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

This Memorial Day, I’ll be Thinking About Clean Water

By Cassi Steenblok, Pittsburgh Program Organizer

As Memorial Day draws near I can’t help but think of summer and all the fun and exciting things I want to do now that the days are getting longer and warmer. For me summer has always revolved around water.

I grew up in upstate New York close to two of the Great Lakes, and even closer to the smaller lakes in the Finger Lakes region of the state. I have many fond memories from my childhood swimming, fishing, and canoeing in the lakes, rivers, and streams that were within walking distance from my house.  Then when I graduated college I packed up my life and moved to Providence, Rhode Island. Rhode Island is fondly known as the “Ocean State” and is full of beautiful coastlines and amazing beaches. I would often spend those hot summer days in Rhode Island at the beach to get out of the city and enjoy the water. Providence was also where I first started working for Clean Water Action, to protect that coastline I value so much.

A year ago I packed up my life again and moved to Pittsburgh to continue my Clean Water journey as a Program Coordinator in Western Pennsylvania. It was almost summer when I moved to the “Three Rivers” city and I was hopeful to again spend my summers close to the water. But what I found in Pittsburgh was not what I expected. I knew there are not going to be any ocean beaches to relax at on a hot day, but surely there must be some places to swim. Unfortunately, many of the rivers and streams in Pittsburgh are not swimmable or fishable. So where does everyone go to cool off? I was told the closest thing to a beach in Pittsburgh is Sandcastle Water Park. And while it is incredibly fun to spend the day on water slides and in the wave poll, it’s just not the same.

Regardless of where we live, all our waterways should be offered the same protection. Within the past twelve years we have lost of the safeguards for many of the small streams and wetlands similar to the ones I played in as a child. These are the waterways that lead to our rivers and oceans. If they aren’t clean and safe then our larger waterways will not be either. That’s why the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposal to restore protections to these precious streams and wetlands is so important.

This Memorial Day I’ll be off to Rhode Island for my first visit in a year. You better believe that I’ll be spending my time at the beaches that I miss so much. But I’ll also be treasuring that clean water and thinking about how important it is to protect all of America’s waterways. How about you? Click here to take action!

Why I am collecting postcards to #ProtectCleanWater

By Tom Hoffman, Western Pennsylvania Director

I grew up in upstate New York and was very fortunate to go to a YMCA camp on the shores of Lake George in the Adirondacks when I was a kid. To get from my tent in the Intermediate Unit to the Mess Hall I followed a mountain stream down towards the lake. It was always a tough choice between eating and hanging out in the stream and watching what was happening in there. Newts, tadpoles, frogs were in abundance.

It is those streams that were such a part of my childhood that are now so much at risk. Polluters, who want to hide their toxic waste under the rug (or in one of my mountain streams) rather than clean it up responsibly, attacked the Clean Water Act with a vengeance during the “polluter friendly” Bush the Younger administration – and broke it. As written, the Clean Water Act protected my stream. Now sadly, many such streams are not protected because of the decisions made by the Bush administration.

The Obama administration, under the direction of Gina McCarthy, has developed a new set of guidelines that fix the broken Clean Water Act and protect our streams (and wetlands). I’m collecting post cards supporting the fix (you can send your comments in here) because at some point, Gina will sit down across the table from the polluters to hammer out the final “deal”. I want her to be in a position to say, “I hear you Mr. Big Polluter, but you see I have a bazillion post cards that want me to protect those streams – and they win.”

PS I’m also working to get breweries to sign on to our letter because I want her to be able to say, “If the beer makers want protected streams, then I have no choice. Protected streams it is.”

Clean Water Can’t Wait!

By Ben Davies Long Branch, New Jersey Field Canvass Director

Living near the water, whether it’s the lake, the ocean, or a stream, has been an integral part of my life. I took that for granted for so many years. I’ve seen firsthand the impact of pollution on water if protections aren’t in place. That’s why EPA’s proposal to protect the waters of the US is so important to me.

I grew up in North Salem – about an hour north of New York City – a place where everybody knew everyone. Nestled among the cottages and barns between North Salem and Southeast, NY sits Peach Lake— where we spent our summers swimming and fishing. The lake is part of the larger Croton Watershed, which contributes to the system of reservoirs providing New York City with a portion of its drinking water.

Over time, Peach Lake became so polluted it was considered an “impaired” body of water with degraded water quality and stressed aquatic life. It got so bad that when I put my feet in the water, I couldn’t even see them. I remember the old-timers would say—“when we were kids you could see all the way to the bottom…”  Read the rest of this entry »

Why you should oppose the Keystone XL pipeline…

New Hampshire Clean Water supporter, energy/climate advocate and local sustainability leader, Marjorie Rogalski, recently wrote this open letter to her U.S. Senators, Jeanne Shaheen and Kelly Ayotte. A condensed version was later published in the Valley News, her local newspaper. Here’s what she had to say — a clear and compelling case for building a clean energy future.

Why you should oppose the Keystone XL pipeline:

1. It will not create a significant number of lasting construction jobs.  The jobs will be short lived and very few permanent jobs will result if construction is completed.

Alternative:  Work to create jobs that improve energy efficiency in the heating, cooling, and lighting systems of America’s existing residential, commercial, and industrial buildings, a long term commitment that will reduce energy bills and pollution.

2.  The oil from the pipeline will be sold on the global market.  If the past is any indicator, the majority will be purchased by foreign companies and therefore will not lower our gas prices.

3.  The oil industry has a long history of pipeline leaks which have resulted in decades of negative impacts on the ecosystems, environment, and local economy.  The toxic chemicals added to the tar sand product to enable it to flow through the pipeline would make any spill (and there will be spills) a long term environmental and financial disaster for the citizens impacted.

4. The ranchers and native people of Nebraska have made it very clear that they do NOT want their land and drinking water put at risk by this pipeline. Read the rest of this entry »

My Clean Water Story

By Tim McDaniel, National Program Intern – Follow Tim on Twitter (@TimMcDaniel365)

This is my first time writing a post for We All Live Downstream, so of course I had to do my research. Most of the posts that I had read for my organization were about some major catastrophe or a campaign that we worked on. I decided to I wanted to talk about something a little different. I want to spend a moment and tell you about how I became enthralled in the work that we do here at Clean Water Action.

As a grassroots environmental organization, it is important for us to emphasize that the work we do is for the betterment of people, not organizations or businesses. We’re powered by our members and the people we fight for and we want you to get to know us.

A quick history: I was born in Dyke, Virginia. It is a very small, rural town just outside of Charlottesville. Every morning I would wake up, step out on my back porch and have a full view of the Blue Ridge Mountains. The summers of my youth were spent picking wild blackberries and catching crawfish down by the local creek. Needless to say, water and the environment were a big part of my life from a very early age. Read the rest of this entry »

Toxic Seduction

By Special Guest – Hilary Opperman This post originally appeared on The Campaign for Toxic-Free Kids

Have you ever masqueraded as something you’re not? The truth is that we all have from time to time.

Now tell me this: Have you ever worn products that have masqueraded as something they’re not? Have you ever bought a fancy shampoo because the bottle was aesthetically pleasing or suggested a sense of comfort? Or a product that reminded you of being younger? Or claimed to remove cellulite? To give your laundry a fresh scent? Or give you an artificially-induced tan? A product to shield you from the sun? To ramp up those wonderful sex pheromones? Read the rest of this entry »

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 »

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