Ocean Currents » environmental protection agency http://blog.oceanconservancy.org News, opinions, photos and facts from Ocean Conservancy Wed, 26 Apr 2017 18:18:00 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.4.2 Trump’s New Executive Order Risks Coastal Communities http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2017/03/01/trumps-new-executive-order-risks-coastal-communities/ http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2017/03/01/trumps-new-executive-order-risks-coastal-communities/#comments Wed, 01 Mar 2017 17:36:14 +0000 Amy Trice http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/?p=13810

Amy is a stream ecologist who, before working at Ocean Conservancy, conducted research focusing on small stream food webs and the predator and prey dynamics of salamanders. Amy has conducted research in Chile working with the government on invasive beavers and water quality issues as well as nutrient effects on small streams in the southeastern U.S. She also spent several years working on Waters of the United States as part of the Clean Water Act. Her work at Ocean Conservancy currently focuses on ensuring ocean planning is a coordinated, science-based policy to balance all ocean uses.

Yesterday, President Trump signed an executive order that would start rolling back a rule under the Clean Water Act known as Waters of the United States (WOTUS). This rule enhances the health of our streams, rivers and ocean, supporting local communities and their desire for clean drinking water as well as fishable streams and estuaries.  I have spent much of my life working on streams and water quality issues, I’m concerned this executive order will compromise local ecosystems and the clean drinking water Americans value and need.

Our rivers provide drinking water for two-thirds of all Americans—yet the recent action by the Trump administration seeks to rollback protections for keeping these very waters clean. Following Supreme Court rulings in 2001and 2006, ambiguity on the types of water bodies protected under the Clean Water Act left agencies tasked with managing and permitting the use of these waterbodies with little clarity. This ambiguity led to a failure to protect small streams and wetlands that are vital to safeguarding communities from flooding. Since the Court decisions, both the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Army Corps of Engineers have worked to follow the law, despite the confusing circumstances.

Removing this confusion so that the EPA and Army Corps of Engineers could fill statutory obligations and do their jobs is exactly why the WOTUS rule was needed. Agencies like the EPA and Army Corps of Engineers need clarity on how to interpret the law to ensure clean water is not only suitable for drinking but also supports coastal communities, estuaries and eventually our ocean.

The WOTUS rule was finalized in 2015, offering a clear definition of what waterways are protected and managed under the Clean Water Act. Thanks to this rule, the EPA and Army Corps of Engineers can ensure consistency in managing wetlands, rivers and streams while improving community health and giving industry more consistency so they can make informed decisions. Overall, this rule ensures the protection of streams and rivers that provide drinking water to 117 million Americans.

Despite these clear benefits, President Trump’s executive order will begin the process of rolling back this important rule. The order requires the EPA and Army Corps of Engineers to review the rule and recommend whether it should be revised or rescinded. I’m worried that this is a step towards signaling the administration’s openness to revoking critical safeguards that protect Americans’ health and our environment.

Before WOTUS was enacted, the EPA and Army Corps met with over 400 stakeholders and received more than one million public comments that they took into consideration to ensure the rule was in the best interests of Americans. I hope the Trump administration, EPA and Army Corps of Engineers talk with coastal communities about their clean water needs to fully understand the impacts this rollback could have on our rivers, estuaries, and ocean. Now is the time for coastal communities to stand up and make your voices heard on the clean water needs of your local community.

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It’s Time to Have a New Conversation About the EPA http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2017/02/17/its-time-to-have-a-new-conversation-about-the-epa/ http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2017/02/17/its-time-to-have-a-new-conversation-about-the-epa/#comments Fri, 17 Feb 2017 22:28:12 +0000 Jeff Watters http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/?p=13758

Despite grave concerns from all corners about his ability to lead an agency that protects the health and quality of life of Americans, Scott Pruitt is the new administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

His nomination raised red flags from concerned citizens to worried coastal businesses. His past track record had given us at Ocean Conservancy plenty of cause for concern, made even more acute during his confirmation hearing by his lack of understanding of fundamental threats to Americans’ health and the quality of our communities. Consider his dance around the issue of ocean acidification. He refused to acknowledge carbon emissions’ impact on our coastal communities, despite the millions of dollars it has cost oyster growers in the Pacific Northwest.

But Pruitt’s confirmation isn’t where the story ends. In fact, this is where it begins.

Because all of us, regardless of our political affiliations, value clean air and clean water. Thanks to the very same agency that Pruitt has sought to discredit and dismantle, we expect and assume we will have clean air and water. As former EPA administrator Bill Ruckelshaus reminded us in a recent interview, the EPA could easily have been called the Public Health Protection Agency.

Now is the time for a new conversation.

We have an opportunity to go back to basics, and to throw out the partisanship. A Republican president created the EPA. The landmark Clean Air Act was passed with overwhelming support from both parties. The Clean Water Act passed Congress with veto-proof majorities.  Today, America’s EPA helps each one of us, every single day, by ensuing that our air and water is clean and safe.

Now it’s our turn to step up and make sure the EPA can continue to protect Americans and our environment.

This is about healthy coastal communities. This is about our families. This is about all Americans’ right to clean air and clean water.  The time for this conversation is now.

If we see any effort by Pruitt to undermine the protections that keep us safe and healthy, we will fight. We are here to hold Pruitt accountable.

From my perspective, Scott Pruitt is now beholden to all 318 million of us that call this nation home.

That’s a powerful place to start. 

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From Marrakech, Where The Winds of Change also Blow  http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2016/11/12/from-marrakech-where-the-winds-of-change-also-blow/ http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2016/11/12/from-marrakech-where-the-winds-of-change-also-blow/#comments Sat, 12 Nov 2016 14:30:55 +0000 Guest Blogger http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/?p=13333

This guest blog was written by Jay Manning. Mr. Manning is a Partner at Cascadia Law Group, an environmental firm in Washington state. He was formerly the Director of Washington’s Department of Ecology and Governor Christine Gregoire’s Chief of Staff.

A funny thing happened at a meeting this week in Marrakech. Countries from around the world are meeting to decide how they will implement the landmark Paris Climate Agreement. In December last year, 195 countries agreed to aggressive targets to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases and limit global warming. As the COP22 meeting began, our country, which has been a crucial player and leader in the fight against climate change, elected Donald J. Trump as President.

While U.S. elections are always followed with interest from other countries, Marrakech COP22 attendees struggled this week to understand what happened with regard to the U.S. election and what it means for global efforts to tackle the already formidable challenge to reduce emissions, transition to a clean energy economy and maintain the health of our ocean and marine life. The president-elect has said that global warming is a hoax, has promised to withdraw the U.S. from the Paris Agreement, and has appointed a climate change skeptic to lead the Environmental Protection Agency’s transition team.  But despite these worrying signs, a true rainbow coalition of attendees from every corner of the planet quickly rallied and moved to a mindset of determination to unite, move forward and make progress.

I am attending as a representative from the Pacific Coast Collaborative, representing the states of Washington, Oregon, California and the Canadian province of British Columbia. I am talking with representatives from countries all around the world, as well as the many states and cities sending delegations here about an exciting initiative that we are undertaking, in partnership with Ocean Conservancy—the International Alliance to Combat Ocean Acidification. We are at Marrakech calling on our peers for more action and leadership to tackle the increasingly urgent challenge of ocean acidification and related impacts on our world’s ocean.

The conversations I am having with people here give me much hope that we will continue to make progress. Yesterday, for example, I was buoyed by four amazing ocean scientists from Egypt, South Africa, Namibia and our host country Morocco with whom I spoke on a panel. They are studying ocean acidification and what it means to marine ecosystems and coastal communities and economies on parts of the African coast.  Their sense of optimism and their conviction that the world will move forward with science-based actions to protect our communities, our ocean and our species was contagious and a welcome antidote to my most negative of mindsets this week.

Now is not the time to give up.  The imperative to come together to protect our planet, including its incredible ocean is no less important today than it was yesterday.

Yours in solidarity in Marrakech.

 

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EPA Helps Address Ocean Acidification http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2014/06/02/epa-helps-address-ocean-acidification/ http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2014/06/02/epa-helps-address-ocean-acidification/#comments Tue, 03 Jun 2014 01:04:46 +0000 Ryan Ono http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/?p=8428

Photo: Misti Weathersby

Today, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Gina McCarthy announced that the agency is proposing new rules to dramatically reduce carbon dioxide emissions from existing power plants. The new rules, which the EPA is calling their “Clean Power Plan,” would reduce carbon emission from existing power plants by 30 percent from 2005 levels by 2030, an amount equal to the pollution emitted by more than 150 million cars. But what does all of this mean for the ocean? Many people may not realize it, but by proposing the Clean Power Plan, the United States took a significant step towards addressing ocean acidification. Reducing carbon pollution from power plants means there will be less carbon pollution in the atmosphere. And less carbon pollution in the atmosphere means less carbon pollution that is absorbed by the ocean, turning it more acidic.

Many marine species and the coastal communities dependent upon them are at risk of being harmed by the large amount of carbon pollution that has already been absorbed by the ocean. Oyster growers in the Pacific Northwest have already experienced major business losses due to increasingly acidic water. Scientists are worried about how lobsters, crabs and squid will respond to a more acidic ocean. A reduction in US carbon emissions from power plants is a much-needed step towards addressing ocean acidification on a larger scale.

We applaud the efforts of the EPA, the Obama administration, and the many other industry and community groups that have helped to create this proposed rule.  There is a long way to go, but this is a great step to address the root cause of ocean acidification.

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This Spring, Create an Ocean-Friendly Organic Garden (Part 1) http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2013/03/19/this-spring-create-an-ocean-friendly-organic-garden-part-1/ http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2013/03/19/this-spring-create-an-ocean-friendly-organic-garden-part-1/#comments Tue, 19 Mar 2013 15:21:40 +0000 Guest Blogger http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/?p=4995

Organic Veggies: The Fruits of Labor. Credit: udra11 / Shutterstock

With spring quickly approaching, it’s time to think about your gardening plans. If you’d like help going organic or starting from scratch, we’ve created a guide with the help of an industry pro. This topic will be split into two segments, with the first dedicated to a how-to and the second geared toward a few reasons that might (read: should) make you change your mind about greening your garden.

I interviewed my friend, Melissa Kuzoian, who works at the Brooklyn Grange in New York City, for some tips. The Brooklyn Grange boasts the largest rooftop soil farm in the world–and it’s all organic! They own two separate lots in the city and harvest over 40,000 pounds of produce annually, grown on a total of about 2.5 acres.

That’s not all the Brooklyn Grange has to offer, though; you can do anything here from taking a general tour, to hosting a corporate retreat, a cocktail reception and even tying the knot! For New Yorkers especially, this is the perfect place to get closer to the earth while in the middle of it all.

In 2010, the Brooklyn Grange crew started a process that “took six days of craning 3,000lb soil sacks seven stories up to the roof.” Today, they’ve created a harvest haven in New York. There are always events going on at the Brooklyn Grange, so if you’re in the area I encourage to stop by and show this amazing farm some love. Want to try some of their homegrown produce for yourself? Stop by one of the restaurants or markets they partner with!

So what can you do to create your own little garden paradise?

For starters, Melissa says that even if you don’t have a rooftop or a full yard to plant your seedlings in, there are other options. “Even if you live in a small space…there’s plenty of opportunity to experience the unmatched satisfaction of growing your own food…With all of the damage we’re doing to our environment these days, its so important to do what you can with what you’ve got.” Think about creating some cute window boxes or utilizing a small part of your deck and voila! You’re good to go.

Melissa also tells me it’s important to start with some quality soil. “Good soil means healthy plants that are better equipped to combat pests,” she explains, and a good source for natural superpowers in your soil is compost. “Composting is so important!” she exclaims, “40% of our country’s food goes to waste every year; if you aren’t eating it, why not put it to good use instead of letting it go sit in a landfill? And the stuff is great; compost is like black gold for your plants.” Check out this infographic from Sustainable America to learn how you can create your own compost. You can also contribute to local composting initiatives; farmers are always willing to take in extra compost, and you’re still keeping unnecessary things out of a landfill.

You might be wondering if one particular crop is easier to grow than another. While a good rule of thumb can be to pick vegetables that are commonly grown in your region, Melissa says that “a little love and attention can go a long way. Some of my favorites that  are good for beginners include radishes, lettuce, carrots, green beans, and basil.”

Vigilance against weeds is always important (the best defense is a good offense), but you can also use mulch around them to prevent their growth. Don’t be too overzealous with uprooting them though; “try to identify what the weed is and see if you can eat it before just getting rid of it! Lamb’s quarters and purslane are two examples of weeds we have at the farm that are actually pretty tasty and very nutritious.”

Once you’ve had a successful season, you’ll want to prepare for the next. The Brooklyn Grange uses clover, rye, buckwheat and oats as a cover crop during the off-season, and Melissa explains why: “They establish root and grow strong quickly, so we can easily plant them at the end of the season to cover most of the farm…These plants are nitrogen fixers, so they can take nitrogen from the air and convert it into a form that the plant can use.” The roots are kept to decompose in the spring, adding nitrogen and making for healthier plants. Changing up where you place each type of crop from season-to-season can also help as a nitrogen fixer. As an added bonus, using a cover crop during the winter months acts as good protection against wind erosion.

That marks the end of part one, but we’ll have another green gardening post later this week that explains all the personal and overall benefits that come from an organic garden.

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