Friday 24 May 2019

Clean Water Advocacy (33)

Upholding & enforcing the Clean Water Act. 

The Pennsylvania House of Representatives is in the process of deciding whether to pass a suite of bills that would jeopardize our clean water protections. The bills would create unnecessary levels of bureaucracy and slow down progress on any environmental regulations that further protect our waterways from pollution. Here’s what a few of the more problematic bills would do: House Bill 430 (PN 417) -  This bill would prohibit Pennsylvania state agencies, like the Department of Environmental Protection, from reissuing the same or similar regulations in the future, unless the regulation is authorized specifically by the state legislature. Not only does this present a separation of powers issue, but it would prevent state agencies from acting expeditiously to correct, tweak, or improve existing environmental regulations. House Bill 509 (PN 945) - This bill would require state agencies to contract with “third-party professionals” to review and make decisions on permit applications. This would open the door for conflicts of interest where the “professional” reviewing the environmental permit application is actually in the pockets of the company applying for the permit. This runs counter to fact that the state government is accountable to Pennsylvania citizens. Additionally, this bill would prevent any new laws from applying to existing permits. House Bill 806 (PN 899) and House Bill 507 (PN 636) - This bill would give the legislature effective veto power over the promulgation of all new regulations. Any new regulation would need to be approved by the legislature within ten days, or it…

On Earth Day, We Salute Our Waterkeepers Featured

The first Earth Day 49 years ago sparked grassroots advocacy around the nation that led to the passage of the Clean Water Act, among many other landmark environmental protection laws. Along side this historic movement for better environmental protections, the Waterkeeper movement was born. This year, Waterkeeper Alliance celebrates its 20th anniversary. Waterkeepers Chesapeake and all of our member Waterkeeper programs are proud members of this global alliance. We fight alongside more than 300 amazing Waterkeeper groups around the world who are doing their part to take on the global water crisis. We would like to share with you a few of our “water wins” here in the Chesapeake and Coastal Bay regions. Our local Waterkeepers are your on-the-water (and sometimes in the air) advocates for your local waterways. Working locally and building teams to tackle complex threats to our waterways takes a great deal of collaboration, coordination and time. We count on you – so please contact your local Waterkeeper today to find out how you can get involved and support them! Lower Susquehanna Riverkeeper filed a lawsuit that resulted in the local power plant installing cooling technology for its wastewater discharges that has reduced the severity of fish kills. - Ted Evgeniadis, Lower Susquehanna Riverkeeper Shenandoah Riverkeeper has cut the number of cattle directly accessing the river, and defecating into it, by half, drastically reducing nutrient pollution. - Mark Frondorf, Shenandoah Riverkeeper   Waterkeepers Chesapeake played a significant role in permanently banning fracking in Maryland.  - Katlyn Schmitt, Waterkeepers Chesapeake   Middle Susquehanna Riverkeeper helped…
We had some important legislative wins for clean water in Maryland. But first let’s give a big shout out to the amazing win in Virginia on cleaning up a legacy of toxic coal ash stored on our river banks! Virginia Safe Disposal of Coal Ash - Great news in Virginia! On March 20, Governor Northam signed into law a bill (SB 1355) to safely dispose of 28 million tons of toxic coal ash Dominion Energy now has stored on the banks of the Potomac, James and Elizabeth Rivers. This bill sets a national precedent for how to safely remove a legacy of toxic coal ash stored along our waterways in our region and across the nation. Potomac Riverkeeper Dean Naujoks and James Riverkeeper Jamie Brunkow have worked for the past 5 years with local communities and legislators to fight Dominion's plan to cap-in-placecoal ash ponds that eventually leak into our waterways. This bill requires all legacy coal ash in the Commonwealth be recycled or safely landfilled within 15 years, rather than left in the current dangerous state of cap-in-place. Maryland Comprehensive Agriculture Reporting and Enforcement Bill (Del. Stewart – HB904 | Sen. Pinsky – SB546) This bill is arguably one of the most important agriculture bills that has gained traction in the Maryland General Assembly in the past decade. It will improve transparency and fairness in the State’s industrial agriculture permitting program, create penalties for violations of phosphorous pollution regulations, and improve the state’s overall agricultural enforcement efforts. It will prevent the state from waiving permit fees for…

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