Archive for the 'Making Democracy Work' Category

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 »

An Amazing Day and Thanks to All

By Amy Goldsmith, New Jersey Director

Amy Goldsmith

Amy Goldsmith

Thanks to all who went to the People’s Climate March.

It was a day full of awesome energy. There was wonderful drumming by the Montclair canvass staff plus our very own Campaign Director David Pringle and Long Branch Canvass Director Ben Davies. We raised our voices and beat our drums with more than 400,000 people in New York and thousands upon thousands from around the world.

Like Bob said, it was a mind-blowing experience.

But the March was not an end. We have work to do.

So let’s keep the people power going as we fight for what is right…clean water, clean air, safe energy and healthy neighborhoods. Let’s recruit others to join us so we can do even more. We want to win. We need to win. Read the rest of this entry »

The Mind Blowing Start of Something Big

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

Just part of Clean Team Water at the #PeoplesClimate March

Just part of Clean Team Water at the #PeoplesClimate March

24 hours later and I still can’t get over it.

400,000.

400,000 people came to New York.

400,000 came to demand we take climate pollution seriously. To demand that we say no to subsidies for big oil and yes to clean energy. To demand justice. 400,000 came to demand action. Now you can act too – by supporting the President’s  clean power plan to clean up the biggest source of climate pollution in this country.

I was so proud to march with dozens of Clean Water staff and members. The March was historic. It was game-changing.  But now it’s on all of us. We have to keep the momentum going. We have to hold our elected leaders accountable to us. So, let’s start by demanding the strongest possible clean power plan to fight pollution from coal plants.

This is exciting. This is the start of something. Take action to fight climate pollution now. Read the rest of this entry »

Supercharged Streets in New York

By Melissa Everett, Connecticut Clean Energy Program Manager

The streets of New York were supercharged yesterday at the People’s Climate March, not only by the sheer numbers but with the inventiveness of the communication that came up from the throng of well over 300,000. Posters, shirts, large puppets, and larger pop-up sunbursts – all the handmade expressions that citizens without advertising budgets can muster when they are highly motivated. And this was a highly motivated group indeed. Popular around me was the call-and-response chant:

Tell me what democracy looks like.

This is what democracy looks like.

Sponsored by over 1200 organizations including Clean Water Action, the march was timed to set the stage for the UN working meetings beginning Tuesday, which formulate the agenda for the Paris meetings a few months ahead. Participants were organized in waves to represent all the constituencies whose voices must be heard, from indigenous communities and vulnerable populations to solution-generators like the clean energy and clean water economic sectors. Bringing those voices together to call for decisive international agreements and national policy shifts — that is democracy at its best. Read the rest of this entry »

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