Baltimore Officials Lead on Water
On September 9, while the U.S. House was voting 262-152 to block the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Army Corps of Engineers from fixing the Clean Water Act so small streams and wetlands are once again protected, Baltimore took a strong stand for clean water. Baltimore City Council members voted unanimously for a resolution supporting EPA’s clean water rule.
The Council’s decisive action shows that these local officials, at least, understand that small streams and wetlands are “vital to the health of Baltimore’s drinking water,” says Clean Water Action’s Andy Galli. Once EPA’s proposal is finalized, 835 miles of streams and other surface waters flowing into the Baltimore area will benefit, along with “100 percent of Baltimore residents, who get at least some of their drinking water from sources affected by these streams,” Galli says. Read more
New England Currents
The Underground Battle for Climate and Communities
Hundreds from across Massachusetts and New Hampshire rallied this summer
on the Boston Common to protest an ill-conceived proposal for gas
expansion through New England. This pipeline, the latest project of
Texan billionaire Richard Kinder, would ship a massive quantity of gas —
fracked straight from Pennsylvania’s Marcellus Shale — through wetlands
and watersheds, conservation lands, fruit orchards and private
Public outcry, community organizing, and legal and political advocacy have made this a front-burner issue. “It’s time to set the record straight about the role of gas in our energy future,” says Clean Water Action’s Joel Wool. When you look carefully, Wool says, gas is neither cheap, homegrown nor reliable: Read more
Blue Ribbon Oil and Gas Task Force Gets Underway
In August, Governor Hickenlooper announced the creation of the state commissioned Blue Ribbon Oil and Gas Task Force. The Task force is charged with making policy recommendations focused on state and local regulations of oil and gas operations. The task force is comprised of an equal number of representatives from affected communities, the environmental community, civic organizations, agriculture, and the oil and gas industry. The task force will make its policy recommendations in late February 2015.
The creation of the task force was the result of a compromise between two ballot initiative campaigns proposing both pro- and anti-oil and gas amendments to the Colorado constitution. Rep. Jared Polis was backing two of these initiatives. One would have given local governments more control over oil and gas development within their borders. The second initiative would have mandated a 2,000 foot setback rule — keeping drill sites at least 2,000 feet from homes. Additionally, the oil and gas industry was offering two ballot initiatives that would have taken local control away from municipalities and blocked communities attempting to regulate oil and gas operations from receiving oil and gas tax revenues. Read more
New Jersey Currents
Climate Change, Water, and Jobs
On September 21, Clean Water Action joined more than 400,000 people in New York City for the largest climate march in history, the People’s Climate March. “Climate change is water change,” says Clean Water Action’s New Jersey Director, Amy Goldsmith, “and if we want clean water for our future, we have to take action on climate now.”
When Congress first passed the 1972 Clean Water Act, it was with the understanding that all streams and wetlands can impact the biological, physical and chemical integrity of larger downstream waters. But starting in 2001, polluter-friendly court decisions and the agency actions that followed stripped away longstanding Clean Water Act protections, leaving critical resources vulnerable to pollution and destruction. We’re taking action here - you can too. Read more
Pushing Forward on Clean Water Protections
Clean Water Action’s tireless campaign in support of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s proposal to restore protections to headwater streams and wetlands has entered a critical phase, with public comment set to end this November. The EPA rule would restore protections to streams that only run seasonally or after storms, but which when wet flow into the drinking water sources of more than 117 million Americans — including 11.5 million Texans. Some 75% percent of Texas’ stream miles dry up part of the year, especially during drought.
Austin Mayor Lee Leffingwell joined EPA Senior Advisor for Water Ellen Gilinsky and Clean Water Action’s David Foster at a July press conference in Austin expressing support for the policy. “The purpose of the rule is to clarify protection for the upstream waters that are absolutely vital to downstream communities,” said Gilinsky. “Clean water is essential to every single American, from families who rely on safe places to swim and healthy fish to eat, to farmers who need abundant and reliable sources of water to grow their crops, to hunters and fishermen who depend on healthy waters for recreation and their work, and to businesses that need a steady supply of water for operations. Read more