Archive for the 'Protecting America’s Waters' Category

Mind the Store, Protect the Customer

mts-logosBy May Woo, Alliance for a Healthy Tomorrow

This originally appeared here

With great market power comes great responsibility. Retailers hold the power to choose which products are available to consumers, and what ingredients go into store brand items. With a lack of federal regulation over toxic chemicals in consumer products, retailers have the potential to step in and screen their inventory, and by doing so have a large impact on improving public health and the environment. In support of pressuring retailers to take action, the Alliance for a Healthy Tomorrow coalition is excited to join other environmental and health organizations in joining the efforts of Mind the Store this spring. Read the rest of this entry »

Keystone XL – Just Say No

By Aaron Haskins, Michigan Energy Program Intern

For years, we have been heard a lot about the Keystone Pipeline. Oil companies like TransCanada continually reassure us that the pipeline will have minimal impact on the environment while creating thousands of jobs for both Americans and Canadians. Those who oppose the pipeline say that it will contaminate drinking water, endanger the environmentally sensitive farmland it passes through, and raise oil prices throughout the Midwestern United States.
Stop Keystone XL by chesapeakeclimate, on Flickr
The proposition for an extension to the pipeline called “Keystone XL” has been hotly debated by economists and politicians for years now, but the project is still in limbo. The northern half of the pipeline would cross the U.S.-Canada border, which means it can’t be built without approval from the Obama administration. Given the controversial nature of the pipeline and the pressure coming from both sides, I am not surprised that a final decision hasn’t been made. I am, however, disappointed that there even needs to be a discussion an either/or debate when it comes to creating jobs and protecting wildlife and the environment.

If Keystone is allowed to move forward, it will indicate America’s commitment to tar sands as a long-term form of energy – which isn’t good. Tar sands are an unconventional form of petroleum proven to be much more polluting than regular oil. Approving a pipeline designed to put tar sands extraction in the express lane would be a sorry symbol of our lack of progress toward clean energy.

Proponents of the extension have argued that the pipeline will not increase harm to the climate or our communities because those tar sands were going to be burned anyway. For them the pipeline merely serves as a more convenient method of transport. Justifying the project using this kind of logic is akin to saying, “I don’t want my friend to drink and drive, but since he’s going to anyway I might as well start his car for him.”

In 2008 (around the time Keystone XL was first proposed), President Obama called on us to “be the generation that finally frees America from the tyranny of oil.” Now, it is our turn to call on him to be the president who helped us do it by saying no to Keystone XL.

Clean house at Alcosan

By Tom Hoffman and Emily Alvarado

This post was originally published in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Included in the short list of issues that Mayor Bill Peduto raised with President Barack Obama back in November at a meeting of incoming mayors was a request for the Environmental Protection Agency to let Pittsburgh pursue greener solutions to our sewer system “big fix.” Every time it rains, our pipes overflow and we dump raw sewage into the rivers. Fixing our sewer system is both long overdue and federally mandated.

Mayor Peduto gets it: It’s good for communities, workers and the environment if we maximize our area’s largest-ever public investment to stop water pollution and solve multiple community needs at the same time.
Read the rest of this entry »

One simple tip to turn a difficult time of year into something good (for our water)

by Jonathan A. Scott (twitter handle @jscottnh)

Sorry, no tips here for dealing with extreme winter weather or the spring that never seems to come.

This is about the dreaded lead-in to mid-April. Not the Earth Month part of April, or Earth Day itself. Those are great and well worth looking forward to.

No, I mean the blood, sweat and tears of preparing annual income tax returns, which add up to by far this season’s biggest ordeal for many of us, myself included.Soothing Blues

Here’s one way you can reduce some of the painful red and bring some soothing greens and healthy blue colors into the mix. Read the rest of this entry »

“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 »

How Many Toxic Spills Will it Take Before We Put Drinking Water First?

Coal Ash on the Dan River - Courtesy of Waterkeeper Alliance

Coal Ash on the Dan River – Courtesy of Waterkeeper Alliance

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

If you read the Associated Press, listen to NPR or watch Rachel Maddow on MSNBC, most likely you know about the Duke Energy coal ash spill that happened earlier this month in Eden, NC.  What you might not know is that Duke Energy is the nation’s largest electricity provider,  operating over a dozen coal-burning power plants in six states. Duke owns an additional dozen coal plants that are retired, including the Dan River Power Station where the recent disaster occurred.  All of these plants store coal ash in ponds similar to the pond in Eden, NC that leaked toxic ash into the Dan River when an old stormwater pipe beneath the pond ruptured.  In fact, there are over 1,000 ponds in 37 states across the country, many unlined, unmonitored and much larger than the 27-acre pond on the Dan River, and almost all are near streams, rivers, lakes or bays.   Many of these vulnerable water bodies are sources of drinking water, just like the Dan River.  What happened in North Carolina could happen at any number of poorly managed coal ash dumps across the country. It’s not a question of if another spill will happen; it’s a question of when and where. Read the rest of this entry »

The President Drops in on the California Drought

By Jennifer Clary, California Associate (Follow Jennifer on  Twitter – @JenClary_Water)

California’s drought is hitting the national stage. Two weeks ago, house Republicans passed a highly controversial bill (HR 3964) that would lift environmental protections so that water could be moved from one parched area of the state to another [Here’s the environmental community’s take on the bill]. That bill is unlikely to move in the Senate, and was replaced in the headlines last week by a Senate bill authored by the Senators from California and Oregon.

Last Friday the big guns came out, with a visit to the drought stricken-Central Valley by President Obama, and the announcement of $180 million in federal aid, including $60 million for food banks. President Obama is a frequent visitor to California, but this is his first visit to the Central Valley, where drought is stressing agriculture and communities.

Clean Water Action has already talked about the need for long-term planning to prepare for future droughts. But what can and should be done in the current crisis? Simple – place a priority on safe drinking water.

The drought is impacting communities across the state, but some communities were already in trouble and this is just making things worse. The state’s drinking water program has a waiting list for funding of nearly 500 projects for water systems that have contaminated water or have water shortages. In addition, nearly 2 million Californians rely on private wells, and no program exists to help them when their wells go dry. 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 »

Solving this month’s Pink + Green dilemma

You know the situation: Valentine’s Day is upon us. You have at least one special person (maybe more than one) you want to remember with a card, gift or both. procrastination

As usual, you waited until the last minute.

Also, as a committed environmentalist, you want your Valentine’s Day offerings to be special, but you also want them to be green.

I asked our friends at if they had any suggestions that might fit the bill. Here’s what they came up with: Read the rest of this entry »

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