Category Archives: Water

In ‘Historic Vote,’ Ohio City Residents Grant Lake Erie Legal Rights of a Person

“What Toledo voters and other places working on rights of nature are hoping is to not only change laws but to change culture.”

By Julia Conley, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 2-27-2019

Voters in Toledo, Ohio approved a measure to give Lake Erie a Bill of Rights, enabling residents to fight against polluters who violate the body of waters right to thrive naturally. (Photo: Ken Lund/Flickr/cc)

Tired of receiving notices warning that their drinking water may have been compromised and having little recourse to fight corporate polluters, voters in Toledo, Ohio on Tuesday approved a measure granting Lake Erie some of the same legal rights as a human being.

Sixty-one percent of voters in Tuesday’s special election voted in favor of Lake Erie’s Bill of Rights, which allows residents to take legal action against entities that violate the lake’s rights to “flourish and naturally evolve” without interference. Continue reading

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‘A World Without Clouds. Think About That a Minute’: New Study Details Possibility of Devastating Climate Feedback Loop

“We face a stark choice [between] radical, disruptive changes to our physical world or radical, disruptive changes to our political and economic systems to avoid those outcomes.”

By Jessica Corbett, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 2-25-2019

A new study warns that if the Earth’s atmospheric carbon hits a certain level, stratocumulus clouds could completely vanish, causing the planet’s temperatures to skyrocket even higher. (Photo: Nicholas A. Tonelli/Flickr/cc)

As people across the globe mobilize to demand bold action to combat the climate crisis and scientific findings about looming “environmental breakdown” pile up, a startling new study published Monday in the journal Nature Geoscience warns that human-caused global warming could cause stratocumulus clouds to totally disappear in as little as a century, triggering up to 8°C (14°F) of additional warming.

Stratocumulus clouds cover about two-thirds of the Earth and help keep it cool by reflecting solar radiation back to space. Recent research has suggested that planetary warming correlates with greater cloud loss, stoking fears about a feedback loop that could spell disaster. Continue reading

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Blow to ‘Powerful Corporate Interests’ as Federal Court Throws Out Pipeline Company Lawsuit Against DAPL Water Protectors

Greenpeace lawyer confident that decision will deter other companies “from abusing the legal system in their quest to bully those who speak truth to power.”

By Jessica Corbett, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 2-15-2019

Krystal Two Bulls and other defendants celebrated on Thursday after a federal judge dismissed a lawsuit targeting water protectors who organized against the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL). (Photo: EarthRights International/Twitter)

In a “landmark” ruling on Thursday, a federal court in North Dakota tossed out a “baseless” case against Greenpeace and other environmental and Indigenous activists who organized protests against the deeply controversial Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL), which drew thousands of people to the Standing Rock Indian Reservation in 2016.

District Judge Billy Roy Wilson dismissed (pdf) all claims against all defendants in a lawsuit brought by fossil fuel giant Energy Transfer Partners (ETP), which sought to hold the water protectors liable under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act for millions of dollars in alleged damages

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New Legislation Aims to Avert Arctic Giveaway to ‘Corporate Polluters’ Sneaked Into GOP Tax Scam

Announcement comes as scholars warn fossil fuel drilling in Arctic refuge “would contribute to the escalating crises of climate change and biological annihilation.”

By Andrea Germanos, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 2-12-2019

A member of the Porcupine caribou herd, which conservation groups say would be horribly impacted if fossil fuel exploration and extraction takes place in ANWR’s coastal plain. New legislation sponsored by Rep. Jared Huffman (D-Calif.) aims to make sure that doesn’t happen. (Photo: G MacRae/flickr/cc)

Conservation groups are cheering the introduction on Monday of a measure to stop fossil fuel extraction in a section of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR).

“This bill calls a halt to the administration’s headlong rush to sell off this special wilderness to corporate polluters,” said John Bowman, senior director for federal affairs at the Natural Resources Defense Council. “And it preserves the fundamental human rights of the Gwich’in people whom these lands have sustained for thousands of years, and who—among two-thirds of all Americans—oppose drilling in the Arctic Refuge.”

The legislation is a renewed effort by Rep. Jared Huffman (D-Calif.), and would repeal a provision included in the GOP’s 2017 tax bill (pdf). Denounced as “a Big Oil polar payout,” the provision opens the refuge’s coastal plain to oil and gas exploration and drilling. Continue reading

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Warnings of Trumpism ‘Forever’ as Senate GOP Rams Through 44 Lifetime Judges in One Day

“Too many of these nominees have spent their careers opposing the rights of women, minorities, the LGBTQ community, and Americans who need affordable healthcare.”

By Jessica Corbett, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 2-8-2019

Mitch McConnell, Brett Kavanaugh, Mike Pence and Jon Kyl before Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearings. Photo: Office of the Vice President [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

With the nation’s eyes largely elsewhere in a sea of distraction on Thursday, the Senate Judiciary Committee quietly advanced 44 of President Donald Trump’s federal judicial nominees in what civil rights defenders denounced as a “monster markup” that threatens to leave the president’s dangerous ideological footprint on the nation’s courts for generations to come.Vanita Gupta, president and CEO of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, said the move “disturbingly exemplifies the joint Senate Republican-Trump administration effort to distort our federal judiciary and roll back our civil and human rights.”

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Demanding Lawmakers Forge ‘Path Away From Climate Suicide,’ Groups Kick Off Green New Deal Push

“We have no time to lose in the fight to avoid irrevocable climate chaos.”

By Jessica Corbett, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 2-4-2019

A coalition of progressive groups has launched a week of action to demand a progressive Green New Deal from federal lawmakers. (Photo: Friends of the Earth/Twitter)

Building on the grassroots momentum that has thrust the Green New Deal onto a national stage, a coalition of progressive groups on Monday launched a week of action to demand climate leadership from federal lawmakers, calling for a plan to fully phase out fossil fuels and rapidly reform industries that produce massive amounts of planet-warming emissions while also promoting economic justice.

“To take action on climate change at the scale of the crisis, we need a Green New Deal,” declared May Boeve, executive director of 350.org. “It’s time for all progressive lawmakers to take real climate action and support a massive federal investment to bring health, safety, and justice to people and the planet.” Continue reading

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Senators Demand Federal Limits for Toxic Chemicals in Drinking Water Amid Reports of ‘Unconscionable’ Inaction by Trump’s EPA

“We now face a serious challenge: aggressively addressing the health and environmental threats connected with PFAS.”

By Jessica Corbett, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 2-1-2019

Twenty senators are calling for federal limits on a pair of chemicals linked to various cancers and other health issues. (Photo: Peter Werkman/Flickr/cc)

In response to reports this week that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) doesn’t plan to impose drinking water limits on two toxic chemicals linked to various forms of cancer and other health issues, 20 senators on Friday sent a letter to acting Administrator Andrew Wheeler imploring him to craft nationwide restrictions.

The chemicals in question are PFOA and PFOS, which belong to a group called PFASPolitico reported Tuesday that Wheeler had signed off on an unreleased plan that would leave the pair off the list of materials regulated under the Safe Drinking Water Act. Continue reading

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With Corporate Interests at the Helm, EPA Polluter Fines Down 85%, Hitting Lowest Level in 25 Years

“With its scientists censored and a coal lobbyist in charge, its no wonder why EPA’s civil fines for polluters are down 85 percent.”

By Julia Conley , staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 1-24-2019

A new analysis shows that civil penalties for polluters have declined 85 percent since President Donald Trump took office. (Photo: isciencetimes.com)

With a former coal lobbyist at the helm of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for the past six months—and a self-described “advocate” against the agency’s work prior to that—the EPA has drastically reduced the fines it’s levied against pollution-causing industries and companies since President Donald Trump took office.

The Washington Post reported Thursday that under Trump, the agency collected just $72 million in fines last year from automobile, fossil fuel, and other companies that pollute the environment—compared with an average of $500 million, which the EPA annually collected during the two decades prior to the Trump administration. Continue reading

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As Planet Heats Further, Even Davos Elite Warns Humanity Is ‘Sleepwalking Into Catastrophe’

“Sleepwalking? Nah,” remarked Naomi Klein, decrying the “Davos Class” policies of global deregulation, privatization, unending consumption, and growth-worship. “Pretty sure your eyes were wide open.”

By Jessica Corbett, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 1-16-2019

Dusk, looking north at the chimney and main buildings of the Fawley Power Station. Photo: Jim Champion/CC

Ahead of the World Economic Forum’s (WEF) annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland next week—which convenes the world’s wealthiest and most powerful for a summit that’s been called both the “money Oscars” and a “threat to democracy”—the group published a report declaring, “Of all risks, it is in relation to the environment that the world is most clearly sleepwalking into catastrophe.”

While WEF has made a habit of recognizing the threat posed by the human-made climate crisis in its Global Risks reports—for which it has garnered some praise—author and activist Naomi Klein was quick to challenge the narrative presented in the latest edition (pdf), pointing out that many of the polices pushed by the very people invited to the exclusive event have driven the global crisis. Continue reading

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As Corporate Power Threatens Americans’ Right to Water, Groups Offer UN Body List of Issues to Raise With US

“Civil and political rights must encompass the human right to water, which is increasingly under threat by corporations that seek to use and abuse our water supplies for profit.”

By Andrea Germanos, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 1-14-2019

“The more we learn about various issues affecting the human right to water in the U.S., including millions of residents having their water shut off because they can’t pay their bills, the more there is to be deeply concerned about,” said Maude Barlow, board chair of Food & Water Watch. (Photo: Detroit Water Brigade)

When it comes to ensuring the human right to clean water, the United States has a long way to go.

That’s the thrust of a new letter (pdf) to the United Nations Human Rights Committee as the body gets ready to review how the U.S. is faring in its implementation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, a treaty seen as part of the “International Bill of Human Rights.” Continue reading

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