Archive for the 'Global Warming and a New Energy Economy' Category

5 Ways to Improve EPA’s Fracking and Drinking Water Study

By John Noël, National Oil & Gas Campaigns Coordinator, @noel_johnny

Over the summer the Environmental Protection Agency released a draft report about fracking’s impacts on drinking water. Unfortunately there were big data gaps that meant researchers couldn’t offer the robust conclusions we need. But that didn’t stop EPA from declaring that there were “no widespread impacts” to drinking water due to fracking in its press release announcing the study. There’s just one problem – that statement doesn’t actually reflect the findings and scope of the report. Read the rest of this entry »

Supporting Fenceline Communities

Vernice and Rosanna

Vernice and Rosanna

By Rosanna Esparza, Kern County Organizer

Clean Water Board Member, Vernice Miller-Travis and I spent a day in Bakersfield, CA with organizers and representatives of U.S. EPA Region 9, Central CA Environmental Justice Network and Global Community Monitor at a workshop examining community-based air monitoring projects and the importance of quality assurance plans.

The workshop identified ways for community partners and regulatory agencies to work together, learn more about Bucket Brigade Projects and understand each others’ priorities and needs.

Clean Water Action received a grant from the New World Foundation to conduct a feasibility pilot project to evaluate the establishment of community air monitors for collection of neighborhood-level air pollution data and to evaluate the use of this monitoring data to conduct targeted air sampling of specific chemicals.

Collaborators on the project: Residents of the community of Lost Hills, CA, University of Washington, the California Environmental Health Tracking Program, Kern Environmental Enforcement Network and Earthworks.

By collecting this data we hope to enable residents and other concerned stakeholders to better characterize air pollution in the community and to use this information to support actions to reduce hazards and exposures along the fence line of oil and gas production.


Fracking: It’s Complicated and Industry Would like to Keep It That Way

Oil and Gas Operations

Oil and Gas Operations

By John Noël, National Oil & Gas Campaigns Coordinator, @noel_johnny

Last month two reports were released highlighting the nuances that don’t appear in oil and gas industry PR campaigns. First, is the conventional idea that fracking always occurs far below the surface many miles beneath any aquifer. This separation between the actual fracking of the rock and aquifers, we are told, is the key to protecting potential sources of drinking water. However, a new study from Robert Jackson and his Stanford research team indicates that not all fracking takes place deep underground. In fact, 16% of all the wells analyzed in FracFocus are fracked under one mile from the surface. This is unsettling because the volumes of water and chemicals used to frack a shallow well are virtually “indistinguishable” from the volumes used in deeper wells. Naturally, we expect there be a more rigorous set of drilling and monitoring requirements for these little known shallow frack jobs, but alas there are not. In reality only two states have tailored requirements for shallow wells. Read the rest of this entry »

EPA’s Clean Power Plan is Here and That is Good for Everyone, Yes, Everyone


By John Noël, National Oil & Gas Campaigns Coordinator, @noel_johnny

Today the Obama Administration finalized EPA’s long awaited Clean Power Plan. The groundbreaking rule aims to reduce carbon pollution from existing coal plants by 32% over the next 15 years. The Plan provides flexibility for each State to meet its emission reduction targets and is packaged as a three-pronged opportunity. An opportunity for States to meet their emissions reduction targets by investing heavily in renewable energy and kick starting the local clean energy economy which goes hand in hand with a sustainable energy future. States have an opportunity to reduce consumer electricity bills with new efficiency measures. Lastly, the Plan is an opportunity for States to reduce public health hazards of power plant pollution, which contributes to asthma, heart attacks and premature deaths. Read the rest of this entry »

The Interns of Clean Water

The Interns of Clean Water

The Interns of Clean Water

By Adriana Diaz, Florida Intern

The interns of Clean Water come from all parts the country, working together to protect our environmental well-being and quality of life. These interns work in offices in every region of the nation. We have students engaged in this organization in California, Florida, Michigan, Massachusetts, Washington DC, and more. Each participant has their own set of background that they bring to the Clean Water family, ranging from their diverse genders and ethnicities to their university and area of study. These students work on various projects and campaigns all over the Clean Water board. Some work on public outreach and relations, while others put their efforts towards mapping, data analysis, political campaigns, and environmental justice. Clean Water Action has a wide variety of projects, campaigns, and other structures of experience to ensure every intern is improving their skills in a desired area. While Clean Water benefits these interns, the interns also further the organization by bringing in diversity, dexterity, and a strive towards a common goal of greatness.


To inquire more information about the internship program and how you can become a member of the Clean Water Team, email

Saying sHELL NO

By Michael Kelly, Communications Director – Follow Michael on Twitter (@MichaelEdKelly)

20150524_194653_HDRLike a pimple on a prom date, The Polar Pioneer, the massive rig that Shell will use to drill in the Arctic showed up in Seattle one morning a few months back. The scale of it was stunning. It imposed itself on the waterfront skyline. Looking west from my apartment, you couldn’t miss it. On the ferry to Bainbridge Island or Bremerton, it was the biggest thing you saw.

And every time, my only thought was, “how stupid is this?” Read the rest of this entry »

Help Us Support EPA Proposal to Put Drinking Water First When it Comes to Drilling Wastewater

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

Put Drinking Water First

Put Drinking Water First

Yesterday in one of my favorite blogs (This Day in Water History), I learned that in 1916 drinking water service lines were required to be made of lead. That’s right. The lead pipes that plague us today were actually required because some pipes made of ot

her materials were springing leaks frequently and causing all sorts of havoc. I guess it seemed like a good idea at the time.

I’m interested in how we can prevent things like the lead pipe problem now. Are we making choices today about materials use and public health threat (not just in drinking water systems) that will lead to similar public health and infrastructure challenges? One thing we can do is to act on early warnings. If you are not familiar with the Late Lessons from Early Warnings reports by the European Environmental Agency, you might find them illuminating.

Another thing we can do is Put Drinking Water First. If we consider potential impacts on drinking water when making decisions about upstream activities, we will not simply protect public health and our drinking water sources but also make the most efficient and wise choices. That’s definitely true of an EPA Clean Water Act proposal about wastewater from fracking and other “unconventional” oil and gas drilling activities. EPA is proposing that this wastewater not be allowed to be disposed of in sewage treatment plants. Among the reasons is the potential impact on drinking water downstream when pollutants pass through the sewage treatment plants, which aren’t designed to handle the contaminants found in oil and gas wastewater. Read the rest of this entry »

A Body Blow to Fracking Industry Spin

By Andrew Grinberg, California Oil and Gas Program Manager – Follow Andrew on Twitter (@AndrewBGrinberg)

Photo by Andrew Grinberg

Photo by Andrew Grinberg

This post is part of Clean Water Action’s ongoing series this month on California Oil and Gas policy. The entire “July: Oil and Gas Month” series can be found here.

Another day, another major oil and gas development. In just 2 weeks we’ve seen the implementation of new fracking regulations, certification of a statewide environmental impact report on fracking, the release of Kern County’s environmental impact report for all oil production activities and the adoption of groundwater monitoring rules.

Last week was a major turning point in the fight to protect California from fracking and other dangerous oil production activities. The state-sponsored scientific study dropped on Thursday. And, while it wasn’t a knockout punch to Big Oil, it was a scientific body blow that cuts through the misinformation and turns back the spin. Read the rest of this entry »

First of its kind: California’s groundwater monitoring program for fracking

By Andrew Grinberg, California Oil & Gas Program Manager – Follow Andrew on Twitter (@AndrewBGrinberg)

A drilling rig in Shafter, CA, where fracking is occurring among almond orchards and right next to homes. Photo Credit: Sarah Craig/Faces of Fracking

A drilling rig in Shafter, CA, where fracking is occurring among almond orchards and right next to homes. Photo Credit: Sarah Craig/Faces of Fracking

This is the second installment of our ongoing series on California oil and gas policy that will be running throughout the month of July. Click here to see the whole series.

On Tuesday, the State Water Resources Control Board (“Water Board” for short) finalized groundbreaking criteria for monitoring aquifers near fracking operations. Two years after Clean Water Action sponsored legislation to require aquifer testing before and after fracking (AB 982- Williams) California is poised to finally have the information we need to understand the impacts of oil and gas development on groundwater. With extreme drought crippling the Central Valley, where 95% of fracking occurs, and more water crises on the horizon, protecting groundwater from Big Oil is key to California’s future. Read the rest of this entry »

What a Surprise: The Dirty Water Caucus is at it Again

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

As the U.S. House of Representatives takes up spending bills for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and

Department of Interior (DOI) funding today and tomorrow, I’m thinking of two simple yet astute questions posed by my colleagues this week.

Has the Congressional process around federal spending bills always been like this?

“It feels like it,” I told our Oil and Gas Campaigns Coordinator John Noel. “But I don’t think so.” The basic business of passing spending bills to fund the federal government’s activity has become a perpetual motion machine of anti-government rhetoric. It’s gotten so bad that individual appropriations bills often never happen and the federal government is funded through a series of “continuing resolutions” just to keep things going. There has always been debate, and compromise, and that’s how the system is supposed to work. During the last several Congresses in particular, we have seen the appropriations process turn into squabble over all the work that the American people think the government ought to be doing. For example, polling shows continuing strong public support for protecting water resources. That hasn’t stopped opponents of the recent EPA/Army Corps of Engineers “Clean Water Rule” from inserting language in this spending bill to protections for drinking water sources and other water bodies. Read the rest of this entry »

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