In March 2010, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced a new "Drinking Water Strategy" in order to better protect public health. Read our overview of their new strategy.
Everybody wants clean and safe drinking water. Clean Water Action works for strong drinking water protections, for policies that keep pollution out of drinking water sources and for new solutions to community drinking water challenges.
Toxic chemicals used in making everyday products can end up in our drinking water, causing health concerns and requiring expensive treatment that raises the cost to consumers and communities.
The House of Representatives in the 112th Congress voted more than 300 times to weaken public health and environmental protections. Clean Water Action analyzed twelve key votes in this unprecedented effort to rollback decades of important environmental policies that have made our water safer to drink and our air healthier to breathe.
It was better in the Senate, but barely. While the Senate rejected the majority of proposals to roll-back decades of critical environmental protections, it failed to pass legislation to repeal oil and gas subsidies. Learn more below and download the scorecard here!
How and Why Clean Water Protections Are Being Weakened
Since passage of the Clean Water Act in 1972, we have made great progress in cleaning up our nation’s waters. Butover the past decade, longstanding protections have been rolled back and the Clean Water Act, considered one of the country’s most successful environmental laws, is now failing to protect all of America’s waters.
In March 2010, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Lisa P. Jackson announced that the EPA will explore new approaches to drinking water that will better protect public health. The four new approaches are:
re: Perchlorate Regulatory Determination
RIN: 2040-AF02 / 2040-AF08
January 13, 2011
Pursuant to the Safe Drinking Water Act, EPA must regulate a contaminant if it may have an adverse effect on human health, if it is known to occur (or there is a substantial likelihood that the contaminant will occur) in public water systems with a frequency and at levels of public health concern; and if its regulation would present a meaningful opportunity for health risk reduction for persons served by public water systems.1
Today the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued joint announcements related to fluoride in drinking water.
EPA made two new scientific documents available to the public and announced that it will evaluate the Maximum Contaminant Level (MCL) - the enforceable federal drinking water standard- for fluoride. The two new documents present scientific analysis of new data on negative health impacts of excess fluoride and on the sources of fluoride exposure in the U.S. population. This analysis was completed as a result of EPA's regular review of drinking water standards and in response to a National Academy of Sciences report that EPA requested as part of this process. The evaluation could result in reduction of the current federal standard of 4 milligrams per liter (or mg/L or parts per million) for fluoride in drinking water.
In this issue of Clean Water Currents:
COMMUNITY SOURCE WATER PROTECTION INITIATIVE
Clean Water Fund, the Campaign for Safe and Affordable Drinking Water and the Clean Water Network partnered in an exciting project to promote drinking water source protection. States were required to complete Source Water Assessments by 2003; the challenge for communities concerned about clean and safe water is to move beyond assessment to getting real protection of drinking water sources. The project provided citizen leaders with information, tools, training and support to develop models for source water protection activities. This initiative was funded in part by a cooperative agreement with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
Today’s guest blogger is Emma Shlaes, Clean Water Action National Campaigns Associate.
Summer is winding down. When you put your child on the bus for school, or take that one last road trip of the season, you expect that everyone will stay safe and healthy, as long as there are no accidents. But there is a hidden danger lurking around most school buses, highways and too many residential neighborhoods and schools. Dangerous and preventable diesel pollution from buses, trucks and construction vehicles is placing families in harm's way.
Dirty diesel engines emit a mixture of particles, metals and gases called "particulate matter" which include over 40 "hazardous air pollutants" as classified by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) under the Clean Air Act. This mixture can cause a range of health problems. From increased rates of asthma, to lung cancer, stroke and heart attack, diesel pollution contributes to countless illnesses and 21,000 early deaths a year.
In addition to being a serious public health problem, diesel pollution contributes to climate change by emitting a pollutant that’s aptly named “black carbon”. Black carbon soot is approximately 2,000 times more potent as a global warming agent than an equal amount of carbon dioxide (CO2). Over half the black carbon emissions in the U.S. come from diesel engines. Fortunately, black carbon is a short-lived pollutant and does not remain in the atmosphere, so this is one aspect of climate change we can do something about right now.
How do you ask? Available retrofits can reduce diesel particulate matter and black carbon emissions by at least 90% from the 11 million old, dirty diesel engines that are currently used in the U.S. This means an instant reduction of black soot in our atmosphere. Additionally, studies indicate that for every dollar spent on reducing particulate matter pollution from diesel engines, $12 would be avoided in monetized health damages. That translates to improved health for you and your family.
Since 2005, the federal Diesel Emissions Reduction Act (DERA) has been funding retrofits for existing heavy-duty diesel vehicles and engines in every state in the U.S. DERA has enjoyed support by: members of both parties in Congress, the U.S. Conference of Mayors, and industry, labor, environmental and health groups. This important act is set to expire in 2011 and Congress must reauthorize it at the same level of funding if we are to see continued reduction in diesel pollution and the health effects it causes.
Clean Water Action works nationally and in the states to pass policies that will clean up diesel pollution and protect communities. Some states haven’t waited for government protections and funding to take action. For example, Clean Water Action recently helped Rhode Island pass the Clean Construction Law, which requires diesel-burning construction equipment on federally funded projects to be retrofitted to reduce emissions by 2013. Connecticut, Massachusetts, Michigan and New Jersey have also taken action at the state and local level. Find out more.
Clean Water Action works as part of the Diesel Clean-Up Campaign, a nationwide collaboration of organizations committed to reducing diesel emissions 40 percent by the year 2012, 55 percent by 2015 and 70 percent by 2020. You can visit their website at www.dieselcleanup.org