Archive for the 'Making Democracy Work' Category

California’s Emergency Oil and Gas Regulations Aren’t Enough

By Andrew Grinberg, California Oil and Gas Program Manager – Follow Andrew on Twitter (@AndrewBGrinberg)

Yesterday the California Department of Conservation (DOC) and Division of Oil, Gas and Geothermal Resources (DOGGR) issued draft emergency regulations on aquifer exemptions under the Federal Safe Drinking Water Act. The emergency regulations describe the process that the state will use for submitting applications to US EPA for exempting aquifers which enable oil and gas companies to inject fluids for waste disposal or enhance oil recovery (EOR). The text of the draft regulations and how to submit a comment can be viewed here.

We are glad that the state is finally taking action. Steps like including the State Water Board in the exemption process and requiring public hearings are positive and should be put into permanent statute. That’s why Clean Water Action is sponsoring Assembly Bill 356 (Williams) to bring these permanent changes to the aquifer exemption process.

But, these emergency regulations just don’t go far enough to protect Californians or our water. DOGGR should immediately shut down the over 2,000 active injection wells that are operating in non-exempt aquifers in violation of the Federal  Safe Drinking Water Act. As long as the state allows injection to occur in non-exempt aquifers, these regulations fail to protect many potential sources of drinking water. Read the rest of this entry »

Talking Mercury at the State House

By Dave Gerraughty, Rhode Island Program Organizer

My adrenalin was on overdrive and my nerves were jangling a bit as I was called to testify before the Rhode Island House Environment Committee on our bill to create a Producer Responsibility Program for light bulbs containing mercury.

I had spent the past year researching and implementing a pilot program to demonstrate that Rhode Islanders would respond positively to the opportunity to recycle compact fluorescent bulbs close to home.

The idea was to use the success of Clean Water Action’s program to set the stage for making bulb manufacturers take over the funding of residential recycling. So there was a lot riding on how a strong a case I could make. Read the rest of this entry »

California Has It All: Oil, Gas and Dwindling Water Supplies

By John Noël, National Oil & Gas Campaigns Coordinator – Follow John on Twitter (@Noel_Johnny)

Pulling off California’s Highway 5, the road that takes you down the spine of the state is like a portal into another world. Lost Hills, a tiny town sandwiched between prime agriculture and oil fields, is ground zero for exploring the largely hidden impacts of California oil production. Rosanna Esparza, Clean Water Action organizer, and a few local community groups have been talking with local residents about the health and environmental impacts of oil production for the past year.

Amazingly, there have been no extensive studies of the health impacts on communities in the shadow of California oil and gas development. Clean Water Fund and Earthworks recently published a health investigation of the Lost Hills area in an effort to better understand the long term public health risks posed by the air these communities breathe every day. The results can only be viewed as a snapshot in time and more research is needed but the report is a clear indication of a serious problem. Lost Hills’ population is 97 percent Latino/Hispanic who’s “most disadvantaged community members often have no choice in where they live, and no voice in the decision-making processes that affect their daily lives.” As 43 percent of the community is below the poverty line, it is a clear case of environmental injustice that the community is not fully aware of the myriad of hazards posed by the incredible scale of oil and gas development upwind (learn more about the study here). With this in mind, I hopped in Rosanna’s car and we pulled away from the Lost Hills recreation center parking lot for a closer look. Read the rest of this entry »

Californians are at risk because Californians’ fracking health risks are ignored

By Rosanna Esparza, Kern County Organizer , and Jhon Arbelaez of Earthworks

Clean Water Action, in partnership with Earthworks, recently published California’s first infrared analysis of oil & gas air pollution’s impact on communities.

When we began research for this report nearly a year ago, we discovered a disturbing lack of data specific to California on the health effects from oil & gas in our state. With a production of nearly 200 million barrels of oil in 2013 alone, this lack of data raises serious questions about our state’s priorities when it comes to protecting the health of its citizens.

We examined two communities. Our analysis found that residents living along with oil & gas production in Lost Hills (Kern County), and Upper Ojai (Ventura County), are at increased risk for health impacts from exposure to oil and gas air emissions.

Californians at Risk: An Analysis of Health Threats from Oil and Gas Pollution in Two Communities recorded and analyzed oil and gas air pollution using specially tuned infrared video – the same technology that companies and regulators use to detect leaks. By using a multi-faceted approach, we were able to show that  Upper Ojai and Lost Hills are being exposed to air pollution associated with oil & gas development. The FLIR camera allowed us to detect invisible-to-the-naked-eye emissions from processing facilities, wells, storage tanks, and unlined evaporation pits.

Read the rest of this entry »

Dirty Water Politics in the Senate

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

Two things: The drinking water for 1 in 3 of us is at risk of pollution and destruction. EPA wants to fix that and has proposed a strong, commonsense rule to protect clean water.

Two more things: Polluters hate EPA’s Clean Water Rule. And certain members of Congress are doing everything they can to help polluters stop the rule.

Which brings us to this week’s Pollute-A-Rama. This week the House and Senate are voting on their 2016 budget resolutions – the blueprints they’ll use when writing spending bills later in the year – at the end of the week. Before the vote is final there will be dozens upon dozens of amendments. And, with the GOP in charge, most of those amendments weaken commonsense protections for our water, air, and communities. Read the rest of this entry »

Welcome to Spring!

By Chris Bathurst, National Canvass Director

It is light longer. Temperatures are climbing and birds are migrating. You are probably excited about the prospects of spring, followed closely by summer (especially if you live anywhere in the northeast).

Your friendly door to door Clean Water Action organizer is also welcoming the change of season. We are very proud of our field staff for their intrepid work throughout this entire challenging winter – save for say our California and Texas team of course. Read the rest of this entry »

Keeping Plastic Out of the Chesapeake Bay

Plastics in WaterWill Fadely, Baltimore Program Organizer, (@TrillChillWill on Twitter)

Last winter, environmental advocates trawled the Chesapeake Bay for trash and made some disturbing discoveries.

The Bay is plagued with plastic.

Bags are littered across the Bay floor, wreaking havoc on natural ecosystems for crabs and oysters alike. Similarly, plastic microbeads are being found in fish and marine mammals. Read the rest of this entry »

The Power of the Chemical Industry at Work

By Cindy Luppi, New England Regional Director

Yesterday Senators Vitter (R-LA) and Udall (D-NM) introduced the bill the chemical industry has wished for, one that allows Big Chem to continue to profit at the expense of our health. Upon introduction of the bill today, Cal Dooley, President and CEO for the industry trade association, urged its “swift passage”.

And no wonder… the bill, an update to our nation’s main chemical policy, includes a number of gifts for the industry. A few examples: Read the rest of this entry »

More Attacks on Our Water

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

If you were following the news stories about the appearances by the Republican Presidential candidates in Iowa over the weekend, you saw a number of new attacks on EPA’s proposal to restore protection for small streams under the Clean Water Act. The attacks weren’t a surprise, but they were disappointing and wrong. Read the rest of this entry »

Working Together for Change

By Paula W, Pittsburgh Phone Organizer

Working as a political canvasser can be frustrating. Especially when certain politicians seem more intent on digging in, maintaining the status quo, and working for a very small set of special interests. But we can change that – when we partner together.

Most of us who work to protect our environment care deeply about the issues we are working on. It’s certainly not the money that is the payoff – it’s the people. Working at Clean Water affirms the importance of a shared belief or vision: creating a better environment for all of us. I may never get to meet some of our members in places like Rhode Island, but knowing that, with their support, we can impact millions is huge. It is so motivational for my co-workers and myself. Read the rest of this entry »

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