Take Action (19)
- Wednesday, 23 May 2018 14:55
Can you imagine what our recent torrential thunderstorms are doing to the exposed terrain and rivers and streams along the paths of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP) and the Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP)? (See photo on the right of huge mudslide at a Mountain Valley Pipeline construction site in Franklin County.)This is yet another example of why these fracked gas pipeline projects should not be rushed and why we can't rely on the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Nationwide Permit 12 (NWP 12) to ensure our waterways are protected. It's up to Virginia to step up in this process, and the way to do this is by requiring a stream-by-stream review of the Atlantic Coast and Mountain Valley pipelines.
The Virginia State Water Control Board opened a new 30-day public comment period -- deadline has been extended to June 15 due to DEQ computer problems -- to hear citizens’ input on where the nationwide permit falls short in upholding state water quality standards and where stream-by-stream reviews are needed for the Atlantic Coast and Mountain Valley pipelines.
Tell the State Water Control Board to protect Virginia waters. We should not use a federal “blanket” permit to allow pipeline construction! The Nationwide Permit 12 is inappropriate for projects of this size, and our state Department of Environmental Quality should be analyzing the likely impacts at each water crossing instead.
Remember, YOU are the expert on the water resources that you use in your area. If you are downstream from either pipeline’s path, your use of waters is likely to be impacted. Simply tell the Board where and how you use these waters.
See below for instructions on how to submit your comments and what to include in them.
- All written comments submitted must include the name(s), mailing address(es), and telephone number(s) of the person(s) commenting.
- All written comments submitted must reference exact wetlands and streams crossings using information — such as latitude/longitude or road mile markers — that is detailed enough to allow DEQ to identify the crossing or wetland of interest.
- Comments may be submitted in the following ways:
By mail — DEQ, P.O. Box 1105, Richmond, VA 23218
By hand delivery — DEQ, 1111 East Main Street, Richmond, VA 23219
Written comments deadline has been extended to June 15th due to DEQ computer problems.
Our partners at Wild Virginia crafted a guide to help write comments to ensure they meet the State Water Control Board’s criteria. Our friends at Augusta County Alliance have also listed some examples below where the NWP 12 falls short and ways you can equip the State Water Control Board to advocate for better protections for our streams or wetlands:
NWP 12 does not consider cumulative impacts to water quality where there are multiple crossings along the same stream and its tributaries.
Without doing individual stream crossing reviews, the total threat to our water supply is not understood. For example, all of Staunton’s water comes either Gardner Spring or the reservoir in the National Forest, both located in the county and both downstream of intense pipeline construction. Since the Atlantic Coast Pipeline project began, city officials have been asking for individual wetland and stream crossing reviews in order to protect the city’s water supplies.
The proposed permit does not carefully examine on a case-by-case basis the unique characteristics of our special places. That is why our comments are so important. They need to hear what you and your neighbors know about the streams and wetlands that surround you — their special aquatic life, wildlife, recreational uses, and other features. Just don’t forget to mention your stream by name.
Without detailed review and research of our headwaters, there is no way for the pipeline developers and regulators to know what our frequent hurricane deluges do to the river bottoms and stream banks where the pipe is proposed to be buried. If you have information or pictures of what happens to a specific crossing during flood conditions, let the State Water Control Board know. An exposed and fractured pipe is an environmental and safety concern.
Use the form below to send a comment now!
- Friday, 11 May 2018 16:40
The Conowingo Dam, at the mouth of the Susquehanna River near Havre de Grace, is owned and operated by Exelon Corporation. Exelon uses the dam to generate electricity from the river at a profit. The dam was completed in 1928 and has been trapping sediment and nutrient pollution from the Susquehanna and its 27,000-square-mile drainage area ever since.
The reservoir behind the dam is now basically at capacity — it cannot trap any more sediment. This is a problem because when it rains, runoff pollution from the largely agricultural area upstream from the dam makes its way into the river and ultimately the Chesapeake Bay. Even more problematic is the potential for “scour,” where powerful floodwaters can actually scoop out the stored sediment behind the dam and send that downstream to the bay. If not for the Conowingo Dam, this load would have been delivered to the Lower Susquehanna River and Chesapeake Bay at normal rates.
When planning for an emergency, you generally plan for the worst-case scenario. Ships need to carry enough life boats for every passenger, not just a few. Fire regulations call for smoke detectors in every bedroom, not just one per floor. Vehicle safety ratings are tested for full-speed collisions, not just fender-benders. We should expect the same for environmental regulations. Unfortunately, a recent decision by the Maryland Department of the Environment concerning the Conowingo Dam does not follow the same rationale.
Exelon has requested a new 50-year federal license to operate the dam. In order to receive it, the State of Maryland must certify that the dam’s operations will not adversely impact water quality under the Clean Water Act (CWA). Last month, the Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) announced that it had issued its CWA water quality certification for the Conowingo Dam. The certification acknowledges the impact of the dam on water quality, including the threat posed by the accumulated sediment. And while there are admirable goals, the certification only requires Exelon to adopt a “nutrient corrective action plan” rather than put specific measures in place.
We cannot afford to give Exelon a new, 50-year license without specific, measurable conditions that ensure its operations do no more harm to the Chesapeake Bay. MDE, under Governor Hogan's leadership, should include a requirement to dredge some portion of the accumulated sediment and nutrient pollution stored behind the dam as a condition of its water quality certification for the new license. We also call upon MDE to properly account for the damaging effects of large storm events during the new license period.
To achieve the best results, we must plan for the worst. The Chesapeake Bay deserves a good emergency plan.
- Tuesday, 10 April 2018 10:58
Under the Obama Administration, the Environmental Protection Agency adopted federal protections against the dangers posed by toxic coal ash. That rule requires closure of ash dumps in dangerous locations (including within five feet of groundwater), regular inspection of coal ash ponds, monitoring of groundwater near coal ash sites, closure of leaking ponds, cleanup when contamination is found, safe closure of dumps, and public posting of monitoring and inspection results.
Under Administrator Scott Pruitt, the Environmental Protection Agency has proposed to weaken or eliminate the federal safeguards and protections against the dangers posed by coal ash. EPA is holding one public hearing on April 24th.
Join your local Waterkeepers at the public hearing in Arlington on April 24th: CLICK HERE to register to speak.
When: Tuesday, April 24 (9AM–12PM; 1–4PM; 5–8PM)
Where: DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel, 300 S Army Navy Drive, Arlington, VA 22202
If you cannot attend, submit your written comments by Monday, April 30th -- CLICK HERE
EPA has proposed to:
- Allow operators of coal ash ponds and landfills to write their own standards
- Make cleanup of contamination discretionary (i.e., let polluters do nothing)
- Eliminate the requirement that leaking ponds install liners or close
- Give polluters extra time to close ponds and landfills located in unsafe areas and eliminate the strict location prohibitions entirely
- Allow political appointees, instead of professional engineers, to decide if a cleanup is adequate or even required.
Every year, more than 110 million tons of coal ash are generated — the toxic waste left after coal is burned at power plants. It contains arsenic, chromium, lead, mercury, radium, and other hazardous chemicals that present serious risks to human health and the environment. For decades, coal ash has been dumped in unlined pits from which toxic chemicals leak into groundwater and pollute drinking water wells and our lakes and rivers.
Make your voice heard – we will not stand for EPA rollbacks that will endanger our drinking water and put the health of millions of people at risk!
- Friday, 02 February 2018 16:01
- Written by Robin Broder
- Wednesday, 13 December 2017 12:17
TransCanada wants to build a fracked-gas pipeline underneath our treasured Potomac River and C&O Canal. This company has shown its reckless disregard for public safety and the environment, and now it wants to threaten our own drinking water and communities for a pipeline that won't benefit Marylanders in any way.
The December 19th Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) hearing in Hancock, MD, was absolutely packed with opponents of the pipeline. Over two hundred attended, and the majority spoke in opposition. And because of this MDE scheduled a second hearing on January 22nd at the Hancock High School from 6-10 p.m.in Hancock, MD (snow date — January 25).
Yes, MDE is holding a second public hearing, but they are playing fast and loose with the truth on the 401 process. Several nonprofit groups and residents, including us, have decided to boycott this hearing. We are asking that if you make public comments, to then join us outside the hearing to show your solidarity. See Upper Potomac Riverkeeper Brent Wall’s blog on why and how here.
For nine months, we have explained, through every means possible, our concerns and recommended actions, and we have been ignored.
- MDE should NOT move forward with approval until all information for a thorough review is available to the public; so far, MDE has failed to clearly explain the confusing federal/state permitting process, causing confusion and limiting public feedback on this controversial pipeline.
- MDE should require individual 401 certifications for wetland and stream crossings, rather than relying on the Army Corps of Engineers.
- MDE has ignored requests from Maryland residents to ask FERC to conduct a full Environmental Impact Statement.
We are not going to be pacified by just public hearings. They have heard everything we want to say. Now, we want action! Add your voice to stop fracked gas pipeline under the Potomac and join us on January 22nd in Hancock! (Rally from 6:00 - 7:00pm; hearing runs from 6:00pm to 10:00pm.)
If you signed up to speak at the first hearing but didn’t get a chance, you are welcome to make your voice heard during this hearing. We will simply ask you to make a statement of solidarity during your comments and then rejoin the broader boycott of citizens outside. Click Here for Info on Boycott and Tips on Commenting
Please RSVP here on our Eventbrite so we know you’re coming.
Click here to submit comments by January 25th opposing the Potomac Pipeline. Help us urge Governor Hogan to REJECT this dangerous pipeline!
In addition to the MDE Dec. 19th hearing, more than 100 people turned out for the WVA Department of Environmental Protection January 9th hearing on the stormwater permit for the Mountaineer Gas Pipeline that would connect to the TransCanada pipeline. This pipeline also threatens the Potomac River. You can still submit comments to WVDEP by January 19th.
Can’t make it to the hearing? Don’t live in Maryland? You can comment on the permit, too!
Maryland Department of the Environment is accepting comments on the Nontidal Wetlands & Waterways Permit through January 25, 2018 for the Eastern Panhandle Expansion project! Take action today & tell them to reject the pipeline!
P.S. With support from hundreds of our members, we were able to help build a powerful grassroots movement to ban fracking in Maryland. Please consider making a generous donation to help us in this next fight to keep fossil fuel infrastructure from causing irreversible harm to our water supplies!
- Thursday, 07 December 2017 12:40
The public has until January 15, 2018 to submit written comments to MDE on the re-licensing of Conowingo Dam.
- Tuesday, 21 November 2017 10:35
Dec. 4th Public Meeting & Rally on Coal Ash Disposal in Virginia
Back in April, Governor McAuliffe put the brakes on issuing coal ash solid waste permits to Dominion for at least a year so the toxic coal ash threats posed at their facilities can be assessed and the full range of disposal solutions explored, including recycling. This assessment will be presented to the State Water Commission on December 4th.
Please join us Dec. 4th from 10:00 – noon to hear the results of this finding. The meeting will be located in Virginia State Capitol, House Room 1, 1000 Bank Street, Richmond, Virginia. Remember to bring a state issued ID to gain entry into the Virginia State Capitol.
Immediately following the meeting there will be a press event and a Dominion: Move Your Ash rally. RSVP today to receive updates. We need to tell Dominion and Virginia loud and clear that they can’t bury toxic coal ash in leaky ponds at their power plants!
Water is Life Rally & Concert to Stop Atlantic Coast Pipeline on Dec. 2nd
This rally and concert will focus attention on the Virginia Water Control Board hearings coming up in Richmond on December 6, 7, 11 & 12 to decide whether or not to grant water quality certifications for the Atlantic Coast and Mountain Valley Pipelines. The Rally & Concert on Dec. 2nd and the public hearings represent the last political chance in Virginia to stop these fracked gas pipelines. Help surround Capitol Grounds from 1-2pm to send a strong message to our public officials. Then join for food, fun, and music at The National.
WHEN: Saturday, 12/2 from 1-4:30pm
WHERE: 1:00 pm at Capitol Grounds in Richmond and 2:00 pm at The National.
Public Hearing on Water Permit for Atlantic Coast Pipeline on Dec. 11 - 12
The Virginia State Water Control Board will hold hearings to consider the application for water quality certification for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline. The consideration is part of the process required under Section 401 of the federal Clean Water Act.
The meetings are scheduled for: 9:30am, Monday, Dec. 11 and Tuesday, Dec. 12 at Trinity Family Life Center, 3601 Dill Road, Richmond, VA.
The Water Control Board is the last hurdle Dominion faces in Virginia, and our last hope to block it before heading to federal court.
Help us send a message to the Board and Governor McAuliffe – come out to the hearings on December 11 & 12 and demand they put Virginians and our environment ahead of national politics and Dominion influence-peddling. Check our Facebook page for updates.
Public Meeting on Water Permit for Potomac Pipeline Dec. 19th
The Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) is holding a public meeting on TransCanada’s proposed fracked gas pipeline that would tunnel under the Potomac River.
The hearing is Tuesday, Dec. 19th, 6:00 – 9:30 pm at Hancock Middle/High School, 289 West Main Street, Hancock MD 21750.
At this meeting, MDE will hear from Marylanders to inform their decision about whether to approve or deny the 401 Water Quality Certification under the Clean Water Act. Denying the 401 permit would stop the construction of this pipeline in its tracks, and is the best way for Governor Hogan and MDE to protect our drinking water!
Join us on Dec. 19th to stand united in saying NO to the Potomac Pipeline. This is a critical moment to stop the Potomac Pipeline, show up and speak up!
Details about how to prepare your testimony to come. If you can’t join us on December 19th, stay tuned for instructions to submit written testimony through January 16th.
Please support our work to defend and protect your clean water!
- Thursday, 02 November 2017 20:55
- Written by Katlyn Schmitt
Join your Upper Potomac Riverkeeper, along with neighbors and the brave defenders of the Potomac watershed on November 5th in Chevy Chase, Maryland from 7-10pm at the Meadowbrook Park Activity Building. We will celebrate and learn about our unique watershed and a small community's fight against a large hog Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation (CAFO) in Fulton County, PA.
This factory-like facility would be the largest in the county and would house close to 9,000 hogs, while confining sows to production of 9,600 piglets each month – or 115,200 piglets annually. With this many pigs comes even more manure. The CAFO would apply over 11.4 million gallons of manure to land in our watershed and use an estimated 14 million gallons of water each year.
Our upstream neighbors and community members, led by homeowner Marjorie Hudson (pictured below) - who lives across from the proposed hog CAFO - have opposed the project since it was proposed in 2014. Thanks to their efforts, they have been able to stop the CAFO from polluting nearby air, land and waterways.
The location of the proposed CAFO is on a hill that drains into tributaries of Big Cove Creek, a popular fishing location. The waters of Big Cove Creek flow into Licking Bend Creek, which is a tributary of the Potomac River. The Potomac River flows into the Chesapeake Bay and provides drinking water for approximately 4.5 million people.
Marjorie and her neighbors can't go it alone - they need our support! Please join us in support of Marjorie’s life-sustaining work because we all live downstream.
The proposed hog CAFO in Fulton County would:
- Apply over 11.4 million gallons of waste to land in our watershed
- Pollute groundwater and drinking water aquifers, as manure will be spread in a Karst area. Some Karst features are springs, sinkholes, and underground streams.
- Threaten private drinking wells
- Jeopardize aquatic habitat and trout fishing in Big Cove Creek
- Harm local air quality
- Not only do hog CAFOs create harsh odors for neighboring communities, but they also emit toxic pollutants, like hydrogen sulfide and ammonia, that can cause serious health problems for residents.
- Children and other vulnerable populations are more likely to experience asthmatic symptoms near hog CAFOs.
- Unlike other industries, hog CAFOs are not regulated by the Clean Air Act.
- Decrease overall water quality in the watershed
- Runoff from hog CAFOs contains microbes, hormones, pesticides and other harmful chemicals that degrade water quality, kill fish, cause algal blooms, and impairs drinking water sources.
- Use an estimated 14 million gallons of water each year
- CAFOs and other agricultural operations are responsible for 80-90% of all water consumption, using 34-76 trillion gallons of water every year.
Just one CAFO with 800,000 pigs generates 1.6 million tons of animal waste every year. This is as much waste is 1.5 times the amount of waste produced by the city of Philadelphia! Unlike human waste, animal waste from hog farms is often left untreated in open lagoons. This waste also contains harmful microbes and hormones, that make their way into local waterways.
‘We Are All Downstream’ is dedicated to the memory of the late Kathy Ozer who for 24 years tirelessly advocated for small family farms as Executive Director of the National Family Farm Coalition.
- Tuesday, 17 October 2017 15:20
On this 45th anniversary of the Clean Water Act, we reflect on how our local Waterkeeper programs are needed more than ever to safeguard our clean water resources.
Over the past few years, Waterkeepers Chesapeake has successfully brought together 19 local Waterkeepers programs to collaboratively advocate for and bring legal action to protect communities and waterways throughout the Chesapeake Bay and Coastal Bay regions.
Waterkeepers Chesapeake has focused on unifying Waterkeeper efforts behind important clean water priorities, like the passage of the fracking ban in Maryland and the passage of protective coal ash laws in Virginia. Waterkeepers Chesapeake also works on issues at the federal level - coordinating efforts against EPA's rollback of clean water protections, the slashing of EPA funding, and Scott Pruitt's appointment.
Through the Fair Farms campaign, Waterkeepers Chesapeake is addressing agricultural pollution while supporting sustainable farming efforts. This year, we worked to pass a second-in-the-country law to restrict the routine use of human antibiotics in livestock.
At the core of our work we empower people to stop pollution and encourage better local water quality through tools and legal rights under the Clean Water Act. Waterkeeper programs were founded to engage and organize citizens to protect their right to clean water. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is supposed to promulgate and enforce laws and regulations to protect human health and the environment. Sadly, under this administration, the EPA has been fully captured by the fossil fuels industry and industrial polluters. To date, the EPA has rolled back or repealed the Clean Water Rule, the Clean Power Plan, and effluent limits on the discharge of toxic coal wastewater.
Now, our Waterkeepers are the last line of defense for citizens to protect their clean water. Some examples of how our Waterkeepers are encouraging public participation in protecting our waters include:
- For the past several years, the Potomac Riverkeeper Network (PRKN) has conducted compliance sweeps of National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permits issued under the Clean Water Act to assess violations before a major incident occurs. In a recent sweep, Upper Potomac Riverkeeper found that 38 out of 291 facilities had severe violations. PRKN’s first step is to communicate pollution concerns with the facility, and to offer assistance in mitigating the problem. If there is no cooperation or development of a remedy, then they notify the State. If the State does nothing to remedy the problem, then they escalate to legal action on behalf of the impacted citizens.
- Midshore Riverkeeper Conservancy (MRC) and Chesapeake Legal Alliance (CLA), produced the Citizen Guide – Public Participation in Maryland’s NPDES Permitting Program. The Guide was produced for the purpose of improving the vital component of citizen involvement in environmental decision-making in Maryland. The Guide is used as an outreach tool to engage organizations and citizens to get involved with the many key avenues for public participation in protecting our waters. It is critical that those impacted by permit violations be engaged in the early stages.
- The Lower James and Upper James Riverkeepers have created an advocacy tool called Our River at Risk to educate and rally citizens around toxic pollution threats like coal ash. They use maps, online petitions and email updates to elevate the public’s voice and participation in regulatory and permitting processes.
- The South Riverkeeper published a report on a county’s enforcement of its environmental code to show the county that it needs to step up resources for clean water enforcement. The report clearly showed that current penalties are not effective deterrents for environmental carelessness.
These are just a few examples of how our Waterkeepers bring the Clean Water Act to life on the local level and empower citizens to participate in the protection of their right to clean water. In an era when the EPA administrator only meets with corporate polluters and ignores the public, an engaged and active citizenry on the local level is more important than ever.
What You Can Do
- Visit our website to get involved and support your local Waterkeeper program
- Support Waterkeepers Chesapeake
- Use our Water Reporter app to report pollution to your local Waterkeeper
- Take Action! Tell your federal representatives to resist any rollbacks or repeals of clean water protections, to stop any reductions in funding of the EPA, and to protect citizens’ right to sue when government fails to enforce the law.
- Monday, 09 October 2017 11:41
David J. Collins, Executive Secretary
Maryland Public Service Commission
6 Saint Paul Street
Baltimore, MD 21202-6806
Much more information about all of this is at bit.ly/novocpollution. Please help protect the air around Cove Point and stop a terrible decision that could have much broader ramifications!
11.18.2018 9:00 am - 11:00 am
Dutch Gap Hike with James Riverkeeper & Sierra Club
11.19.2018 10:00 am - 11:00 am
Rally to Tell National Park Service: No Potomac Pipeline!
12.21.2018 6:00 pm - 8:00 pm
Sassafras Sips Happy Hour - Sassafras Riverkeeper
01.18.2019 6:00 pm - 8:00 pm
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Sassafras Sips Happy Hour - Sassafras Riverkeeper
04.19.2019 6:00 pm - 8:00 pm
Sassafras Sips Happy Hour - Sassafras Riverkeeper
05.17.2019 6:00 pm - 8:00 pm
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