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 11:42PM PST on October 23, 2010
ALL HAIL Missouri Sentinels Angel and Tom Kruzen, and other stalwart citizen activists like Leslie and Jack Warden of Herculaneum, for over 20+ years of herculean efforts to expose the filthy and poisonous operations of the Doe Run Company.
Finally, the EPA dropped the hammer—a $7 million fine and $65 million in remediation, shutting down the infamous Herculaneum Smelter, and around $8 million MORE, at all ten of their Missouri lead mining and smelting operations.
Finally, all we needed to say was ‘thank you.’ The tone and substance of the EPA’s words said it all.
From the St. Louis Riverfront Times and the national EPA press release:
‘"For more than a century, families in Missouri's lead districts have endured one of the most harmful forms of air and water pollution," EPA Regional Administrator Karl Brooks said. "Lead's toll on their lives and health has been great, which is why the outcome of this enforcement action is so important. Four decades after taking the first steps to remove lead from gasoline, EPA has reached this settlement to keep significant amounts of lead from polluting Missouri's air, land and water. This is a historic milestone, and it could not have happened without the effective, energetic cooperation of Missouri's Governor, Attorney General and Department of Natural Resources."’
‘The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the U.S. Justice Department and the Missouri Department of Natural Resources today announced that Doe Run Resources Corp. of St. Louis, North America’s largest lead producer, has agreed to spend approximately $65 million to correct violations of several environmental laws at 10 of its lead mining, milling and smelting facilities in southeast Missouri. The settlement also requires the company to pay a $7 million civil penalty.
“This settlement will reduce lead pollution in the town of Herculaneum and in other southeastern Missouri communities, as well as encourage the development of innovative technology and projects to improve the environment in impacted communities,” said Ignacia S. Moreno, Assistant Attorney General of the Justice Department's Environment and Natural Resource Division. “It should also send a message to all companies that handle hazardous waste, such as lead: You must comply with the laws that are intended to protect public health and the environment.”
Instead of installing pollution control technologies to reduce sulfur dioxide and lead emissions at its aging Herculaneum lead smelter, Doe Run has made a business decision to comply with its Clean Air Act obligations and shut down of the smelter by Dec 31, 2013. The company will also provide an initial $8.14 million in financial assurance to guarantee cleanup work at the Herculaneum facility.
The closing of the Herculaneum smelter is expected to result in significant benefits to public health and the environment by annually reducing at least 101,000 tons of carbon dioxide, 22 tons of carbon monoxide, 2.5 tons of volatile organic chemicals, 23 tons of particulate matter, 13.5 tons of nitrogen oxides, 42,000 tons of sulfur dioxide and 30 tons of lead. These reductions will result in significant health and environmental benefits to the Herculaneum and St. Louis areas, which are currently violating federal air standards for lead, ozone and particulate matter.
The settlement also requires Doe Run to establish financial assurance trust funds, at an estimated cost of $28 million to $33 million… and will spend an estimated $5.8 million on stream mitigation activities along 8.5 miles of Bee Fork Creek, an impaired waterway near Doe Run’s Fletcher mine and mill facility.
The company will also spend $2 million on community mitigation projects over the next four years.
In addition to the consent decree, EPA is issuing for public comment a new administrative order that requires Doe Run to sample residential properties within 1.5 miles of the Herculaneum smelter, and clean up all residential properties with lead soil concentrations of 400 parts per million or higher within that zone. The order requires Doe Run to conduct a final round of soil sampling and residential property cleanups in Herculaneum after the smelter is shut down.’
Doe Run Settles with EPA: Lead Company to Close Herculaneum Smelter, Spend Millions
Posted by: Scott Dye at 11:24PM PST on October 23, 2010
ALL HAIL our Arizona Sentinels, Chapter Director Sandy Bahr, Steve Pawlowski and Carole Piszczek, for this great story on our work to protect the endangered Verde River. And ALL HAIL the Arizona DEQ for appreciating our dedicated contributions towards protecting Arizona waterways.
From the article:
‘Volunteers spend a day every other month wading through one of the state’s few perennial rivers, collecting samples to monitor PH levels, E. coli bacteria, arsenic, nitrogen, phosphorus and water flows.
Although they aren’t scientists, the data they collect helps the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality keep a closer watch than it otherwise could on the health of the Verde River, which is a significant source of drinking water for Valley residents.
Officials say efforts of the approximately 60 volunteers in the Sierra Club Grand Canyon Chapter’s Water Sentinels Program to test water and monitor flows are helping protect the river. The Verde was chosen in 2006 by conservation organization American Rivers as one of the country’s most endangered rivers.
“The Verde River is very threatened primarily from water projects that would divert water from the river’s base flow,” says Sandy Bahr, director of the Grand Canyon Chapter of the Sierra Club. “The program provides good baseline data so we can see where there are impacts and use that information to address those impacts.”
ADEQ says volunteer groups like the Water Sentinels provide a valuable service by helping the agency maintain regular water quality-testing intervals required by section 305(b) of the Clean Water Act.
"The state is becoming increasingly reliant on volunteer help because of budget cutbacks,” says Mark Shaffer, communications director at ADEQ. “The sentinels help us out a great deal with water testing in the field.”
The Water Sentinels was created in 2006 out of concern for the future of the Verde River, says Steve Pawlowski, program coordinator. The group says the river is specifically threatened by excessive groundwater pumping and sewage near its headwaters.
Pawlowski, who spent 21 years working for the ADEQ Water Quality Division, transports the samples to an aquatic-testing laboratory where they are analyzed, compiled into a report and sent to the Department of Environmental Quality.
But testing water quality is only part of the mission of the Water Sentinels. It also functions as a conservation group, which educates the public about the river and coordinates monthly clean-ups along its banks. “Our primary goal is to get people involved,” Pawlowski says.
“The biggest thing the program does is it connects people to the river,” Bahr says. “I have met people who are new to the area who aren’t familiar with our desert rivers and don’t know how important they are in what they provide in the way of wildlife habitat and drinking water.”
Carole Piszczek leads the Verde Valley Water Sentinels Program. Piszczek says it’s because of the critical nature of the Verde River, especially to wildlife, that she got involved with the program.
“Without it, the whole ribbon of green that runs through the Valley would disappear along with all the animals and wildlife that depend on that river,” she says.
“If we like our lifestyle and we like living here,” Piszczek says, “we cannot afford to take it for granted.”’
www.azcapitoltimes.com (archives by subscription only)
Water watchers; Conservation group supplements ADEQ river-monitoring efforts
By Ryan Van Velzer - email@example.com
Published: October 11, 2010 at 6:50 am
Posted by: Scott Dye at 11:18PM PST on October 23, 2010
ALL HAIL Illinois Sentinel Fran Caffee, the program’s Co-Lead and # 1 Ambassador, and who has been a strong participant and supporter of the Sierra Club’s Activist Network. If you’re not yet on the AN, come on in, the water is fine.
'When West Virginia native Fran Caffee moved to Aurora, Illinois, on the banks of the Fox River, there was no local Sierra Club group. So she founded the Valley of the Fox Group. "There weren't many Club activists in Kane County at the time," she says, "but there were a lot of like-minded people in the area; it just took a little work to get them together."
In 1995 Caffee started the Valley of the Fox Water Sentinels, to monitor water quality in the Fox River. Five years later the Sierra Club Water Sentinels Program was officially launched, and it now has active groups, projects and partnerships in 48 states.
"Water Sentinels is an easy way to get involved in conservation work," Caffee says. "And once people see that they're making a real difference, they're hooked!"
Posted by: Scott Dye at 11:13PM PST on October 23, 2010
ALL HAIL Illinois Chapter Director Jack Darin and Sentinel Cindy Skrukrud (who will work the public meetings) for this excellent op-ed supporting the proposed Hackmatack National Wildlife Refuge. This great new NWR seems to be on the green light fast track.
From Jack’s op-ed:
‘As the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service begins public outreach sessions today about a proposed new National Wildlife Refuge in northern Illinois and southern Wisconsin, the Sierra Club is lending strong support for a “once in a lifetime opportunity” to preserve and restore beautiful landscapes and wildlife habitat for future generations.
“This is an once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to bring a national wildlife refuge to the Chicago-Milwaukee-Madison-Rockford metropolitan area,” said Jack Darin, director of the Illinois Chapter. “Over 12 million people would have easy access to the refuge where they could get out and experience the beauty of oak savannas, tallgrass prairies, expansive wetlands and clear streams that are a legacy of our region’s glacial past.”
The proposed refuge could double the amount of wildlife habitat in the border region; 23,000 acres of conservation lands are already protected by the McHenry County Conservation District, Lake County Forest Preserve District and the Illinois and Wisconsin departments of Natural Resources within the 55 square mile area being studied by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service. The study area contains parts of Walworth, Racine and Kenosha counties in Wisconsin and parts of McHenry and Lake counties in Illinois.
“Refuge lands could help connect existing parks and conservation areas, providing conservation corridors for wildlife,” said Cindy Skrukrud, Clean Water Advocate for the Illinois Chapter, who is participating in the Fish and Wildlife Service’s open houses this week. “For example, a flyway for the endangered Whooping cranes is being re-established between Wisconsin and Florida. Cranes need wetland stopover sites where they can rest and feed on their migrations; Hackmatack lands could help expand their habitat in the bistate area.”’
From the community
Sierra Club Welcomes Hackmatack National Wildlife Refuge Proposal
October 12, 2010
By Jack Darin
Posted by: Scott Dye at 11:08PM PST on October 23, 2010
ALL HAIL Kentucky Sentinel Aloma Dew and her most excellent crew for a most excellent HFLF Version 11.0.
From Aloma’s Report:
‘The 11th annual Healthy Foods, Local Farms Conference was this past Saturday, Sept. 25 at Spalding University in Louisville. I think it was the best yet. We began the day with the Rethinkers from New Orleans, young people who are taking charge of their environment and schools and have made wonderful changes in their school lunch program. Anna Lappe talked about the connection between climate change and food—excellent tie-in with our energy work. There was a couple from Taiwan who are with the Chinese Environmental Education Association and shared international perspectives. Then we had a fantastic lunch, catered by Mark Williams, served in the college cafeteria—shows what school food could be like! We ended the day, after breakout sessions, with a showing of the film Lunch Line. The day’s theme of Climate for Change resonated throughout the conference and then we adjourned to the Harlan Smith urban garden where we saw what you can do with food, flowers, and chickens in a city setting. We had a couple of farmers selling their products. We did not quite make 200 in attendance, but it was a great conference with lots of good conversations going on.’
Posted by: Carol Nau at 3:48PM PST on October 19, 2010
I'm writing from my home in Maryland. It is a beatiful fall day and the streams are flowing after a morning rain. We have good news to report. The EPA has put forth a polution diet for the whole Chesapeake Bay watershed and they are backing up the plan with strong regulations. Each state has prepared and submitted their plans to reach the diet goals. Maryland has delivered a decent plan but the rest of the states are screaming, "no fair". The congressmen, ag groups and developers have joined together to ask the EPA to push back its dates. So far the EPA has not responded officially but rumors are flying that they are going to stick to the original dates. These dates were agreed to by government officials back in '08! Up next, comments to the EPA on the diet (also know as Total Maximum Daily Load) and the states plans to meet the goals (also know as Watershed Implementation Plans) are due Nov. 8th 2010. If anyone has the time and wants to read all about it, visit http://www.epa.gov/chesapeakebaytmdl/. There has also been rumors that this approach by the EPA may be duplicated in other regions.
If you are interested in helping us out, please let me know.
Posted by: Scott Dye at 8:49AM PST on October 7, 2010
ALL HAIL Arizona Sentinel Doris Cellarius, friend of the planet, and the 2010 Winner of the Sierra Club’s prestigious volunteer William E. Colby Award. The Colby Award “honors an individual for outstanding leadership, dedication and service to the Sierra Club.” Yep, that’s Doris.
Doris has been an invaluable advisor and member of the national Water Sentinels Team (formerly Committee) since 2003. Her wise counsel and strong support have been instrumental in helping to build the program from seven project sites in six states, to a nationwide program of projects and partnerships in 48 states. Additionally, her leadership during the tenures of Sierra Club’s Clean Water Campaign and the Safe & Healthy Communities Conservation Initiative Committee provided important feedback and resources to start numerous and now thriving volunteer-led Water Sentinels projects, who work to protect water quality in their local watersheds.
Doris helped form a Water Sentinels project for her local Yavapai Group, working in close partnership with longtime ally Prescott Creeks. She expanded our presence in Arizona by helping form and foster our Upper Verde River Water Sentinels project, fighting dewatering schemes targeting this critically endangered river. Bringing those efforts to full fruition, Arizona now has a full time Water Sentinels staff organizer working to protect the Verde and other state waterways.
Doris is one of the Sierra Club’s most knowledgeable experts on many issues, including toxics, endocrine disruptors and volatile organic compounds, and has helped countless activists understand and battle these deadly pollutants across the US. Her cheerful demeanor, knowledge, professionalism and willingness to assist others have made her one of Sierra Club’s most admired and respected leaders. Doris’s distinguished record of service, spanning four decades from the local, group, chapter, national and international level, make her a definitive winner of the William E. Colby Award.
Posted by: Scott Dye at 8:46AM PST on October 7, 2010
ALL HAIL Arizona, for agreeing on a common sense approach, which is rare in Arizona, to the future use of public lands.
From the Arizona Star article:
‘Imagine the Sierra Club and the state Legislature agreeing on something.
It doesn't happen much, but they do agree this year on Proposition 110, which would legalize exchanges of state land for other public land. The unity has defused the controversy that has plagued, and ultimately killed, previous land-swap ballot propositions during the past 20 years. The exchanges would be allowed only to protect military bases from development, and to improve protection or management of state land.
… on this issue, Sierra Club lobbyist Sandy Bahr and Sen. John Nelson, R-Glendale, Prop. 110's author, signed an argument in favor of it in the secretary of state's publicity pamphlet for the Nov. 2 election. There is no known organized opposition.
Many of the proposal's backers see it as a way to try to ensure that facilities such as Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Fort Huachuca and Luke Air Force Base near Phoenix aren't encircled by new homes whose residents start complaining about noise from aircraft and other military facilities.
In the past, land-exchange propositions have been felled by opponents who didn't trust the state to do exchanges properly. The opponents argued that the state - and public agencies in general - often got a raw deal in land exchanges with private entities. Exchanges of state land have been illegal in Arizona since the state Supreme Court outlawed them in 1990.
This time, when Nelson called Bahr to try to work out a land-exchange proposal, "John Nelson said to me: 'Look, we've tried everything else. We want to look at what you guys have proposed,' " Bahr recalled this week. "I had gone to Nelson a long time ago and said, 'If you guys want to do land exchanges, name the lands upfront and let the voters approve them. We need a process that has some accountability.' "
And, said the Sierra Club's Bahr, "if they try to put up some big rip-off, we can defeat it on the ballot."’
Prop. 110 provision for public vote on deals brings unity
Prop. 110 land-exchange plan is widely endorsed
Posted: Thursday, September 30, 2010
Posted by: Scott Dye at 8:38AM PST on October 7, 2010
ALL HAIL Ed Hopkins, director of the Sierra Club’s Environmental Quality Program, and Eli Lehrer, national director of the Center on Finance, Insurance and Real Estate at the Heartland Institute, a conservative think tank and advocacy group, for finding common sense and common ground regarding stopping development in perilous places.
From the joint op-ed in the Providence (RI) Journal:
‘Half a decade after Hurricane Katrina devastated the Gulf Coast, the United States remains unprepared for nature’s worst. Given that future mega-disasters are inevitable, this presents a major problem. The challenge doesn’t stem from a lack of financial commitment (Congress has spent around $19 billion to help restore the Gulf Coast) or poor local efforts, but from policies that continue to focus development in harm’s way. If it wants to avoid disasters, the United States should take a simple step: Revise national policies that encourage development in dangerous areas. Instead, it should adopt a national mitigation strategy to get people out of harm’s way.
Hurricane-prone areas still continue to attract significant population growth, and many scientists believe that human-caused global climate change could intensify hurricanes for years to come. The consequences of the current course of action are simple: when major disasters strike, more Americans will be at risk and the country will have to borrow billions of dollars in order to rebuild.
In the end, no government action can entirely protect us from nature’s ravages. When possible, public policy should help people survive nature’s worst. It’s almost always cheaper to prevent disasters than clean up after them. A national mitigation strategy would help us do that.’
Ed Hopkins/Eli Lehrer: U.S. must stop developing perilous places
Tuesday, September 28, 2010
Posted by: Scott Dye at 8:33AM PST on October 7, 2010
ALL HAIL Illinois Sentinel Cindy Skrukrud for injecting common sense in the public discussion of a proposed new parkway through prime farmland, forests and wetlands.
From the article:
‘It's up to Illinois tollway directors to decide if the Prairie Parkway is a congestion-relieving economic panacea or a farm-destroying boondoggle.
On Thursday, the plan to build a 37-mile four-lane highway connecting I-80 and I-88 took center stage. The Prairie Parkway is estimated to cost $3.26 billion and would run through Kane, Kendall and Grundy counties. The project also is at the center of a lawsuit.
…Kendall County farmer Judy Maierhofer countered, "I am an endangered species. My farm is in the footprint of the Prairie Parkway it would be totally obliterated."
… Zucchero noted the parkway would impact 2,505 acres of prime farmland and 188 farms, displace 21 homes and affect forests and wetlands in the vicinity.
Cindy Skukrud, a Sierra Club clean water advocate, said the parkway would fragment habitats and damage streams and forests. "I'm concerned about salt spray damaging trees and affecting water quality," she said.’
No one neutral on whether to build Prairie Parkway
By Marni Pyke |
Posted by: Scott Dye at 8:29AM PST on October 7, 2010
ALL HAIL the Lexington Herald-Leader for a strong editorial supporting stricter regulation of coal ash as a hazardous pollutant, as proposed by the EPA.
From the editorial:
‘Kentucky generates more waste from coal-fired power plants than any other state. With 44 coal ash ponds, we're second only to Indiana on that dubious measure.
Someone living near an unlined coal-ash pond has up to a 1 in 50 chance of developing cancer from arsenic, according to a 2007 report by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
In Kentucky, the Sierra Club commissioned an examination of groundwater monitoring data for coal-ash disposal facilities. Of the state's 44 ash ponds, the state Division of Waste had monitoring data for only 8, and that data was limited and incomplete. Even from the limited records, the researchers were able to conclude that contaminants had leached into groundwater at all eight sites.
Kentuckians' health is at risk from the waste from coal-fired power plants, waste that contains heavy metals, carcinogens and mutagens.
Yet at a public hearing in Louisville last week on stronger standards, the coal industry and utilities argued that we can't afford safer disposal methods.
How much would it cost? The Institute for Southern Studies in Raleigh, N.C., used a government analysis to estimate the cost of regulating coal-combustion waste as a hazardous waste.
Even in Kentucky, where the estimated increase would be the greatest of any Southern state at 2.3 percent, the average monthly residential bill of $89.35 would increase by just $2.06.
Twenty-five bucks a year to protect our water from a threat that grows in volume by millions of tons a year is worth it.’
Strong standards for coal ash
Health threats are numerous
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