Archive for March, 2012

A Tale of Two Washingtons

Can't we end the subsidies?

By Lynn Thorp, National Campaigns Director

Shortly before the U.S. Senate failed to overturn Big Oil subsidies, President Obama spoke in the Rose Garden about the need to set our sights on a clean energy future and to stop handing billions of dollars a year to oil companies who are making record profits.

American oil and gas companies are doing just fine, as evidenced not only by record profits but also by the price people are paying at the pump.  There’s absolutely no reason they need handouts from U.S. taxpayers.  We applaud the U.S. Senators who voted to put an end to this inane policy.  While they represented a simple majority, the Repeal Big Oil Tax Subsidies Act (S. 2204) needed 60 votes to pass.  The 47 U.S. Senators who voted against the bill appear to remain in the pocket of Big Oil. We sure don’t want to hear any of them complaining about high gas prices. Read the rest of this entry »

Getting Serious about Clean Air

 By Lynn Thorp, National Campaigns Director

Closer to cleaning our air up

EPA’s proposal for controlling industrial carbon pollution from new and modified power plants is a welcome step forward. The Administration is taking common sense steps to protect from climate change and air pollution and to lead the way to a clean energy future.  The proposed rules are a significant step – but only a first step – toward heading off the worst impacts of climate change. Remember that many of these impacts are on our water resources. As one Clean Water Action Board member has always said, “Climate change is water change.”

EPA proposed these new limits based on a finding that the climate change caused by industrial carbon pollution endangers human health. Increased asthma attacks and respiratory and cardiovascular illnesses are caused by air pollutants like soot and are only some of the negative effects of industrial carbon pollution. Read the rest of this entry »

Storm Water Success!

By Andy Fellows, Chesapeake Regional Director

Protecting the Bay

On Friday afternoon, the Maryland House of Delegates passed House Bill (HB) 987 on a 90-48 vote.  This is a great step forward for the campaign to reduce pollution from storm water – the runoff from urban and suburban streets and parking lots.  HB 987, sometimes referred to as the Watershed Protection and Restoration Act, will require Maryland’s largest counties and Baltimore City to develop local funding to reduce stormwater pollution.  This contaminated runoff, flowing untreated from streets and parking lots, is the fastest growing form of pollution to the Chesapeake Bay.  For most urban communities, it is the single greatest obstacle to the restoration of local rivers and streams.

This is incredibly good news! Congratulations, Maryland on passing HB 987 out of the House.  Now, it’s on to the State Senate!  Read the rest of this entry »

The Kids are Alright

"Keep Our Water Safe"

By Lynn Thorp, National Campaigns Director

While the letters our members write to President Obama encouraging him to keep clean water progress moving are great, the pictures their children draw are even better.  Water issues are big and complex, and World Water Day is  a good moment to look at that very big picture.  If our children’s drawings collection is any indication,  the next generation of the general public will be knowledgeable about water issues.  I’m very impressed with their understanding that human and animal waste are connected to water pollution, for example.  If you spend time around smaller children, you know this is fun to draw too. Read the rest of this entry »

Will Fracking Destroy Colorado’s Rivers?

The Colorado River

By Gary Wockner, Colorado Program Director

Originally posted at Huffington Post

Oil and gas drilling and fracking pose extraordinary threats to Colorado’s Denver metro and Front Range cities including to air quality, water quality in streams and groundwater, wildlife habitat, private property rights, and landscape health. These impacts are generally similar wherever drilling and fracking occurs across the U.S.

But what makes drilling and fracking unique in Colorado — and especially across Colorado’s Front Range from Fort Collins to Pueblo — is its threat to Colorado’s rivers.

Why? Drilling and fracking use a lot of water, and water is already in short supply along the Front Range. In fact, many fast-growing Colorado cities predict they will have a shortage of water in the next decade and are already proposing new water supply projects that will further drain Colorado’s already severely degraded rivers. And, the very same cities that are proposing new water projects are also selling increasing amounts of water for fracking. Read the rest of this entry »

Get the Lead Out (of Lipstick)

By Mia Davis

Get the Lead Out

Originally published at Crazy, Sexy, Life

Dear Cosmetics Industry: Please stop defending lead and other nasty chemicals in your products.  Love, Mia

A $25 tube of department store lipstick should be safe, right? You might assume it is safer than $2 drugstore brand. Not necessarily …

During the busy 2011 holiday season, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) quietly released its new data on 400 popular lipsticks sold in the U.S. These products are contaminated with widely varying levels of lead, including higher amounts than found in earlier studies.  Perhaps the cosmetics industry was dismayed to see that just in time for Valentine’s Day 2012, the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics picked up the story and spread the word with their “Kiss Lead Goodbye” campaign. The consumer group is asking the worst offender and the FDA to get the lead out of lipstick, already.

The jury isn’t out on lead—it is toxic to the developing brain, even in small amounts, and it builds up in our bodies over time. That’s why we took it out of house paint and gasoline decades ago.  We have limits for the amount of lead allowed in drinking water and candy.  But in the stuff many, many women put on their lips several times a day, even while pregnant? Not so much. Read the rest of this entry »

Going After the Chesapeake

By Andy Fellows, Chesapeake Regional Director

Rep Goodlatte is putting this at risk

On March 8, 2012, Representative Bob Goodlatte (R-VA6) introduced H.R. 4153, a disastrous proposal misnamed the “Chesapeake Bay Program Reauthorization and Improvement Act.”  Rep Goodlatte’s bill would not only remove important federal oversight for the Chesapeake, like limits on discharging pollutants, but also attempts to undermine President Obama’s Executive Order to restore and protect the Bay. This bill needs to be stopped.

If enacted, this bill would end all hope of restoration of the Chesapeake, or its many tributaries.  Rep. Goodlatte’s proposal manages to be bad for the 6th District, bad for the Commonwealth of Virginia, bad for the Chesapeake and bad for all the Bay states.

After years of inaction, thanks to a court order and a presidential directive based on the Clean Water Act, the states of the Chesapeake Bay have finally put together plans to reduce the pollutants that have degraded the Bay.  The plans address the contaminants that come off our streets and parking lots, our farms, and other sources of pollution that can be successfully tackled, but only if everyone pitches in. Read the rest of this entry »

The Ag Connection

By Jennifer Clary, California Policy Associate

A report released today by the Center for Watershed Sciences at the University of California Davis sheds provides the broadest look to date about the sources and solutions of nitrate contamination of groundwater in some of the most heavily farmed areas of California.  The report “Addressing Nitrate in California’s Drinking Water,” a two-year effort funded by the State Water Board with Prop 84 funds, provides a clear look at the impact of agriculture on our drinking water supplies.  It’s not good

Nitrate is one of the most common groundwater contaminants. It’s the leading cause of well closures in the state and is almost always associated with human activities.  Nitrate is an acute contaminant that can cause short term health impacts and even death when ingested above the legal limit. The most well-known health effect is “Blue Baby Syndrome” or methemoglobinemia. When afflicted with this illness, an infant becomes oxygen-deprived as nitrate reduces the ability of hemoglobin to carry oxygen in the bloodstream. This illness can be fatal. Other short term health effects are spontaneous abortions, stillbirths or Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.  Read the rest of this entry »

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