Archive for the 'Making Democracy Work' Category

Risking Our Food and Farmland in Michigan

By Bruni Bezati, Lake St. Clair Program Intern

I am extremely disappointed with the Michigan State Legislature’s decision to pass a package of bills that allows industrial waste, like coal ash, to be used in roads, as construction fill, and most alarming of all, to be spread over our farm fields. This poses the risk of contaminating our food and causing damage to Michigan’s farming communities. Read the rest of this entry »

Responding to #ProtectCleanWater Myths

By Margi Armstrong, Lake St. Clair Program Coordinator

Protecting all of our nation’s water seems like a no brainer. In fact, when I ask folks in my community to take action to fix the Clean Water Act and ensure that we protect our drinking water sources, the most common response is “Well, duh! Where do I sign?!”. However, some of our elected officials in Michigan don’t feel the same way. A State Representative in Southeast Michigan has proposed a resolution calling on the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Army Corps of Engineers (the Corps) to recall their proposed “waters of the United States” rule. The claims in the resolution do not add up. Read the rest of this entry »

Living Near Lakes: Reason 1972 to #ProtectCleanWater

By Evan Kreager, Michigan Energy Program Intern

It was in college that I was first introduced to the concept of a watershed. For those who don’t know, a watershed is a basin from which all sources of water, both above and below land, are linked by their common course of drainage. Honestly, until I was about 20 years old I’d never even heard the word. But like many things, once a person is aware of an idea, it becomes difficult to escape it.

I grew up living next to lakes: Campbell Lake, Gull Lake, and Lake Michigan. I’ve always loved being on the water, and as I grow older I have become increasingly aware of how lucky I’ve been.

It wasn’t until I learned what a watershed was that I could really begin to understand the importance of our water – how every body of water, no matter how large or small, is connected within one giant ecological community. Read the rest of this entry »

This Memorial Day, I’ll be Thinking About Clean Water

By Cassi Steenblok, Pittsburgh Program Organizer

As Memorial Day draws near I can’t help but think of summer and all the fun and exciting things I want to do now that the days are getting longer and warmer. For me summer has always revolved around water.

I grew up in upstate New York close to two of the Great Lakes, and even closer to the smaller lakes in the Finger Lakes region of the state. I have many fond memories from my childhood swimming, fishing, and canoeing in the lakes, rivers, and streams that were within walking distance from my house.  Then when I graduated college I packed up my life and moved to Providence, Rhode Island. Rhode Island is fondly known as the “Ocean State” and is full of beautiful coastlines and amazing beaches. I would often spend those hot summer days in Rhode Island at the beach to get out of the city and enjoy the water. Providence was also where I first started working for Clean Water Action, to protect that coastline I value so much.

A year ago I packed up my life again and moved to Pittsburgh to continue my Clean Water journey as a Program Coordinator in Western Pennsylvania. It was almost summer when I moved to the “Three Rivers” city and I was hopeful to again spend my summers close to the water. But what I found in Pittsburgh was not what I expected. I knew there are not going to be any ocean beaches to relax at on a hot day, but surely there must be some places to swim. Unfortunately, many of the rivers and streams in Pittsburgh are not swimmable or fishable. So where does everyone go to cool off? I was told the closest thing to a beach in Pittsburgh is Sandcastle Water Park. And while it is incredibly fun to spend the day on water slides and in the wave poll, it’s just not the same.

Regardless of where we live, all our waterways should be offered the same protection. Within the past twelve years we have lost of the safeguards for many of the small streams and wetlands similar to the ones I played in as a child. These are the waterways that lead to our rivers and oceans. If they aren’t clean and safe then our larger waterways will not be either. That’s why the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposal to restore protections to these precious streams and wetlands is so important.

This Memorial Day I’ll be off to Rhode Island for my first visit in a year. You better believe that I’ll be spending my time at the beaches that I miss so much. But I’ll also be treasuring that clean water and thinking about how important it is to protect all of America’s waterways. How about you? Click here to take action!

Why I am collecting postcards to #ProtectCleanWater

By Tom Hoffman, Western Pennsylvania Director

I grew up in upstate New York and was very fortunate to go to a YMCA camp on the shores of Lake George in the Adirondacks when I was a kid. To get from my tent in the Intermediate Unit to the Mess Hall I followed a mountain stream down towards the lake. It was always a tough choice between eating and hanging out in the stream and watching what was happening in there. Newts, tadpoles, frogs were in abundance.

It is those streams that were such a part of my childhood that are now so much at risk. Polluters, who want to hide their toxic waste under the rug (or in one of my mountain streams) rather than clean it up responsibly, attacked the Clean Water Act with a vengeance during the “polluter friendly” Bush the Younger administration – and broke it. As written, the Clean Water Act protected my stream. Now sadly, many such streams are not protected because of the decisions made by the Bush administration.

The Obama administration, under the direction of Gina McCarthy, has developed a new set of guidelines that fix the broken Clean Water Act and protect our streams (and wetlands). I’m collecting post cards supporting the fix (you can send your comments in here) because at some point, Gina will sit down across the table from the polluters to hammer out the final “deal”. I want her to be in a position to say, “I hear you Mr. Big Polluter, but you see I have a bazillion post cards that want me to protect those streams – and they win.”

PS I’m also working to get breweries to sign on to our letter because I want her to be able to say, “If the beer makers want protected streams, then I have no choice. Protected streams it is.”

Clean Water Can’t Wait!

By Ben Davies Long Branch, New Jersey Field Canvass Director

Living near the water, whether it’s the lake, the ocean, or a stream, has been an integral part of my life. I took that for granted for so many years. I’ve seen firsthand the impact of pollution on water if protections aren’t in place. That’s why EPA’s proposal to protect the waters of the US is so important to me.

I grew up in North Salem – about an hour north of New York City – a place where everybody knew everyone. Nestled among the cottages and barns between North Salem and Southeast, NY sits Peach Lake— where we spent our summers swimming and fishing. The lake is part of the larger Croton Watershed, which contributes to the system of reservoirs providing New York City with a portion of its drinking water.

Over time, Peach Lake became so polluted it was considered an “impaired” body of water with degraded water quality and stressed aquatic life. It got so bad that when I put my feet in the water, I couldn’t even see them. I remember the old-timers would say—“when we were kids you could see all the way to the bottom…”  Read the rest of this entry »

Why you should oppose the Keystone XL pipeline…

New Hampshire Clean Water supporter, energy/climate advocate and local sustainability leader, Marjorie Rogalski, recently wrote this open letter to her U.S. Senators, Jeanne Shaheen and Kelly Ayotte. A condensed version was later published in the Valley News, her local newspaper. Here’s what she had to say — a clear and compelling case for building a clean energy future.

Why you should oppose the Keystone XL pipeline:

1. It will not create a significant number of lasting construction jobs.  The jobs will be short lived and very few permanent jobs will result if construction is completed.

Alternative:  Work to create jobs that improve energy efficiency in the heating, cooling, and lighting systems of America’s existing residential, commercial, and industrial buildings, a long term commitment that will reduce energy bills and pollution.

2.  The oil from the pipeline will be sold on the global market.  If the past is any indicator, the majority will be purchased by foreign companies and therefore will not lower our gas prices.

3.  The oil industry has a long history of pipeline leaks which have resulted in decades of negative impacts on the ecosystems, environment, and local economy.  The toxic chemicals added to the tar sand product to enable it to flow through the pipeline would make any spill (and there will be spills) a long term environmental and financial disaster for the citizens impacted.

4. The ranchers and native people of Nebraska have made it very clear that they do NOT want their land and drinking water put at risk by this pipeline. Read the rest of this entry »

Reflections from an Earth Day Water Warrior

By Amanda Sebert

As you know, for more than a decade, Clean Water Action, our members, and allies across the country have been fighting to restore protection to the small streams and wetlands that feed the drinking water for 1 in 3 of us. You can learn more here. Why have we been fighting for so long? Because any threat to someone’s source of clean water is a threat to their life.

You may have heard that the Environmental Protection Agency’s recent proposal to #ProtectCleanWater is a massive expansion. I can’t stress enough how untrue that is. EPA’s proposal restores protections that were lost a decade ago. EPA did this for a simple reason: anyone who has ever built a sand castle or played in the mud understands how water runs together and collects en masse. Our water is connected and different sources of water share the same aquatic life, bacteria, and most certainly, if polluted, the same toxic chemicals.

I spent Earth Day representing Clean Water Action at the fair trade non-profit store Ten Thousand Villages in Boston this year. I asked shoppers to sign post cards to be sent to the EPA in support of the proposal to #ProtectCleanWater. When finalized the restorations will impact the drinking water for 8.8 million people in New England.

Globally, protections to keep water safe and clean are critically lacking. More than one billion people around the world do not have adequate access to safe water. Many women in Asia must travel miles to their closest water source. These women may be the same women creating the items for sale at Ten Thousand Villages. The store was the perfect setting to engage shoppers in conversation about important issues. Even a couple from London took the time to share with me their knowledge of water protection policies in the United Kingdom and expressed their support for protections to drinking water everywhere, not just in their country or community. Only 2.5% of all water on earth is fresh. Threats to our clean water sources are a global problem. Read the rest of this entry »

My Clean Water Story

By Tim McDaniel, National Program Intern – Follow Tim on Twitter (@TimMcDaniel365)

This is my first time writing a post for We All Live Downstream, so of course I had to do my research. Most of the posts that I had read for my organization were about some major catastrophe or a campaign that we worked on. I decided to I wanted to talk about something a little different. I want to spend a moment and tell you about how I became enthralled in the work that we do here at Clean Water Action.

As a grassroots environmental organization, it is important for us to emphasize that the work we do is for the betterment of people, not organizations or businesses. We’re powered by our members and the people we fight for and we want you to get to know us.

A quick history: I was born in Dyke, Virginia. It is a very small, rural town just outside of Charlottesville. Every morning I would wake up, step out on my back porch and have a full view of the Blue Ridge Mountains. The summers of my youth were spent picking wild blackberries and catching crawfish down by the local creek. Needless to say, water and the environment were a big part of my life from a very early age. Read the rest of this entry »

The One Simple Thing You Can Do To #ProtectCleanWater – Tweet!

426_EPA_CleanWater_RallySign_03_x1a-1 - smallerBy Michael Kelly, Communications Director – follow Michael on Twitter (@MichaelEdKelly)

The campaign to #ProtectCleanWater is in full swing and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) needs to hear from us.

You can let EPA know that you support its proposal to restore protections to the small streams and wetlands that feed the drinking water for 1 in 3 Americans on Twitter tomorrow. EPA (@EPAWater) is hosting a Twitter chat tomorrow from 1pm – 2pm est.  You can follow along by searching for the hashtag #USWaters. Then you can ask a question or retweet @CleanH2OAction’s questions and @EPAWater’s answers. Read the rest of this entry »

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