Archive for the 'Healthy, Safer Families and Communities' Category

Failing to Protect Drinking Water in California

By Andria Ventura, California Program Manager

On April 15, California’s Department of Public Health announced an enforceable drinking water standard for hexavalent chromium (also called chromium-6, the contaminant made famous in the 2000 movie Erin Brockovich, of 10 parts per billion (ppb).  This is a disappointing end to the 10 year wait for a limit that was supposed to be established by legislative mandate in 2004 While California is now the only place in the US to regulate hexavalent chromium in drinking water, this standard is 500 times higher than the public health goal of .02 ppb, which is the level at which no significant negative health impacts would be expected. Since most known hexavalent chromium contaminated drinking water sources are between the public health goal and 10 ppb, this standard also ensures that only 15% of them will be treated. Read the rest of this entry »

Protecting Clean Water in Vermont: a flatlander’s view

Put Drinking Water First  by Jonathan A. Scott, Managing Editor, Clean Water Action News (@jscottnh on Twitter)

First, I admit for the record that I do not live in Vermont. However, I can see Vermont from my house. It’s over there, right on the other side of the beautiful Connecticut River.

Also for the record, as a New Hampshire resident only since 1989, my views may carry less weight than a native-born New Englander. If you live here, you know that is because only 2nd or 3rd generation Granite Staters are considered true natives. The rest of us “flatlanders” might be living here now, but we are lumped together with all those other folks who live or used to live in Massachusetts, New York or other places to the south. Read the rest of this entry »

Protecting Clean Water: This is personal!

Put Drinking Water First by Jonathan A. Scott, Managing Editor for Clean Water Action News (on twitter @jscottnh)


The Obama Administration is proposing to fix huge gaps in Clean Water Act protections by clarifying what streams, wetlands and drinking water sources are protected under the law. Clean Water Action is mobilizing its members and the public to weigh in on the record in support of clean water.

The Administration’s intent is not to create new protections, but rather to restore longstanding protections that had been in effect from the time of the law’s passage during the Nixon Administration until about 12 years ago.

That’s when Bush Administration actions and polluter-friendly court decisions weakened the law by stripping away critical protections and creating confusion that made enforcing the law difficult. Read the rest of this entry »

Air Pollution from Coke Plant in Pittsburgh Cannot Continue

Courtesy of Joel Polacci

Courtesy of Joel Polacci

By Julie St. John, Pittsburgh Organizer

For years, Clean Water Action in Pittsburgh has been working to clean up air pollution coming from the Shenango coke works on Neville Island. The facility is located on a heavily industrialized piece of land less than one mile from densely populated residential communities and only five miles from downtown Pittsburgh. When new owners, DTE Energy, bought the company in 2008, residents were hopeful they would finally see improvements to the air they breathe. Now, it’s clear that DTE Energy has no more interest in being a good neighbor than the previous owners did. Read the rest of this entry »

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


Bye Bye Plastics

San Francisco Supervisor Chiu holds up a plastic water bottled filled with the amount of oil it takes to make just one bottle!

San Francisco Supervisor Chiu holds up a plastic water bottled filled with the amount of oil it takes to make just one bottle!

By Samantha Meyer, Zero Waste Program Manager – Follow the campaign on Twitter: @Rdisposable

It’s already been a big month for cracking down on plastic pollution in California. March 3rd marked a historic day in the fight against plastic bags – San Rafael became the 100th California jurisdiction to ban single-use plastic bags! This is a huge accomplishment since San Francisco became the first city in the nation to ban plastic bags back in 2007.

Recognizing that plastic bag bans are just one of the first steps in curbing our plastic addiction, San Francisco has already made its next move. The Board of Supervisors voted on March 4th to ban the sale of bottled water on city property. Now let’s hope that SB 270 – the statewide plastic bag ban – passes this legislative session and that other cities start banning bottled water!

We’re doing our part too through our ReThink Disposable campaign. We’ve been working with restaurants and cafes around the Bay Area to replace disposable food packaging with real dishes. So far, we’ve gotten great feedback – restaurants are saving money, reducing waste and their customers are happier!

Congrats California – we’re getting closer to kicking the single-use plastic habit. Read the rest of this entry »

Op-ed: CT bill could help keep our children safe from toxins

By Joyce Acebo-Raguskus, Clean Water Action Member and activist with the Coalition for a Safe and Healthy Connecticut

“America’s children are at risk of becoming the first generation in a century to live shorter, less healthy lives than their parents.” – Dr. Philip Landrigan, Mt. Sinai Children’s Hospital

This statement should be a wake-up call for all of us. Read the rest of this entry »

Mind the Store, Protect the Customer

mts-logosBy May Woo, Alliance for a Healthy Tomorrow

This originally appeared here

With great market power comes great responsibility. Retailers hold the power to choose which products are available to consumers, and what ingredients go into store brand items. With a lack of federal regulation over toxic chemicals in consumer products, retailers have the potential to step in and screen their inventory, and by doing so have a large impact on improving public health and the environment. In support of pressuring retailers to take action, the Alliance for a Healthy Tomorrow coalition is excited to join other environmental and health organizations in joining the efforts of Mind the Store this spring. Read the rest of this entry »

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.

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 »

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