In the early 1970s, many American rivers and streams were environmental basket cases – lined with industrial facilities dumping toxic pollution virtually unchecked, choked with untreated sewage and trash, and, in many cases, devoid of aquatic life.
In 2014, 42 years after the passage of the Clean Water Act, many of these formerly degraded waterways are returning to health. From Puget Sound to Boston Harbor and from Monterey Bay to the Chattahoochee River, the Clean Water Act has played an essential role in restoring America’s rivers, lakes and coastal waters as sources of recreation, engines of economic development, and critical habitat for wildlife.
As international leaders prepare for the United Nations Climate Summit next week in New York, a new study shows America’s power plants dump as much carbon pollution into the air any other country’s entire economy except China. Environment California pointed to the report as evidence for why the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposal for the nation’s first-ever limits on carbon pollution from power plants is a critical step in the international fight against global warming.
The Top 10 states with the most solar electricity installed per capita account for only 26 percent of the U.S. population but 87 percent of the nation’s total installed solar electricity capacity. These 10 states – Arizona, California, Colorado, Delaware, Hawaii, Massachusetts, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico and North Carolina – possess strong policies that are enabling increasing numbers of homeowners, businesses, communities and utilities to “go solar.”
America’s dependence on gasoline as a transportation fuel worsens global warming and threatens public health. Increasing the use of electric vehicles – especially those powered by clean, renewable sources of electricity – can protect the climate and help America get off oil.
Industrial facilities continue to dump millions of pounds of toxic chemicals into America’s rivers, streams, lakes and ocean waters each year – threatening both the environment and human health. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), toxic discharges from industrial facilities are responsible for polluting more than 17,000 miles of rivers and about 210,000 acres of lakes, ponds and estuaries nationwide.
To curb this massive release of toxic chemicals into our nation’s water, we must step up Clean Water Act protections for our waterways and require polluters to reduce their use of toxic chemicals.
Environment California Research and Policy Center is part of The Public Interest Network, which operates and supports organizations committed to a shared vision of a better world and a strategic approach to social change.