Archive for the 'Making Democracy Work' Category

“Polluter Pays” Paying Off in Rhode Island – Part 2

By Jamie Rhodes, Rhode Island State Director (Follow Jamie on Twitter – @jrhodes97)

Read part one here

After Southern Union was found guilty of illegally storing mercury in Pawtucket, Judge William E. Smith, in an unprecedented move, in his opinion stated “I am inviting the parties, and the greater environmental community, to suggest community service obligations that I could impose upon Southern Union which would have the broadest possible impact.” Clean Water has been a leader in the Rhode Island community for developing campaigns designed to reduce the use of mercury in products and meters and provide for the safe recycling of items that contain it. A proposal was submitted that would provide us funding to advance efforts to collect mercury thermostats and create a collection program for CFLs, which contain mercury. At the end of 2013, Judge Smith announced that Clean Water would be among the recipients of part of these funds, along with the RI Department of Environmental Management (DEM) and the City of Pawtucket. Read the rest of this entry »

“Polluter Pays” Paying Off in Rhode Island – Part 1

By Jamie Rhodes, Rhode Island State Director (Follow Jamie on Twitter – @jrhodes97)

Clean Water had an unusual opportunity in 2013. As part of a criminal penalty assessed against Southern Union, the natural gas storage and transportation company, we received $100,000 to develop and implement programs to properly manage mercury. This begs the obvious question, what does a natural gas company have to do with mercury? That question is the beginning of story that has just entered a new chapter. Read the rest of this entry »

Dealing with Waste in the Ocean State

As the 2014 legislative session approaches, one key question bubbling in the Ocean State is what we will do to reduce waste in the most innovative ways.

We’re pushing for a multi-tiered plan featuring the best ideas from local experts and cities and states across the country, which are making real progress toward zero waste. Because of your support, Clean Water Action continues to make a critical contribution in Rhode Island to building a sound, long term solid waste management strategy that incorporates Producer responsibility, expansion of composting and the diversion of organic waste, increased recycling in the business community and in public spaces across Rhode Island, and the development of a zero waste policy statewide. There is a lot to do, but with your help, we’ll transform Rhode Island’s waste system. Read the rest of this entry »

Protecting Drinking Water and Fracking – It’s All Connected

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

Update – February 18, 2014: Click here to tell EPA to Put Drinking Water First and Protect Communities from Coal Ash!

Hydraulic fracturing operations

Hydraulic fracturing operations

I’m pretty sure many people don’t make the connection between this week’s finalization of permitting guidelines for hydraulic fracturing activities using diesel and two big stories we’re following – the chemical spill in West Virginia and the coal ash spill in North Carolina.  That’s understandable because we don’t approach protecting drinking water sources in a holistic way. In fact, it sometimes appears that we don’t approach drinking water protection at all!

But this is all about acting as if our drinking water really matters, and using the laws we have or creating new ones to make sure drinking water sources are protected. Read the rest of this entry »

Here’s a Bad Idea: Drilling for Gas Under State Forests.

By Steve Hvozdovich, Marcellus Shale Campaign Manager

Governor Corbett wants to open our state forests to drilling…because.

Are you kidding me?

Reopening Pennsylvania’s state forests to new gas development is short sighted and threatens both the environmental and economic benefits our forests provide. Yet during his 2014 State of the State address Governor Tom Corbett proposed doing just that. He wants to do this not only to balance a one time budget gap, but because “there’s a huge amount of gas under state parks and forests, and I don’t believe in leaving it there.” Read the rest of this entry »

The River City, Where Coal Ash (STILL) Flows from Eden

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

Update – February 18, 2014: Click here to tell EPA to Put Drinking Water First and Protect Communities from Coal Ash!

The motto for the City of Danville, Virginia is “The river city, where innovation flows.”  Since Sunday night, the River City has been where coal ash flows.  As I posted Wednesday, Duke Energy has been scrambling to stop the flow of coal ash wastewater from one of its ash ponds since a stormwater pipe beneath the pond ruptured Sunday afternoon.  The ash pond, located near Eden, North Carolina, is approximately 20 miles upriver from the city of Danville, VA, which gets its drinking water from the Dan River. Our friends Catawba Riverkeeper have created this timeline of events for the ongoing spill. It’s been over five days – and I am beginning to wonder, how many Duke Energy engineers does it take to fix one broken pipe?  Sounds like the beginning of a bad joke. Read the rest of this entry »

A River Runs Gray, Threatening Downstream Water Supplies

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

Update – February 18, 2014: Click here to tell EPA to Put Drinking Water First and Protect Communities from Coal Ash!

Nearly 72-hours after a stormwater pipe buried beneath a 27-acre unlined coal ash pond burst, wastewater from the pond is still spilling into the Dan River near the town of Eden, North Carolina. Duke Energy, the pond operator, estimates that between 50,000 to 82,000 tons of coal ash has contaminated the Dan River – a volume of ash that would fill between 20 and 32 Olympic-size swimming pools. The company estimates that an additional 24-27 million gallons of coal ash wastewater has poured into the river.

Coal ash is the waste left behind from burning coal and it contains arsenic, lead, mercury, boron, cadmium, selenium, nutrients and other harmful chemicals. Heavy metals like mercury are highly soluble in water, and wastewater from ash ponds pose an especially big threat to aquatic life because these dissolved heavy metals can persist in the environment for a very long time. Heavy metals like mercury also concentrate up the food chain, which is why so many water bodies across the country have fish consumption advisories. Read the rest of this entry »

US Senate Hearing on West Virginia Drinking Water: Crisis What Crisis?

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


Time to Put Drinking Water First

Yesterday I attended a U.S. Senate hearing on the West Virginia “Drinking Water Crisis” brought on by last month’s chemical spill into the Elk River, the drinking water source for West Virginia American Water’s 300,000 consumers.  The hearing title got me thinking that we do have a “crisis” on our hands, but it’s not limited to what happened in West Virginia.  Far too often, many different types of polluting industrial activities – not just storing chemicals in tanks  - are allowed to contaminate our drinking water sources.

This could be prevented.  But instead we’re putting a burden on our drinking water systems and their consumers (us). We’re basically turning our drinking water treatment plants into an easy-way-out waste disposal option for companies who should be cleaning up their act way upstream. That’s what our Put Drinking Water First efforts are about, and you’ll be hearing more about them during this 40th anniversary year of the Safe Drinking Water Act. Read the rest of this entry »

Three Weeks Later – What Have We Learned from West Virginia?

By Michael Kelly, Communications Director (Follow Michael on Twitter – @MichaelEdKelly)

Three weeks ago nearly 300,000 West Virginians lost their tap water because of a spill at a chemical storage facility less than a mile and half from an intake for the region’s drinking water. Cities and businesses were shut down and people couldn’t use their water for more than five days.  Numerous failures led to this disaster, including a lack of state inspection of the facility for the last decade to the lack of health data available on the chemical.  Read the rest of this entry »

Drought Inspires Call for Long-Term Solutions

By Jennifer Clary, California Water Programs Manager

Two drought declarations made headlines this week – first the US Department of Agriculture, then Governor Brown, made official what we all already knew.  California is in the midst of a severe drought, and the environment, agriculture and communities are all feeling the pain.  A drought declaration will provide resources to assist those most impacted – including, we hope, the thousands of farmworker families that will lose their jobs as agricultural fields are fallowed for lack of water. Read the rest of this entry »

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