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

California green lighted more irrigation with oil wastewater

oil well, almond trees, shafter, clouds

By Andrew Grinberg, California Oil and Gas Program Manager – On Twitter, @AndrewBGrinberg

Last week, regulators approved the expanded use of oil wastewater for irrigation of crops in Kern County.

The Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board (Regional Board), unanimously approved a Waste Discharge Requirement (WDR) permit for California Resources Corporation (CRC) to sell 21,200 acre feet (6.9 million gallons) of oil and gas wastewater from the Kern Front Oil Field to the North Kern Water Storage District annually. The produced water will be distributed to farmers for irrigation and used for groundwater recharge, despite significant questions about the safety of this practice, and lack of any established protocols for monitoring or treatment. The Regional Board acted without adequate information and the permit approval did not follow appropriate process, leaving serious questions about the safety of this practice unanswered.

California Resources Corporation site Location MapThe clearest inadequacy of this permit is the safety of using produced water for irrigation has never been scientifically vetted. A review of the literature on this topic turns up a dearth of information. There are open questions about whether oil and gas associated chemicals could bioaccumulate in crops and threaten food safety, as well as the long term impacts on groundwater from irrigation or groundwater recharge with produced water. The risks have not been assessed and the appropriate monitoring and reporting requirements may not be in place.

The Pacific Institute, in a paper published this month, recommends that “Scientists should conduct a study to determine what level, if any, of chemicals in oil-field wastes is safe for farmworkers, animals, and consumers,”. The paper notes the absence of statewide standards for ensuring safety of the practice and advises that,  “Regional water boards should not issue new permits for the reuse of oil-field wastewater for irrigation until the risks have been comprehensively assessed and appropriate monitoring and reporting requirements put in place.” Read the rest of this entry »

Huh? Governor’s Water Commission declares an end to climate change in 2050!

California Aqueduct - smaller

By Jennifer Clary, Program Manager

“After 2050, climate conditions shall be assumed to remain at 2050 conditions.”

Excerpt from draft regulations for Water System Investment Program, as approved by the California Water Commissioner December 16, 2015

On December 16, the California Water Commission, which is administering $2.7 billion in bonds for water storage projects, forwarded draft regulations guiding that expenditure to the Office of Administrative Law for public review. The draft regulations are wholly inadequate. Among the many problems is that the project managers will only need to calculate climate change impacts on the projects until 2050. This is deeply flawed. Surface and groundwater projects can be expected to last decades beyond 2050, and the impacts from climate change even longer. What this decision means is that projects that are disproportionately affected by climate change – such as new dams – will receive high scores, while those that make us more climate resilient – such as new groundwater storage – may not receive funding. How could a Commission charged with such an important task make such a blunder, just one week after the Paris climate change accord?

The allocation of $2.7 billion to storage projects was the most contentious part of the water bond (Proposition 1) approved by voters in 2014. This was because of the potential that this funding would be used to build environmentally damaging and costly dams. Additionally Proposition 1 is being appropriated without the legislative or budget oversight required of other funding sources. Instead, only the Water Commission will ensure that these funds are invested in a cost effective and environmentally beneficial manner.

Unfortunately, many of the current Commissioners seem unable or unwilling to act in the public interest. The approval of the weak final draft regulations came after months of public stakeholder meetings, two previous drafts, and a month after the Commissioners claimed that they would spend the December meeting fully vetting the draft regulations. But only one Commissioner, Paula Daniels, came prepared to do her job. The remaining Commissioners (excluding Commissioner Herrera, absent for a family emergency) provided a variety of excuses including

  • Not reviewing meeting materials in advance;
  • A reluctance to make edits at a public meeting (after promising at prior meetings to do just that)
  • The inability of three commissioners to stay for the entire meeting, resulting in a loss of quorum and the inability to continue the hearing.
  • An expressed interest in accepting staff recommendations with no changes.

Commissioner Daniels, visibly frustrated at her fellow commissioners’ lack of preparedness, insisted on reviewing and seeking a vote on each of her proposed changes and was able to make some changes. However most of her edits, including those related to the impacts of climate change, were rejected.

These commissioners will be responsible for handing out $2.7 billion in taxpayer funds beginning in 2017. Yet they can’t follow their own governor’s lead in requiring careful climate change planning, and they can’t be bothered to attend a full meeting before the public or review material to prepare. How can we trust these Commissioners to make good investment decisions for California?

Next steps: the regulations as adopted by the Commission will be submitted to the Office of Administrative Law, who will release them for a 45-day public review and comment period in early 2016. The Commission will be required to approve the final draft of the regulations and will have the opportunity to make changes.

Scientists Agree EPA’s Assessment on Fracking and Drinking Water Needs Revision

Oil and Water Don't mix

Photo: Andrew Grinberg

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

EPA’s multi-year multimillion-dollar study of the impacts of fracking on drinking water on resources is important and will inform the debate around expanded oil and gas development for years to come. However, for it to be truly useful, some critical revisions need to be made to the top-line conclusions.

Clean Water Action and our allies have long been calling for a retraction of the statements that seemingly discount the multitude of vulnerabilities, documented impacts and widespread uncertainty described in the body of the report. Specifically this sweeping statement:

“We did not find evidence that these mechanisms have led to widespread, systemic impacts on drinking water resources in the United States…….The number of identified cases, however, was small compared to the number of hydraulically fractured wells.

The good news is the Science Advisory Board Panel tasked with reviewing the Assessment agrees, as highlighted in their individual comments. This confirms it is not just NGOs and impacted communities who are confused and concerned with draft Assessment. Many people impacted by fracking rightly feel betrayed by EPA’s unsupported yet widely reported comment, which will no doubt continued to be taken out of context by policymakers as a way to negate the real impacts of oil and gas development. Read the rest of this entry »

Go With What Works

Watch the video to fnd out why Any supports Clean Water - and donate today!

By Andy Bauer, Clean Water Action Board Member

A friend of mine once said that your environment is wherever you are.  Clean Water understands that we have to work to protect it.

When toxic emissions from CT’s Sooty Six power plants were sending people to hospitals, Clean Water worked to clean them up.

That’s the year I became a huge fan of Clean Water Fund and Clean Water Action.

They have history – leading the campaign to create the Clean Water Act  more than forty years ago because water where we swim, fish, and what we drink. This year Clean Water fought to ensure Clean Water Act protection for small streams and tributaries.

I’m a Clean Water Action board member and a donor because I believe in the good works they do.  

Please join me and make a tax-deductible donation to Clean Water Fund before December 31st. Read the rest of this entry »

This Week the Fight for the Environment Rages On

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

WRI13-IPCCinfographic-FINAL_webThis week kicks off the highly anticipated Conference of the Parties (#COP21) meeting in Paris. Virtually every country in the world has agreed to limit global warming to two degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels and this meeting will hash out how exactly how the world can reach our collective goal. World leaders agree that the climate is changing rapidly, the impacts are happening now, humans activities are the leading cause, and the world needs to take action, now.

Back home the situation is different from that worldwide agreement and vision of prosperous life in a stable climate system. The US House of Representatives is voting on a Congressional Review Act resolution to permanently block the Clean Power Plan (CPP). The CPP is a critical regulation necessary to reduce carbon pollution from power plants. Clean Water Action signed a letter with our allies in opposition to this shortsighted and embarrassing move to derail commonsense solutions. The vote against CPP is in direct contrast with polls showing widespread public support for the new pollution safeguard and a step backwards in the fight to address climate change. Read the rest of this entry »

The Dirty Water Caucus Strikes Back


By Lynn Thorp, Campaigns Director – On Twitter (@LTCWA)

While in some places today people are voting in municipal and statewide elections, the U.S. Senate is voting on whether to undo clean water progress. Later this afternoon, U.S. Senators will take up a bill we call the Dirty Water Act. Spearheaded by Senator John Barrasso (R-WY), the misleadingly titled Federal Water Quality Protection Act (S.1140) would block implementation of policy that clarifies Clean Water Act protection for critical water resources. As if that is not enough, it is likely that Senators will then proceed to invoke the rarely used Congressional Review Act to overturn the same U.S. Environmental Protection Agency/Army Corps of Engineers “Clean Water Rule.” Read the rest of this entry »

Science Advisory Board to EPA on Fracking: It’s Complicated

SAB pic

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

Science Advisory Board Panel to EPA: Too Many Uncertainties to Say Fracking Impact on Drinking Water is NOT “widespread” or “systemic”

I spent 3 days in the Science Advisory Board (SAB) Panel review of EPA’s fracking and drinking water study, released in June. The SAB is a 30 person expert panel of multidisciplinary scientists from academia and industry. They were tasked with reviewing the almost 1000 page Assessment, chapter by chapter. I tagged along to testify with representatives from other NGOs and many other people personally impacted by fracking activities. Among other things, we wanted to make the case that it is untenable for EPA to keep in the Executive Summary the topline conclusion, “We did not find evidence that these mechanisms have lead to widespread, systemic impacts to drinking water in the United States” and the phrase “the number of impacts was small relative to number of hydraulically fractured wells.” Read the rest of this entry »

Honored to Receive an Award from Clean Water Action

This post was originally published on Groovy Green Livin’

By Lori Popkewitz Alper

Honored to Receive an Award for Rockstar Mom for Safe Chemicals Groovy Green Livin

This past Saturday was an incredible day. I received an award for being a “Rockstar Mom for Safe Chemicals” from one of my favorite Massachusetts organizations, Clean Water Action.

The award was given to 8 Massachusetts women who are champions of environmental justice, clean energy and safe chemicals. I was incredibly humbled to be in such amazing company. These women truly are rockstars!

In the photo above I’m standing next to rockstars Kristi Marsh and Erin Boles (with her son). Awards were also given to rockstar moms (see photo below) Cheryl Durr Patry, Eugenia Gibbons, Michelle Gottlieb, Gail McCormick and Laura Spark. Read the rest of this entry »

The Clean Water Act Can’t Work Without You

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

This month marked 43 years since the landmark Clean Water Act became law. Yet, while many of our nation’s rivers, lakes, streams, wetlands and bays are cleaner because of it, we still face water pollution challenges. Not because of lack of technology or innovation, but because of powerful polluting industries that have the ear of politicians – big oil, big ag, and big developers (just to name a few). Because of this constant political pressure to weaken critical protections for our water resources, paired with limited and often dwindling state and federal resources, enforcement of the Clean Water Act is largely driven by everyday people concerned about their communities.with gina - smaller

The Clean Water Act (CWA) is about democracy as much as it is about stopping water pollution. Public involvement in how the CWA is applied and enforced in the real world is vital to address water pollution problems. Congress recognized this importance by including explicit provisions for public involvement in the language of the CWA. Public empowerment is in the Clean Water Act’s DNA. Read the rest of this entry »

43 Years Young

43 Years of the Clean Water Act

By Michael Kelly, Communications Director – On Twitter, @MichaelEdKelly

The Clean Water Act turns 43 on October 18. Read the rest of this entry »

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