gut SB 350 likely cost tens of millions.

So how is the Legislature doing when Big Oil opposes a bill?

I did a quick analysis and came to the following conclusion: The California Legislature did not pass a single bill that WSPA opposed.

Here’s a round-up of the commonsense bills that would have helped protect Californians from oil industry pollution: (For bill language and analysis click here and search by bill number.)

  • SB 248 (Pavley) to prohibit dumping of oil wastewater into unlined pits, limit dangerous chemical use by oil companies, and help reform the Underground Injection Control (UIC) Program;
  • AB 356 (Williams) to require groundwater monitoring near oil and gas injection wells;
  • SB 454 (Allen) to help keep oil industry wastewater out of drinking water aquifers;
  • SB 545 (Jackson) to require environmental review and improved safety standards for oil well permitting;
  • SB 788 (McGuire) to protect sensitive marine environments from new coastal and offshore drilling;
  • AB 1490 (Rendon) to reduce induced seismicity from oil and gas injection wells;
  • AB 1501 (Rendon) to reduce air pollution from oil and gas wells.

That’s a big list of policies that would have done a lot to protect California’s water, air and communities from oil industry pollution. We can thank the big spending of Big Oil, and a small group of legislators who would rather see more pollution in their districts than cross corporate campaign contributors and lobbyists for killing these commonsense bills.

The most disappointing thing is many of the lawmakers voting against bills to reduce oil and gas pollution represent Californians who live with some of the highest levels of air pollution, respiratory health disease, and drinking water pollution in the state. Like the industry has done countless times, this year it convinced these lawmakers that it’s either clean water and air or the creation of jobs and economic prosperity. As California has shown, this is a false choice. We have worked to lead the country in fighting climate change and at the same time have seen our economy grow, and reduced our energy bills.

You might be reading this thinking, “thanks for bumming me out!” And wondering if we can beat Big Oil. We can. But we’ve got to recognize how deep their influence runs.

We did some amazing things this year in Sacramento, and some of our legislative leaders deserve a ton of credit for fighting so hard for our state. But if we actually want to beat Big Oil, we need elected officials who represent people, not corporations; who fight for all of us, not the profits of a few. And, if they won’t, it’s time to get some new elected officials. So make sure you’re registered to vote and stay tuned as we gear up to win big in 2016, both in Sacramento and at the ballot box.

Posted on September 25, 2015  | Filed Under Uncategorized | Comments Off on Polluting our Democracy: Big Oil’s Grip on Sacramento

Personal Reflections on Pope Francis’ Visit from a Non-Catholic Jesuit-Educated Washingtonian

By Lynn Thorp, National Campaigns Director – on Twitter, @LTCWA

I’m working at home today, since all roads to the office would necessitate navigating the Brookland neighborhood, where Pope Francis will arrive later today. I’m not frustrated by this challenge to my routine. It’s not every day a Pope visits Washington DC, and I’m inspired by Pope Francis’ vision of a better world. As he points out in Laudato Si, the recent “Encyclical on Care For Our Common Home,” he is not the first Pope to raise issues of sustainability and ecology and their relationship to societal and cultural issues. However, he has raised discussion of these issues to a new level, and taken his message on the road. Read more…

Posted on September 23, 2015  | Filed Under Global Warming and a New Energy Economy, Healthy, Safer Families and Communities, Making Democracy Work, Protecting America's Waters | Comments Off on Personal Reflections on Pope Francis’ Visit from a Non-Catholic Jesuit-Educated Washingtonian

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