Tag Archives: Clean Water Act

Green Groups Sue Army Corps of Engineers Over Nationwide Pipeline Permit

“There’s simply no justification for allowing destructive and dangerous pipelines to avoid rigorous environmental review.”

By Brett Wilkins, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 5-3-2021

In December 2016, the Belle Fourche pipeline spilled 180,000 gallons of crude oil into the Ash Coulee Creek in North Dakota, just three hours’ drive from the site of a massive Indigenous-led protest against the Dakota Access Pipeline at Standing Rock. (Photo: Jennifer Skjod/North Dakota Department of Health)

Five eco-advocacy groups sued the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on Monday for allegedly violating federal law by issuing a nationwide fossil fuel pipeline permit without adequate analysis of its environmental impacts.

The lawsuit (pdf)—filed in a federal district court in Montanta by the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD), Sierra Club, Montana Environmental Information Center, Friends of the Earth, and Waterkeeper Alliance Inc.—accuses the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) of violating the Endangered Species Act (ESA), the National Environmental Policy Act, the Clean Water Act, and the Administrative Procedure Act by reissuing Nationwide Permit 12 (NWP 12) “without adequately assessing its significant direct, indirect, and cumulative environmental effects.” Continue reading

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Victory for Tribes, Waterways, and Planet as Pebble Mine Denied Permit

“Sometimes a project is so bad, so indefensible, that the politics fall to the wayside and we get the right decision.”

By Andrea Germanos, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 11-25-2020

Photo: Brandon Hill/NRDC

Environmental campaigners stressed the need for the incoming Biden White House to put in place permanent protections for Alaska’s Bristol Bay after the Trump administration on Wednesday denied a permit for the proposed Pebble Mine that threatened “lasting harm to this phenomenally productive ecosystem” and death to the area’s Indigenous culture.

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Ex-EPA Officials Mark 50th Earth Day With Scathing Snapshot of How Trump ‘Is Hurting People and the Natural World’

“Critical public health and worker protections are being rolled back solely to maximize corporate profits.”

By Jessica Corbett, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 4-22-2020

Demonstrators at an Earth Day 2017 event carry signs promoting science and challenging President Donald Trump’s agenda. (Photo: Takver/flickr/cc)

An organization launched in 2017 by former staffers of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency marked the 50th annual Earth Day Wednesday by releasing a report about the efforts of President Donald Trump’s administration to gut regulations enacted under his predecessors to preserve public health and the planet.

“The actions by the Trump administration to undermine environmental and public health protections are not acceptable,” Michelle Roos, executive director of the Environmental Protection Network (EPN), said in a statement. “Fortunately, EPN members, EPA alumni with decades of expertise and experience, have volunteered their time to detail how this administration is hurting people and the natural world on which we all depend.” Continue reading

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As Record Settlement Announced Over BP Gulf Oil Disaster, Lesson Is Clear: Clean Energy Now

‘These penalties are inadequate to deter a company of the size of BP from further criminal and negligent conduct,’ says attorney

By Andrea Germanos, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published July 2, 2015.

“It’s finally time to learn our lesson from the BP spill and all the spills that have happened since then,” says the Center for Biological Diversity’s Miyoko Sakashita.  (Photo: US Coast Guard)

BP and the Justice Department announced Thursday the agreement of an $18.7 billion settlement over federal, state, and local claims stemming from the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

Environmental groups responded to the settlement by stressing that the damage from the 2010 oil disaster is ongoing; that the funds must be used to restore the Gulf and its communities; and that the lessons of the disaster should be heeded by moving towards a clean energy future.

Attorney General Loretta Lynch noted the historic amount of the settlement, saying in a statement: “If approved by the court, this settlement would be the largest settlement with a single entity in American history.”

Her statement adds that the settlement “would justly and comprehensively address outstanding federal and state claims, including Clean Water Act civil penalties and natural resource damages.” Continue reading

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Bring Back “Common” Sense

Photo by Tim McCabe, USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service. (USDA NRCS Photo Gallery: NRCSIA99536.tif) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Photo by Tim McCabe, USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service. (USDA NRCS Photo Gallery: NRCSIA99536.tif) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Centuries ago, communities were formed by placing homes around an area referred to as the “commons;” a place where livestock was grazed, public meetings and gatherings were held and people worked together to protect and benefit from these “common” areas of value. The system was so successful it is used in some parts of the world to this day.

One of the principles America was founded on was the theory of the “commons” – that which belonged to all the citizens – was worth protection. Certain necessities were identified as being “common” for the security and stability of the country. As we grew, so did the things that were considered part of the “commons” belonging to the American people.

Clean water is one of those “common” things that Americans expect when they turn on a faucet to shower, cook, drink or bathe children and infants. We enacted the Clean Water Act as a way to specifically protect this “common”, and established the EPA to enforce regulations designed to further protect it.

As with many commodities in this country, Americans have an insatiable need for mass water usage in their lives. Above our daily survival needs, we play in it. We water lawns, crops, animals and city water features with it. We use it in manufacturing, medicine, food processing and energy production. We use it in mining, oil well drilling, fracking operations and coal ash ponds.

WHY DO WE HAVE THE EPA? This five-acre acid water, oil and sludge-filled pond was used as a dump site by commercial firms before being cleaned up under EPA supervision. It offered no protection to unwary animals. Sheep carcasses are seen in the foreground and at the left along with junked cars and other debris. Photo by Bruce McAllister, 1974, NARA Photographer, Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons.

WHY DO WE HAVE THE EPA? This five-acre acid water, oil and sludge-filled pond was used as a dump site by commercial firms before being cleaned up under EPA supervision. It offered no protection to unwary animals. Sheep carcasses are seen in the foreground and at the left along with junked cars and other debris. Photo by Bruce McAllister, 1974, NARA Photographer, Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons.

Yet we seem to have no appetite or desire to continue keeping it clean. Recently, we have heard calls from congressional members to repeal the Clean Water Act and the EPA. Identified as “job killing regulations”, the theory here is to let corporations do whatever they want to produce however much of whatever they want, with total disregard toward consequences or responsibility. But their bottom lines would swell like water-filled balloons, and the bribery lobby money would benefit everyone involved.

Meanwhile, Americans would face more headlines like we’ve seen recently; Galveston Bay has an oil spill in it; Lake Michigan has oil in it from a refinery that is ramping up to double its production; the Dan River in NC has coal ash waste flowing downstream while Duke Energy employees are filmed pumping more of the sludge directly into the river; Keystone XL approval could poison the largest fresh water aquifer in the nation; and PolyMet, who has never operated a mine before, is demanding that Minnesota open the North Shore for copper/sulfide mining which would drain into Lake Superior. PolyMet’s main financial backer (Glencore Xtrata) has hired Tony Hayward as CEO – Hayward is the same guy you recall from the Deepwater Horizon disaster crying to the media that he wanted his life back.

We see attempts to allow drilling, mining and oil exploration in our national parks and reserves – 12 parks already have drilling in them, while an additional 30 parks could see drilling under existing mineral rights. On March 26, the House heard a bill that would abolish the 1906 Antiquities Act, which has protected some of America’s most sensitive and endangered monuments.

The rich everyday colours of a sari-clad rural women fetching water from the village tank. Water supply is a major problem throughout India and many rural areas lack clean water and supply to the home forcing women to fetch and carry water daily. Most villages lack the resources to invest and ensure a clean supply to each home. Photo by McKay Savage from London, UK [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

The rich everyday colours of a sari-clad rural women fetching water from the village tank. Water supply is a major problem throughout India and many rural areas lack clean water and supply to the home forcing women to fetch and carry water daily. Most villages lack the resources to invest and ensure a clean supply to each home. Photo by McKay Savage from London, UK [CC-BY-2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

What are our priorities? Climate change has brought drought to California, Texas and other areas of the southwest, freezing weather in the deep south, the Great Lakes are locked in ice, Alaska’s permafrost is melting at a rate far faster than ever anticipated and areas that have been ideal cropland are either flooding or unable to get sufficient water to grow crops. These pressures will bear economic impact and will continue to manifest and worsen in the coming years.

And what is happening here in America is nothing compared to the struggles taking place around the world in the struggle for enough water to survive just by drinking and cooking. Diseases from unclean conditions are free to exert their atrocities on human life as we brace for more drought and famine in areas that have been fertile in the past. Some regions have not been as affected by climate change yet, but refugees are running for their lives and are not in the areas they normally would be in order to plant the spring crops. Cattle herds that are not wiped out by disease or starvation become targets in the terrorism that plagues remote areas of the globe.

We found an organization that looks at the need for clean water from a much, much larger perspective than America’s water problem. We introduce you to Charity:Water.org. This will not solve the overall problem, but it is clearly a step in the right direction.

How important is clean water? How long can you live with no water, but all the cheap oil you want? How important is LIFE?

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