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. (more…)
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. (more…)
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. (more…)
Filed under: Colorado, Environment, rivers, water | Tagged: acid mine drainage, Clean Water Act, Environment, Good Samaritan mine cleanups, Mark Udall | Leave a Comment »
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. (more…)
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. (more…)
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. (more…)
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. (more…)
Filed under: Environment, rivers, water, wetlands | Tagged: Clean Water Act, EPA, United States Environmental Protection Agency, wetlands | Leave a Comment »
Posted on March 23, 2012 by Bob Berwyn
A proposed new Colorado rule setting limits on nitrogen and phosphorus will help protect water quality.
Proposed rule still subject to hearings and final EPA approval
By Bob Berwyn
SUMMIT COUNTY — Twenty years after the Clean Water Act was amended to address organic pollutants like nitrogen and phosphorus, Colorado is moving to limit the discharge of those nutrients, which lead to vexing water quality issues in lakes and streams.
“Phosphorus and nitrogen are incredibly prevalent. They’re in animal waste, human waste, fertilizer, and we’ve ignored it for 20 years,” said Becky Long, water caucus coordinator for the Colorado Environmental Coalition.
If left unaddressed the pollution causes algae blooms and dead zones in waterways, impacting aquatic wildlife and Colorado’s outdoor recreation opportunities.
Long said she’s encouraged by the Colorado Water Quality Control Commission’s early support for the new standards limiting nitrogen and phosphorus pollution. The rule is still subject to challenge at subsequent hearings, as well EPA review and final approval.
Long said the standards go beyond simply protecting aquatic life and human health by addressing potential impacts to recreation. More details at the EPA’s nutrient pollution web page. (more…)
Filed under: Colorado, Environment, Summit County news, water | Tagged: Clean Water Act, Colorado, Colorado nitrogen and phosphorus rule, nutrient pollution, United States Environmental Protection Agency, water quality | 2 Comments »
Posted on March 16, 2012 by Bob Berwyn
The site of the proposed new Chimney Hollow Reservoir. PHOTO COURTESY NORTHERN WATER.
Community activists, environmental watchdogs say current analysis doesn’t go far enough to evaluate reasonable alternatives; use of water for fracking another major concern
By Bob Berwyn
SUMMIT COUNTY —Community activists along the northern Front Range say they want the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to start a comment period for the Northern Colorado Water Conservancy District’s Windy Gap firming project, based on what they say are omissions, and significant new information on potential impacts to the Colorado River.
That includes recent reports that cities served by Northern are selling “excess” water for fracking on the Front Range.
“Cities on the Front Range participating are selling the water for fracking, and that use is not mentioned in the FEIs,” said Gary Wockner, director of Save the Poudre: Poudre Waterkeeper. “Should we be draining the Colorado River so that sprawling Front Range cities can make millions of dollars … At a minimum, the FEIS for the Windy Gap Firming Projects needs to address and analyze this new industrial use of water – fracking – in its ‘Purpose and Need’ section of the document.” (more…)
Filed under: Colorado, Environment, rivers, water | Tagged: Clean Water Act, Colorado, Colorado River, Environment, water, Windy Gap firming project | 1 Comment »
Posted on February 20, 2012 by Bob Berwyn
The abandoned Pennsylvannia Mine in Summit County, Colorado, is a significant source of pollution. PHOTO BY BOB BERWYN.
Colorado lawmaker tries to rally support on Senate floor; asks EPA for relief
By Summit Voice
SUMMIT COUNTY — Sen. Mark Udall last week renewed his efforts to find ways to enable Good Samaritans to clean up some of the many abandoned mine sites scattered around Colorado and the West.
In addition to trying to rally political support with a speech on the Senate floor, Udall sent a letter to the EPA asking for a change in policy that would give Good Samaritans some legal certainty when it comes to the liability for cleanup efforts. Senators Michael Bennet of Colorado and Barbara Boxer of California also signed the letter.
Certain legal hooks in the Clean Water Act make it challenging for volunteers, so Udall is looking for ways that would enable Good Samaritans to clean up those contaminated sites without assuming full legal liability for contamination they did not create. (more…)
Filed under: Environment, rivers, Summit County news, water | Tagged: abandoned mines, acid mine drainage, Clean Water Act, Colorado, Good Samaritan mine cleanups, Mark Udall | 2 Comments »