Selling Our Health Down the River

Selling Our Health Down the RiverEXECUTIVE  SUMMARY - Download the full report here.

Listen to experts and report authors discuss the rule here.

Read our letter to the President here.

Fossil-fuel burning power plants discharge at least 5 .5 billion pounds of pollution into rivers, streams, lakes and bays each year. Coal-burning plants in particular discharge some of the most dangerous heavy  metals  on earth, including arsenic, cadmium, chromium, lead, mercury and selenium.

Power  plant  wastewater has contributed to over 23,000 miles of contaminated rivers, fish too polluted to eat in 185 bodies of water, and the degradation of 399 water bodies that are used as public drinking water sources .

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.

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. 

Senators: Oppose Senator Capito Polluter Protection Act:: 6-23-15

Dear Senator,

Oppose destructive policy riders in the FY 2016 Interior, Environment and Related Agencies Appropriations bill

Alaska Wilderness League ● American Rivers ● California Wilderness Coalition ● Californians for Western Wilderness ● Center for Biological Diversity ● Center for Food Safety ● Clean Water Action ● Crow Canyon Archeological Center ● Defenders of Wildlife ● Earthjustice ● Earthworks ● Endangered Species Coalition ● Environment America ● Environmental Defense Fund ● Environmental Investigation Agency ● Friends of Arizona Rivers ● Friends of Gold Butte ● Friends of Ironwood Forest ● Friends of Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks ● Friends of the Earth ● Friends of the Missouri Breaks Monument ● Friends of the Sonoran Desert National Monument ● Grand Staircase Escalante Partners ● Great Old Broads for Wilderness ● League of Conservation Voters ● N

President Obama: Please Support Strong Controls on Power Plant Water Pollution

June 16, 2015

President Barack Obama                                                                                                                       

The White House                           
1600 Pennsylvania Ave NW 
Washington, DC 20500

Click here to download the letter and full list of signers

New Report: EPA must protect drinking water and downstream communities from power plant pollution

Health benefits of a strong rule worth hundreds of millions of dollars each year

Washington, D.C. – Power plants discharge more than 5.5 billion pounds of pollutants into U.S. waterways every year, contributing to the contamination of more than 23,000 miles of rivers and 185 water bodies whose fish are too toxic to eat.

As the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) weighs the nation’s first limits on toxic water pollution from power plants -- due in September -- a new report details the damage caused by the wastewater and the need for strong regulations to protect public health.

The report, “Selling Our Health Down the River,” presents evidence that EPA has been under-estimating the public health benefits of controlling metals including arsenic and hexavalent chromium (which can increase the risk of cancer), as well as lead and mercury (which can cause brain damage) released by power plants into rivers, streams, and lakes.

Published On: 
06/17/2015 - 09:10

Oppose the destructive policy riders in the Fiscal Year 2016 Interior, Environment and Related Agencies Appropriations bill

The Honorable Harold Rogers                      The Honorable Nita Lowey
Chairman, Committee on Appropriations    Ranking Member, Committee on Appropriations

The Honorable Ken Calvert                            The Honorable Betty McCollum
Chairman, Committee on Appropriations    Ranking Member, Committee on Appropriations
Subcommittee on Interior Environment       Subcommittee on Interior, Environment
And Related Agencies                                     And Related Agencies

Dear Chairman Rogers, Ranking Member Lowey, Chairman Calvert and Ranking Member McCollum,

Oppose H.R. 1314 -- Fast Track of Trade Agreements Threatens Our Environment - June 11, 2015

June 11, 2015

Re: Oppose H.R. 1314 -- Fast Track of Trade Agreements Threatens Our Environment

Dear Member of Congress:

As leading U.S. environmental and science organizations, we write to express our strong opposition to H.R.1314, the Hatch-Wyden-Ryan “fast track” bill, and to strongly urge you to oppose this bill.

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