WKC Dec 2016 Enews: Busy Fall for Clean Water

Special message from Betsy Nicholas, Executive Director

The President-elect is beginning to fill out cabinet and executive agency positions, giving us a preview of what kind of administration is coming to Washington, DC in January. Based on that preview, we are extremely concerned about our water resources.

Waterkeepers, along with our staff and volunteers,work tirelessly toward the goal of cleaning up the environment and restoring clean water to the Chesapeake Bay and the Coastal Bays and our local rivers and streams. On a daily basis, we monitor water quality. We hold polluters accountable. We advocate at the local, state and federal level.

We work every day toward the goal of swimmable, fishable, drinkable water for you and future generations.

We will not  see that work reversed. We will steadfastly oppose regulatory policies that threaten water quality. We will oppose any attempts to weaken the Clean Water Act. We will steadfastly oppose those who ignore the science and threaten public safety by ignoring the threats of climate change.

We all deserve a future that includes clean water. We will continue to fight for it.


Waterkeeper Comments on Fracking Regulations

Earlier this month, the Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) released proposed regulations for the fracking industry to operate in Maryland. Waterkeepers Chesapeake is working closely with Georgetown University Law Center to draft comments that will demonstrate that there is no safe way to conduct hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking” for natural gas. In the meantime, a statewide poll conducted by OpinionWorks shows that Maryland voters support a ban on fracking by a 2-to-1 margin, including Garrett County where voters oppose fracking by an even stronger margin. Local ban campaigns are seeing progress across the state – with Frederick County, Baltimore City and Rockville most recently voting in support of a statewide fracking ban. On December 3rd, Waterkeepers Chesapeake will be co-hosting a community workshop

with the Maryland Environmental Health Network where we will hear about the impacts of natural gas infrastructure from Upper Potomac Riverkeeper Brent Walls and community members from all across the state. All are welcome and encouraged to attend.

Middle Susquehanna Riverkeeper on Sunoco Oil Spill

In the wake of severe flooding in Central Pennsylvania in late October, an 80-year-old pipeline burst, leaking a reported 55,000 gallons of gasoline into Loyalsock Creek, which feeds the West Branch of the Susquehanna River.

Carol Parenzan, Middle Susquehanna Riverkeeper, said that emergency crews had difficulty reaching the scene due to high-water conditions. Drinking water intakes downstream were being temporarily shut down. Witnesses nearby said the smell of petroleum was “so thick you can taste it.”

“This spill is not simply an issue of drinking water for people, although that is currently our most pressing concern. In the short- and long-term, fish and other aquatic life simply cannot survive in a contaminated river,” Parenzan said. “It is important that we not only maintain our aging energy infrastructure, but that we also remain vigilant about new pipelines and energy interests that threaten water quality.”


Dust from Coal Trains Is a Problem

Dust flying off coal train along the James River.If you live, work or commute along the Anacostia, Potomac, Susquehanna or James Rivers, you have probably seen train cars filled to overflowing with coal traveling alongside these waterways. These railcars are typically not covered, so the dust flows freely into the air as they make their way down the rail line. In fact, an average rail car loses about 500 lbs. of coal dust — dust that contains mercury, arsenic, uranium and other toxins harmful to human health and wildlife (including fish and aquatic life in rivers adjacent to the train tracks). In fact, our Riverkeepers have even found chunks of coal along river banks and in rivers. In November 2007, six cars of coal derailed into the Anacostia River.

The good news is that Waterkeepers in Washington State scored a big win in federal court recently on the issue of pollutants from coal trains. We will be following this case to see how we may apply it in our region to stop coal dust pollution. Find out more about the case here.

Supporting Sustainable Farming

Fair Farms, our consumer campaign to support farmers who are farming sustainably is more important than ever. While we are concerned that state and federal government will not protect our most precious natural resources, we are more committed than ever to work with consumers on food system reform. It begins at your fork. Your purchasing decisions are important in shaping the way we move forward. By supporting sustainable agriculture, you improve the soil, the land and clean water.

Our recent forum on Antibiotics and Public Health, held in Charles County, was proof that a wider conversation needs to happen at the state and local level. Review the event (on Facebook LIVE here).

Coming up next, on Dec. 3, we have Upper Potomac Riverkeeper Brent Walls coming to our screening of the film “Dirt: The Movie” to talk about a hog CAFO planned for the upper branches of the Potomac River. Show time 6 p.m. The talk will start around 7:30 at Fox Haven Organic Farm and Learning Center in Jefferson, MD. RSVP here

Oyster Recovery in the Chesapeake Bay

Oysters are hard little workers. Each one of these amazing bivalves can filter pollutants out of up to 50 gallons of water per day. Unfortunately, they are at just one percent of their historic population in the Chesapeake Bay. Waterkeepers on both shores of the Chesapeake Bay are participating in public meetings of the Oyster Advocacy Commission. The goal is to balance the needs of restoration with the interests of commercial watermen. The public is welcome to attend and lend a voice to the necessity of restoration. The next OAC meeting is December 12 at Calvary United Methodist Church in Annapolis. Please attend.


Proposed Fracked Gas Pipeline Threatens Potomac River

Columbia Gas pipeline is seeking to build a gas pipeline under the C&O Canal and Potomac River. Without any public notice, Columbia Gas is currently in talks with the National Park Service to obtain a right-of-way access to drill under federally owned Park Service property.  While no formal public notice is required, the Park Service has the authority to voluntarily seek public input for projects that affect public land under its jurisdiction. Take action today! Send an email to the National Park Service urging them to deny access to the national park

Who is Green and Sexy?

Waterkeepers Chesapeake Executive Director Betsy Nicholas appeared on the Green and Sexy Radio Hour in early November. She talked about how Riverkeepers, Coastkeepers, Shorekeepers and other Waterkeepers help the cause of swimmable, fishable, drinkable water in the Chesapeake Bay — and around the world. Did you know that there are nearly 300 Waterkeepers from the original Hudson Riverkeeper in New York State to recently-added Waterkeepers in India and Nepal? And right here in the Chesapeake Bay watershed, we’ve got 19 of them working for you. The broadcast is worth a listen. Check out the online podcast here.

Glassybaby for the Holidays

Are you looking for a unique holiday gift idea for family and friends? Would you like the gift to be beautiful, unique AND for some of the proceeds to benefit a really great organization? Look no further than Waterkeepers Chesapeake and glassybaby. These gorgeous artisan glass blown votive candles make a lovely gift — with 10 percent of the proceeds going to Waterkeepers Chesapeake. The funds go directly to helping the Waterkeepers from around the Chesapeake and Coastal Bays region to monitor and enforce water quality toward the goal of swimmable, fishable, drinkable water for all. Order your Chesapeake Glassybaby here .

End of Year Giving

This year, Waterkeepers Chesapeake and Fair Farms are accepting end of year contributions — giving you the opportunity to give and support our work. As a designated 501(c)3 Maryland-registered charitable organization, your generous contributions are tax-deductible.You can also donate to your local Waterkeeper. Click here to find yours.

Keep Up to Date on Waterkeepers Chesapeake

You can find current stories about what Waterkeepers Chesapeake is doing to protect waterways in the Chesapeake region here.

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Waterkeepers Chesapeake is a coalition of nineteen independent programs working to make the waters of the Chesapeake and Coastal Bays swimmable and fishable. Waterkeepers Chesapeake amplifies the voices of each Waterkeeper and mobilizes these organizations to fight pollution and champaion clean water. The members of Waterkeepers Chesapeake work locally, using grassroots action and advocacy to protect their communities and their waters.

For info: www.WaterkeepersChesapeake.org or email info@waterkeeperschesapeake.org.

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