What About Pollution

What are YOU going to Do!

Health and the Environment’

Historic Victory for Public Health as Governor Cuomo Bans Fracking in New York

Kate Sinding, Senior Attorney, New York City As most of the world now knows, yesterday Governor Cuomo made the incredibly bold and principled decision to ban fracking in New York State.  For those of us who have been working so hard over the past almost seven years to ensure that science, not industry influence, guided the state’s decision on this most critical of issues, it was an outcome that frankly exceeded many of our wildest expectations.  I’ll admit it: I am still pinching myself 24 hours later. Thank you, Governor Cuomo, for having the courage and wisdom to listen to what the scientists in your administration and across the country are telling us: The risks of fracking remain too… Read More

On the 40th Anniversary of the Safe Drinking Water Act, Where We Were and Where We Are Going

Mae Wu, Program Attorney, Washington, DC This year marks the 40th Anniversary of the Safe Drinking Water Act. As part of the celebration, I participated in an event recently at the National Press Club to talk about the challenges ahead on dealing with emerging contaminants in drinking water. Below are the remarks that I prepared for that event. And here you can see an archived video of all the remarks, including from EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy. Back many years ago, I went to graduate school in another country. And I remember the first day walking into what they called the gyp or the tiny kitchen and seeing a sign above the faucet warning that the water wasn’t potable. I… Read More

The Clean Water Act — 42 Birthday Candles and Half a Million Americans Who Support It

Jon Devine, Senior Attorney, Washington, D.C. Forty-two years ago this past Saturday, Congress passed the law known today as the Clean Water Act.  I salute their forethought and bipartisan leadership, not just because I make my living implementing that law, but because it has helped to restore waters that are special to me. I grew up in Massachusetts, where the water pollution was so bad in Boston Harbor and the Charles River that the Standells’ “Dirty Water” became the city’s unofficial anthem.  I remember going into Boston on a boat for Fourth of July fireworks and my mom telling me not to touch the Charles.  My family also spent a lot of weekends by the Pemigewasset River in New… Read More

Burden of the Boom: Who Will Pay the Price for Fracking in California?

Miriam Rotkin-Ellman, Scientist, San Francisco From polluted skies to contaminated drinking water and hazardous waste, communities of color in California get way more than their fair share.  If the oil and gas industry gets their way, drilling – and the environmental and health threats from fracking, acidizing, and other technologies – will be piled onto communities already staggering under smoggy skies and unsafe water. In our new analysis of the more than 84,000 oil and gas wells in California, we found that 5.4 million people live within a mile of one or more of these wells. And more than a third (or 1.8 million) also live in communities ranked as the most threatened by pollution by the California Environmental… Read More

Tagging toxics: Legislation green lights labeling of harmful chemicals in household furniture

Veena Singla, Staff Scientist, Health Program, San Francisco Today, the California legislature voted to give consumers the right to know whether they are bringing home a toxic couch. This first-in-the nation legislation (SB 1019), authored by Senator Mark Leno (D-San Francisco), requires the furniture’s attached label to clearly declare the presence or absence of added flame retardants. This bill was co-sponsored by NRDC along with Center for Environmental Health and California Professional Firefighters, and its passage is a victory for California consumers who want to make safer choices for their families. The bill has bipartisan support throughout the legislature, indicating that both sides of the aisle agree: more transparency in the marketplace is good for business and good for… Read More

California Misses Opportunity to Swap a Full Nuclear Plant for Clean Energy

Sierra Martinez, Legal Director, California Energy Projects, San Francisco Ever since California’s giant nuclear plant shut down two years ago due to malfunctions and poor economics of revival, state regulators and politicians have been wrestling with the question of: How much clean energy can we use to replace that old nuclear plant? Unfortunately, a decision issued today indicates the answer will be: Not as much as those breathing the polluted air in Southern California need. Earlier this year, the state commission that deals with this exact issue released a plan showing that potentially the whole San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station could be changed out and replaced with clean energy alternatives – like the pollution-free energy from solar panels or wind… Read More

Is Your State Government Trying to Expose Your Family to More Arsenic, Lead & Mercury Pollution?

John Walke, Clean Air Director/ Senior Attorney, Washington, D.C. Twenty-one states have asked the U.S. Supreme Court to terminate health safeguards that protect Americans from toxic air pollution spewed by electric power plants burning coal and oil. Attorneys general from these conservative states want to overturn a lower court decision that upheld clean air standards projected to save up to 11,000 lives, and avoid 4,700 heart attacks and 130,000 asthma attacks every year. The lower court found these health standards fully complied with the Clean Air Act, by requiring deep reductions in over seven dozen hazardous air pollutants emitted by dirty power plants. These pollutants include the brain poisons mercury and lead, cancer-causing arsenic and dioxins, heavy metals like nickel, and acid… Read More