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

Why Do We Fight About Clean Water?

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

Today we launch a wide array of activity leading up to an unusual “bicameral” hearing on Capitol Hill next week. “Bicameral” means that it is a joint hearing put on by the majority leadership of committees in both the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate. This does not happen often. I wish I could say that this special water policy hearing is happening because our water resources are so precious, or because we have learned how critical it is to protect drinking water from contamination or because polls have consistently shown for decades that people consider clean water the most important environmental issue.

No. I can’t say that. Read the rest of this entry »

The Science of Water – It’s Complex and it’s Simple

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

I have been working on water issues for many years, and for all of that time I have known that the Clean Water Act is meant “. . . to restore and maintain the chemical, physical, and biological integrity of the Nation’s waters.” But until I read EPA’s draft Connectivity of Streams and Wetlands to Downstream Waters: A Review and Synthesis of the Scientific Evidence earlier this year, I don’t think I had truly grasped the power of these words. Read the rest of this entry »

A Year That Confirmed We Need to Put Drinking Water First

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

140111-Z-LQ742-016One year ago today we learned that a chemical spill into the Elk River in West Virginia had led to a “Do Not Use” order. Hundreds of thousands of people in the Charleston area could not use their tap water for anything other than toilet flushing and fire fighting. As the crisis continued, details came to light. Over 10,000 gallons spilled. A coal-processing chemical called crude MCHM that no one had ever heard of. Freedom Industries managing a tank farm very badly. A lack of health effects or other information on the chemical. Wait, more chemicals involved! And the water smells like licorice, even when it’s at really low levels or almost gone. Investigations commence. Lawsuits are filed. State and federal hearings are held. Big Clean Water Act charges are filed against Freedom Industries. The list goes on and on.

So what have we learned? Could this happen again? Read the rest of this entry »

Drinking Water Sacrificed for Oil and Gas Industry Profits – What We Don’t Know CAN Hurt Us

By John Noel, National Oil and Gas Program Coordinator – Follow John on Twitter (@Noel_Johnny)

Image - Sacficing our ater for Oil and Gas

Sacrificing Our Drinking Water for Oil and Gas

This week Clean Water Action released a first-ever analysis of the little known Aquifer Exemption program within EPA’s Underground Injection Control program. For those concerned about clean drinking water supplies for future generations, transparency within the Environmental Protection Agency, and the cavalier attitude oil and gas interests take towards regulation of their operations, this report is for you.

What is wrong with Aquifer Exemptions?

First, the program exists. Read the rest of this entry »

What Do EPA’s new Coal Ash Disposal Rule and New York State Fracking Ban Have in Common?

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

Two big things happened in the world of energy policy this week. I don’t think most people connected them. EPA finalized a long overdue framework to regulate our country’s second largest waste stream after household trash – toxic ash from coal plants. New York banned high volume hydraulic fracturing, basically ruling out drilling for Marcellus Shale gas in that state. Two important similarities here.

Fossil Fuels are Dirty: Until the infamous Tennessee coal ash spill in 2008, people didn’t realize the mess we leave behind when we burn coal for electricity. As EPA began working on this regulation, we learned that coal plants produce millions of tons of toxic waste every year. And we learned how powerful a polluting industry that doesn’t want to change can be. Read the rest of this entry »

Why I Give to Clean Water


Ellie Goldberg is a board member of the Clean Water Action Alliance of Massachusetts.

My path to advocacy started in the early 1950s when my family vacationed on the Canadian shore of Lake Erie. I was given the chore of burying the heaps of dead fish that washed up on the beach in front of our cottage. Even as a young child, I sensed something was seriously wrong.

Later, in the early 1960s, I read Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring. Her book informed the world of the cancers and other damage caused by the unbridled use of toxic chemicals and that our health is intimately connected to the quality of our environment. Silent Spring was a wake-up call for common sense, public integrity, health security and human rights at a time when there were no legal safeguards in place.

Clean Water Action responds to that wake-up call. I give to Clean Water Action because, for more than 40 years, the organization has been a leading champion and defender of families and communities against the pollution that contaminates our water, air and food.

From the 1970s, when Clean Water Action helped to pass the Clean Water Act and the Safe Drinking Water Act, it has engaged citizens and policy makers in correcting the flaws in our laws that allow manufacturers and marketers to pollute our bodies and communities with untested and unlabeled chemicals that make us sick.

In the early 1980s, when I was a mother of young children and a professional educator, I felt a heightened urgency to advocate for public health, especially on behalf of children.  Clean Water was a perfect match as I worked as an environmental health advocate for children’s health and safety in education and health systems at the local, state and national level.

I give to Clean Water Action because I am grateful for its long and effective leadership dedicated to safeguarding the public health and to enriching the quality and sustainability of our communities. I hope you’ll join me in supporting Clean Water this season.

Why did Gov. Cuomo Decide to Ban Fracking in New York?

By Myron Arnowitt, Pennsylvania State Director – Follow the Pennsylvania Team on Twitter (@CleanH2OPA)

Oil and gas operations close to a home in Armstrong, PA

Oil and Gas operations near a home in Armstrong County, PA

Why did New York ban fracking?

Maybe it was the hundreds of families impacted by the 240 cases of water contamination from gas drilling documented by the state of Pennsylvania.

Maybe it was the millions of gallons of toxic wastewater from gas drilling that have been dumped in Pennsylvania rivers.

Maybe it was the notices from water utilities sent to 300,000 residents in the Pittsburgh area to not use their drinking water due to fracking wastewater in their water supply.

Maybe it was the 500 frack pits, open earthen impoundments of toxic wastewater, set up by the oil and gas industry around the state covering nearly 1,000 acres and capable of holding a billion gallons.

Maybe it was the flammable water, exploding water wells, or even the gas well fire in southwest PA that took a week to put out. Read the rest of this entry »

Will EPA Finally #KickCoalAsh?

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

All We Want for Christmas is a strong coal ash rule!After years of delay, EPA will finalize its coal ash rule on December 19th. Will it be strong enough to protect the hundreds of communities impacted by this toxic waste?

Six years after our nation’s largest industrial waste spill – the 2008 Kingston Fossil Plant disaster that dumped over a billion gallons of toxic slurry into two Tennessee rivers and buried several homes – the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will finally issue the first-ever federal coal ash regulation. The Agency is under a court-ordered deadline to publish its final rule by Friday, December 19th.

Those of us who have been working on this issue for years are anxiously waiting to see if EPA’s new rule will be strong enough to prevent future disasters like Kingston or a spill like the one that happened at Duke Energy’s retired Dan River plant this past February. Coal ash, the toxic remains of burning coal, is one of the largest industrial waste streams in the country.   It contains a witches’ brew of nasty chemicals – arsenic, mercury, lead, selenium, hexavalent chromium – just to list a few. Every year, power plants produce a staggering 140 million tons of coal ash – that’s enough toxic waste to fill train cars stretching from the North to the South Pole. Read the rest of this entry »

The SDWA – 40 years of Safe Drinking Water

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

Celebrating 40 years of the Safe Drinking Water Act - a Poster

Celebrating 40 years of Safe Drinking Water

Today is the 40th anniversary of the Safe Drinking Water Act. Like our drinking water itself, a lot of people don’t think much about SDWA (pronounced Sid Wah) until there is a problem. But the important thing about our nation’s landmark drinking water law is that its implementation chugs along no matter what. Today the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the water sector including the Public Water Systems regulated by SDWA and public health and environmental organizations can celebrate four decades of progress in setting standards for contaminants, in research, in public education and in fascinating evolution of understanding about the complexities of providing water to the public and of what it means to regulate that activity.

When I woke up this morning, DC was experiencing a water main break and thus disruptions to traffic and Metro service downtown. Our water infrastructure is just one example of the miracles and challenges implicit in the business of water. Most of the time, those pipes bring water to our taps for drinking, cooking, bathing and so many other daily activities in our homes and businesses. Most people don’t think much about it until one of those pipes break. Then we notice, mostly in frustration. Water infrastructure replacement and modernization will be one of the great challenges of the next 40 years. Not only do we need to invest billions of dollars in these deteriorating systems, but we are learning fascinating things about what goes on in those pipes and how that relates to public health protection.

There are other challenges, including reforming how we regulate all of our activities so that our drinking water sources are better protected. Clean Water Actions likes to say we should Put Drinking Water First, by which we mean making the ultimate impact on drinking water sources a primary consideration when we are controlling pollution from the many activities which can lead to contamination. How we get our energy, how we grow and make our food, how we manufacture products and how we build our cities and towns all impact drinking water quality. Read the rest of this entry »

Seriously, FPL?

By Kathy Aterno, National Managing Director and Florida Director – Follow our Florida Team on Twitter (@CleanWaterFL)

Did you know that in some states – including Florida – electric utilities are allowed to charge ratepayers for the costs of complying with environmental laws, even if the ratepayers were not the ones that caused the company to need to clean up its act?

Bad as that is, a few months ago, Clean Water Action and allies the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy and Earthjustice learned that one Florida utility, Florida Power and Light wanted to go a step farther. They actually asked the Florida Public Service Commission for permission to bill ratepayers almost a quarter-million dollars to go towards a national Dirty Water lobbying campaign.

FPL had the audacity to try making its own ratepayers pay even more on their electric bills so their electric company could join in a misguided national campaign led by many of the nation’s worst polluters. They want to block the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency from completing work on a proposed Clean Water Rule that would restore longstanding protections for small streams, wetlands and drinking water sources. This is in a state where clean water is central to our economy and quality of life. Everyone here – including FPL ratepayers – needs clean water and values it highly. Read the rest of this entry »

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