Archive for the 'clean water act' Category

States move to limit EPA’s clean water authority

Photo retrieved from: www.msnbc.com

“Florida, Texas and Alaska are nowhere near the Chesapeake Bay. But that hasn’t stopped those states from trying to intervene in the EPA’s cleanup of the mid-Atlantic estuary.

Earlier this month, the attorneys general from those states and 18 others filed an amicus brief [PDF] on behalf of the American Farm Bureau Federation, which is suing to limit the extent of the Environmental Protection Agency’s Chesapeake Bay cleanup effort. The Farm Bureau argues that the EPA exceeded its authority in regulating the amount of pollutants flowing into the bay, which the federal agency says is severely contaminated.

At question is how far the EPA can go in setting limits to ”the maximum amount of pollution a body of water can receive and still meet state water quality standards.” According to the Farm Bureau, the EPA exceeded its legal authority by trying to determine how much individual polluters would have to cut back, instead of just setting an overall so-called “Total Maximum Daily Load” and allowing the states to determine how it would be parceled out.

“These are uniquely local decisions that should be made by local governments,” said Farm Bureau President Bob Stallman in a statement. “That is why this power is specifically withheld from EPA in the Clean Water Act.”

The amicus brief, which was signed by 18 Republican attorneys general and three Democrats, seconds this line of argument. Although all but one of the 21 signatories hail from states which do not border the Chesapeake Bay, they say that the case has national implications. A legal regime which gives the EPA the power to closely regulate pollution in the bay could give it equivalent power in contaminated bodies of water across the United States.”

Read more: MSNBC

 

Why First Nations Movement Is Our Best Chance for Clean Land and Water

Photo retrieved from: www.yesmagazine.org

“Before the passage of Bill C-45, 2.6 million rivers, lakes, and a good portion of Canada’s three ocean shorelines were protected under the Navigable Waters Act. Now, only eighty-seven are protected. That’s just the beginning of the problem, which seems not to have drawn much attention from the general public.

“Flash mob” protests with traditional dancing and drumming have erupted in dozens of shopping malls across North America, marches and highway blockades by aboriginal groups and supporters have emerged across Canada and as far away as New Zealand and the Middle East. This weekend, hundreds of native people and their supporters held a flash mob round dance, with hand drums and singing, at the Mall of America in Minneapolis, again as a part of the Idle No More protest movement. This quickly emerging wave of native activism on environmental and human rights issues has spread like a wildfire across the continent.

Prime Minister Harper’s push for tar sands and mining

A group of natives from Aamjiwnaang First Nation in Sarnia, Ontario, pitched a pickup truck across the tracks of a Canadian National Railway spur and blocked train traffic Friday in support of the Idle No More protest in Ottawa. The blockade began just after Boxing Day, that famed Canadian holiday, and has continued.”

Read more: Yes Magazine

 

The Great Lakes legacy: Old contaminants declining; newer ones on the rise

Retrieved From: Environmental Health News

Legacy contaminants are decreasing more quickly than previously reported in three of the Great Lakes, but have stayed virtually the same in two other lakes, according to new research. “These are very positive results. The lakes are improving and slowly cleaning themselves up,” said Thomas Holsen, co-director of Clarkson University’s Center for the Environment. Even with the decreases, it will be 20 to 30 years until the decades-old contaminants in Great Lakes fish decline to the point that fish consumption advisories can be eliminated. Banned in the 1970s, PCBs, DDT and other banned compounds dropped about 50 percent in fish in Lakes Michigan, Ontario and Huron from 1999 through 2009, although there were no significant changes in Lakes Superior and Erie fish, according to the new study. In all of the lakes, the older contaminants are being replaced by newer ones, mostly flame retardants, that are building up in fish and wildlife.

Read More: Environmental Health News

Embracing the Urban-Nature Ethic

Photo retrieved from: www.counterpunch.org

“The EPA in July 2010 declared the LA River navigable, giving it the full protection of the Clean Water Act.

“This is a watershed as important as any other,” said the EPA’s Lisa Jackson, as she stood in front of Compton Creek, an almost destroyed tributary to the LA River. “So we are going to build a federal partnership to empower communities like yours … We want the LA River to demonstrate how urban waterways across the country can serve as assets in building stronger neighborhoods, attracting new businesses and creating new jobs.”

Now the entire 834-square-mile LA River watershed might be given the attention it deserves after nearly a century of neglect and abuse. While a place like Ballona Wetlands, which is one of the most intact wetlands in the area, has long been given the respect it rightly deserve — fending off development but not always coming out victorious — the LA River is primed for revival.

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In 2004 voters in Los Angeles passed Proposition O, which authorized the City of LA to issue a series of general obligation bonds of up to $500 million for clean water projects in the city. The main goal of the measure was to help the City meet clean water requirements known as TMDLs (Trash Total Maximum Daily Load), which were set by originally passed by the Regional Water Quality Control Board. As a result, there have been many numerous public works projects funded and more to come.”

Read more: Counter Punch

 

Citizens Reach Landmark Settlement in Major Water Pollution Case

Photo retrieved from: www.earthfirst.wordpress.com

“In October 2010, the coalition—Appalachian Voices, Kentuckians For The Commonwealth, Kentucky Riverkeeper, Waterkeeper Alliance, and several individual citizens—filed notices of their intent to sue ICG and Frasure Creek. The coalition is represented by Mary Cromer of the Appalachian Citizens’ Law Center (Whitesburg, Ky.), Lauren Waterworth of Waterworth Law Office (Boone, N.C.), and the Pace Law School Environmental Litigation Clinic (White Plains, N.Y.).

The revelation of the false reporting triggered an investigation by state regulators, and the two companies began reporting dramatically higher levels of pollution in their wastewater discharges, sometimes spiking to 20 times the previously reported level with thousands of violations per reporting period. Before the problems were brought to light, the companies had rarely, if ever, reported violations of the discharge limits in their permits.

“The false-reporting epidemic we uncovered in Kentucky can be considered the most far-reaching and egregious noncompliance with the Clean Water Act in the law’s entire 40-year history. It’s astonishing that the cabinet could have been so oblivious,” said Waterkeeper Alliance attorney Peter Harrison.”

Read more: Earth First!

 

Animal Waste, Waterways, and Drinking Water

Photo retrieved from: www.veganoutreach.org

“A growing body of evidence indicates that CAFO-generated contaminants are ending up in the waters that we depend on for commerce, recreation, and perhaps most importantly, drinking. Spills that occur during manure transport or when storage facilities fail can lead to easily discernible, significant impacts on water quality, as I explained in my previous blog entry.

More insidious though are the negative impacts resulting from the over-application of animal solid waste to crops. Spreading livestock manure in quantities greater than the plants can use or the soil can absorb can cause severe water quality problems and thereby harm human health. Although waste generated by the animal farm operator can be a valuable commodity when applied on land to help crops grow, the sheer scale of CAFOs distorts such usage.

Because CAFOs are often clustered within small areas and many farmers purchase livestock feed instead of growing it on adjacent land, the area available for manure disposal is rapidly vanishing. The U.S. Department of Agriculture brought this trend to light in 2000 when it found that the potential for water pollution from manure runoff was higher in those regions with the largest concentration of animals in confinement. More recent studies also point to CAFO density as a chief indicator of localized runoff and higher contaminant concentrations in water.”

Read more: Huffington Post

 

The Clean Water Act Turns 40: Is the Law Still Protecting Our Waters?

 

Photo retrieved from: www.alternet.org

“The Federal Water Pollution Control Act of 1972, known as The Clean Water Act was not the first piece of federal legislation to protect water. But it was the first time that real power was invested with the federal government to make sure that water got clean and stayed clean. Its essential demand, that all waterways in the United States be “fishable and swimmable” by 1985 was remarkable in its forthrightness. It invested the Environmental Protection Agency with the power to prosecute “point source polluters,” i.e. commercial enterprises directly responsible for fouling the water. No longer was the onus on citizens to prove the value of clean water. Rather the burden was switched to industry. Industry had to prove that its actions did not impinge upon what became codified as an American right to fish and swim, safely, in public waterways.

Next, Clean Water Act, what have you done?

Are all public American waterways fishable and swimmable as they were mandated to be by 1985? They most assuredly are not. But the most egregious aspects of the abuse of water have stopped. Cleveland’s Cuyahoga River no longer catches fire, as it did regularly, throughout the 1950s and 60s. A corporation can no longer spill oil into the sea and expect to escape without a fine. Indeed, the billions of dollars British Petroleum will undoubtedly have to pay in the coming years as a result of the 2010 Gulf Spill are made possible by the instruments of the Clean Water Act.”

Read more: Alternet

Romney Water Pollution Record: Hundreds of Corporate Waivers to Dump Toxics into Massachusetts Water Supply

Photo retrieved from: www.wikipedia.org

“As Massachusetts Governor, Mitt Romney gave industrial wastewater dischargers free rein to discharge chemicals into municipal treatment systems unable to filter them out of the Commonwealth’s waters, according to documents obtained by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER).

Industries with high quotients of toxics in their wastewater, such as manufacturers, carpet cleaners and laboratories, did not even have to monitor chemicals deposited in their wastewater.

Under Romney and his two Republican predecessors, the state Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) allowed industries to discharge 1.4 million gallons of wastewater per day into municipal sewage plants without monitoring or permitting.  In 2006, PEER obtained copies of 278 “forbearance” letters from DEP telling companies that they need not even apply for sewer permits.

When PEER revealed the fact that this forbearance practice violated the Clean Water Act Regulations, the Romney administration abruptly proposed regulatory changes to formally exempt 90% of industrial sewer dischargers without even determining the amount of toxic chemicals in their wastewater.  Only after the threat of a lawsuit, the Romney administration finally agreed to a number of new rules that would require dischargers to report toxics to DEP and the sewage treatment plants.”

Read more: ENews Park Forest

 

$6.6-million settlement reached on Malibu beach water pollution

“Malibu has reached a $6.6-million legal settlement with environmental groups that both sides say will protect beachgoers by reducing the amount of polluted storm runoff that reaches the ocean.

“The settlement of a 2008 federal Clean Water Act lawsuit against the city by Santa Monica Baykeeper and the Natural Resources Defense Council was approved Friday by a unanimous vote of the Malibu City Council during a special closed-session meeting.

“The agreement requires Malibu to build rain-water harvesting, infiltration or treatment devices to catch storm water before it is released from 17 storm drains throughout the city. In all, the work will cost about $5.6 million, said City Atty. Christi Hogin, who noted that Malibu is already undertaking 11 of those projects.

“The city also agreed to pay the environmental groups $750,000 in legal fees and set aside $250,000 to fund an ocean health assessment of Santa Monica Bay in collaboration with scientists at Cal State Northridge.”

Read more: The L.A. Times

EPA Sued Over Pollution Petition

Photo retrieved from: www.treehugger.com

“Several environmental groups have filed a lawsuit against the Environmental Protection Agency alleging the agency failed to approve a petition to lower pollution into the Mississippi River Basin and the northern Gulf of Mexico.

The groups claim that excessive nitrogen and phosphorous pollution into these waters have resulted in the largest North American “dead zone.”

Gulf Restoration Network, Missouri Coalition for the Environment, Iowa Environmental Council, Tennessee Clean Water Network, Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy, Sierra Club, Waterkeeper Alliance Inc., Prairie Rivers Network, Kentucky Waterways Alliance Environmental Law & Policy Center, and the Natural Resources Defense Council Inc. filed the lawsuit on March 13 in federal court in New Orleans.

The lawsuit concerns the EPA’s July 29, 2011, denial of a 2008 petition submitted pursuant to the Clean Water Act. The petition asked for revised or new state water quality standards and total maximum loads to address excessive nitrogen and phosphorous pollution in the waters of the Mississippi River Basin and the northern Gulf of Mexico.

According to the lawsuit, the excessive nutrient pollution in the waters causes or contributes to a massive low-oxygen “dead zone” in the Gulf and extensive water quality degradation.”

Read more: Legal Newsline