Archive for the 'Making Democracy Work' Category

Putting the Yuk Into the Clean Water Act Policy Debate

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

I’m pretty sure that anyone who read today’s news about three teenagers urinating into a finished water reservoir in Portland OR thought “…. Yuk, I don’t want that in my drinking water!” We need an similar but overwhelming public reaction of disgust and outrage about polluters’ effort to block one of the most important pieces of clean water policy in decades.

According to news reports, cameras caught three teenagers urinating into a reservoir used to store drinking water which has already passed through the treatment plant. The Portland Water Bureau was forced to flush millions of gallons of water out of the system to avoid any unintended contamination issues. Uncovered finished water reservoirs are the subject of interesting drinking water policy discussions, but that’s not the subject of this post. Read the rest of this entry »

On Tax Day – Let’s End the Subsidies

By Nic Clark, Michigan Director Follow Nic on Twitter – @ClarkNic

Remember the Enbridge oil spill in the summer of 2010? We’re quickly approaching the four-year anniversary of that environmental disaster and the Kalamazoo River is still dealing with the consequences of Enbridge’s screw up.

For far too long in this state and country, we have relied on fossil fuels to power our communities and economy. I am a firm believer in the idea that we need to move away from these dangerous and outdated forms of energy towards a renewable energy future. 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 »

Putting Drinking Water First – A Real Win

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

Waiting for Protection for More than 10 years

Waiting for Protection for More than 10 years

Putting Drinking Water First means making decisions about all of our activities with an eye toward their impact on our drinking water sources.

Why should we do that?  First, recent events like the Freedom Industries chemical spill in West Virginia and the Duke Energy coal ash spill in North Caroline illustrate the health concerns and disruptions which result from contamination of drinking water sources.  Public health and local economies depends on tap water.  Second, a “Putting Drinking Water First” approach will often lead to the most prudent common-sense choices about our activities and their resulting health and environmental impacts.  Read the rest of this entry »

Clean Water? We’re in it for the Long Haul

Put Drinking Water First

by Jonathan A. Scott, editor, Clean Water Currents (on Twitter @jscottnh)

Gina Video

Watch EPA Administrator McCarthy’s March 25 call to #ProtectCleanWater

Since 2002, Clean Water Action has doggedly fought an uphill battle to restore Clean Water Act protections for some of America’s most important water resources. On March 25, 2014, the Obama Administration announced it was finally taking action to fix the problem.

When was the last time you thought about your water? We’ve made so much progress since the early 1970s when Clean Water Action first got started, it’s easy to see how almost anyone in the U.S. might make the mistake of taking clean water for granted.

Don’t do it! “An awakened local citizenry will always be needed to support the tough stands officials will have to take to get the water clean.” Clean Water Action’s founder, David Zwick, wrote these words back in 1972, but they’re just as true today. Read the rest of this entry »

It’s About Time

By Bob Wendelgass, President and CEO (Follow Bob on Twitter – @BWendelgass)

#ProtectCleanWater today! click here to submit a comment.

#ProtectCleanWater today! Click here to submit a comment.

Thanks to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) for finally announcing critical steps to fix a mess the Bush Administration made back in 2002.  That’s when EPA and the Corps  “broke” the Clean Water Act by removing its protection from many small streams and wetlands.  A lot has happened since (more on that later this week), but this is the first real progress on this issue in a long time.

Over the past twelve years, Clean Water Action and our allies worked to get the US Congress to fix the problem.  We got the “Clean Water Authority Restoration Act”, the “Clean Water Restoration Act” and, later, ”America’s Commitment to the Clean Water Act” introduced. While these bills generated board support in Congress and among faith groups, environmentalists, and conservation, fishing, and hunting organizations, none ever crossed the finish line.  And frankly, the prospects for getting a bill through the current anti-environment Congress are pretty close to zero! 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 »

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.

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