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

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 »

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


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