clean-water-act

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The year is 1995, congress member Bernie Sanders stands in opposition of a homophobic statement said by Duke Cunningham. Cunningham derisively refers to “homos in the military” to support his argument while (strangely) discussing the Clean Water Act. Sanders, having none of it, quickly rises to the defense of thousands of men and women everywhere. Sanders ire is such that he repeatedly disrespects the Chairman by speaking over him in order to say his piece. [Video Source]


What does this say for Sanders? Well, that’s for you to decide. But to me, it says that for 20+ years strong he has shown his public support for LGBT+ persons everywhere, even in the face of ridicule and disrespect. Unlike some, Sanders has always been vocal about his beliefs concerning the LGBT+ community, and he has always held them. Key word always, and not just when doing so might garner him support for his campaigns. 


BONUS:

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Glass Beach is a real beach in Fort Bragg, California. Why so much glass? It once used as a trash dump for decades.

In the early 20th century, Fort Bragg residents threw their household garbage over the cliffs above what is now Glass Beach. They discarded glass, appliances, and even cars. The land was owned at that time by the Union Lumber Company, and locals referred to it as “The Dumps.” Sometimes fires were lit to reduce the size of the trash pile.

In 1967, the North Coast Water Quality Board and city leaders closed the area. Various cleanup programs were undertaken through the years to correct the damage.

Over the next several decades the pounding waves cleansed the beach, wearing down the discarded glass into the small, smooth, colored trinkets that cover the beach today.

Via: Wiki; Photos; World Tourism

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The EPA knew it was stepping onto a battlefield Wednesday when it released its final version of a rule aimed at protecting America’s stream and wetlands, clearing up confusion inherent in the original Clean Water Act and allowing regulators to stop pollution from spreading to the larger waterways on which one in three Americans rely for drinking water. And the agency was ready for the critics. 

“The only people with reason to oppose the rule are polluters who knowingly threaten our clean water"

vox.com
Trump’s EPA pick is an ardent foe of virtually everything Obama’s EPA has done
Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt could mean radical changes in store for environmental policy.
By Brad Plumer

Donald Trump plans to nominate Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt to head the Environmental Protection Agency — a pro-industry pick that suggests big, big changes could be in store for environmental policy.

The EPA is in charge of creating and enforcing federal regulations around air and water pollution, largely guided by laws like the Clean Air Act and Clean Water Act, which were originally passed by Congress in the 1970s. Under President Barack Obama, the EPA has been particularly proactive in formulating new rules on coal-fired power plants, cars, trucks, and oil and gas operations — all with an eye toward reducing both conventional air pollutants and curbing the greenhouse gases that cause climate change.

Pruitt has been an ardent foe of these efforts for years.

Ever since becoming Oklahoma’s top prosecutor in 2011, Pruitt has joined or led state lawsuits to block virtually every major federal regulation around climate and air pollution that Obama’s EPA has put forward. He sued to stop a major rule to limit mercury pollution from coal plants. He sued to stop a rule to reduce smog pollution that crossed state lines. (Both efforts to sue were unsuccessful in court.)

Most pointedly, Pruitt has opposed the Obama EPA’s efforts to tackle global warming, directing particular ire toward Obama’s Clean Power Plan, which aimed to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from power plants. Pruitt has also questioned the science of climate change. In a piece for National Review this past May, he wrote: “Scientists continue to disagree about the degree and extent of global warming and its connection to the actions of mankind.” (That is not true.)

Pruitt was a private attorney in Tulsa during the 1990s before becoming an Oklahoma state senator from 1998 to 2006, rising to the rank of Republican whip. Hailing from a state with major oil and gas operations — though also a fair bit of wind power — he has generally been far more sympathetic to industry arguments than environmentalist concerns over the course of his career.

Back in 2011, Pruitt wrote a letter to the EPA arguing that federal regulators were overstating the amount of air pollution from natural gas wells. As the New York Times’ Eric Lipton later discovered, this letter was actually written by lawyers for Devon Energy, one of the state’s largest oil and gas companies. Pruitt appears to have simply passed it along.

And this wasn’t an isolated incident, Lipton wrote: “Devon officials also turned to Mr. Pruitt to enlist other Republican attorneys general and Republican governors to oppose a rule proposed by the Bureau of Land Management that would regulate hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, on federal land.”

h/t: Brad Plumer at Vox

Wal-Mart hit with multi-million dollar fine for Clean Water Act violations
  • $82Mfine to be paid by Wal-Mart for six counts of violating the Clean Water Act, to which the company has pleaded guilty. Prosecutors said workers in California, as a primary example, were until January 2006 not trained in disposing of hazardous waste, instead dumping it in municipal trash cans or down sink drains into the sewer system. That case was settled at the state level in 2010, but a subsequent federal case has cost the retail giant the above chunk of change. source

America, model for the world? This coal plant leaks and dumps waste into the Yellowstone River. Only about 30% of coal burned in a power plant produces electricity - the remaining 70% of the energy is literally wasted…

If you can stomach it, here’s a picture of an ExxonMobil oil refinery, also on the Yellowstone. This is how your electricity works…

Corette coal-fired power plant on the Yellowstone River in Montana. This facility is discharging toxic water pollution into the Yellowstone using a permit that should have expired several years ago. 

Photo of the day: Clean Water Act celebrates 40 years of water conservation
On Oct. 18, 1972, the United States passed the landmark Clean Water Act. Crafted with the goal of ensuring that all U.S. waters — including these coastal wetlands seen at the Parker River National Wildlife Refuge in Newburyport, Mass. — are “fishable and swimmable,” the ambitious act has seen its fair share of successes and shortcomings in the past 40 years. Before the CWA passed, only a third of all water in the country was safe for swimming and fishing.

slate.com
Why Rivers No Longer Burn

Above: one of several fires on the Cuyahoga River in Ohio. Used as a dump for about two centuries, it caught fire on a regular basis. “When the Cuyahoga burst into flame in 1969, it was not a huge deal to locals. After all, the river had burned almost every decade over the previous century,” writes James Salzman. The Cuyahoga was not the only river to catch fire. Indeed, dozens of rivers around the nation were terribly polluted (Salzman tells of a fall into the Charles River in Boston in the ’70s. He went to hospital for skin treatment). 

It is inconceivable to think that our rivers were actually this bad, but they were: there were no environmental laws, and no system of regulations or penalties. Waste was dumped into rivers for decades and decades. The Cuyahoga fires were an accidental symbol of deterioration that verged on scandal. Now rivers are pretty much cleaned up thanks to the Clean Water Act, which just turned 40.

Duke environmental law professor, James Salzman wrote about the Clean Water Act (CWA) for Slate. Salzman’s article, “Why Rivers No Longer Burns” shows that politicians can work together, so long as they have the guts to actually govern. He writes that the Clean Water Act is one of the greatest successes in environmental law. It’s a short overview of how the CWA came to be. I remember being inspired to go to law school when I read similar short articles on the environment. Perhaps you will too… 

In 1972, a landmark law reversed the course of this filthy tide. Today, four decades later, the Clean Water Act stands as one of the great success stories of environmental law. Supported by Republicans and Democrats alike, the act took a completely new approach to environmental protection. The law flatly stated there would be no discharge of pollutants from a point source (a pipe or ditch) into navigable waters without a permit. No more open sewers dumping crud into the local stream or bay. Permits would be issued by environmental officials and require the installation of the best available pollution-control technologies.

The waste flushed down drains and toilets needed a different approach, so the Clean Water Act provided for billions of dollars in grants to construct and upgrade publicly owned sewage-treatment works around the nation. To protect the lands that filter and purify water as it flows by, permits were also required for draining and filling wetlands. Protecting our nation’s waters may seem like common sense today, but the idea of nationally uniform, tough standards against polluters was both original and radical. Thinking big, the Clean Water Act’s preamble declared that the nation’s waters would be swimmable and fishable within a decade, with no discharges of pollutants within a dozen years. These weren’t idle boasts.

Via Slate

When the United States’ landmark Clean Water Act (CWA) was signed into law in 1972, the nation’s waterways and coastlines were in crisis. Oily debris in the Cuyahoga River in Cleveland, Ohio, had notoriously caught fire several times. The southernmost of North America’s Great Lakes, Lake Erie, had been pronounced dead or dying. Fish in Californian coastal waters were so laced with the pesticide DDT that it disrupted the reproductive systems of brown pelicans, threatening them with extinction.

Forty years and billions of dollars later, rivers no longer burn, Lake Erie is much healthier and pelicans are off the endangered species list. But much remains to be done, scientists said yesterday at the North American meeting of the Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry in Long Beach, California.

— 

From Nature (via Scientific American) Clean Water Act at 40: Rivers No Longer Burn but Climate Threats and Runoff Now Rush I

Also, check out our recent water series, Clean Water: The Next Act.

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Misha Collins in Rock the Boat

Rock the Boat is a fun, fast-paced documentary about the Los Angeles River and the challenges society faces in providing clean water to urban populations. Because of the LA river’s previous status as a non-navigable river, it didn’t fall under the protection of the Clean Water Act, which would have protected the river from pollutants and commercial runoff. In 2008, George Wolfe organized a boating trip down the river to prove it was navigable and therefore worthy of being protected by the clean water act, and it worked! In 2010, the Environmental Protection Agency declared the river a navigable river and it is now protected, and there are plans in place to restore large portions of the river and turn them into parks. 

Please do not repost gifs, they took me a VERY long time to make.