Feds face another clean water lawsuit


The federal government is being sued by conservation groups and industry over the new Waters of the U.S. rule.

Conservation groups say new rule has too many pollution loopholes

Staff Report

FRISCO — There will be yet more legal wrangling over a new federal clean water rule, as conservation groups said last week they will sue to plug some loopholes that could open the door for more pollution in wetlands and streams.

At issue is the so-called Waters of the U.S. rule finalized by the EPA and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in May. That means the feds will be getting sued twice over the rule. Industry groups announced their challenge in mid-July, claiming the new regulations “dramatically expand federal regulatory authority. Continue reading

Congress out of synch with voters on environmental issues


The majority of Americans support protection for endangered species, and for clean air and clean water. Photo courtesy Colorado Parks and Wildlife.

Nearly 7 in 10 voters favor strong environmental laws, yet Congress kowtows to special interests

Staff Report

FRISCO — If Americans voted purely on environmental issues, the country would have a very “green” Congress, according to a new poll showing that most people support the Endangered Species Act, and are more likely to vote for candidates who want to uphold environmental safeguards. Continue reading

GOP lawmakers want to block EPA clean water rule


No love for wetlands from new GOP majority in Congress. bberwyn photo.

Huge swaths of Colorado wetlands, streams at risk of degradation

By Bob Berwyn

FRISCO — You may not know it as you speed down I-70 from the Eisenhower Tunnel toward Summit County, but a small stream that runs parallel the freeway, just a few hundred yards away, is the main source of drinking water for the town of Dillon.

Straight Creek’s waters gather up between the craggy peaks high above the tunnel, starting from droplets at the edge of a melting snowdrift, to mossy rivulets and roaring cascades amidst granite boulders. Keeping that water pure is important, not only for Dillon residents, but for thousands of visitors staying at local lodges, resorts and campgrounds.

But some of the smallest streams, like the headwaters of Straight Creek, don’t flow year-round, and that has put them at focal point of a long-running debate about the extent of federal clean water rules. The discussion was center stage today during a rare joint hearing of the House Transportation and the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, where the new GOP majority grilled top EPA administrators about the proposed Clean Waters of the U.S. Rule. Continue reading

XTO Energy to pay $5 million for fracking violations


USA – fracking nation.

Clean Water Act penalties, cleanup costs assessed for West Virginia operations

Staff Report

FRISCO — ExxonMobil subsidiary XTO Energy, Inc. will pony up about $3 million to restore eight West Virginia sites where the company illegally filled wetlands and polluted the water during fracking operations. The company will also pay a civil penalty of $2.3 million for violating the Clean Water Act, with impacts along more than a mile of stream and 3.38 acres of wetlands. Continue reading

Environment: EPA to tackle ocean plastic pollution

Guidance to create framework for local regulations


A seal trapped in plastic debris. Photo courtesy EwanEdwards/TheClippertonProject.

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — After decades of neglect, the issue of plastic debris polluting the oceans is finally showing up on the EPA radar screen. Even though the agency recently declined to address plastic pollution under the Clean Water Act, it will step up efforts to monitor and assess health and environmental impacts, and to develop national data on the economic costs of ocean litter to local, state and national governments.

“We’re happy to see the EPA taking plastics pollution seriously,” said Center for Biological Diversity attorney Emily Jeffers. The environmental group last year petitioned the EPA to develop water-quality standards for plastic pollution and publish information to guide states in monitoring and preventing harm to waters from plastic pollution.

“Every year bits of discarded plastic kill thousands of seabirds, sea turtles, seals and other marine mammals. Some choke on plastic, and others are poisoned by it. Still more find themselves swimming through vast patches of toxic litter. It’s an international tragedy that needs to be addressed,” Jeffers said.” Continue reading

Climate: Can a lawsuit stop ocean acidification?

Conservation group eyes Clean Water Act as tool in climate fight


Sea shells will not fare well as oceans absorb CO2. bberwyn photo.

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — It’s not clear if anything — besides massive cuts in carbon dioxide emissions — can stop the acidification of oceans, but the Center for Biological Diversity would at least like to see the EPA try to water quality standards as a way to tackle the problem.

The conservation group last week filed a lawsuit against the EPA for failing to address ocean acidification that may already be killing oysters in Oregon and Washington and threatening a wide range of other sea life. The lawsuit challenges the EPA’s decision that seawaters in those two states meet water-quality standards meant to protect marine life despite disturbing increases in acidity. Continue reading

Colorado lawmakers aim to create a good samaritan program under the Clean Water Act for abandoned mine cleanups

Bipartisan push could speed remediation projects

Pennsylvania Mine, Summit County Colorado.

The abandoned Pennsylvania Mine is the source of heavy metal pollution in Peru Creek and the Snake River. bberwynphoto.

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — A few months after the EPA unveiled new regulatory guidance for abandoned mine remediation, a bipartisan pair of Colorado lawmakers launched a new push to speed cleanups.

The new law proposed by Senator Mark Udall and Congressman Scott Tipton would give Good Samaritan groups additional binding legal safeguards they need to remediate the sites and clean up tainted streams. There are more than 7,000 abandoned hard rock mine sites located in Colorado and thousands more throughout the West.

“Runoff from abandoned mines throughout Colorado and the West threaten our water quality, wildlife and local economies. This common-sense, bipartisan legislation will further unleash so-called Good Samaritan groups and allow them to help address this problem,” Udall said. Continue reading


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