Archive for the 'Making Democracy Work' Category

Protect Clean Water – Kids Get It

By Susan Eastwood, Campaign Organizer – follow Susan on Twitter (@SCEastwood)

Emil, age 8, said it best. “Don’t throw trash on the ground because when it rains, it washes into the river and dirties the drinking water.”

Five year old Archie drew a contrast in bright colors, to compare “a happy fish swimming by a rainbow waterfall” with “a fish throwing up. It’s what’s gonna happen if people keep putting garbage in the water.”

Avery, age 8, showed two children holding their noses next to a polluted stream with a very sad fish swimming among the mess.

When you look at these kids’ drawings about water, you know that they get it. They get that we all need clean water to live and that it is common sense that we must protect our air and water as the most basic necessities of life. Read the rest of this entry »

Happy Birthday to the Clean Water Act

by Bob Wendelgass, Clean Water Action President & CEO, follow on Twitter @BWendelgass

The Clean Water Act turns forty-two this weekend! QRfile

When Congress overwhelmingly passed the landmark Clean Water Act in 1972, we set an incredibly ambitious goal: eliminate all water pollution.

Before the Act, the Cuyahoga River caught fire, Lake Erie was declared “dead,” untreated waste was routinely dumped in rivers and streams, and wetlands were thought to be useless swamps that needed to be drained for development or agriculture. The Clean Water Act changed all of that. Over the past forty-two years we have seen amazing progress for our water.

The Act is visionary – it changed how we think about our nation’s relationship with our water resources, after more than a century of pollution and degradation.

  • We realized that we needed “to restore and maintain the chemical, physical, and biological integrity of the Nation’s waters.”
  • It seeks to eliminate water pollution completely and to make all rivers, lakes and streams “fishable and swimmable.”
  • It includes a revolutionary “citizen suit” provision that empowers concerned citizen to be effective watchdogs to protect the water resources they use, especially when government fails to do so.
  • The Act established the basic structure to regulate the dumping of pollutants into water and gave the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) authority to set standards to provide a solid baseline to support states’ pollution control programs.

Read the rest of this entry »

Happy Birthday to the Clean Water Act!

The Clean Water Act turns 42 on tomorrow (10/18). To celebrate we’ll be sharing reflections on the Act, talking about the fight to protect clean water, and discussing what we can all do to put drinking water first.

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

The Clean Water Act became law 42 years ago this week. It’s got a straightforward name and ambitious goals (zero pollution into our nation’s waterways.) Getting there is not so simple. I have two birthday wishes for this law.

First, we have to close loopholes that leave some water unprotected even though science tells us it should be. Right this minute, a huge policy battle is being waged over whether streams, wetlands and other bodies of water should be covered by the Act’s programs. I used to think streams and wetlands were landscape features. Now I know that they are actually part of our water infrastructure. What I mean by that is that they perform a function that we often think has to be performed by engineering and building things. Streams and wetlands filter pollution before it makes its way downstream to rivers and lakes, including rivers and lakes where we get our drinking water. This protects public health and wildlife. Wetlands and streams also prevent flooding, which can cause economic disruption and displace people from their homes. My first birthday wish for the Clean Water Act is that we stop arguing over the obvious and support the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers proposal to close this loophole. Read the rest of this entry »

Toward the Future of the Movement

Times Square during the People's Climate March

Times Square during the People’s Climate March

By Alex Papali, Organizer : Green Justice Campaign and Boston Recycling Coalition – follow the Boston office on Twitter (@CleanH2OMA)

The People’s Climate March in Manhattan last month was hailed as a watershed moment for the fast-growing climate movement. Yet fewer people see themselves as environmentalists today than in decades past. An estimated 20 million Americans, for example, participated in the first Earth Day in 1970, credited with building the grassroots pressure that led to the Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act and other fundamental environmental protections we enjoy today.

An honest assessment may well show that the lower numbers of self-identified environmentalists today is because being green is perceived as the province of affluent whites who don’t have to deal with the immediate needs of real life, or as coming at too high a cost to society’s economic health. But the class and race diversity readily apparent at the New York march show that these attitudes are changing quickly. Every day more people understand the economic benefits that come with low-carbon energy production, or the power of investing in local control of energy, food and other systems instead of the expensive and undemocratic status quo. Read the rest of this entry »

True Facts about the Clean Water Act, part 2

The Clean Water Act turns 42 on Saturday. To celebrate we’ll be sharing reflections on the Act, talking about the fight to protect clean water, and discussing what we can all do to put drinking water first.

Four More Clean Water Act Facts (part 2 of 2) — Learn these and you’ll be an expert

by Jonathan A. Scott, a member of Clean Water Action’s development and communications teams, @jscottnh

FACT #9: Some of the main Clean Water Act tools responsible for most of the progress cleaning up and protecting water include:

  • A national permitting system, administered by the states, to regulate discharges into waterways called the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES)
  • Special protections requiring review and permitting for development projects that disturb or destroy wetlands, the “Section 404” program which provides citizens a critical point of access to decisions affecting their water.
  • Funding – initially a mix of grants and loans, now primarily loans – for state and community investments in modern sewage treatment plants and other water cleanup infrastructure.
  • More federal funding comes to states, mainly as grants, to implement and enforce various Clean Water Act programs.
  • Citizen suit provisions in the law specifically designed to allow citizens and nonprofits to intervene and make sure the law is properly implemented and enforced.

Clean Water Action played significant roles drafting and winning adoption of these provisions. Read the rest of this entry »

True Facts about the Clean Water Act, part 1

The Clean Water Act turns 42 on Saturday. To celebrate we’ll be sharing reflections on the Act, talking about the fight to protect clean water, and discussing what we can all do to put drinking water first. This is the first in our series, and it’s a 2-parter, so stay tuned for more.

12 Clean Water Act Facts (part 1 of 2) — Learn these and you’ll be an expert

by Jonathan A. Scott, a member of Clean Water Action’s development and communications teams, @jscottnh

FACT #1: First passed in 1972, the Clean Water Act was not a new law but rather a complete overhaul of earlier legislation, the 1948 Federal Water Pollution Control Act

FACT #2: Clean Water Action (then known as Fisherman’s Clean Water Action Project) played important roles in this 1972 victory:

  • Publishing and publicizing the book, Water Wasteland (by Clean Water Action’s founder, David Zwick), which uniquely combined research and grassroots organizing with the communities and constituencies featured in the book’s case studies, helped to galvanize public support for action by Congress.
  • Working directly with Congressional staff and leaders to develop the Act’s sweeping goals and policy provisions including a major role in drafting key language used in the Act (e.g., around public participation and citizen suits, “zero discharge” goals, and more)
  • Mobilizing the public, including groups and leaders involved in Water Wasteland research and organizing and the fishing tackle industry to reinforce Clean Water Action’s Capitol Hill lobbying with grassroots political muscle.

FACT #3: President Richard M. Nixon vetoed the Clean Water Act and never signed the legislation. It became law only once Congress overrode the President’s veto, with strong bipartisan support. Read the rest of this entry »

The Last Oktoberfest?

The Clean Water Act turns 42 on Saturday. To celebrate we’ll be sharing reflections on the Act, talking about the fight to protect clean water, and discussing what we can all do to put drinking water first.

By Andy Galli, Maryland Program Coordinator. Follow our Maryland office  on Twitter (@CleanWater_MD)

Fall is the season for beer. Lagers, pale ales, wheat, pumpkin spice and other flavored brews flow from taps at festivals and in beer gardens across Maryland.

Just a few weeks ago the Annapolis Craft Beer and Music Festival featured over 120 regional and national craft beers. Last week, Westminster hosted its 9th Annual Microbrew Festival, and in a few weeks the 6th Annual Baltimore Beer Week will feature Das Best Oktoberfest. Craft beers and micro-brews are no longer common to the home-garage distillery. Today there are more craft and micro breweries than ever in history. In 2013 there were 2,822 breweries in the U.S., a 15 percent increase over the year before. Maryland ranks 25th in the nation, with 34 craft breweries, and is growing at the national average. The success of a business like brewing depends on high quality clean water. Read the rest of this entry »

Thousands Support Clean Water in the Nutmeg State

By Susan Eastwood, Program Coordinator – follow Susan on Twitter (@sceastwood)

Ct WOTUS Event - everyoneOn Monday, Clean Water Action presented the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Region One Administrator Curt Spalding with thousands of comments from concerned Connecticut residents who care about clean water and want to protect it! I had the pleasure of introducing several distinguished public officials who came out to speak on the importance of clean water and EPA’s recent efforts to better protect our nation’s streams and wetlands. Attendees included Senator Richard Blumenthal, Congressman John Larson, State Representative Mary Mushinsky, New England Regional EPA head Curt Spalding and DEEP Commissioner Rob Klee, and representatives from Clean Water Action, Rivers Alliance, Citizen’s Campaign for the Environment, Sierra Club, Connecticut River Watershed Association, CT Coalition for Environmental Justice, Interreligious Eco-Justice Network and other groups.
Read the rest of this entry »

Great Drinking Water Day!

Joe, Tinsley, and Wendy the Waterdrop

Joe, Tinsley, and Wendy the Waterdrop

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

Clean Water Action was honored to be a partner in planning today’s Toast2Tap event celebrating the 40th anniversary of the Safe Drinking Water Act.  We had a beautiful day, great music provided by Levi Stephens and the Working Class and wonderful vendors.

Perhaps best of all, local water utilities, organizations and EPA staff joined to celebrate this landmark law together. Read the rest of this entry »

Together We Can Do Anything

By Elizabeth Saunders, Massachusetts Director – Follow our Boston office on Twitter (@CleanH2OMA)

Elizabeth and Her Sign

Elizabeth and Her Sign

The People’s Climate March was an incredibly powerful experience.  The Clean Water Action Boston team joined a bus organized by Alternatives for Community and Environment, the leading environmental justice organization in Boston, which organized dozens of youth leaders and others to travel together to the march.

The march was equal parts protest/call to action and celebration.  Of course it was a protest against the lack of commitment from our political leaders to doing the hard work and taking the firm stances that are needed to end climate change.  And of course it was a call to action to United States and world leaders to do that work and take those stances this week in the UN Climate Summit.

But equally importantly, it was a celebration of the coming together of more than 400,000 people from across the country, a celebration of the creativity, energy and hard work of those individuals, and a celebration of unity.  As we keep our noses to the grindstone, day in and day out, fighting the battles in our corners of the country, it can be too easy to forget that we are part of a huge movement of passionate people.  At the People’s Climate March, that was impossible to forget. Read the rest of this entry »

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