Our Water is Connected and Small Streams and Wetlands are Critical to Drinking Water

Clean Water Action welcomes publication of EPA's long awaited final science report that shows small streams and wetlands can impact water quality  downstream.

Washington - Yesterday the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released Connectivity of Streams and Wetlands to Downstream Waters: A Review and Synthesis of the Scientific Evidence, an extensive, peer reviewed summary of the latest science on the vital importance of small streams and wetlands to downstream water quality,  including drinking water  sources. The findings in the report will guide the final Clean Water Rule currently being developed by EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers.  These agencies are working to finalize a rule this spring that would clarify protections for over half of the nation's small streams and 20 million acres of wetlands. These vital water bodies feed the drinking water for more than 1 in 3 Americans.

Clean Water Action's President and CEO, Bob Wendelgass, released this statement.

Published On: 
01/16/2015 - 08:07

The Aquifer Exemption Program

Executive Summary

A little known provision of the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) Underground Injection Control (UIC) program allows certain oil and gas and mining activity to occur in groundwater that would otherwise be protected as a drinking water source. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) developed the program in the early days of SDWA implementation to respond to oil and gas interests who cited SDWA language which states that EPA “may not prescribe requirements for state UIC programs which interfere with or impede” the injection of fluids associated with oil and gas production. Extraction proponents argued that certain energy extraction activities would not be able to continue if all underground sources of drinking water everywhere were protected. As a result, an aquifer is now eligible for an exemption if it meets certain regulatory criteria.

Regulating Oil & Gas Activities to Protect Drinking Water

When the U.S. Congress first passed the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA)  in 1974,  it authorized the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to develop a program to protect vital under- ground drinking water resources from risks of industrial activities in which fluid is injected
into the ground. However, Congress also included language mandating that EPA not “interfere with or impede” oil and gas production unless it is “absolutely essential” in order to protect underground sources of drinking water.

The regulatory and legislative history of the SDWA Underground Injection Control Program (UIC) demonstrates the impact of this language on the UIC program’s evolution.

Our Drinking Water and Oil and Gas Development

It is widely recognized that Congress exempted hydraulic fracturing from the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) in the 2005 Energy Policy Act. But it is less understood that SDWA still pertains in several ways to fracking and oil and gas exploration, drilling and wastewater disposal. 

Clean Water Action and Clean Water Fund have found large problems with SDWA and how the Act protects drinking water from certain oil and gas and uranium mining activities. A groundbreaking report and a white paper, released in January 2015, explores two SDWA programs - the Aquifer Exemption Program and the Under Injection Control Class II Program.

The House of Representatives Chooses Polluters Over Clean Water Again

Dirty Water in the House of Representatives

Washington, DC - Today the House of Representatives passed H.R. 5078. The bill seeks to stop the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and US Army Corps of Engineers (the Corps) from moving forward with a proposed rulemaking to clarify which small streams and wetlands are covered under the Clean Water Act.

Clean Water Action President and CEO, Robert Wendelgass released this statement:

Published On: 
09/09/2014 - 15:00

Clean Water Action Statement on Senate Hearing on Drinking Water Supplies and the WV Spill

Clean Water Action Statement on the U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works Committee Subcommittee on Water and Wildlife entitled, "Examination of the Safety and Security of Drinking Water Supplies Following the Central West Virginia Drinking Water Crisis."

Washington DC -- Clean Water Action welcomes today's hearing and its focus on protecting drinking water sources. "Elected officials need to make protection of drinking water sources the primary consideration in decisions about facility siting, permitting and oversight," said Clean Water Action National Campaigns Director Lynn Thorp.

Published On: 
02/04/2014 - 14:00

You + Me + Congress = Action on Climate and Energy Legislation!

post by Christine LeMieux, Global Warming and Energy Programs Coordinator

While media headlines as of late are dominated by the latest healthcare happenings on the Hill, progress on climate and energy legislation continues. Both issues are related to critical questions about how we will take care of our public health and our economy in the coming decades. Over the past month, 6 Senate committees have held hearings and action is expected after Congress returns from recess in September. 

Oppose Fast Track Trade Promotion Authority * Athens County (OH) Fracking Action Network * Berks Gas Truth * Catskill Mountainkeeper * Catskill Citizens for Safe Energy * Center for Biological Diversity * Center for International Environmental Law * Chesapeake Climate Action Network * Clean Economy Coalition of the Coastal Bend * Clean Water Action * Delaware Riverkeeper Network * Defenders of Wildlife * Earthjustice * Earthworks * Energy Action Coalition * Environmental Action * Environmental Health Coalition * Environmental Investigation Agency * Food & Water Watch * Friends of the Earth * Friends of Merrymeeting Bay * Greenpeace USA * Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy * Institute for Policy Studies, Climate Policy Program * League of Conservation Voters * Natural Resources Defense Council * Oil Change Interna

Vote No On Senator Lee's Amendment 71 To Keystone Xl

Alaska Wilderness League • American Bird Conservancy • Center for Biological Diversity • Clean Water Action • Defenders of Wildlife • Earthjustice • Earthworks • Environment America • Food and Water Watch • The Lands Council • League of Conservation Voters • Natural
Resources Defense Council • San Juan Citizens Alliance • Sierra Club • Southern Utah
Wilderness Alliance • Uranium Watch • Western Organization of Resource Councils

January 22, 2015

Dear Senator,

Oppose S. 1 - January 22, 2015

Clean Water Action * Earthjustice *Natural Resources Defense Council * Sierra Club

January 22, 2015

Dear Senator:
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