Archive for the 'clean water act' Category

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EPA fails to defend Clean Water Act

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“The organizations, Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER), the Florida Clean Water Network, and the Androscoggin River Alliance, say EPA is ignoring blatant violations of this important protection and thereby encourages states to violate it, pointing to two recent cases: In Florida, EPA has dithered for nearly a year without action. In Maine, the administrator resigned due to a parallel state law which has since been weakened while EPA stayed silent.

The federal Clean Water Act bars appointment of any state decision-maker on pollution discharge permits who “has during the previous two years received a significant portion of his income directly or indirectly from permit holders or applicants for a permit.” Nonetheless, at least two states have recently done just that. Both conflicted environmental nominees were confirmed and then challenged by environmental groups; one was ousted and one remains but in both cases EPA remained on the sideline.

Nearly a year ago, on February 23, 2011, PEER and Florida Clean Water Network filed a legal complaint with EPA that Herschel Vinyard, Florida’s environmental secretary, and another top appointee should be legally barred from issuing water pollution permits due to Vinyard’s prior employment on behalf of shipyards.”

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Fight Over Water Regulations Gaining Steam

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“The proposed regulations are meant to address a stronger nationwide push from the Environmental Protection Agency to cut the amount of nitrogen and phosphorus discharged from wastewater treatment plants into rivers, streams, lakes and reservoirs. But opponents question the science used to support the need for the regulations, and warn that water bills could double or even triple for some Colorado ratepayers if municipalities are forced to upgrade their facilities.

Earlier this month, the Pikes Peak Area Council of Governments sent a letter to Gov. John Hickenlooper urging him to block the proposed regulations. The same day, Republican state Sen. Steve King of Grand Junction introduced a bill that would essentially place a moratorium on the adoption of regulations.

“This action is not mandated by federal law, nor is it based on any demonstrated adverse environmental impacts occurring in Colorado waters from our facilities,” the PPACG wrote to Hickenlooper. “The cost of implementing such regulations on small and medium-sized communities will be staggering, and we ask for your intervention to stop this regulatory mandate.

Steve Gunderson, director of the Water Quality Control Division at the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, defends the science, but acknowledges that compliance could be costly. However, he notes, only about 30 percent of wastewater plants in Colorado would be affected by the regulations, which are, at the outset, more lenient than what some environmentalists might consider ideal.

Mostly, he says, the state needs to act before the EPA steps in.

“We continue to believe that is to Colorado’s benefit to start addressing the nutrients so it’s not forced on us by means of a lawsuit of the EPA dictating to us what needs to be done,” Gunderson says.”

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The Shocking Republican Attack on the Environment and Our Drinking Water


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“This year, residents of Midland, Texas sued Dow Chemical for dangerous levels of hexavalent chromium in their drinking water. Chromium-6 is a cancer-causing chemical made infamous by Julia Roberts’ film, “Erin Brockovich.” There are currently no drinking water standards for chromium-6, and the chemical industry is delaying a new U.S. Environmental Protection Agency assessment labeling it a potent carcinogen.

This is far from an isolated scenario, threats to the public drinking water supply are national in scope. From the 1950s to the 1980s, trichloroethylene, a carcinogenic metal degreaser, lurked, undetected, in the drinking water at North Carolina’s Fort Lejeune — affecting up to one million marines and their families.

California’s San Joaquin River and San Francisco Bay Delta are contaminated with selenium and mercury.

Atrazine, an agricultural weedkiller, frequently pollutes groundwater across the Midwest corn-belt.”

Read more: Alternet


Josh Fox: Are We About to Witness the Liquidation Sale of New York and its Drinking Water?

“This is a conversation about community and sharing the voices from the gaslands of America. This is the story of Josh Fox, his movieGasland and about his current, Save the Delaware campaign. “Is this the liquidation sale of New York and our drinking water?” asks Josh Fox.

This is a week to celebrate the sudden November 17 cancellation of the Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC) meeting where they were expected to vote on new gas drilling regulations, i.e. green-light fracking in the Delaware River basin that provides drinking water for 16.5 million people. On the 17th Governor of Delaware, Jack Markell announced that his state would be voting “no” on the new DRBC regulations that would have allowed 20,000 wells to be fracked in the watershed. Governor Cuomo of New York had already stated that he would vote “no” which left the expected “yes” votes of New Jersey and Pennsylvania, leaving the deciding vote to a representative for President Obama; a very complicated decision for him and one with risky implications. This is a movement about building coalitions, including the Delaware Riverkeeper that lead the numerous grassroots organizations organizing the event in Trenton, New Jersey on November 21.

So a momentary respite from the threats of gas drilling to the Delaware was celebrated on November 21 as hundreds of people traveled to the already scheduled rally in Trenton, New Jersey which included actors and activists, Debra Winger and Mark Ruffalo residents of upstate NY. In addition, Julie and Craig Sautner of Dimock, PA who are still without safe drinking water three years later, as promised by Cabot Oil, gave their support of the victory for the watershed and served to remind us of what’s at stake.”

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EPA backs off tough clean-water rules in hopes of helping Obama carry Florida in 2012

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“Two years ago, after a lawsuit charged that the Environmental Protection Agency wasn’t adequately enforcing the Clean Water Act in Florida, the EPA agreed to set specific anti-pollution standards for the state’s lakes, rivers, streams and estuaries. A year ago, the EPA announced the standards but gave the state an extra 15 months to comply. Yet polluting industries and government utilities kept complaining, claiming that the cost of compliance would bankrupt companies and drastically raise customers’ water bills. The resistance got bipartisan support from the state’s politicians.

Last week, the EPA surrendered. In a letter to Florida Department of Environmental Protection Secretary Herschel Vinyard, EPA acting Assistant Administrator Nancy K. Stoner said the agency would let Florida develop its own anti-pollution rules. Those are significantly weaker. Notably, the EPA’s original plan would have set tough criteria to keep waters from becoming polluted. As conservation groups pointed out in comments to the DEP, the state system would postpone action until a lake, stream or river has been declared dirty.”

Read more: The Palm Beach Post


Water additive chloramine causes controversy

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“The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says chloramine has been used by water utilities for nearly 90 years, and 1 in 5 Americans uses drinking water treated with chloramine. The agency says its use is closely regulated, and it can reduce haloacetic acids in drinking water. Haloacetic acids are a cancer risk.

Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection spokesman Joseph Ferson said just less than half the state’s population, 2.9 million of 6.5 million people, uses public water supplies disinfected by chloramines, most notably the 30 communities served by the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority. In addition 160,000 private and unregulated wells use chloramine to disinfect drinking water, said Mr. Ferson, who estimated this represents another 480,000 residents, or three people per well.

Worcester’s water supply does not use it, he said.

On Aug. 11, Southbridge was authorized by the state Department of Environmental Protection to use chloramine as of Sept. 28.

The change comes at the urging of the EPA, which has regulations taking effect in 2013 to reduce the levels of total trihalomethanes, or TTHM, the organic chlorine residualcq, to an average of 80 parts per billion throughout a water system.

The regulation is part of the amended federal Safe Drinking Water Act; TTHM can result in damage to the liver, kidney or central nervous system and carries increased risks of cancer, the government says. ”

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California Clean Drinking Water Bills Signed Into Law

California Clean Drinking Water

Retrieved from: Huffington Post

“From arsenic to E. coli bacteria, contaminants flow from the water taps of hundreds of communities across the state. But seven bills signed into law Friday by Gov. Jerry Brown seek to improve access to clean drinking water in California, particularly for residents in rural and disadvantaged communities.

“Clean drinking water is a basic human right,” Brown said in a statement. “The bills I have signed today will help ensure that every Californian has access to clean and safe sources of water.”

“According to clean-water advocates, the legislation addresses a longstanding need. A study [PDF] by the Pacific Institute found that between 2005 and 2008, 1.3 million residents in the San Joaquin Valley had nitrate-polluted water coming from their faucets. Nitrates can cause death in vulnerable populations such as babies, and they also have been associated with cancer. Surveys by California Rural Legal Assistance and the Community Water Center in Visalia also found that low-income Californians who have access only to polluted water spend between 4 and 10 percent of their household income on bottled water for cooking and drinking.”

Read more: Huffington Post


Water restrictions in wake of extended heat, drought

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“North Texas Municipal Water District on Monday declared a Stage 2 Drought emergency. The move signals that water supplies are getting low.

“We are being very taxed on our water supply system,” said NTMWD spokeswoman Denise Hickey.

The water district’s announcement means that its 13 member cities across suburban Dallas will soon start implementing water conservation strategies.

“We need to do everything we can,” Hickey said. “We ask everyone to understand the priority of extending our water supplies during this drought condition.”

Cities are now considering water-saving moves ranging from turning off fountains to banning car washes for city-owned vehicles.

Starting August 19, Plano will begin enforcing its water conservation laws. Homeowners are restricted to watering their lawns only twice a week, and they cannot run sprinklers between the hours of 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. Violators could face a $150 ticket.”

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Congress Challenges Longstanding Clean Water Act

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“The House of Representatives passed H.R.2018, the Clean Water Cooperative Federalism Act of 2011, on July 13. [1] The bill lets states decide water quality actions and strips federal efforts in enforcing the Clean Water Act, including the authority of the Environmental Protection Agency EPA.

The Clean Water Act, formally known as The Federal Water Pollution Control Act and an important piece of environmental legislation that has guided the country since 1972, would essentially be dismantled on a national level. Each state would be left in charge of water quality actions and enforcement, which undoubtedly is raising a lot of eyebrows.

The House of Representatives pushed the bill as a way to increase jobs, without the so-called hassle of Washington politics, waiting for permits, and having to conduct countless studies to get local and regional economies kick-started.”

Read more: SEO Lawfirm


Politics and water

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“The U.S. House voted 239-182 along largely partisan lines on Wednesday to pass HB 2018, the misnamed Clean Water Cooperative Federalism Act. It is just the latest in a series of political and bureaucratic duels that has gone on between the states, and Florida in particular, and the EPA.

Since 1998, the EPA has been pressing Florida to adopt new water pollution standards. Also during that time, the state Department of Environmental Protection has identified more than half of Florida’s waterways as having overloads of nitrogen and phosphorus and other contaminants. In short, more than half our lakes, rivers and estuaries are polluted, and that is by the state’s estimation.

Yet, the state has balked at every EPA attempt to resolve the problem, including EPA’s agreeing to let DEP draw up the new water standards.”

Read more: Gainesville