Friday 24 November 2017

Press Statements (59)

Victory! Today, the Interior Department announced as part of a new five-year drilling plan, virtually all of the Arctic and the southeast Atlantic coast of the U.S. will become off limits for offshore drilling. Secretary Jewel Tweeted: BREAKING → Next 5-year offshore proposed plan protects the Atlantic for future generations.SJ Thanks to the hard work of the Assateague Coastal Trust, Virginia Eastern Shorekeeper, Waterkeeper Alliance and our many partners like Oceana who organized over 100 local cities and towns up and down the East Coast to oppose offshore drilling. Matt Heim from Assateague Coastal Trust worked tirelessly to get several coastal towns in Maryland and Delaware to pass resolutions against offshore drilling. On Virginia’s eastern shore, Jay Ford worked to get Accomack and Northampton counties to send their concerns to the Administration, the only Virginia counties that did. Matt, Jay and several residents traveled to Washington D.C. and Richmond to let officials know offshore drilling would be detrimental to our economy, culture and clean water. Last August, over a hundred kayaktivists gathered off the shore of Ocean City at Float for the Coast to protest offshore drilling during the annual Maryland counties meeting. "The Eastern Shore spoke with a united voice in defense of clean waters and we have been heard," Virginia Eastern Shorekeeper Jay Ford.  “This is an incredible day for our coastal towns,” said Betsy Nicholas, Executive Director. “It represents the hard work of our Waterkeepers and thousands of people up and down the Atlantic coast. It protects some of…
In its opinion in three cases involving MS4 permits, the Maryland Court of Appeals ruled that the Maryland Department of Environment (MDE) is complying with the bare minimum legal requirements for municipal storm sewer system regulations. “That may be good enough for the court and for MDE, but meeting the bare minimum requirement is not good enough for our rivers and the Chesapeake Bay watershed,” said David Flores, Baltimore Harbor Waterkeeper, one of the challengers in the case.  It has been several years since these cases first began wending their way through the Maryland courts. Although the outcome was not what they had hoped it would be, the plaintiffs will continue to advocate for a more rigorous and transparent process as part of the five-year renewal cycle. Some of these permits will renew as early as 2018. That will be a time for each jurisdiction (Baltimore City and Anne Arundel, Baltimore, Montgomery, and Prince George’s counties) to step up their efforts to strengthen their permits — and for the public to be engaged in demanding more from their governing entities. Finally, while we may have to accept this court’s opinion as little more than a token toward water quality improvements, the court did not exempt MDE from using its enforcement tools to require compliance to these baseline goals. We know that the EPA Region 3 (Chesapeake Bay inclusive) has put MDE on notice for its lack of compliance review. "Stormwater is the only pollution sector in the Chesapeake that is…
Waterkeepers Chesapeake and seven Riverkeeper organizations in Maryland, Washington, D.C. and Virginia, have filed suit in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia against the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and EPA Administrator Regina McCarthy in a legal matter involving the delisting of 53 river segments in 17 Maryland counties and Baltimore City. At issue is whether the Environmental Protection Agency, under provisions of the Clean Water Act, must assess water quality upriver in the 53 delisted river segments.  “Pollution doesn’t just originate in the middle of the Chesapeake Bay,” said Elizabeth Nicholas, executive director of Waterkeepers Chesapeake. “We have to look at all of the smaller creeks and streams that are suffering impaired water quality throughout the watershed.” According to the suit, the delisted river segments suffer degraded conditions not limited to: algae blooms, sediment plumes, excess nutrients, low oxygen and fish die-offs. "This case is not just about the EPA trying to shortcut what is required by the Clean Water Act,” said David Flores, Baltimore Harbor Waterkeeper. “It is also about the agency subverting the public's right to participate in the cleanup of our neighborhood streams and rivers." This lawsuit challenges a regulatory action by the Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) and EPA that followed the approval of the Bay TMDL (Total Maximum Daily Load, a regulatory term under the Clean Water Act). The legal action does not seek to overturn or undermine the Bay TMDL, recently upheld by the Supreme Court. "Our rivers are more polluted…