Wednesday 22 May 2019

Press Statements (82)

Waterkeepers Chesapeake comments on rule support a broad, science-based definition of the waters of the U.S. and urges EPA to strengthen the rule to ensure full protection of the nation’s waters.   The Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) proposed a new rule that slashes Clean Water Act protections for millions of people by redefining “waters of the U.S.” In this blatant giveaway to polluting industries, in the Chesapeake region, streams and tributaries in the upper reaches of the Susquehanna, Potomac, Shenandoah, James and many other rivers, as well as a vast number of wetlands, would not receive protections under the Trump administration’s scheme to gut the Clean Water Act. On April 15, Waterkeepers Chesapeake submitted comments opposing the EPA’s proposed re-definition of the “waters of the U.S.”, through the elimination of the “significant nexus” test and the abandonment of the overwhelming scientific findings that was the basis for the current rule. Waterkeepers Chesapeake also argued against the EPA’s continued efforts to categorically exclude a large number of waters because such exclusions are not grounded in science and law. In particular, EPA’s approach of excluding groundwater is not warranted by science as demonstrated by the many comments by individual members of EPA’s Science Advisory Board (SAB). Finally, Waterkeepers Chesapeake objected to EPA continuation of the so-called “waste treatment” exclusion which allows mining and coal interests to use our precious water resources as dumping grounds for their wastes. The EPA’s data shows that at least 18% of streams and 51% of wetlands nationwide would no longer be protected…
(Washington, D.C.)– President Trump’s executive order, issued today, changes the existing Clean Water Act’s 401 Water Quality Certification process that gives states the power to protect their waterways from federally licensed projects that could affect water quality.  Betsy Nicholas, executive director of Waterkeepers Chesapeake, released the following statement on how the executive order would affect federal permits and the current process to relicense the Conowingo Dam: “This executive order effectively hamstrings states from being able to protect their waterways and promote clean water. If implemented, the order would allow the federal government to effectively rubber stamp projects that would harm water quality, including pipelines and dam recertifications, and hamper states’ ability to install measures to reduce pollution. Some states, including Maryland, in the case of the relicensing of Conowingo Dam, have been using their authority under Section 401 of the Clean Water Act to protect their communities and waterways from harmful projects approved by the federal government. This executive order would tip the scales in favor of corporations applying for these permits and strip states of their ability to hold them accountable for the pollution they cause. For Conowingo Dam, Exelon would be able to operate the dam for the next 50 years without needing to take any measures to protect the Susquehanna River and Chesapeake Bay from pollution. This is unacceptable, and we look forward to seeing this executive order overturned in court.”  Media Contact: Betsy Nicholas, betsy(at)waterkeeperschesapeake.org, Waterkeepers Chesapeake, 202-423-0504 ### Waterkeepers Chesapeake is a coalition of eighteen independent Waterkeeper programs working…
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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