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

A Little Bit of Drinking Water Contamination – Is That Okay?

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

Update – February 18, 2014: Click here to tell EPA to Put Drinking Water First and Protect Communities from Coal Ash!

Coal Ash on the Dan River - courtesy of Waterkeeper Alliance

Coal Ash on the Dan River – courtesy of Waterkeeper Alliance

Actually, it’s a complicated question.  But one thing is certain.  Coal plants and other facilities should not be contaminating our rivers, lakes, streams and drinking water sources with arsenic or any other toxic metals and chemicals.  That is why it has been puzzling to see the reaction to the coal ash spill into the Dan River from a recent Duke Energy coal ash disposal site in Eden NC.  This enormous spill has been chronicled by my colleague Jennifer Peters here and here and has made national news.  Local water treatment plants have said that the spill does not pose problems for them because they are able to remove the contaminants in the ash. This is a good thing, though it demonstrates that once again our nation’s Public Water Systems have to clean up toxic waste that should have been prevented upstream. Read the rest of this entry »

Here’s a Bad Idea: Drilling for Gas Under State Forests.

By Steve Hvozdovich, Marcellus Shale Campaign Manager

Governor Corbett wants to open our state forests to drilling…because.

Are you kidding me?

Reopening Pennsylvania’s state forests to new gas development is short sighted and threatens both the environmental and economic benefits our forests provide. Yet during his 2014 State of the State address Governor Tom Corbett proposed doing just that. He wants to do this not only to balance a one time budget gap, but because “there’s a huge amount of gas under state parks and forests, and I don’t believe in leaving it there.” Read the rest of this entry »

A River Runs Gray, Threatening Downstream Water Supplies

By Jennifer Peters, National Water Campaigns Coordinator (Follow Jennifer on Twitter – @EarthAvenger)

Update – February 18, 2014: Click here to tell EPA to Put Drinking Water First and Protect Communities from Coal Ash!

Nearly 72-hours after a stormwater pipe buried beneath a 27-acre unlined coal ash pond burst, wastewater from the pond is still spilling into the Dan River near the town of Eden, North Carolina. Duke Energy, the pond operator, estimates that between 50,000 to 82,000 tons of coal ash has contaminated the Dan River – a volume of ash that would fill between 20 and 32 Olympic-size swimming pools. The company estimates that an additional 24-27 million gallons of coal ash wastewater has poured into the river.

Coal ash is the waste left behind from burning coal and it contains arsenic, lead, mercury, boron, cadmium, selenium, nutrients and other harmful chemicals. Heavy metals like mercury are highly soluble in water, and wastewater from ash ponds pose an especially big threat to aquatic life because these dissolved heavy metals can persist in the environment for a very long time. Heavy metals like mercury also concentrate up the food chain, which is why so many water bodies across the country have fish consumption advisories. Read the rest of this entry »

Finally, Coal Ash Rule Out by End of 2014

By Jennifer Peters, National Water Campaign Coordinator (Follow Jennifer on Twitter – @EarthAvenger)

Update – February 18, 2014: Click here to tell EPA to Put Drinking Water First and Protect Communities from Coal Ash!

After years of delay, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has announced it will finalize a coal ash disposal rule by December 19, 2014.  This is great news and a step in the right direction. It’s also a testament to the power of sustained activism in the court of public opinion and the federal courts. This announcement is the result of a lawsuit settlement brought by public interest groups and the Moapa Band of Paiute tribe in Nevada.  EPA first proposed a coal ash rule in June 2010, largely in response to public outcry following the catastrophic coal ash spill in Tennessee in December 2008 that buried several homes and contaminated nearby streams.  But progress has languished since, despite hundreds of thousands of Americans calling for action. Read the rest of this entry »

California: Still Not Protecting Us from Fracking

By Andrew Grinberg, Oil and Gas Program Coordinator

January 14 marked the end of California’s 60 day public comment period on proposed fracking regulations. Over the last two months Clean Water Action members and supporters have spoken, submitting thousands of comments calling for a halt to fracking in California. Residents across the state have turned out in record numbers to voice their concerns, packing public hearing rooms from Oakland to Santa Maria to Bakersfield to Sacramento to Long Beach. Clearly, the public has something to say about fracking, and clearly Californians don’t want it in our state.
Read the rest of this entry »

Marchers Demand Clean Air and Fair Development

By Will Fadely, Baltimore Organizer

Balto EA Incinerator Rally 1

The march to the incinerator

Energy Answers a dirty Waste-to-Energy Incinerator is being constructed less than 1 Mile from Schools, Parks, Playgrounds, Homes, and Water Bodies of the community of Curtis Bay.

Waste-to-Energy (WTE) may sound “green”, but residents of Curtis Bay know that this is nothing but a euphemism for a trash burning incinerator with all its toxic pollution and health hazards.

Energy Answers plans to build a new incinerator in Baltimore which leads the nation in air pollution related deaths per capita.  A recent report found that, “WTE incinerators in Maryland emit more pollutants per hour of energy produced than Maryland’s largest coal-fired power plants.” These pollutants include toxins like mercury and lead, which even in small doses significantly harm children and bioaccumulate over time.

That’s why we marched. Read the rest of this entry »

Looking Back, Looking Ahead: Massachusetts on a Roll

Elizabeth Saunders 1.10.12By Elizabeth Saunders, Massachusetts State Director

We have seen many fruits of our labor in Massachusetts over the past 12 months thanks to strong teamwork and grassroots muscle. Years of dedicated staff, member, volunteer, and coalition efforts have paid off and we celebrated victories and progress in 2013 across a variety of our campaigns.

  • The state approved a 3-year Energy Efficiency Plan with nation-leading investments in gas and electric savings to help reach greenhouse gas reduction targets;
  • The South Hadley landfill shifted its planning from expansion to closure as local grassroots pressure forced the DEP to crack down on waste ban violations;
  • There has been progress at all three of the state’s coal burning plants, including an announcement that Brayton Point Station in Somerset will close in 2017.
  • The DEP hired 3 new waste ban inspectors to monitor trash coming into the state’s incinerators, landfills and transfer stations–and issue fines to violators;
  • The City of Boston passed two ordinances critical to sustainability, health and achievement of its 2020 climate goals;
  • Retail giants Walmart, Target and Proctor and Gamble made commitments to new personal care and cleaning product standards (we share this victory with partners across the country!);
  • We settled three more Clean Water Act Citizen Suits in Massachusetts turning penalties for industrial pollution into watershed protection projects;
  • Our endorsed candidate and environmental steward Ed Markey joined the U.S. Senate.

The bar is officially set high for 2014! Our incredible team of talented, visionary, and experienced staff, board and local partners will help lead Clean Water Acton forward to accomplish more victories next year and beyond.

We don’t take on these big tasks alone. Stopping the damage we are doing to the planet and our bodies, creating just and sustaining communities, and taking our government back from major polluting corporations all call for many hands. As one of my favorite sayings goes, “if you’re doing it alone, you’re not doing it.”

Clearly, we’re doing it. With our numerous and incredible allies in many corners, we have what it takes to strategically leverage community leadership and keep growing our list of 2014 victories (another key election year!) to include:

  • Elect more pro-environment candidates for important Executive offices and Legislative seats;
  • Pass new policies and convince more retailers to replace toxic chemicals like formaldehyde in every day products
  • Continue to build for a just and supported transition in communities that host coal fired power plants;
  • Move the work of Boston’s new Zero Waste Task Force forward to increase Boston recycling rates while respecting workers and benefiting communities;
  • Prevent the passage of weak legislation promoted aggressively by manufacturers hoping to avoid responsibility for end-of life recycling of their products;
  • Continue educating the public and elected officials on pipeline leaks with more ‘gas leaks safaris’;
  • Host more ‘efficiency road shows’ that bring together a broad range of stakeholders to advocate with utilities for community needs;

We look forward to working and celebrating these and more opportunities with our Massachusetts members, allies and friends in 2014.

Fighting for Clean Energy in the Commonwealth

By Molly Sullivan, Massachusetts Field Canvasser

On November 12th, I had the opportunity to attend a hearing on H2935 (in Massachusetts), an act relative to a Clean Energy Commonwealth. Most days I work in the field as a canvasser, knocking on doors to motivate and educate people about environmental and public health issues.  But this day I was able to see the next step in the legislative process. I was particularly excited about this bill because it provides a framework for a gradual and responsible phase-out of coal-fired plants in Massachusetts.

I got to hear the compelling testimonies of those affected by coal burning power plants. Sue Butler, a nurse-turned-energy-activist, gave a gripping account from the perspective of a medical professional who has seen first-hand the gruesome health condition s that result from burning fossil fuels. Dorian Williams of Better Future Project is a young activist who spoke with passion about how climate change is happening and what preventative measures need to be taken to ensure the quality of life for future generations. Carlos Rodriguez, a resident from Holyoke, talked about the prevalence of asthma in his community. There were dozens of others who stood up before the panel to testify in favor from all different coalitions and organizations, but not one single person who stood up to oppose.

It’s clear that coal is an outdated energy source, a major contributor to pollution, and a hazard to public health. Thankfully, market forces, citizen action, and commonsense regulations are now moving us toward a coal-free Commonwealth. And, we’re doing it responsibly.

hat is vital about H2935 is the transition to a cleaner future will protect workers and municipalities from the potentially harsh impact of plant closures. The bill has a significant focus on a just transition for host communities, support for municipal planning, revenues and local jobs, and investment in an economically viable power grid.

Giving Thanks for the End of Catfish Stuffing

By Lisa Evans, Earthjustice – see the original post here.

Five years ago, fish biologists scooped up a catfish full of toxic ash from the Kingston coal ash disaster.

Last month, the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia brought us one step closer to ensuring such a disaster will never happen again. The court ruled that the Environmental Protection Agency must set federal standards to prevent another potentially deadly disaster, protecting aquatic life and the hundreds of communities that live near coal-burning power plants. Read the rest of this entry »

House Votes on Oil and Gas Activity – Security Doesn’t Come From Extremism

Stop these bad bills now!

Stop these bad bills now!

By Lynn Thorp, National Campaigns Director

This week’s U.S. House votes around oil and gas activities demonstrate that extreme views can easily dominate public policy debate.  Masquerading behind titles including words like “energy security” these three bills are about none of that.  These bills would eliminate federal oversight of oil and gas drilling  on public lands, including removing the baseline protections for clean water and public health which we would expect to apply to this activity wherever it occurs.  One bill would put absurd restrictions on the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) scientific research into the potential harm to drinking water from hydraulic fracturing extraction activities.  Another removes common-sense routine oversight from the permitting process for interstate pipelines.

We are urging everyone to tell their Representatives to vote “NO” on all of these bills. Read the rest of this entry »

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