Environmental War Crimes – Part 2 – Water

“If you live in the United States, there is a nearly one-in-four chance your tap water is either unsafe to drink or has not been properly monitored for contaminants in accordance with federal law, a new study has found.”  (nytimes)

And under the current GOP administration, it’s going to get worse.(vox)

Yesterday, we started our multi-point breakdown of a singularly destructive bill – HR 3354, a legislative monster of an appropriations act, whose length and complexity hides gifts, in the form of “riders”, for industries and anti-environmental extremists that will ultimately affect our health and that of our families.

(You can find that first installment on the 16 riders specifically allowing increases in our air pollution, here.)

Today, we’re going to talk about water.

As many as 63 million people across the US were exposed to potentially unsafe water more than once during the past decade (USAtoday). Maybe you think it’s just about Flint, that somehow more environmentally sensitive states like CA are immune…

The largest source of toxicity for our water is the coal industry. On February 16th, 2017, we all watched the man who pledged to protect us sign away regulations keeping coal companies from dumping their waste into local streams

prez signing coal

…despite what is now known about coal and coal waste products. In the video below, Director of Beyond Coal Campaign at Sierra Club, Mary Anne Hitt, discusses the administration’s assault on environmental regulations that protect drinking water and health from coal plant wastewater dumping.

What the GOP is doing is not a victimless crime.

Calls to Action

Action #1: Protect our local drinking water and environment from toxic waste. – Come out this evening (3/6) and write letters together! 

_A__ProtectFillmoresWater

An oil company is being permitted to dump toxic oil field wastewater into an aquifer behind the City of Fillmore and beneath Los Padres National Forest, without the required EPA review. The aquifer is protected under the federal Safe Drinking Water Act and is located next to the Sespe Condor Sanctuary, where the California Condor is making a tenuous recovery from the brink of extinction.

As you saw in the first video, just living in CA is not a magic shield protecting us from a future of living rooms stacked full of bottled water.

We need to make our expectations heard, BEFORE pollution occurs.

Come stand indivisible with Fillmore tonight, March 6th, at 6:30 at the Fillmore Senior Center and help them with their letter-writing campaign. More information here.

Action #2 – Submit a written comment on the Zinke’s offshore drilling expansion  plan – Deadline, March 9th (Written).

ONLY 491,392 comments received so far…

Trump has proposed opening 90% of U.S. waters to offshore drilling in what would be a massive windfall for Big Oil and a massive disaster for our environment. While our state attorneys  are working from their side,  the public need to tell the administration that this is unacceptable. The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management is collecting comments.
To see the overview of the regulation, click here.
To see the current comment count and look at other comments, click here.
To go directly to the comment page, click here.
To see example comments, click here.

 Action #3 – Just added! Minnesotans need our help. Write a comment TODAY (3/6) to stop a dangerous mining permit.

Sulfide mining is highly dangerous and has been called “America’s most toxic industry” by the EPA, with a 100% track record of pollution.  The foreign PolyMet Mining Corporation has proposed to dig the first ever copper-sulfide mine in Minnesota, threatening local water supplies, the Lake Superior watershed, and the Boundary Waters Canoe Area, the most-visited wilderness area in the country, which includes 190,000 acres of pristine waterways.  We must urge the MN DNR to deny the Permit to Mine for PolyMet and urge the MN Pollution Control Agency to deny all PolyMet pollution permits.  Comments are due Tuesday March 6 by midnight CST for the permit to mine and Friday March 16 for the water quality permits: http://polymet.mn.gov/   More details here:   https://drive.google.com/open?id=1DBHCo1v-U8GK_Phtt1o5qNuBbHUaUX1wDYyX_iG-Rds

Action #4 – Call your legislators & have your family in GOP-controlled areas call theirs…

Minimal Script #1: I’m calling from [zip code] and I’m asking Sen. [___] to reject HR 3354 and come back with a clean appropriations act with both the removal of all anti-environmental riders and the restoration of full funding to match fiscal year 2016.

Minimal Script #2: I’m calling from [zip code] and I’m asking Rep. [___] to reject H.R.3266, H.R. 3267 and come back with a clean appropriations act with both the removal of all anti-environmental riders and the restoration of full funding to match fiscal year 2016.

(Background information on water issues inside HR 3354 and similar bills below)

Contact your Legislators

Rep. Julia Brownley: (CA-26): DC (202) 225-5811, Oxnard (805) 379-1779, T.O. (805) 379-1779
or Rep. Salud Carbajal: (CA-24): DC (202) 225-3601, SB (805) 730-1710 SLO (805) 546-8348
Which one is yours?: www.phoneyourrep.com

Senator Feinstein: DC (202) 224-3841, LA (310) 914-7300, SF (415) 393-0707, SD (619) 231-9712, Fresno (559) 485-7430
and Senator Harris: DC (202) 224-3553, LA (213) 894-5000, SAC (916) 448-2787, Fresno (559) 497-5109, SF (415) 355-9041, SD (619) 239-3884
Other Rep./Senator Contacts: www.phoneyourrep.com

Background Information for Action #4 – go as deep as you want.

Thanks to defenders.org for their amazing compilation. More to come.

These items, from #1-8,  are the perverse easter eggs hidden in HR. 3354, just on WATER POLLUTION. We’ll be doing public land grabs tomorrow.

#1 – Removes permit requirements for fill and discharge materials.

  • Energy and Water Development and Related Agencies Appropriations Act (H.R.3266/H.R. 3354),, Title I – Corps of Engineers – Civil, Section 107

Sec. 107: Prevent the Army Corps of Engineers from requiring a permit “for the activities identified in subparagraphs (A) and (c) of section 404(f)(1).” This has been interpreted as reinforcing existing Clean Water Act exemptions for discharges of dredged or fill material associated with farming, ranching, and forestry.

#2 – Endangers Clean Water Protections

This one is so important to someone, that it’s repeated THREE times!

  • Energy and Water Development and Related Agencies Appropriations Act (H.R.3266/H.R. 3354), Title I – Corps of Engineers – Civil, Section 108
  • Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act (H.R. 3354), Title IV – General Provisions, Section 431
  • Senate Chairman’s Mark, Title IV-General Provisions, Section 434
Sec. 108/431/434: Allows EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers to repeal the 2015 Clean Water Rule without following laws that would otherwise apply to such an action. That means the agencies could ignore public input in repealing the rule, or adopt a rule without any reasonable justification. By contrast, the Clean Water Rule was the result of public engagement and scientific analysis. It is unconscionable that Members of Congress want to carve out an exemption to longstanding transparency and good governance laws for the purposes of dismantling clean water protections.
#3 – They’re going to stop the the San Joaguin River Restoration
  • Energy and Water Development and Related Agencies Appropriations Act (H.R.3266/H.R. 3354), Title II – Department of the Interior, Section 203

(Sec. 203) prohibits implementation of the San Joaquin River Restoration settlement between the US  and conservation and fishing groups to restore the river as required under state and federal law. This would prevent funding for water supply and flood control projects that benefit local farmers and would allow some 60 miles of California’s second longest river to remain completely dry in violation of state law.

#4 – They want to block funds for the National Ocean Policy.

This one is also so important to someone, that it’s repeated THREE times!

  • Energy and Water Development and Related Agencies Appropriations Act (H.R.3266/H.R. 3354), Title V – General Provisions, Section 505
  • Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act (H.R. 3267/H.R. 3354), Title V – General Provisions, Section 553
  • Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act (H.R. 3354), Title IV – General Provisions, Section 435

Sec. 505/553/435: Impedes the full implementation of the National Ocean Policy, a commonsense policy with bipartisan roots and support. This rider would limit coordination between agencies, states, and stakeholders, adversely affect the marine environment and resources that sustain ocean industries, and undermine valuable ocean planning work being voluntarily undertaken in states and regions around the country.

#5 – Expands exemptions for dumping pollution into our waterways

Some lobbyist need to get rid of stuff so badly, it’s repeated twice!

  • Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act (H.R. 3354), Title IV – General Provisions, Section 430
  • Senate Chairman’s Mark, Title IV-General Provisions, Section 424

Sec. 430/424: Allow polluters to to more easily dump dredged or fill material into our waterways by exempting pollutant discharges that Congress intended to be covered by the Clean Water Act. These discharges damage or destroy streams and wetlands without adequate environmental review required by the Clean Water Act.

#6 – Prohibits the proper maagement of dangerous industrial farm waste.

  • Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act (H.R. 3354), Title IV – General Provisions, Section 434

Sec. 434: Prohibits the EPA from writing any rule that would require the largest industrial animal farms (Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations, or CAFOs) to properly store, transport, or dispose of their wastes, including the hundreds of millions of tons of manure they generate annually. CAFO wastes contain dangerous pollutants that can increase the risk of birth defects, infant deaths, diabetes, and cancer. When not handled properly, CAFO wastes endanger drinking water sources and pose a particularly severe risk to rural communities reliant on well water.

#7 – Undermining the Chesapeake Bay Cleanup

  • Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act (H.R. 3354), Title IV – General Provisions, Section 455 – Rep. Robert Goodlatte (R-VA)

Sec. 455: Undermines the successful cooperative federalism of the Chesapeake Bay cleanup and will severely hamper progress being made to clean up local waters. The cleanup is working, and the current process has given the states more control than ever in seeking a solution to the degraded waters of the region, while taking advantage of federal resources to help the states meet their commitments. Please ask Rep. Goodlatte which lobbyist possessed him to add this horrible rider.

#8 – Limiting attorneys’ fees to discourage citizens from enforcing the protections of the Clean Air Act.

  • Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act (H.R. 3354), Title IV – General Provisions, Section 461 – Rep. Jason Smith (R-MO)

Sec. 461 targets court settlements involving congressionally mandated federal agency actions, including requirements to protect public health and the environment. Congress long ago recognized that the government needs citizens to be partners in enforcing all manner of America’s laws, including environmental protection laws. This principle is enshrined in the numerous federal laws that provide reasonable fee recovery for successful citizen plaintiffs. This amendment would change this by barring payment of citizens’ legal fees whenever parties avoid costly litigation by agreeing to a settlement, thereby favoring continued litigation over settlement.

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