By Charles Griffith - Climate & Energy Program Director, Ecology Center
In a great example of a good start, Ann Arbor’s city council approved a plan earlier this month to further prepare the city’s infrastructure to support plug-in electric vehicles. The resolution calls on city staff to review permit and planning processes, as well as zoning codes, to remove barriers to creating plug-in infrastructure. The resolution also requires the city’s administrator to consider adding plug-in vehicles as part of the city’s fleet.
Environmental activist Erin Brockovich’s team has been investigating Fridley, Minnesota’s toxic history. People there are concerned about cancer rates. Multiple Superfund toxic sites have leaked industrial chemicals, including carcinogens, into Fridley’s groundwater. Many Fridley residents have wondered if this past contamination is the cause of their cancer or that of their neighbors. Last summer, Brockovich and her team met with several hundred current and former Fridley residents about the results of their investigation. Clean Water Action’s State Director Deanna White also addressed the group about work to reform state and federal laws so that public health is protected from cancer-causing and other toxic chemicals.
With the Minnesota Legislature well underway, Clean Water Action is working overtime to pass new measures to protect Minnesotans’ water and health. The biggest push this year is for laws to protect children from toxic chemicals in the products they use every day.Two of Clean Water Action’s priorities are bills to ban bisphenol-A (BPA) in children’s food packaging and formaldehyde-releasing chemicals in children’s personal care products. BPA is a known hormone disruptor, and formaldehyde can cause asthma and other respiratory problems. Both bills have already passed through several State Senate and House committees over the past two weeks. Read More
Last year, the State of Michigan auctioned off thousands of acres of land for the dangerous and controversial gas drilling process known as fracking. Fracking uses 100 times more water than traditional drilling methods and injects a mix of unknown toxic chemicals directly into the ground to break up the rock and release the gas trapped in the earth.
A manufacturer-run program for collecting mercury thermostats is failing to keep the toxic heavy metal out of the trash—and the environment. Turning Up The Heat II estimates that, at most, the industry recycling program has captured 8% of mercury thermostats coming out of service in the past decade. This has resulted in the disposal of over 50 tons of mercury into the environment, which can expose people to the neurotoxin through fish consumption.
HB 6526 Toxics Disclosure and Innovation for Healthy Children. This bill will:
Putting the Brakes On
Big oil has its sights on California. Plans are in motion to make the state the nation’s number one oil producer, moving up from its current 4th place position. New hydraulic fracturing (fracking) techniques are a big part of industry’s strategy. Though oil developers promise an economic boom for the state, increased fracking has the potential to cause serious environmental and health harm, and California residents and other industries might be forced to shoulder those costs.
PA DEP Refusing to Release Water Testing Results
One the biggest fears for people living near gas drilling is the possibility of their drinking water being polluted. People expect the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to look out for them and to provide alerts when drinking water is threatened. Unfortunately, that trust has been shaken by a recently uncovered and controversial DEP policy.
Last fall, it was revealed that DEP is not reporting all the contaminants discovered when it tests drinking water suspected to have been contaminated by fracking (hydraulic fracturing at natural gas wells). Instead, DEP’s coded reporting system only provides residents with findings for 8 of 24 contaminants included in DEP tests. Many of the contaminants not reported are carcinogenic and known to pose health hazards.Read More