Freshwater Weekly: January 17th, 2020

Posted on January 17, 2020 by

January 17, 2020

This week:  Trump Administration Attacks on Water and Environment + Minnesota Court of Appeals Reversed Three Permits for Mining Operation + Will Your Representative Stand for Clean Water? + Tell Your Senators–Don’t Delay Action on Toxic Chemicals (PFAS) in Drinking Water + Trump Rollback of National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA)

Trump Administration Attacks on Water and Environment

The Trump Administration recently initiated several setbacks to existing environmental laws and announced veto action for legislation that protects water supplies.  Together, we can raise our voices to prevent harmful changes to the laws that keep our families and communities healthy. Our country’s environmental legacy has strong bi-partisan support; and residents throughout the Great Lakes region have always stepped up to take action when asked.

In the coming weeks, you will receive more emails from us that give you a way to VOICE your concerns about the attacks on water and environment.  Hopefully, you can take the time to add your name to petitions and other actions to educate decision-makers and protect what we all value-clean water!

Minnesota Court of Appeals Reversed Three Permits for Mining Operation

Two dam safety permits and the permit to mine for the Polymet Mine in Minnesota were rejected by the Minnesota Court of Appeals stating that criticisms of the mining company were not adequately reviewed by a neutral administrative law judge.  As a result, the decisions for those permits now moves to a contested case hearing. WaterLegacy, the organization that appealed the permit decisions, applauded the Court’s decision for a more rigorous and open review of the permits.  In a separate legal case, Minnesota state regulators face charges of suppressing concerns from the U. S. EPA about a water permit for this mine and destroying records.

Will Your Representative Stand for Clean Water?

A resolution introduced into the U.S. House of Representatives denounces U.S. EPA initiatives that make our water less safe by weakening the Clean Water Act. Introduced by Reps. Debbie Dingell (D-Mich) and Chris Pappas (D-NH), the resolution allows voters to check if their elected officials will stand up for clean water.  The resolution opposes recent and proposed actions by the U.S. EPA including repealing science-based protections for streams and wetlands, weakening toxic pollution discharge limits for power plants, and refusing to develop regulations to avoid and minimize spills of hazardous substances.  Freshwater Future will keep you posted on this resolution and provide ways to communicate with your officials.

Action: Tell Your Senators–Don’t Delay Action on Toxic Chemicals (PFAS) in Drinking Water

The U.S. EPA has known about the risks posed by the family of toxic chemicals called PFAS for decades and failed to act.  Our communities can’t wait any longer for action from EPA. No one should have to worry about whether their water is safe.

Last Friday, the U.S. House of Representatives passed, with bipartisan support, the PFAS Action Act (H.B. 535). Earlier this week, we sent an email asking you to sign this petition to ask your Senators to move PFAS solutions forward.  This important piece of legislation will:

  • Protect drinking water from PFAS by requiring the EPA to create a drinking water standard for PFOA and PFOS within two years.

  • Protect the Great Lakes, rivers, and streams from PFAS pollution by listing PFOS and PFOA under the Clean Water Act within two years.

  • Protect our air from PFAS by making PFOS and PFOA hazardous air pollutants under the Clean Air Act.

  • Require corporate polluters to clean up their PFAS contamination by listing PFAS as hazardous substances under the CERCLA Act or the Superfund Law.

  • Protects our communities and workers, especially our firefighters, that are using these harmful products.

Now it is up to the Senate to pass the PFAS Action Act to reduce ongoing PFAS releases into the air and water, set limits for drinking water, and clean up polluted sites. Please sign this petition to ask your Senators to vote in favor of the Senate version of the PFAS Action Act.

A screening of a new documentary on PFAS, No Defense will air at the Michigan Theater in Ann Arbor on Wednesday, February 19th.  No Defense centers around the stories of people that live on or near Wurtsmith Air Force Base in Oscoda, Michigan, and drank water poisoned with PFAS chemicals — water that still flows from the former base today, contaminating the surrounding town, lake, and the people who live there.

Trump Rollback of National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA)

On January 1, 1970, President Nixon signed the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) with overwhelming bipartisan support from Congress.  This landmark legislation required a review process to identify and reveal significant environmental, social, economic, or public health impacts of federal actions.  The Trump administration proposed weakening this process under the guise of “streamlining” and “permitting reform.”  The gutting of NEPA would send us backward, particularly with the provision to exclude climate considerations from NEPA reviews for federal projects (e.g., oil and gas drilling and the permitting of coal power plants).  Another proposed change is to restrict public comment on federal environmental reviews.

Stay tuned for opportunities to take action to prevent these harmful changes to our laws that keep our drinking water and surface waters clean and safe.

PFAS Test Kits – GIFT a KIT!
Freshwater Future believes everyone has a right to know what is in their drinking water, regardless of what’s in their wallets. We have partnered with the University of Michigan Biological Station and other donors to offer PFAS testing for homes on private wells at reduced rates. You can help make our kits even more accessible by selecting Gift a Kit at check out. We’ll use your donation to send a kit to someone else as part of our “Pay What You Can Program”. Get (or gift) your test kits today!


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Images courtesy of Steven Huyser-Honig,
West Grand Boulevard Collaborative, & Yellow Dog Watershed Preserve.