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

Gubernatorial Candidates pledge environmental protections

Elizabeth Saunders, Clean Water Action Massachusetts Director, introduces Gubernatorial candidates Joe Avellone, Don Berwick, Attorney General Martha Coakley, Treasurer Steve Grossman, and Juliette Kayyem

On Friday, March 21st, Clean Water Action joined a coalition of 30 organizations in co-hosting a Massachusetts Gubernatorial Candidates forum on Energy the Environment and the Innovation Economy. Candidates Joe Avellone, Don Berwick, Marthy Coakley, Steve Grossman and Juliette Kayyem answered rounds of questions on a wide array of topics from toxic chemicals in consumer products, natural gas infrastructure, incineration, energy efficiency, sustainable fishing, to their personal sustainability practices.

All candidates who are competing in a primary and whose campaigns met minimum standards were invited to the forum, which was moderated by Boston Globe Columnist Derrick Jackson and former Secretary of Commonwealth Development Douglas Foy.  As it happened, the five candidates who accepted the coalition’s invitation are all competing against each other for the Democratic nomination.

Among the highlights of their responses:

  • Four candidates voiced support for legislation to replace toxic chemicals with safer alternatives wherever feasible (see Alliance for a Healthy Tomorrow);
  • Four candidates are in favor of a moratorium on the building of new incinerators in Massachusetts and one is opposed;
  • Five candidates would designate at least 1% of the state budget for environmental protection.
  • With varying stipulations, most candidates supported taxing carbon and pension fund divestment from fossil fuels, and opposed the Keystone XL pipeline.

You can watch or listen to the entire forum, including an introduction by Clean Water Action’s Massachusetts Director, Elizabeth Saunders. 

Sponsors of the Gubernatorial Candidates forum on Energy the Environment and the Innovation Economy:

The Alliance for Business Leadership * Alternatives for Community And Environment * Appalachian Mountain Club * Better Future Project * Boston Harbor Association * Boston Harbor Island Alliance * Ceres * The Charles River Watershed Association * Clean Water Action * Conservation Law Foundation * Environmental Business Council of New England * Environmental Entrepreneurs (E2) * Environmental League of Massachusetts * Green Justice Coalition * Livable Streets * Massachusetts Association of Conservation Commissions * Mass Audubon * Massachusetts Chapter, American Institute of Architects * Massachusetts Climate Action Network * Massachusetts League of Environmental Voters * Massachusetts River Alliance * Massachusetts Land Trust Coalition * Massachusetts Sierra Club * Massachusetts Smart Growth Alliance * Mothers Out Front * The Nature Conservancy * Northeast Energy Efficiency Partnership (NEEP) * Sudbury Valley Trustees * Trust for Public Land * Trustees of Reservations


Keystone XL – Just Say No

By Aaron Haskins, Michigan Energy Program Intern

For years, we have been heard a lot about the Keystone Pipeline. Oil companies like TransCanada continually reassure us that the pipeline will have minimal impact on the environment while creating thousands of jobs for both Americans and Canadians. Those who oppose the pipeline say that it will contaminate drinking water, endanger the environmentally sensitive farmland it passes through, and raise oil prices throughout the Midwestern United States.
Stop Keystone XL by chesapeakeclimate, on Flickr
The proposition for an extension to the pipeline called “Keystone XL” has been hotly debated by economists and politicians for years now, but the project is still in limbo. The northern half of the pipeline would cross the U.S.-Canada border, which means it can’t be built without approval from the Obama administration. Given the controversial nature of the pipeline and the pressure coming from both sides, I am not surprised that a final decision hasn’t been made. I am, however, disappointed that there even needs to be a discussion an either/or debate when it comes to creating jobs and protecting wildlife and the environment.

If Keystone is allowed to move forward, it will indicate America’s commitment to tar sands as a long-term form of energy – which isn’t good. Tar sands are an unconventional form of petroleum proven to be much more polluting than regular oil. Approving a pipeline designed to put tar sands extraction in the express lane would be a sorry symbol of our lack of progress toward clean energy.

Proponents of the extension have argued that the pipeline will not increase harm to the climate or our communities because those tar sands were going to be burned anyway. For them the pipeline merely serves as a more convenient method of transport. Justifying the project using this kind of logic is akin to saying, “I don’t want my friend to drink and drive, but since he’s going to anyway I might as well start his car for him.”

In 2008 (around the time Keystone XL was first proposed), President Obama called on us to “be the generation that finally frees America from the tyranny of oil.” Now, it is our turn to call on him to be the president who helped us do it by saying no to Keystone XL.

Clean house at Alcosan

By Tom Hoffman and Emily Alvarado

This post was originally published in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Included in the short list of issues that Mayor Bill Peduto raised with President Barack Obama back in November at a meeting of incoming mayors was a request for the Environmental Protection Agency to let Pittsburgh pursue greener solutions to our sewer system “big fix.” Every time it rains, our pipes overflow and we dump raw sewage into the rivers. Fixing our sewer system is both long overdue and federally mandated.

Mayor Peduto gets it: It’s good for communities, workers and the environment if we maximize our area’s largest-ever public investment to stop water pollution and solve multiple community needs at the same time.
Read the rest of this entry »

One simple tip to turn a difficult time of year into something good (for our water)

by Jonathan A. Scott (twitter handle @jscottnh)

Sorry, no tips here for dealing with extreme winter weather or the spring that never seems to come.

This is about the dreaded lead-in to mid-April. Not the Earth Month part of April, or Earth Day itself. Those are great and well worth looking forward to.

No, I mean the blood, sweat and tears of preparing annual income tax returns, which add up to by far this season’s biggest ordeal for many of us, myself included.Soothing Blues

Here’s one way you can reduce some of the painful red and bring some soothing greens and healthy blue colors into the mix. Read the rest of this entry »

How Many Toxic Spills Will it Take Before We Put Drinking Water First?

Coal Ash on the Dan River - Courtesy of Waterkeeper Alliance

Coal Ash on the Dan River – Courtesy of Waterkeeper Alliance

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

If you read the Associated Press, listen to NPR or watch Rachel Maddow on MSNBC, most likely you know about the Duke Energy coal ash spill that happened earlier this month in Eden, NC.  What you might not know is that Duke Energy is the nation’s largest electricity provider,  operating over a dozen coal-burning power plants in six states. Duke owns an additional dozen coal plants that are retired, including the Dan River Power Station where the recent disaster occurred.  All of these plants store coal ash in ponds similar to the pond in Eden, NC that leaked toxic ash into the Dan River when an old stormwater pipe beneath the pond ruptured.  In fact, there are over 1,000 ponds in 37 states across the country, many unlined, unmonitored and much larger than the 27-acre pond on the Dan River, and almost all are near streams, rivers, lakes or bays.   Many of these vulnerable water bodies are sources of drinking water, just like the Dan River.  What happened in North Carolina could happen at any number of poorly managed coal ash dumps across the country. It’s not a question of if another spill will happen; it’s a question of when and where. Read the rest of this entry »

Dealing with Waste in the Ocean State

As the 2014 legislative session approaches, one key question bubbling in the Ocean State is what we will do to reduce waste in the most innovative ways.

We’re pushing for a multi-tiered plan featuring the best ideas from local experts and cities and states across the country, which are making real progress toward zero waste. Because of your support, Clean Water Action continues to make a critical contribution in Rhode Island to building a sound, long term solid waste management strategy that incorporates Producer responsibility, expansion of composting and the diversion of organic waste, increased recycling in the business community and in public spaces across Rhode Island, and the development of a zero waste policy statewide. There is a lot to do, but with your help, we’ll transform Rhode Island’s waste system. Read the rest of this entry »

The President Drops in on the California Drought

By Jennifer Clary, California Associate (Follow Jennifer on  Twitter – @JenClary_Water)

California’s drought is hitting the national stage. Two weeks ago, house Republicans passed a highly controversial bill (HR 3964) that would lift environmental protections so that water could be moved from one parched area of the state to another [Here’s the environmental community’s take on the bill]. That bill is unlikely to move in the Senate, and was replaced in the headlines last week by a Senate bill authored by the Senators from California and Oregon.

Last Friday the big guns came out, with a visit to the drought stricken-Central Valley by President Obama, and the announcement of $180 million in federal aid, including $60 million for food banks. President Obama is a frequent visitor to California, but this is his first visit to the Central Valley, where drought is stressing agriculture and communities.

Clean Water Action has already talked about the need for long-term planning to prepare for future droughts. But what can and should be done in the current crisis? Simple – place a priority on safe drinking water.

The drought is impacting communities across the state, but some communities were already in trouble and this is just making things worse. The state’s drinking water program has a waiting list for funding of nearly 500 projects for water systems that have contaminated water or have water shortages. In addition, nearly 2 million Californians rely on private wells, and no program exists to help them when their wells go dry. Read the rest of this entry »

Protecting Drinking Water and Fracking – It’s All Connected

By Lynn Thorp, National Campaigns 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!

Hydraulic fracturing operations

Hydraulic fracturing operations

I’m pretty sure many people don’t make the connection between this week’s finalization of permitting guidelines for hydraulic fracturing activities using diesel and two big stories we’re following – the chemical spill in West Virginia and the coal ash spill in North Carolina.  That’s understandable because we don’t approach protecting drinking water sources in a holistic way. In fact, it sometimes appears that we don’t approach drinking water protection at all!

But this is all about acting as if our drinking water really matters, and using the laws we have or creating new ones to make sure drinking water sources are protected. Read the rest of this entry »

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 »

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