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Clean Water Action Waves | In The News, February 2023

Our work to protect clean water across the country often makes the news. Clean Water Waves highlights recent articles featuring our staff speaking on their areas of activism and expertise.


He Paid $1 Million For Destroying Wetlands. Now He’s Fighting Clean Water Rules In Congress.

Chris D'Angelo | The Huffington Post | February 8th, 2023

More than 200 Republican members of Congress introduced legislation last week to strike down a Biden administration rule restoring long-standing federal protections for hundreds of thousands of streams and wetlands across the country — safeguards that the Trump administration dismantled in 2020.


“It’s disingenuous to paint Rep. John Duarte as a victim when the record is clear that he knowingly broke the law when he decided to destroy wetlands and streams on his property without a permit,” Jennifer Peters, water programs director at Clean Water Action, told HuffPost.

In reality our government needs to be doing much more to protect our water bodies, half of which are considered too polluted for fishing or swimming,” Peters said.

Read More on Waters of the US


Enbridge provides update on tunnel project

Annette Giachino | WSAW | February 20th, 2023

“The geology in the Straits of Mackinac is notoriously complex and very difficult to drill through and without doing the proper research and without being permitted, it’s really not safe for them to move forward. They would be drilling under a functioning crude oil pipeline which could cause a massive oil spill in the Great Lakes,” said Clean Water Action Legislative and Policy Director Sean McBrearty.

McBrearty said along with seeking other crude oil alternatives, he would also like to see the federal government step in.

“We need President Biden to step in and revoke the presidential permit and have an orderly shutdown process for Line 5. An orderly process over the course of several months would ensure everyone’s energy needs are met,” McBrearty said.

Read More on Line 5


Pa. attorney general pledges action in response to Gov. Shapiro's 'criminal referral' on East Palestine

Jon Delano | CBS News Pittsburgh | February 22nd, 2023

"What I think is important here is for the Pennsylvania attorney general's office to really investigate like what are the facts here," says Myron Arnowitt, the Pennsylvania director of Clean Water Action. "What kind of damage has been done? Did Norfolk Southern act in a way that endangered people during the emergency and resulting clean-up?"

Arnowitt says these are questions a lot of residents are asking, and the criminal referral gives the attorney general the basis to start digging for answers.

"This derailment did impact Pennsylvania air, Pennsylvania water, so this is something that can come under Pennsylvania's jurisdiction. We do have some specific state laws such as our Clean Streams Law is much broader in some ways than the federal Clean Water Act, for instance, in terms of protecting our waters," says Arnowitt.

Read More on East Palestine


PWSA celebrates its 10,000th lead service line replacement

Jillian Forstadt | WESA | February 24th, 2023

With 10,000 pipes removed from the drinking water supply, the Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority (PWSA) says it is more than halfway to meeting its goal of removing all public lead service lines from its water system, with approximately 6,000 lines remaining.


Steve Hvozdovich, Pennsylvania campaigns director at Clean Water Action, said advocates agree that the milestone is a significant one. He lauded PWSA for funding the replacements primarily through public grants and loans, rather than shouldering the burden onto ratepayers.

“Would we want it done sooner? Sure, of course. Wanting to make sure people have infrastructure in place that's providing clean drinking water is obviously important,” Hvozdovich said. “But for them to be on track to get something like this done in 10 years, I think, is pretty significant.”

Approximately $270 million in funding for the program since 2019 was sourced through the state’s infrastructure investment authority, PENNVEST. Pickering said rate increases, while a last resort, also helped to fill funding gaps.

Hvozdovich said, although Pittsburgh’s lead service line replacement efforts began with a mandate from regulators, that push put PWSA ahead of the curve in comparison to other utilities in the Commonwealth.

In Philadelphia, authorities have replaced 2,600 lead service lines since 2017, although officials estimate some 20,000 parcels there have one.

President Joe Biden visited Philadelphia earlier this month to announce several hundred million dollars in grants and loans to improve the city’s water system.

Read more on Lead & Drinking Water


House panel considers 3 bills that would strictly regulate ‘forever chemicals’

Deena Winter | Minnesota Reformer | January 31st, 2023

Rep. Carlie Kotyza-Witthuhn, DFL-Eden Prairie, is author of HF552, which would ban the manufacture, distribution and sale of products containing PFAS for children under age 12, beginning in 2025.

The ban would apply to products such as bassinets, foam pillows, infant carriers, playpens and crib/toddler mattresses. Used products and phones, computers, medical devices and adult mattresses would be exempt.

The bill was supported by Amara Strande, a 20-year-old Woodbury woman who is dying of a rare liver cancer she was diagnosed with at age 15 while a student at Tartan High School in Oakdale — where she said many students got cancer. Oakdale started filtering its water in 2006 after it was found to be contaminated with PFAS that 3M dumped in the county for decades.

Her father, Michael, said they only discovered in the past few years that the chemicals are in everything from toys to cookware to shampoo to dental floss to eye makeup. Had he known they were in so many products, he would have been more diligent about what he brought into his home, he said. He assumed the government wouldn’t allow harmful chemicals in products.

Avonna Starck, state director of Clean Water Action, said the chemicals enter fetuses through umbilical cord blood, and they’ve been linked to behavioral problems, lower IQ, lower birth weight, Type 2 diabetes and childhood cancers.

Starck displayed her son’s toys containing the chemicals, saying the cheaper the toy, the more likely they are to have the chemicals.

Read More on PFAS in MN

New Jersey

Gov’s environmental manifesto omits justice for Newark | Editorial | NJ Star-Ledger Editoral Staff | February 20th, 2023

Clean Water Action has charted two dozen commitments the governor made on the environment since taking office – many of them tangible actions of emission reduction, with major impact on EJ communities – and the misfires outnumber the successes. This is one reason why the League of Conservation Voters recently stripped Murphy of his title as “America’s greenest governor.”

Indeed, many commitments are major political challenges, which is why they are adopted months or years late, but some delays are pointless and punishing. The best example is Murphy’s failure to set rules for the so-called EJ Law, which he had promised would “no longer allow Black and Brown communities in our state to be dumping grounds.”


So until the governor gets off the couch, Newark gets flattened by yet another political sucker punch, like it was Raymond Chandler’s Los Angeles -- a city rich and vigorous and full of pride, a city lost and beaten and full of emptiness.

As David Pringle of Clean Water Action put it, “Actions done today matter more than promises applied tomorrow.”

Read more on EJ in NJ

In Our Own Words

East Boston substation project has broken ground, but fight goes on
The Boston Globe, Letter to the Editor
By MA Climate Justice Organizer Paulina Casasola

New: Enviro groups urge answers from feds on prolonged Line 5 construction in U.P.
Michigan Advance,  Letter to USDOT Secretary Pete Buttigieg and PHMSA Deputy Director Tristan Brown
Signed By MI State Director Mary Brady-Enerson and MI Legislative & Policy Director Sean McBrearty