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
Fracking Contaminates Water, DEP Finds
The potential for local water supplies to be contaminated by hydraulic fracturing (fracking) for natural gas is among Pennsylvania residents’ top environmental concerns. Oil and gas companies claim this never happens. In 2011 testimony before Congress, Pennsylvania’s then- Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Secretary, Michael Krancer said he knew of no cases of contamination.
Clean Water Action has been helping a statewide coalition determine how many water contamination cases DEP is aware of. The groups want to know what the state has done to help affected families and what actions are being taken to prevent future contamination. Under pressure from Clean Water Action, environmental allies, legislators and the public, Krancer finally wrote a lengthy April 2013 response, stating that DEP was aware of twenty-five water contamination cases from Marcellus Shale gas wells. Krancer resigned as DEP secretary two days later.
In the Pittsburgh region, whenever it rains — even just a little bit — the sewer system is overwhelmed with stormwater. When this happens, ALCOSAN, the region’s sewer authority, cannot handle the huge volume of water and millions of gallons of raw untreated sewage pour into Pittsburgh’s rivers. ALCOSAN has been told by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to fix this problem, soon.
The money to solve this sewage overflow problem, the biggest public works project ever in this region, will come from ALCOSAN rate payers. Rate payers need to be involved in the process so they can get the most value for the money they will be spending.
The beautiful and powerful Susquehanna River stretches 400 miles, provides drinking water to millions of people, supports wildlife and unique environments, and is the largest river feeding the Chesapeake Bay. Natural gas development is expanding throughout the watershed at a rapid rate. Governments responsible for protecting the watershed do not yet have much understanding of how fracking affects the watershed, let alone how to protect human or aquatic life from the negative impacts of fracking.
New England Currents
The Underground Battle for Climate and Communities
Hundreds from across Massachusetts and New Hampshire rallied this summer
on the Boston Common to protest an ill-conceived proposal for gas
expansion through New England. This pipeline, the latest project of
Texan billionaire Richard Kinder, would ship a massive quantity of gas —
fracked straight from Pennsylvania’s Marcellus Shale — through wetlands
and watersheds, conservation lands, fruit orchards and private
Public outcry, community organizing, and legal and political advocacy have made this a front-burner issue. “It’s time to set the record straight about the role of gas in our energy future,” says Clean Water Action’s Joel Wool. When you look carefully, Wool says, gas is neither cheap, homegrown nor reliable: Read more
Blue Ribbon Oil and Gas Task Force Gets Underway
In August, Governor Hickenlooper announced the creation of the state commissioned Blue Ribbon Oil and Gas Task Force. The Task force is charged with making policy recommendations focused on state and local regulations of oil and gas operations. The task force is comprised of an equal number of representatives from affected communities, the environmental community, civic organizations, agriculture, and the oil and gas industry. The task force will make its policy recommendations in late February 2015.
The creation of the task force was the result of a compromise between two ballot initiative campaigns proposing both pro- and anti-oil and gas amendments to the Colorado constitution. Rep. Jared Polis was backing two of these initiatives. One would have given local governments more control over oil and gas development within their borders. The second initiative would have mandated a 2,000 foot setback rule — keeping drill sites at least 2,000 feet from homes. Additionally, the oil and gas industry was offering two ballot initiatives that would have taken local control away from municipalities and blocked communities attempting to regulate oil and gas operations from receiving oil and gas tax revenues. Read more
Pushing Forward on Clean Water Protections
Clean Water Action’s tireless campaign in support of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s proposal to restore protections to headwater streams and wetlands has entered a critical phase, with public comment set to end this November. The EPA rule would restore protections to streams that only run seasonally or after storms, but which when wet flow into the drinking water sources of more than 117 million Americans — including 11.5 million Texans. Some 75% percent of Texas’ stream miles dry up part of the year, especially during drought.
Austin Mayor Lee Leffingwell joined EPA Senior Advisor for Water Ellen Gilinsky and Clean Water Action’s David Foster at a July press conference in Austin expressing support for the policy. “The purpose of the rule is to clarify protection for the upstream waters that are absolutely vital to downstream communities,” said Gilinsky. “Clean water is essential to every single American, from families who rely on safe places to swim and healthy fish to eat, to farmers who need abundant and reliable sources of water to grow their crops, to hunters and fishermen who depend on healthy waters for recreation and their work, and to businesses that need a steady supply of water for operations. Read more
New Jersey Currents
Climate Change, Water, and Jobs
On September 21, Clean Water Action joined more than 400,000 people in New York City for the largest climate march in history, the People’s Climate March. “Climate change is water change,” says Clean Water Action’s New Jersey Director, Amy Goldsmith, “and if we want clean water for our future, we have to take action on climate now.”
When Congress first passed the 1972 Clean Water Act, it was with the understanding that all streams and wetlands can impact the biological, physical and chemical integrity of larger downstream waters. But starting in 2001, polluter-friendly court decisions and the agency actions that followed stripped away longstanding Clean Water Act protections, leaving critical resources vulnerable to pollution and destruction. We’re taking action here - you can too. Read more
On the Environment: Snyder Fails
Clean Water Action’s scorecard for Gov. Rick Snyder’s first term highlights his failure to safeguard Michigan’s environment. “As someone who just wants to have their water and drink it too,” says Clean Water Action’s Denny Green, “the Governor couldn’t have done much worse on the environment if he’d tried.”
Gov. Snyder received a failing grade based on actions he took (or failed to take) on fourteen different bills, coming up on the wrong side twelve times. “This subpar performance, nearly a 90% rate of failure, is shameful for the governor of a state literally defined by its Great Lakes,” Green says. Read more