Sierra Club Water Sentinels
Sierra Club Water Sentinels are the first line of defense of America's waters. Water Sentinels work to protect, improve and restore our waters by fostering alliances to promote water quality monitoring, public education and citizen action.
Posted by: Scott Dye at 12:00PM PST on August 21, 2010
ALL HAIL Sentinels Steering Team members Ed Hopkins and Albert Ettinger for praising the US EPA for *finally* moving to regulate NPEs (nonylphenol ethoxylates), a toxic chemical and known endocrine disruptor most commonly used by industrial laundry operations. It’s been a long hard fight for us and our labor allies at Workers United/SEIU, but we’re finally moving in the right direction.
From the article:
‘The potential human health risks of chemicals widely used in dyes, flame retardants, and industrial laundry detergents have prompted the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to study and potentially ban their manufacture and use.
The EPA today released "action plans" that address benzidine dyes, hexabromocyclododecane, HBCD, and nonylphenol, NP/nonylphenol ethoxylates, NPEs used in both consumer and industrial applications.
"These chemicals have been detected in people," the EPA declared.
… the Sierra Club, Environmental Law and Policy Center and Workers United/SEIU today circulated a joint statement praising EPA's action.
"Union members have been demanding government and industry action on toxic detergents for over half a decade. The detergents have been banned in Europe and Canada for almost a decade," said Eric Frumin, health and safety director for Workers United/SEIU. "We commend Administrator Jackson for acting swiftly on these hazards, and call upon the laundry industry to get rid of these chemicals immediately, as they have already done Canada and in Connecticut."
"We know these chemicals are highly toxic and we know there are safer alternatives," said Albert Ettinger, senior attorney with the Environmental Law and Policy Center. "If we want to protect public health, then NPEs should stop being used for many of their current applications. This action by the EPA is an important step in that direction."
Exposure to low levels of NPE has been shown to create "intersex" fish, male fish that produce female egg proteins, the Sierra Club points out, saying cases of "intersexed" fish have been documented "from the Potomac River to the Pacific coast."
"When chemicals in our environment, such as NPEs, affect the gender of fish, it's a danger sign that more scrutiny is needed for chemicals we produce and use," said Ed Hopkins, director of the Sierra Club's Environmental Quality Program. "But Congress must give EPA the regulatory tools it needs to control dangerous chemicals more effectively."
In 2007, Sierra Club, Environmental Law and Policy Center, Workers United and three other nonprofit groups petitioned the EPA under the Toxic Substances Control Act to require further toxicity testing of NPEs and to take steps to control it. EPA denied the petition.
The EPA is considering a range of actions under the Toxic Substances Control Act such as adding HBCD and NP/NPE to its new Chemicals of Concern list. This previously unused authority under the Toxic Substances Control Desk signals the agency's commitment to use the tools currently available, while supporting legislative reform of the Act now working its way through Congress.
The agency could issue significant new use rules for all three chemicals.
In addition to EPA's efforts, the Textile Rental Services Association, which represents 98 percent of the industrial laundry facilities in the United States, has committed to voluntarily phase out the use of NPEs in industrial liquid detergents by December 31, 2013 and industrial powder detergents by the end of 2014.
"While EPA intends to address the potential risks associated with these chemicals," (EPA’s) Owens said, "we are pleased that the industrial laundry industry has decided to not wait for regulatory action to be completed by the agency and is voluntarily taking steps now to phase out the use of NPEs."’
EPA Takes Aim at Toxics in Dyes, Flame Retardants, Detergents
Posted by: Scott Dye at 11:56AM PST on August 21, 2010
ALL HAIL the North Platte (Nebraska) Telegraph for understanding “the truth”—Big Oil can’t be trusted—as the state stares down the barrel of a proposed Keystone XL pipeline that would carry filthy Canadian tar-sands oil and the potential for disaster over America’s breadbasket and the vital Ogallala Aquifer, THE water resource for much of the Great Plains.
From the paper’s Sunday editorial:
‘There would be very few more strident proponents of energy development than most conservatives. For any who read this space long enough, we easily fall into that category.
The environmental affects are devastating to that area. It will take years, if not decades, to return the area to normal. It is a story we have heard far too often.
We can hardly claim to be enthusiastic supporters of the Sierra Club, but in this case, the truth is impossible to avoid. Enbridge Executive Vice President Stephen J. Wouri said, "I don't think the answer is more government oversight or the need for new regulations." Unfortunately, he is serious.
We have no reason to believe it would be better with this pipeline and a company that did not demonstrate immediate response is simply not to be entrusted with our land. Or the water below it.
Company should not be entrusted with our land
Published: Sunday, August 15, 2010
Posted by: Scott Dye at 11:53AM PST on August 21, 2010
ALL HAIL our Eagle View Group and Sentinels for gearing up for Round Two to stop a proposed hog slaughterhouse in the Quad Cities. Just say NO!!!
From the Chicago Tribune feature article:
‘A giant slaughterhouse in the Illinois river town of East Moline is creating a big stink — and it hasn't even been built yet.
Supporters of the proposed facility, which would process thousands of hogs a day, say it would bring jobs and economic revitalization to the Iowa border community. Mayor John Thodos says he thinks it will create 2,500 jobs in an area where unemployment has doubled in five years.
To opponents, the Triumph Foods project means environmental damage, bad odors and lost property values. The plant would be close to the Rock River and wetlands, they note.
"It's a huge plant being built on a wetland and a flood plain that could end up flooding nearby homes," said Jerry Neff, chairman of the local Sierra Club.
Critics also say the plant would encourage an influx of large hog farms that would contribute to environmental problems and wipe out smaller operations. The facility will "increase demand for food animals that will probably be met by factory farms in Illinois," said Max Muller of Environment Illinois, a nonprofit advocacy group.
"We already have … all sorts of environmental problems from factory farms," said Muller, including manure spills into waterways and odor issues. "Until we clean up regulation of factory farm pollution, we don't want to be furthering demand for the products from them."
The proposal by Triumph, a Missouri-based processor, has driven a wedge in the Quad Cities community for nearly five years. Though many issues are still pending, Triumph's Pat Lilly has told news organizations that construction on the plant could start in spring.
Dismayed by Triumph's return, opponents of the plan recently regrouped in a church to share stories and strategize over grass-fed beef tacos. They hope that a last push against the slaughterhouse may slow the approval of federal and state aid — or at least prompt the government to produce an environmental impact statement before building begins.
A tall, tan former hog farmer named Art Norris decried what he described as the inhumane treatment of animals raised in confined animal feeding operations (CAFOs), the staggering amount of feces created by hogs and the number of plants already discharging into the Rock River.
"Triumph already says that a lot of this meat will be going to Japan," said Norris, named the Quad Cities’ Waterkeeper by a national advocacy group aimed at protecting waterways from pollution. "So they get the meat, and we get the waste they leave behind."
Despite the urgency of arguments on both sides, one factor destined to slow the process is that Triumph has not applied for the permits it needs to build, according to the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency. "A project this complex could take months if not a year to process," an agency representative said.’
Proposed slaughterhouse stirs controversy in Quad Cities
Activists say it will bring environmental damage
Supporters say the area needs jobs
August 16, 2010 | By Monica Eng, Tribune reporter
Posted by: Scott Dye at 11:50AM PST on August 21, 2010
ALL HAIL Ohio Sentinel Matt Trokan for the last word in this article about the state’s failure to adequately monitor its public lakes to ensure public health and safety.
From the article:
‘The state will spend nearly $8 million this year to improve, promote and stock its lakes with sport fish.
Why? Because Ohio's 1.1 million anglers spend an estimated $1.1 billion annually related to fishing.
But with increasing reports of toxic algae choking Ohio's lakes, possibly sickening visitors, killing fish and maybe even some pets, how much does the state spend on testing the 400 public lakes to ensure safe swimming, boating and fishing?
It will spend about $15,800 in state money to test bacteria levels at beaches and $80,000 in federal and state money to test water in about 10 inland lakes this year.
The Ohio EPA stopped inland lake testing in 1995 when federal funds dried up. The agency restarted tests in 2007 with a one-time federal grant of $170,000 to test 20 lakes as part of a national survey.
The tests that year revealed that toxic algae was choking Grand Lake St. Marys in western Ohio. Last week, officials learned that at least three dogs that might have come into contact with lake water had died, and at least nine people have complained of illnesses.
The problem has gotten so bad this summer that officials are warning people not to go in or near the water. And the blue-green algae is showing up in other Ohio lakes.
"It's pretty much like a dead zone," said Tim Lovett, president of the Lake Improvement Association, about the 13,500-acre Grand Lake St. Marys in Mercer and Auglaize counties.
"Recreation and toxic ... I don't know how you use the two words in the same sentence."
Lovett said the smelly, toxic algae in the lake has emptied the state park and devastated local business.
Lake and stream testing in Ohio is more important than ever, said Matt Trokan, conservation coordinator with the Ohio chapter of the Sierra Club.
"It's better to protect our water at the source than to try and fix it after we've made it all polluted," Trokan said.’
Testing lakes not funding priority
Far more goes to tourism, despite unsafe waters
Sunday, August 1, 2010 02:58 AM
By Gina Potthoff
THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH
Posted by: Scott Dye at 11:46AM PST on August 21, 2010
ALL HAIL Missouri Sentinel Angel Kruzen and the Stream Team # 713 River Rats for hosting Governor Jay Nixon and wife Georgeanne on a float trip in the Ozark National Scenic Riverways. The Governor sang the praises of Missouri’s most excellent volunteer Stream Team program, raised awareness about litter and pollution in the state’s waterways, and got in a little fishing.
The always irreverent St. Louis Riverfront Times had some fun with the story.
Break Out the Jello Shots and Sunscreen: Gov. Jay Nixon is Going on a Float Trip
Ah, the float trip. It's a rite of passage in Missouri summer -- a way to blow off steam in our steamy August temps.
A photoset on Flickr:
Posted by: Scott Dye at 11:43AM PST on August 21, 2010
ALL HAIL Sentinel Linda Freilich and all of our Long Island Sentinels volunteers for leading the charge to get new tough phosphorus standards for New York signed into law.
On July 30th, 2010, New York’s Governor David Paterson signed into law, S. 3780/A. 8914 which will lower phosphates in dish detergents and lawn fertilizer. The bill, introduced by Assemblyman Bob Sweeney makes New York one of 15 other states that have adopted similar measures.
The bill amends New York State’s Environmental Conservation Law to prohibit certain household cleansers from containing more than trace amounts of phosphorous. It also prohibits the sale of dishwashing detergents that contain more than five-tenths percent phosphorus. Additionally, it prohibits the sale of cleansing products used in food and beverage processing equipment and dairy equipment, which contain more than eight and seven-tenths percent phosphorus. The bill also bans the use of fertilizers containing phosphorus under certain conditions.
Phosphorus overloads cause potentially toxic algal blooms that choke waterways and deprive ecosystems of oxygen which, in turn, may be harmful to humans and lead to fish kills. The Clean Water Act treats phosphorus as a pollutant, and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has identified at least 43 water bodies that are so polluted by this pollutant that they require strategies to protect and restore water quality.
Long Island Water Sentinels were right in the thick of it and instrumental in the passage of this legislation.
Read a summary of the Bill at:
From an editorial in the Syracuse Post-Standard:
'On the legislative side, there have been victories for the environment this session, including new laws to capture electronic waste and keep harmful chemicals off of children’s playing fields. A measure barring phosphorus from detergents, which brings New York in line with Massachusetts, Ohio and other states, should contribute to improved water quality throughout the state, including Onondaga Lake.’
A Mixed Record: On the environment, some achievements — and challenges
Published: Thursday, July 22, 2010
Posted by: Scott Dye at 11:40AM PST on August 21, 2010
ALL HAIL Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune and Michigan Chapter Director Anne Woiwode for this great guest editorial on the recent Kalamazoo oil spill in the LA Times.
From the editorial:
‘If the BP blowout in the Gulf of Mexico is causing us to reconsider deep-sea drilling, then last week's oil disaster in Michigan should give us pause about constructing new oil pipelines. And taken together, the spills spotlight what's wrong with our nation's energy direction.
Patrick D. Daniel, chief executive of Enbridge, Inc., apologized last week for "the mess we made." He was referring to the pipeline rupture that dumped about a million gallons of crude oil into Michigan's Kalamazoo River. Though we're sure that Daniel genuinely regrets that it was his company's turn to advertise the obvious dangers of continuing our nation's dependence on oil, this time, sorry's not good enough.
The immediate consequences of this particular "mess" are bad enough. Thirty miles of the Kalamazoo River were fouled. Birds, fish and other wildlife were killed or oiled. People had to be evacuated from their homes because of high levels of benzene in the air. When the heavy crude passed through the city of Battle Creek, the Kellogg Co. even had to stop making Corn Flakes.
Now the Obama administration is considering approval of a pipeline that would dramatically expand tar-sands oil distribution. It's called the Keystone XL. If you want a perfect example of what's gone wrong with American energy policy, take a good look at the Keystone XL pipeline. Once built, it would traverse one of the most important aquifers in the country on its way to the Gulf of Mexico. A single spill could threaten the water supply for nearly one-fifth of the wheat, corn and cotton grown and the cattle raised in America.
Instead of allowing foreign oil companies to build more pipelines and operate more drilling rigs in the Midwest, the gulf and elsewhere, we should invest in clean, safe, American energy. And before anyone in Washington decides we should approve the Keystone XL, they should see what one small "mess" did to the Kalamazoo.
It's ironic that Michigan must pay the price this time. The state is itching to take the lead in clean-energy technology. In less than a year, 16 electric vehicle technology plants have opened there, and they're projected to create 62,000 new jobs over the next decade. And we could be doing even more.
If not, we'll all be sorry. As this summer has made clear, oil disasters can happen anywhere, and no part of America will be safe as long as we continue subsidizing Big Oil.’
The Kalamazoo River 'mess' is a lot more than that
An oil spill in Michigan's Kalamazoo River points out the grave flaws in America's energy policies.
By Michael Brune and Anne Woiwode
August 6, 2010
Posted by: Scott Dye at 11:36AM PST on August 21, 2010
ALL HAIL Michigan Sentinel Rita Chapman for her comments in this article on the various threats to the Grand River, including the invasive menace of Asian Carp. When startled by the sound of boat motors they leap out of the water, and have injured many boaters throughout the Midwest.
From the article:
‘Many experts believe Asian carp, some of which rocket out of the water when disturbed by the sound of boat motors, will eventually colonize parts of the Great Lakes and rivers like the Grand.
Asian carp account for 90 percent of all fish in some sections of the Mississippi and Illinois rivers.
Experts fear Asian carp -- which hog fish food, breed like mosquitoes and usually dominate the ecosystems they colonize -- could devastate the $7 billion Great Lakes fishery and hurt the region's $16 billion recreational fishery.
Asian carp aren't the only serious threat to the Grand River system. Poorly planned urban growth that destroys wetlands and polluted storm water runoff from farms and cities are the most vexing problems facing the river now and in the near future, according to several scientists and government officials.
The battle to further restore and protect the river will be won or lost on the roughly 5,000-square miles of land that drains into the river and its tributaries, said Rita Chapman, clean water program director for the Sierra Club's Michigan chapter.
"When you think about restoring a river, you'd better think about what happens on land," Chapman said, "because 95 percent of most watersheds is land."’
Grand River's latest threat: Asian carp
Published: Tuesday, July 27, 2010
Posted by: Scott Dye at 11:32AM PST on August 21, 2010
ALL HAIL all of you Mad Hatters—those activists that wear many hats—serving for multiple worthy organizations. You know who you are, also a: Trout Unlimited officer, Treasurer for your local community gardens, member of Friends of Fill-in-the-Blank, et al.
“If you want something done, ask a busy person to do it.” – Lucille Ball
Here, Illinois Sentinel Cindy Skrukrud deftly wears two of her many other hats.
From the articles:
‘The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will study property in the township as part of its Hack-ma-tack Study, which is looking to turn sites in southern Wisconsin and northern Illinois into a wildlife refuge.
The federal government's study now includes 350,000 acres bounded by Burlington Wis., Harvard, the Chain O' Lakes and Route 176 in Crystal Lake.
Federal officials want to study the area because they realize what is at stake, said Cindy Skrukrud, with Friends of Hackmatack.
"Not only is the area beautiful but it's very rare," she said. "We have ecosystems in our area that are rarer than tropical rain forests."’
‘The two water samples are brought back to the McHenry County Health Department lab where the water is placed in a sealed tray and placed into an incubator for 18 to 22 hours. The next day, the lab technicians place a fluorescent light over the water samples and are able to see how much E. coli is in the water. The health department then makes a call on whether to close the beach.
The number of beaches that had to be closed because of E. coli this year is the highest in the past 10 years. This year, the area has seen higher rain amounts than in previous years, Weber said.
Reducing runoff would help, and there are steps people can take, said Cindy Skrukrud, chairwoman of the water resources committee of the Environmental Defenders of McHenry County.
Skrukrud recommended that people direct downspouts for water off roofs into gardens instead of onto pavement.
Water that goes through soil will have nutrients and other pollutants broken down in the soil, which helps clean the water.
New developments now have to meet regulations directing water into some sort of vegetation, Skrukrud said.
"We've recognized that it's not good to rapidly flush water off our property onto pavement and into bodies of water," Skrukrud said.
"We can't control the rain, but we can do something about how water runs off property," she said. "That's the issue everyone can get together and tackle."’
July 28, 2010
Feds to study Nunda land for wildlife refuge
By LEE ANN GILL - email@example.com
Aug. 3, 2010
Testing the water
E. coli levels close most county beaches in 10 years
By JOSEPH BUSTOS - firstname.lastname@example.org
Posted by: Scott Dye at 11:26AM PST on August 21, 2010
ALL HAIL our latest partner in youth fishing outreach, Great Outdoors University, who provides high-quality outdoor experiences to at-risk youth in Memphis (and coming soon to Nashville). And, ALL HAIL Tennessee Sentinel James Baker who reeled in our new ally.
Great Outdoors University (GOU) is a youth conservation education program of the Tennessee Wildlife Federation (TWF) whose mission is to connect kids with the great outdoors in meaningful, life-changing and lasting ways. GOU participants are children and youth who would not likely have the opportunity to learn about and experience the great outdoors otherwise.
GOU accomplishes its mission through conservation education, day field trips and overnight camping experiences. Day field trips take kids hiking or fishing within an hour’s drive of the inner-city; however the destinations are not urban parks or nature centers. A primary goal of GOU is to expose kids to more remote and wild areas. Great Outdoors University Weekends are overnight camping experiences held in the Spring and Fall. These three-day, two-night events include courses in orienteering, archery, wilderness survival skills, aquatic systems, hiking and fishing. Follow-up curriculum and activities are also provided to further the impact of hands-on experiences.
GOU participants are sourced from partnering organizations who include outdoor education in their mission to serve underprivileged children and youth. In Memphis for example, GOU has partnered with the Boy Scouts of America’s ScoutReach program (ensuring that all young people have an opportunity to join Scouting, regardless of their circumstances) and Girls, Inc. (dedicated to inspiring all girls to be strong, smart and bold). GOU has filled a niche in order for these organizations to fulfill their mandate to provide outdoor education while serving children and youth. Adult leadership for GOU comes from a variety of sources. In addition to trip coordination by TWF staff, GOU contracts with professional naturalists and environmental educators for teaching and leading trips. Additionally, volunteers from area hunting and fishing organizations accompany most trips to serve as mentors, and participating partnering organization staff members serve as chaperones.
Great Outdoors University is more than just taking kids out in the woods or to the lake for a day. GOU seeks to go deeper, to help develop a connection to, and an understanding of the natural world that will last far into the future. Our work is guided by recent research, particularly that of Dr. Richard Louv (“Last Child in the Woods”), that has shown children in today’s urban world are suffering from “nature deficit disorder,” the impact of which can lead to childhood obesity, attention deficit disorder and a general culture of stress and depression. TWF is working towards giving all the children in Tennessee the opportunity to play in and learn about the great outdoors, all while creating part of the remedy to the challenges of today’s electronic culture.
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