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.
In his inaugural address, Governor Brown promised to continue California's leadership on clean power by mandating that California's energy grid include at least 50 percent renewables by 2030 by expanding programs like rooftop solar, distributed generation, microgrids, and more. Clean Water Action applauds the Governor's leadership on clean energy and implores him to go even further. State Director Miriam Gordon released this statement:
"We are thrilled that Governor Brown has his sights set on reducing climate pollution. The Governor clearly understands that inaction on climate threatens our communities and families and he has charted a good course for the state. We look forward to working with Governor Brown to achieve the goals he has laid out.
“In light of concerns about water quality and ongoing drought, which have only been exacerbated over the last three decades, the Aquifer Exemption Program should involve the highest level of scrutiny and transparency. But that is not what our research has found - and water resources have been put at risk,” said John Noël, Clean Water Action National Oil and Gas Campaigns Coordinator.
WASHINGTON, DC – Today the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) finalized the first-ever national standards for coal ash disposal. Coal ash is the toxic waste that remains from burning coal to generate electricity. This second largest industrial waste stream in the United States contains many known hazardous chemicals, including arsenic, mercury, lead, and hexavalent chromium. This new rule is a first step toward better protecting communities from leaking coal ash ponds and landfills. However, for the most part, it leaves enforcement of the regulations up to individual states.
Clean Water Action National Campaigns Director Lynn Thorp testified today before the U.S. House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Environment and the Economy on issues related to “Cyanotoxins in Drinking Water”. Cyanotoxins, the contaminant that forced the shutdown of the Toledo OH water system for several days in August of this year, are produced by Harmful Algal Blooms.
In her testimony, Thorp said “The most cost-effective way to prevent cyanotoxin contamination of drinking water sources is to reduce the nitrogen and phosphorus pollution that is also causing numerous other drinking water, environmental and economic impacts.”