EPA

As Flint, Michigan Suffers From Contaminated Water, Republicans Attack Clean Water Act

It isn’t often that a state of emergency is declared over a disaster that is 100% man-made and intentional, but that’s exactly what has happened in the city of Flint, Michigan. As residents in the city struggle to find drinkable water, the National Guard has been deployed to help distribute bottled water to residents.

The crisis actually began about 18 months ago when Republican governor Rick Snyder made the decision to balance the city’s budget at the expense of the health and safety of residents of Flint.

The governor and his appointed “budget experts” decided to save the city some money by switching their water supply from the city of Detroit’s supply to the Flint River, and according to Occupy Democrats, this river was known to be both highly polluted and carried an unusually high salt content.

The high salinity of this water caused the city’s pipes to begin eroding, which then leached lead into the city’s water.

Leaked EPA Dimock, PA Water Contamination Presentation Published By DeSmog in Play in Federal Suit

A PowerPoint presentation obtained from a source and published by DeSmog in August 2013 has made its way into a major hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) related legal case, which is set to go to trial soon in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania. 

That document was presented as a legal exhibit on December 30 as part of a motion by the plaintiffs in opposition to exclude some evidence during the jury trial made by the defendant, Cabot Oil & Gas. The motion cites the exhibit to reveal how the Obama Administration's U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) ignored the evidence of its own staff scientists in declaring the contaminated water safe to drink in Dimock, Pennsylvania.

2015 In Review: A Great Year For The Environment

Environmental victories are rare. Even with mounting scientific evidence that reckless human activities are endangering our future, politicians and corporations have continued to run roughshod over the planet, destroying the very home that sustains our lives.

For too long, environmentalists were seen as a small part of a political movement that focused on an issue that most Americans greeted with a yawn. After all, the most damning climate science has emerged at a time when the threat of global terrorism and economic downturns were grabbing all of the headlines.

But 2015 signaled a change for the environmental movement.

Heat on EPA as National Study on Fracking's Risks to Drinking Water is Challenged

The Environmental Protection Agency's draft national assessment on fracking's potential to pollute drinking water is still under review. If it is to reflect science over policy, some dramatic changes to the wording of the study's conclusions are needed, EPA's review panel was told during a public comment teleconference on Thursday.

Back in 2010, when Congress first tasked EPA with investigating the risks that hydraulic fracturing poses to American drinking water supplies, relatively little was known about the scale and significance of the onshore drilling rush's environmental impacts.

Water Pollution Trading Programs Under Fire as Report Finds Lax Oversight, "Shell Games" Put Waterways at Risk

A little-noticed federally-backed program is chipping away at the foundation of the Clean Water Act, one of the nation's core environmental laws, allowing major polluters to evade responsibility for contaminating rivers, streams and other waterways, an environmental group said in a report released Thursday.

So called “water quality trading” programs have quietly spread into more than 20 states, the report said, with a goal of establishing a water pollution credit trading market — essentially a cap-and-trade system, like those controversially proposed for climate change, but covering the dumping of pollutants like nitrogen and phosphorus into America's waterways.

Those nutrients are behind algae blooms that suck oxygen out of water supplies, killing fish and other wildlife and sometimes making people sick. The EPA calls nutrient pollution “one of America's most widespread, costly and challenging environmental problems” and warns that the hazards are likely to grow worse as the climate warms.

Programs to trade credits for nutrient pollution are still relatively small scale, but have gained the backing of the Environmental Protection Agency and the United States Department of Agriculture. They are based on the idea that a free market can help identify the cheapest ways to cut pollution in a watershed.

EPA Scientists Consider Dropping "Widespread, Systemic" Language from National Study Findings

A phrase in the Executive Summary of EPA's national study on the threat that hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, poses to American drinking water supplies has come under increasing fire from environmentalists and scientists.

The EPA's draft executive summary, released this fall, included a line that has been widely quoted by supporters of the shale gas rush: “We did not find evidence that these mechanisms have lead to widespread, systemic impacts on drinking water resources in the United States.”

There are signs that the EPA's scientific advisors, currently engaged in a peer-review of the study, are now backing away from that phrasing, emphasizing instead the fact that drinking water supplies have been impacted at times, and that many factors, like sealed legal settlements and trade secrecy, have kept information out of the public eye.

"Abandoned" by EPA, Landowers from Dimock, Pavillion, Parker County Demand Inclusion in EPA National Fracking Study

For the past five years, the EPA has undertaken a highly-consequential national study on the impacts that hydraulic fracturing (fracking) can have on American drinking water supplies.

The agency will look to the results of this program as the basis for its scientific conclusions and recommendations on hydraulic fracturing,” EPA said in a 2013 statement.

This June, the national study's draft assessment was released to the public, and while hundreds of spills, accidents, and even cases where fracking itself directly contaminated underground aquifers (a method of pollution that the oil industry had long argued had never happened) were reported by EPA, it was a phrase from the agency's press release that drew the attention of the national media: “hydraulic fracturing activities in the U.S. are carried out in a way that have not led to widespread, systemic impacts on drinking water resources.”

EPA Moves to Require Gas Processing Plants, for First Time, to Make Hazardous Emissions Public

This week, the Environmental Protection Agency announced plans to require natural gas processing plants to start complying with federal toxic chemical disclosure laws, in response to a lawsuit and petition filed by a collection of environmental and transparency advocates.

A record-setting 19 trillion cubic feet of gas was processed by these plants — over 550 of which dot the country — last year, representing a rise in volume of 32 percent over the past decade, according to the U.S. Energy Department. The EPA now estimates that over half of these plants release more than 10,000 pounds of toxic chemicals each year, making their pollution substantial enough to require federal attention.

Republican Presidential Candidates Already Talking About Dismantling Environmental Protections

There are currently no candidates seeking the Republican nomination for President in the United States that hit the following three points: Climate change is real, human activity is making it worse, and we need to act. To make matters worse, these reality-denying politicians are already laying out their plans on how they will scale back environmental protections if they ever make it to the White House.

Politicians Still Fighting EPA Clean Power Plant Rules

U.S. Senator and Republican presidential hopeful Marco Rubio is, rightfully, taking a lot of criticism for his statement during the 2nd Republican debate that “America is not a planet.”  This is actually the only factual statement that Rubio made about climate change during the debate, but the actual point that he was trying to make was that America cannot be the only country acting on climate change if we expect to fix the problem.

What Rubio and so many other politicians claim to want is a broad, global coalition of countries working together to address the threats of climate change.  But that’s just a campaign talking point.  The truth is that Republican candidates do not want to see the U.S. taking any role in reducing our carbon emissions, and their actions in Washington prove it.

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