By Tara Shumate, Colorado Field Canvasser and Trainer
I am proud to say my faith in our country’s democratic system is restored.
For years my only exposure to our political process was news reports about politicians repetitively making decisions that negatively impact our environment, human rights progress, economic well-being, and more. It seemed politicians were only in place to maintain a state of constant backpedaling and to ensure that we would never reach our full potential – the indefatigable embodiment of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness for all people, not just the one percent.
Then, about four months ago I became a community organizer for Clean Water Action, and things began to change. The work breathed new life into me and upended my pessimistic ways. I found myself immersed in a group of individuals with deeply rooted passion and drive. Read the rest of this entry »
By Bob Wendelgass, President & CEO
A new study released by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) today found that 55% of our nation’s waters are in poor condition for fish and other aquatic life. The major problems identified in the study were too much nitrogen and phosphorus (from fertilizer used on farm fields and suburban lawns), decreased vegetation and too much human disturbance along streams, increased bacteria levels and increased mercury levels.
The new study is an important call to action. And hopefully, it will prod EPA and the White House to take some strong action this spring to protect and upgrade our streams and rivers.
At the top of the list has to be finishing the process of restoring protection under the Clean Water Act for small streams and wetlands. Changes during the Bush Administration removed protection from thousands of small streams that provide drinking water to 117 million Americans. EPA started the process of reversing this change, but their draft guidance (and a rulemaking after that) has been stuck at the White House for over a year now. It’s time for the White House to take action…our streams can’t afford to wait any longer!
Next up should be a strong federal rule about stormwater – the water that runs off streets, sidewalks and other surfaces after rainstorms. EPA found that 24% of the rivers and streams studied were rated poor because of vegetation loss and increased disturbance by humans. A strong stormwater rule could address this, by requiring developers to leave more land undisturbed and planted with natural vegetation. EPA is talking about proposing a new stormwater rule this year. Hopefully this study will make sure that plan stays on track.
Keeping development back from the edges of our streams and requiring buffers along streams is one of the best ways to reduce runoff and pollution of our rivers and streams. Several years ago, Pennsylvania added a requirement for 150 foot vegetated buffers along the state’s best streams. More states and the federal government should move in this direction. Building right up to the edge of a stream and mowing all the vegetation on the stream bank is a recipe for disaster. Keeping development back and allowing natural vegetation along the stream bank will reduce pollution and flooding while also raising the value of properties nearby.
Letting our streams and rivers be strangled by pollution is a bad policy—bad for our environment, our health and our economy. Millions of Americans get our drinking water from nearby rivers and streams. The more polluted they are, the more expensive it is to make them safe for us to drink. Swimming, fishing, boating and other outdoor activities are a huge part of our economy, contributing $145 billion to our economy each year and creating thousands of jobs. But no one wants to swim or fish in a polluted river. Keeping our waters clean will protect our health, save us money and create jobs.
By Kim Klimpel, National Program Intern
Happy World Water Day everyone!
Across the globe, people are spending the day reflecting on the accomplishments that have given more people access to clean drinking water. Our most precious resource gets to wear a party hat and be the highlight of a multitude of events taking place in many different countries.
Amidst the celebrating, however, we cannot forget that there is still a lot of work to be done.
The United Nations (UN) has declared 2013 as the “International Year of Water Cooperation.” The UN wants to use World Water Day to educate people about the work that we will all need to do in order to make progress globally, and to guarantee access to clean drinking water for everyone. Take a moment to stand up for our water today – email your Senators now. Read the rest of this entry »
By Michael Kelly, Director of Online Communications
Finally! After nearly four years without a budget from the Senate, our Senators are working on, and debating, a budget. Of course, it won’t be easy.
This is the Senate, after all. Watch the debate live in CSPAN, here
Polluters and their allies are attempting to slip back-door “riders” or amendments onto the budget that would weaken or defund programs that are essential to the health of our environment, our communities, and our families. This is all being done without a hearing and little chance for public debate. It’s a terrible way to decide environmental policy, but that’s exactly what defenders of the status quo want. Read the rest of this entry »
By Cindy Luppi, New England Regional Director
I’m proud to report this week Clean Water Action endorsed Representative Ed Markey in the United States Senate race in Massachusetts. For decades, Rep. Markey has been a consistent and powerful friend to all who value clean air, clean water and healthy communities.
Over Representative Markey’s decades of service, he has been at the forefront of every major movement to protect our drinking water, air quality and community health and safety. A short list of his leadership efforts includes leading the drive for a smart response to the climate crisis, repeatedly protecting the Clean Air and Clean Water Acts from industry attacks, leading efforts to prevent harm to our health from toxic chemicals — ranging from banning the notorious chemical bisphenol A (BPA) to phasing out dangerous chemicals in personal care products, being the most effective and persistent watchdog of nuclear safety issues and more.
Read the rest of this entry »
By Steve Hvozdovich, Marcellus Campaign Coordinator
For those in the heart of gas country, impacts from natural gas drilling to water and air quality are a daily concern and a threat to their quality of life. The bills introduced in the U.S. Congress today by Representatives Matthew Cartwright (D-PA) and Jared Polish (D-CO) mean so much to these people and show them that their government is concerned about their well being and working to protect them. Their leadership is welcomed.
Too often industry has been given a free pass. The BREATHE and FRESHER Acts close loopholes in the Clean Air Act and the Clean Water Act that have left stormwater runoff pollution and toxic air pollution from hydraulic fracturing operations go uncontrolled.
We need environmental champions now more than ever. Thanks to Reps. Cartwright and Polis for leading the way in making sure natural gas drillers play by the rules. It’s the very least we can do to protect the water we drink and the air we breathe.
By Joel Wool, Clean Energy Organizer
|MA Residents: Stand with Lori, call for clean power and healthy communities|
If your children left soot where they walked, left coal-black footprints in the kitchen, would you have the courage to ask what was in their air and water? Would you stand up to terrible power?
When the soot came up toxic, PG&E, then-owners of the Salem Harbor Power Plant, offered to powerwash Lori’s home in neighboring Marblehead if she’d only keep quiet. Rather than be silent about pollution that was harming her children, “Mother Grizzly” began a long fight to transition our communities away from coal-fired power.
She didn’t stop there. From the power plant fight, Lori leapt forward, leading a successful struggle to clean up ash-filled Wenham Lake—a drinking water source for Salem and Beverly. By 1955, around the time the Salem Power Plant was built, a local construction company had completely mined a gravel quarry that abutted Wenham Lake. Industrial waste, including that from coal combustion, piled in the quarry until it was 30-40 feet thick.
It wasn’t until decades later, when Lori got involved and pulled in everyone from neighbors, to city councillors, to lawyers, to west coast activist Erin Brockovich, that the waste was cleaned up. (You can read more on the Wenham Lake story here).
Lori took the fight to Washington to close loopholes on federal air protections. She shook the EPA up and down, demanding they regulate coal ash. And in 2008, she won a seat in the Massachusetts State House, where she continues to fight for all us.
Now Representative Lori Ehrlich is advocating for healthy communities from Beacon Hill—but as always, it’s an uphill battle. Will you stand with heroes like Lori? Join us to call for power free of harm, and thank Lori for her valiant efforts.
(March is Women’s History Month. Today, we honor Representative Lori Ehrlich. Massachusetts residents can take action online here).
By David Foster, Texas State Director
Is this ‘drought’ or is it…Texas? This is the question that imposes itself, as the drought wears on and as experts warn us to brace for a warmer climate. Drought has become our new norm, and water levels in reservoirs across the state continue to drop. We all need to do our part to create a ‘culture of water conservation’ that will help assure an adequate supply for our children and our state’s ecosystems.
We can begin by eliminating barriers to water conservation. One such barrier can be found in many homeowners associations (HOAs) deed restrictions. These restrictions often require full sodding with turf grass of front and side yards, and require that this grass be kept green. Failure to do this can result in fines. These rules drive up household utility bills and overall municipal water demand, particularly in the summer, when well over half of the typical single family home’s water use is for outdoor irrigation. This water is frequently expended on plants and grasses that are ill-adapted to our warming climate. The Texas Water Development Board projects municipal demand to grow faster than any other sector, leaping from 27% of the total water used today to 38% by 2060. Over half of the $53 billion in state spending the Texas Water Development Board (TWDB) claims we need for new reservoirs and other infrastructure would be earmarked to meet this demand. Read the rest of this entry »
By Gary Wockner, Colorado Program Director
This piece originally appeared on Huffington Post
Over the past few weeks, Colorado’s Governor John Hickenlooper has gotten a lot of negative attention. First, for telling a U.S. Senate committee that he drank Halliburton’s frack fluid; second, for threatening to sue the City of Fort Collins for its ban on fracking.
But Hickenlooper isn’t the only government official trying to frack Colorado.
Helen Hankins, who directs the Colorado office of the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM), has also been in the very-uncomfortable glare of public fracking scrutiny, and for a good reason. The Colorado BLM has stirred up a hornet’s nest of controversy over the past year proposing fracking in three areas of the state. Read the rest of this entry »