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.
EPA sued over water pollution at oil refineries, plastic plants
Clark Mindock | Reuters | April 11th, 2023
Environmental groups on Tuesday sued the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency over pollution guidelines it issued earlier this year, claiming it failed to update limits on the release of toxic chemicals in wastewater from oil refineries, plastic manufacturing plants and other industrial facilities.
The groups said in a petition to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that the EPA violated provisions of the Clean Water Act that require the federal environmental regulator to tighten pollution controls every five years if new technology is available.
In some instances, the groups said, technology requirements have not been updated for nearly 40 years for industrial plants that release chemicals like cyanide, benzene, mercury and chlorides through billions of gallons of wastewater.
They are seeking an order forcing the agency to revisit the regulations, including by analyzing whether new technologies are available that could cut pollution discharges at over 1,000 facilities across the country.
An EPA representative did not immediately respond to a request for comment Tuesday.
The petition was filed by a group that includes the Center for Biological Diversity, Clean Water Action, Food & Water Watch and other U.S. environmental organizations.
Read our statement on this lawsuit
New ‘environmental justice’ rules now in place to protect pollution-choked communities
Dana Difilippo | New Jersey Monitor | April 17th, 2023
Environmental activists who lobbied for the law celebrated the regulations’ adoption.
Kim Gaddy of Clean Water Action said her group fought to “keep the language tight to make sure that not one more drop of pollution can be added to our already overburdened predominantly Black and brown, low-income, and language-isolated communities. No one should live like this, and this newly adopted EJ rule is going to help us get the justice and remedies we seek and deserve.”
Read more on NJ Environmental Justice
After the deluge: Floods may taint more drinking water in California
Alastair Bland | Cal Matters | April 19th, 2023
California’s nitrate problem poses daunting challenges in how to sustainably grow food while protecting drinking water resources and ecosystems. Indeed, the dilemma is more complex than other issues surrounding agricultural pollution.
“This is not as straightforward as going pesticide-free,” said Jennifer Clary, the California director of Clean Water Action. “You need fertilizer to grow crops.”
Clary said it’s just a matter of time before farmers pull back on applications of nitrogen to crops.
“They’ve been overfertilizing for 80 years, and we’ve spent 10 years trying to figure out how to control it,” Clary said. “It’s totally doable. If California can figure out how to be the biggest agricultural power in the world, we ought to be able to figure out how to do it without hurting people.”
Read more on CA agriculture and water
These are challenges the Bay Area faces in eliminating 'forever chemicals' in water, experts say
Spencer Christian & Tim Didion | ABC7 San Francisco | April 12th, 2023
And here in the Bay Area common sources typically range from personal products and cleaning agents, to clothing, carpeting and more. And once they're washed into the Bay, the chemicals can potentially enter the marine food chain, according to Andria Ventura with the environmental group Clean Water Action.
"And the more predatory, the bigger or the older the species, the more of these contaminants they can collect up that food chain, because they're eating the next guy down and the next guy down and the next guy down and collecting everybody's contamination. And we've seen this with things like mercury. We expect this with PFAS chemicals," Ventura said.
Read and Download California PFAS Factsheet
‘We have met the enemy, and he is us’: Remembering the first Earth Day 53 years later
Zoë Read | WHYY | April 21st, 2023
Then-15-year-old Maurice Sampson organized and spoke at an Earth Day event at his school in Cherry Hill, N.J. Sampson, who was the president of his sophomore class, said 252 students rode their bikes to school, instead of taking the bus or driving.
“It was the first global event that was also local,” he said. “It was spontaneous. There was no internet, but there were things going on all around the world. And the energy and focus on the planet became very real.”
Leading up to Earth Day, Sampson and his fellow students planned meetings to organize the event. During the first meeting, it struck Sampson how widespread the interest was.
“There were kids there from the honor society, and there were kids there who smoked in the bathrooms,” he said. “So, I knew right away this was something special.”
The first Earth Day inspired Sampson to advocate for the environment, even as a teen. In 1974, he helped save 54 acres of woods near his home from a proposed housing development. Today, he’s the Eastern Pennsylvania Director for Clean Water Action, and he previously was Philadelphia’s first recycling coordinator.
“On that day, I made my career decision,” Sampson said.
Read more about Maurice's Work
Farmers would get green boost with composting bills headed to Wes Moore's desk. Here's how
Kristian Jaime | Salisbury Daily Times | April 10th, 2023
Emily Ranson, Maryland director for Clean Water Action and Clean Water Fund, noted the successful passage of such legislation could serve as a catalyst for a bevy of other environmental wins.
"One of the best methods to decrease greenhouse gases is to remove the organic waste from landfills that just sits and creates methane. You can put that back into the soil and that's compost. If you're a farmer making your own compost to use it on your land, it's vital to have the right mix of 'green' and 'brown' components," Ranson said.
Read more about trash diversion in Maryland
In Our Own Words
PA | Podcast
Maurice Sampson, Eastern PA director for Clean Water Action, joined Evening WURDs hosted by Nick Taliaferro to discuss environmental justice and the recent water crisis.