Posted on November 10, 2013 by Bob Berwyn
Guidance to create framework for local regulations
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
Filed under: Environment, Marine biology, ocean conservation | Tagged: Clean Water Act, Environment, EPA, Marine debris, oceans, plastic pollution | 1 Comment »
Posted on October 21, 2013 by Bob Berwyn
Conservation group eyes Clean Water Act as tool in climate fight
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
Filed under: climate and weather, Environment, global warming | Tagged: Center for Biological Diversity, Clean Water Act, climate change, CO2, global warming, greenhouse gases, ocean acidification | Leave a comment »
Posted on August 2, 2013 by Bob Berwyn
Bipartisan push could speed remediation projects
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
Filed under: Colorado, Environment | Tagged: abandoned mines, acid mine drainage, Clean Water Act, EPA, Good Samaritan mine cleanups, Mark Udall, Scott Tipton | 1 Comment »
Posted on March 18, 2013 by Bob Berwyn
Measures don’t meet Clean Water Act requirements
Florida’s Everglades are threatened by a new state water plan. Bob Berwyn photo.
By Summit Voice
SUMMIT COUNTY — Watchdog grous are characterizing a proposed Florida water quality plan as a give-away to polluting industries, creating even more loopholes to spew sewage, manure, and fertilizer into Florida waters, according to watchdog groups who sued the state and federal government in 2008 for their failure to set pollution limits, as required by the Clean Water Act.
“We have record numbers of dead manatees washing up on southwest Florida right now, in the prime of our tourist season,” said Earthjustice attorney David Guest. “Where is the leadership? This is an absolute sell out. This bogus plan gives deep-pocketed polluters even more loopholes. And what do we, the public, get? More gross, slimy algae in the water.”
Earthjustice said the plan was developed in a shady backroom deal without public input, and pointed out that a federal court has to review the plan under the terms of an earlier settlement agreement. Continue reading
Filed under: Environment, water, wetlands | Tagged: Clean Water Act, Earthjustice, EPA, Everglades, Florida, water quality | 1 Comment »
Posted on March 16, 2013 by Bob Berwyn
U.S. Rep. Jared Polis (D-CO).
BREATHE and FRESHER acts would close significant clean air and water loopholes
By Summit Voice
FRISCO — Saying that the rapid expansion of fracking in Colorado has outpaced the ability of state regulators to monitor health and environmental impacts, U.S. Rep. Jared Polis (D-CO.) is calling for federal legislation to protect the safety and the health of the communities where the hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, process is already taking place.
“New technologies have led to the rapid development of hydraulic fracturing in Colorado and Pennsylvania before community members could fully understand the potential health, safety, and quality of life implications of drilling in their neighborhood,” Polis said, explaining that two new related laws would make sure that fracking is not exempt from the Clean Air Act and the Clean Water Act simply because fracking was not prevalent when these laws were initially written. Continue reading
Filed under: energy, Environment, gas drilling, oil drilling | Tagged: Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, energy, Environment, fracking, FRESHER Act, gas drilling, Jared Polis, Matt Cartwright, oil drilling | Leave a comment »
Posted on December 13, 2012 by Bob Berwyn
Good Samaritan groups to get better protection from Clean Water Act liability
Efforts to clean up toxic heavy metal pollution at the abandoned Pennsylvania mine site in Summit County, Colorado, could get a boost from new EPA guidance that gives Good Samaritan groups some degree of protection from Clean Water Act liability. Bob Berwyn photo.
By Bob Berwyn
FRISCO — New guidance from top EPA officials could speed remediation of abandoned Colorado mine sites by clarifying the terms of cleanup agreements between the federal agency and Good Samaritan groups.
The memo from EPA national headquarters to the agency’s regional offices extends the legal liability protections in cleanup agreements and specifies that Good Samaritans are generally not responsible for obtaining a Clean Water Act permit during or after a successful cleanup conducted according to a Good Samaritan agreement with EPA. Read the memo here.
The complex structure of the Clean Water Act has, in some cases, prevented community groups from proceeding with cleanups because of concerns over future liability for pollution. Continue reading
Filed under: Colorado, Environment, rivers, water | Tagged: acid mine drainage, Clean Water Act, Environment, Good Samaritan mine cleanups, Mark Udall | 2 Comments »
Posted on November 16, 2012 by Bob Berwyn
Company accepts criminal responsibility for 2010 disaster
A NASA satellite captures an image of a swirling oil slick from BP’s failed Deepwater Horizon drilling rig in the Gulf of Mexico.
By Summit Voice
FRISCO — After spending more than $14 billion on the response to the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster, BP will pay another $4.5 billion in penalties under a settlement with the U.S. Department of Justice, the biggest fine ever levied by the department.
Federal officials said they will also pursue gross negligence charges under the Clean Water Act, which could result in up to $20 billion in additional fines, ranging up to $4,300 per barrel of spilled oil.
The explosion killed 11 workers on the drilling rig in the Gulf of Mexico and sent millions of gallons of crude oil spewing into the water, damaging fisheries, smearing beaches and wetlands and squelching tourism in the region for months. Followup studies have shown that oil remnants may affect Gulf ecosystems for years to come. Continue reading
Filed under: BP Gulf oil spill, Environment, gas drilling, oil drilling | Tagged: BP, Clean Water Act, Deepwater horizon oil spill, Environment, Gulf of Mexico, United States Department of Justice | Leave a comment »
Posted on October 28, 2012 by Bob Berwyn
A Colorado River headwaters stream just below the Denver Water diversion point.
Letter to Corps of Engineers and EPA calls for careful scrutiny
By Bob Berwyn
SUMMIT COUNTY — Colorado water and environmental advocates say they’re concerned that fast-tracking the federal environmental review for the Moffat Collection System Expansion Project could lead the responsible agencies to leave out important information and not fully address the impacts of new water diversions from the Colorado River.
“We’re worried that that we’re going to hit fast forward and miss some things,” said Becky Long, water caucus coordinator with the Colorado Environmental Coalition, explaining why several groups recently wrote a letter to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the EPA, reiterating their concerns about water temperatures and sediment loading in the Colorado River and its tributaries.
The fast-tracking was requested by Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper back in June. In a June 5 letter to President Barack Obama, Hickenlooper touted a far-reaching water agreement as “removing” West Slope opposition to the Moffat project, and urged the Corps to release a final Environmental Impact Statement by the end of 2012, followed by a formal decision in early 2013. Continue reading
Filed under: Colorado, Environment, rivers, water | Tagged: Barack Obama, Clean Water Act, Colorado, Colorado River, Environment, EPA, John Hickenlooper, Moffat Collection System Expansion Project, National Environmental Policy Act, US Army Corps of Engineers | Leave a comment »
Posted on August 26, 2012 by Bob Berwyn
Studies now show widespread impacts to marine life
Patches of plastic debris accumulate where they are concentrated by ocean currents.
By Summit Voice
SUMMIT COUNTY — With some parts of the world’s oceans literally choking on plastic debris, environmental activists say it’s time for the EPA to take the lead in regulating plastic pollution in a systematic way.
The Center for Biological Diversity, well-known for effective legal action that has resulted in protection for numerous rare species, last week petitioned to EPA to limit plastic pollution under the Clean Water Act.
Plastic production and consumption has spiraled out of control. The Center for Biological Diversity’s petition claims that the amount made in the past 10 years exceeds all the plastic in history up to the year 2000 — and every year, billions of pounds end up in the world’s oceans. Continue reading
Filed under: Environment, Marine biology, ocean conservation | Tagged: Center for Biological Diversity, Clean Water Act, EPA, marine conservation, oceans, plastic pollution | 1 Comment »
Posted on April 26, 2012 by Bob Berwyn
The Obama administration is proposing more protection for streams and wetlands; the GOP, backed by coal, gas and oil interests, are trying to block new guidance for the EPA and the Corps of Engineers.
Streams and wetlands protection at issue in political battle
By Bob Berwyn
SUMMIT COUNTY — A long-running battle over Clean Water Act policies took another turn this week, as the U.S. House Appropriations Committee voted to block the Obama administration from implementing new policy guidance that would reinstate protections removed by the Bush administration.
The vote has implications for the Colorado high country, as the new guidelines would offer more protection for headwaters streams and wetlands that aren’t directly connected to navigable waterways.
Conservation groups said the oil and gas industry lobbied their GOP allies in Congress intensively to get the appropriations rider passed.
“They’ve never liked the Clean Water Act,” said Joan Mulhern, senior legislative counsel with Earthjustice, a conservation and watchdog group that’s been tracking the rule. Continue reading
Filed under: Environment, rivers, water, wetlands | Tagged: Clean Water Act, EPA, United States Environmental Protection Agency, wetlands | Leave a comment »