Environmental Rights at Stake in Pennsylvania Supreme Court Election November 3
The outcome of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court election may be the most important of the election season. The Supreme Court has made decisions in many cases critical to health, communities and the environment in the past decade. It will likely play a role in redistricting after the 2020 census and may hear cases related to local governments’ attempts to restrict fracking. The judges on the court matter.
In 2013 Pennsylvania passed Act 13, which stripped local municipalities of the ability to use zoning to protect communities from the dangers associated with natural gas drilling. The Pennsylvania Supreme Court struck down this provision. The Court ruled Act 13 was unconstitutional because it violated the Pennsylvania Constitution’s Environmental Rights Amendment which states “the people have a right to clean air, pure water, and to the preservation of the natural, scenic, historic and esthetic values of the environment. Pennsylvania’s public natural resources are the common property of all the people, including generations yet to come.” The three vacancies on the court are judges who ruled with the majority in this landmark case.
Clean Water Action has endorsed the following candidates for Pennsylvania Supreme Court because they have demonstrated a commitment in their personal and judicial philosophy to protecting public health and our environmental rights: David Wecht, Kevin Dougherty, and Christine Donahue.
Thousands Ask for Stricter Drilling Rules
This April, the state Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) released changes to its 2014 proposed oil and gas regulation revisions. Though DEPs latest proposals follow tens of thousands of comments from the public, advocates, issue experts and industry and reflect some improvement, Clean Water Action believes further changes are still needed.
For example, DEP would continue to allow open pits for storing gas drilling wastes. While open pits on well sites would now be banned, industry would still be allowed to use huge off-site pits, each serving multiple wells — pits as large as two football fields and holding 15 million gallons of toxic wastewater. Read more
Low Impact Development (LID) is a method of community development that seeks to use less pavement and more natural systems to reduce impacts on the environment. This is Clean Water Action and Clean Water Fund’s first report for the York County region.
The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) is requiring townships and boroughs to update their local code to require more LID friendly techniques for new development as a condition of new MS4 (Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System) permits. LID methods are better for the environment because they slow the rate and volume of water that is entering local waterways after a storm event, reducing flooding, damage to streams and pollution from the runoff.
Clean Water Action, Conservation Voters of Pennsylvania, and the Sierra Club Pennsylvania Chapter released the joint Pennsylvania Environmental Scorecard in October 2014.
This report scores all state legislators on key environmental votes cast during the 2013 - 2014 Legislative Session and whether those votes supported protection of the public and the environment.
Governor Corbett Defies Public Opinion - Orders More Fracking in State Forests
The public opposes it — nearly 70% of Pennsylvania residents. The state natural resources agency (DCNR) has studied the issue and reports problems. But Gov. Tom Corbett wants to forge ahead with his budget balancing scheme that would reopen state forest lands to natural gas drilling leases.
DNCR says past gas development in state forests has caused: Read more
NJ Legislature Still Flunking on the Environment
By David Pringle, Campaign Director
Clean Water Action’s 2014-15 NJ Legislative Scorecard found a majority of state legislators failed on the environment, much as they did 2 years ago.
There were fourteen notable exceptions. These legislators, whom Clean Water Action called ‘heroes’, joined the call for immediate corrective action by the legislature. Click here to see what the heroes are saying.
Overall the Legislature took pro-environment positions less than half (47%) of the time. On every legislative initiative the anti-environment position succeeded or the pro-environment position was watered down because:
2015 State Legislative Round-Up
2015 was a mixed bag for the environment in the California Legislature. Clean Water Action achieved a number of big water and climate wins, but defeats at the hands of the oil industry were a jolting wake-up call about polluters’ power in the state.
First the good news: California continues to lead the nation in protecting communities from climate change impacts. SB 350, authored by Senate Pro Tem De Leon, passed on the last day of the session, mandating that 50% of California’s energy come from renewable sources and that the state double buildings’ energy efficiency by 2030. Clean Water Action also helped pass AB 888 (Bloom), banning the use of plastic microbeads in personal care products. The budget, which passed in July was also a step toward a new era of transparency on water well information so the state can better manage groundwater, and increasing water regulators’ oversight and scrutiny of oil and gas disposal and injection well permitting.
Clean Up On All Aisles! Mind the Store Campaigns Mounting Victories
Clean Water Action and Mind the Store campaign partners are celebrating some big victories made possible in part by Clean Water Action members — thank you!
The campaign was launched to secure commitments from the nation’s largest retailers to replace toxic chemicals with safer alternatives in every day products such as couch cushions, cosmetics and children’s toys. The targets include the top 10 largest retailers in the country like Walmart, CVS, Home Depot, Target and Walgreens — all companies whose decisions can lead product manufacturers and the chemical industry to shift to safer chemicals.
Throughout New England, Clean Water Action hosted events with local volunteers, delivered letters to store managers, organized call-in days, and conducted in-store research on toxic chemicals in products on store shelves. Read more
Featuring an hors d’oeuvres reception, an awards ceremony, silent auction and celebration of victories and progress towards a healthy and sustainable world!
For more information and tickets visit this page
Virginia: 2015 Endorsements
Clean Water Action members know how important water is to our economy, health and quality of life in the Commonwealth. This election is critical. Be a Clean Water Voter on November 3. Find your polling location here. Check out the below candidates. Then go vote!
You’re not just deciding who your next State Senator and Delegate will be. On Election Day, you will make important decisions about Virginia’s future and the progress cleaning up our rivers, streams and the Chesapeake Bay. Voters like you will make the difference in all those races. Make your voice heard on Tuesday, November 3 — and make sure your friends and family join you — we need to turn out as many clean water voters as possible. Read more
North Texas Water Plan Heavy on Reservoirs, Light on Conservation
State law divides Texas into 16 water planning regions. Each region must present an updated plan for meeting future needs every five years. Region C covers the 16-county Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex and includes some of the nation’s fastest growing suburbs. Region C’s proposed update was recently open for public comment.
In August, Clean Water Fund submitted comments on the Water Plan which faulted it for prioritizing expensive new reservoirs over conservation.
Dallas and Fort Worth have made progress in lowering per capita gallons of consumption (GPCD) through toilet rebate programs and the “Lawn Whisperer” campaign, which offers tips on more efficient lawn watering. However, the GPCD for most cities in Region C remains well above the state average, and few cities have programs in place to lower consumption. Fewer than half of Region C communities limit lawn watering, even during drought. Less than 40% have tiered rate structures to promote conservation and only 25% punish water waste. Read more