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

“Polluter Pays” Paying Off in Rhode Island – Part 2

By Jamie Rhodes, Rhode Island State Director (Follow Jamie on Twitter – @jrhodes97)

Read part one here

After Southern Union was found guilty of illegally storing mercury in Pawtucket, Judge William E. Smith, in an unprecedented move, in his opinion stated “I am inviting the parties, and the greater environmental community, to suggest community service obligations that I could impose upon Southern Union which would have the broadest possible impact.” Clean Water has been a leader in the Rhode Island community for developing campaigns designed to reduce the use of mercury in products and meters and provide for the safe recycling of items that contain it. A proposal was submitted that would provide us funding to advance efforts to collect mercury thermostats and create a collection program for CFLs, which contain mercury. At the end of 2013, Judge Smith announced that Clean Water would be among the recipients of part of these funds, along with the RI Department of Environmental Management (DEM) and the City of Pawtucket. Read the rest of this entry »

“Polluter Pays” Paying Off in Rhode Island – Part 1

By Jamie Rhodes, Rhode Island State Director (Follow Jamie on Twitter – @jrhodes97)

Clean Water had an unusual opportunity in 2013. As part of a criminal penalty assessed against Southern Union, the natural gas storage and transportation company, we received $100,000 to develop and implement programs to properly manage mercury. This begs the obvious question, what does a natural gas company have to do with mercury? That question is the beginning of story that has just entered a new chapter. 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 »

Solving this month’s Pink + Green dilemma

You know the situation: Valentine’s Day is upon us. You have at least one special person (maybe more than one) you want to remember with a card, gift or both. procrastination

As usual, you waited until the last minute.

Also, as a committed environmentalist, you want your Valentine’s Day offerings to be special, but you also want them to be green.

I asked our friends at We-Care.com if they had any suggestions that might fit the bill. Here’s what they came up with: Read the rest of this entry »

US Senate Hearing on West Virginia Drinking Water: Crisis What Crisis?

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

PutDrinkingWaterFirst

Time to Put Drinking Water First

Yesterday I attended a U.S. Senate hearing on the West Virginia “Drinking Water Crisis” brought on by last month’s chemical spill into the Elk River, the drinking water source for West Virginia American Water’s 300,000 consumers.  The hearing title got me thinking that we do have a “crisis” on our hands, but it’s not limited to what happened in West Virginia.  Far too often, many different types of polluting industrial activities – not just storing chemicals in tanks  - are allowed to contaminate our drinking water sources.

This could be prevented.  But instead we’re putting a burden on our drinking water systems and their consumers (us). We’re basically turning our drinking water treatment plants into an easy-way-out waste disposal option for companies who should be cleaning up their act way upstream. That’s what our Put Drinking Water First efforts are about, and you’ll be hearing more about them during this 40th anniversary year of the Safe Drinking Water Act. 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 »

States Taking the Lead

Click to learn more

Click to learn more

By Cindy Luppi, New England Regional Director

Exciting news: state legislatures are starting to ramp up across the country…and a majority of them, at least 33, are considering bills to regulate toxic chemicals. Clean Water Action is leading the charge on this issue in California, Connecticut, Florida, Massachusetts, and Minnesota. It’s inspiring to see momentum spreading nation-wide.

You might be asking “why the big push?” or “why now?” There are a number of factors coalescing to focus lawmakers on this issue like never before. One huge reason is large retailers like Target and Walmart are setting new standards that will ultimately block products containing some of the worst toxic chemicals from their shelves. These new policies are rippling out across the industry and are helping to change the status quo. Most importantly, they send a message that safer products are feasible – and the innovation economy is taking note. Companies like Proctor & Gamble have announced phase-outs for bad actor chemicals like triclosan, phthalates and phosphates. Others are following suit, creating a demand for new policies that include incentives and support for the forward-looking companies making these strides. Read the rest of this entry »

West Virginia Chemical Spill – The Only Good News

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

For the last few days, hundreds of thousands of people in West Virginia were miserable.  Not only were they concerned about their health in the face of the chemical spill at Freedom Industries, but they did not have water for other daily needs including taking baths and showers or washing clothes.  And yet, there was one positive thing about the last six days and part of me wishes it wouldn’t end.
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 »

By the Wayside…Are They Serious?

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

Charleston Gazette reporter Ken Ward Jr. just tweeted that local officials in West Virginia had this to say about planning for chemical accidents and spills:  “That’s just something that’s kind of fallen by the wayside.”

This is horrifying in light of hundreds of thousands of people without water for 5 days, businesses unable to open and people’s health threatened in ways no one quite understands.  But it’s not that surprising.  Read the rest of this entry »

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