Clean Water

Enough of Groundhog Day: Save CEQA

By Jenesse Miller

One of my favorite movies is Groundhog Day, where Bill Murray's weatherman character is trapped living the same day over and over again. But one of my least-favorite real-life versions of Groundhog Day--where several interest groups try to push through major changes to California's most important environmental law at the last minute--is playing out yet again in the state Capitol in the waning days of the legislative session.

The Los Angeles Times warns: “Major change to one of California’s most important laws could happen literally in the dark of night."

Mosquito Aerial Spray Programs Endanger Human Health, Don’t Work

By Kim Glazzard, Organic Sacramento; Samantha McCarthy, Better Urban Green Strategies; Jack Milton, Stop West Nile Spraying Now; Asael Sala, Pesticide Watch

Aerial mosquito spraying over populated areas this year by the local mosquito control district used a more hazardous pesticide than in previous years. While there is no scientific evidence that the spray is effective in stopping the spread of West Nile virus (WNv), there is evidence that the spraying endangers health.
The more dangerous pesticide used this year is an organophosphate. Similar to chemical warfare agents produced during World War II, this chemical adversely affects the human nervous system even at low exposure levels, and ingredients are on California’s Proposition 65 list of chemicals known to cause cancer.

NRDC Annual Beach Report: Closing & Advisory Days Hit Third-Highest Level in Two Decades

By Noah Garrison
Natural Resources Defense Council

America’s beaches saw the third-highest number of closing and advisory days in more than two decades last year, with 5,945 closing and advisory days in California—25 percent of the national total—confirming California beaches continue to suffer from stormwater runoff and sewage pollution that can make people sick and harm coastal economies, according to the 22nd annual beachwater quality report released today by the Natural Resources Defense Council.

Our beaches are plagued by a sobering legacy of water pollution. Luckily, much of this filth is preventable and we can turn the tide against water pollution. By establishing better beachwater quality standards and putting untapped 21st century solutions in place – we can make a day at the beach as carefree as it should be, and safeguard California’s vital tourism industry.

2012 Delta Vision Foundation Report Card Assigns Tough Grades

By Sunne Wright McPeak, President of the Delta Vision Foundation and Charles Gardiner, Executive Director

State decision makers are making inroads on planning, but they are lagging on implementation of solutions to fix the beleaguered Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. The 2012 Delta Vision Report Card, released yesterday by the Delta Vision Foundation, emphasizes that although the various sectors of state government are working hard and with good intentions, progress is slow in coming.

Thou Shalt Not Frack Thy Neighbor’s Land

By Beth Gunston
California League of Conservation Voters

It’s only been in the last couple of years that Californians began hearing about fracking, and few of us thought that it was even happening in our state. Fracking – shorthand for hydraulic fracturing – is a method that is used to extract natural gas and oil deeply trapped below shale deposits. A process that has been in use for decades, fracking requires vast amounts of water laden with a concoction of chemicals to be pumped under high pressure to blast through shale and push up trapped gas. Well, it turns out that California has been getting fracked for years in areas including Los Angeles, Ventura, Monterey, Santa Barbara, and Kern Counties.

Fracking Impact On Water Worries Californians

By Ngoc Nguyen
New America Media

Earlier this year, the oil company Plains Exploration and Production (PXP) blasted water and chemicals more than one and half miles into the earth to force oil embedded in a sandstone formation to gush to the surface.

The process – known as hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” – has been debated in many U.S. communities where oil and gas deposits have been identified in recent years. But PXP wasn’t fracking in the much-touted Marcellus Shale on the East Coast, where much of the controversy over fracking has centered. It was fracking two test wells in urban Los Angeles, where 300,000 people live within a three-mile radius.

The drilling was done less than a year after community and environmental groups reached a settlement with PXP, after complaining for years about pollution from the site.

Not a Drop to Drink: Inside California's Water Crisis

By Elizabeth Royte
On Earth Magazine

When Josie Nieto visits her relatives in Mexicali, Mexico, she luxuriates in long showers. And when she’s thirsty, she enjoys a glass of water straight from the kitchen tap. At Nieto’s own house, the water pressure is so low it can take her 45 minutes to shower and shampoo. And sometimes there’s no water at all, which is why some of her neighbors hoard water in buckets. It’s fine for laundry and houseplants, but Nieto isn’t keen on drinking the stuff. The main pipe of her community water system runs straight down the middle of an irrigation ditch. "I’ve seen dead animals in there," Nieto says.

It is Time to Restore Salmon to the San Joaquin River

By Monty Schmitt
Natural Resources Defense Council

Reaching a great milestone: #salmon will be re-introduced in the San Joaquin River for the first time since the 1940s.

Last year marked the fifth year of the San Joaquin River Restoration Program and the two year anniversary of renewed river flows - the first since the 1940s when the operation of Friant Dam dried up the river and ended the historic salmon runs.  Thanks to years of hard work on the part of state and federal agencies, farmers, conservation groups, water districts and other stakeholders, the San Joaquin River once again flows all the way to the sea.

Toxic-time-bomb spawned two-headed Brown trout in Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem

By Patrick Porgans
Planetary Solutions

Selenium laden toxic-time bomb triggered by 50-years of Phosphate mining in Northwest U.S. Experts claim two-headed trout and dead livestock portend hundreds of years of surface and groundwater contamination.

The toxic mines are within the 350,000 square kilometers of the Western Phosphate Field; located in five-northern tier states, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Utah and Wyoming. The epicenter of the time-bomb is in the Caribou-Targhee National Forest in Southeastern Idaho and bordering western Wyoming.

It’s official! This is not a fish story. The two-headed wild Brown trout depicted in the photographs, spawned in the Salt River sub-unit of the upper Snake River drainage watershed, which is within the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem.

Building a Blue-Green Coalition in California

By Marcy Winograd
Former Democratic Candidate for Congress

After the passage of the National Defense Authorization Act, with its codification of imprisonment without charge or trial, I could no longer register voters for the Democratic Party – even with the hope of involving new registrants in the California Democratic Party’s popular Progressive Caucus. If I could not ask someone to join the Democratic Party, I could not in good conscience stay in the party, even as an insurgent writing resolutions and platform planks to end our wars for oil.

Unfortunately, too many corporate Democrats, beholden to big-money donors or to a jobs sector dependent on militarism, vote for perpetual war and the surveillance state, replete with secret wiretaps, black hole prisons, and targeted assassinations. Far too many who are fearful or bought by the American Israel Public Affairs Committee vote for legislation that relegates Palestinians to second-class citizenship and threatens to take our country to the brink of an unthinkable war on Iran.