Monday, November 24, 2014

White House Call In Day

November 24, 2014
Coal Ash Phone Script


Call and leave your comment of support for a strong coal ash rule by calling the comment line at the White House!

CALL:  1-888-454-0483 

SAY: Hello. My name is [Full Name] from [City and State].  I respectfully request that President Obama finalize strong safeguards by the end of this year that truly protect the health and environment of all American communities threatened by coal ash.

More talking points if you want to add (OPTIONAL):
  • The rule must close and clean up legacy dumps, provide the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) with enforcement authority, establish clearly defined deadlines and transparent processes for cleanups, end all wet disposal, make publicly available groundwater monitoring data and inspections, protect the public from dangerous reuse of ash, and allow for full public participation in permitting processes.
  • Now is the time for your administration to stand up and protect the many citizens living in the shadows of these dangerous and contaminated sites. I ask that the President finalize strong federal protections this year for coal ash pollution to not only prevent the next big disaster, but to stop the slow poisoning of American communities.
  • Coal ash threatens the respiratory, cardiovascular, and neurological systems of people living near more than 1400 dump sites across the nation. Over 1.5 million children live near coal ash storage sites and 70 percent of all coal ash lagoons disproportionately impact low-income communities.
Social Media:

Attached below are several share-able images to amplify our message on social media. Here is some recommended text for Twitter and Facebook:

Join the national day of action! Call the @WhiteHouse and say you want strong protections against toxic coal ash pollution. 

Join today's national day of action for protections against toxic coal waste in our waters! President Obama and the White House must act now to finalize strong safeguards against dangerous coal ash. Take action now by calling the White House at 1-888-454-0483 and telling them you want strong protections against coal ash!


Coal ash disasters have been plaguing communities living near poisonous and dangerous dump sites - from the 2008 disaster in Tennessee, when a billion gallons of toxic sludge poured onto farmland and into the Emory and Clinch rivers, to the recent failure along North Carolina’s Dan River, when a burst storm water pipe underneath an unlined coal ash pit dumped 140,000 tons of coal ash and toxic waste water into the river - the problem with coal ash pollution is getting worse and more dangerous every day and there are no federal protections.

Coal ash, the waste left over from burning coal, is the second largest industrial waste stream in the United States and poses serious threats to our health, air, and drinking water.  Coal ash contains arsenic, lead, mercury, chromium, and a range of harmful heavy metals and toxic pollutants that poison the air and drinking water supplies of communities living near coal ash dump sites. Coal ash threatens the respiratory, cardiovascular, and neurological systems of people living near more than 1400 dump sites across the nation.  Over 1.5 million children live near coal ash storage sites and 70 percent of all coal ash lagoons disproportionately impact low-income communities.

When coal ash comes in contact with water, a toxic soup of hazardous pollutants can leach out of the waste and poison our water. The EPA has found some coal ash ponds pose a 1 in 50 risk of cancer to residents drinking arsenic-contaminated water - a risk 2000 times higher than EPA’s regulatory goal. The vast majority of states do not require adequate monitoring or liners to stop the release of toxic chemicals, nor do they ensure that massive earthen dams are maintained safely. States have routinely failed to protect their citizens from coal ash - as was evident in North Carolina’s recent handling of the Dan River coal ash spill.

Now is the time for the administration to stand up and protect the many citizens living in the shadows of these dangerous and contaminated dump sites.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

RED ASH: Burning Rights

RED ASHBurning Rights
Sneak Peek Presentation with the Filmmakers and special guests showing clips from the documentary in progress.

Shamokin & Mount Carmel Rotary Club
Monday, November 17, 2014 at 7:00 pm
Independence Fire Company
Arch & Market Street, Shamokin, PA 17872

Free to the general public

Join the filmmakers, Lys Sparrow and Gianfranco Serraino as they take you on a journey to explore the possibility that the former residents of Centralia, PA were denied rights. Was the plan to relocate the town a conspiracy so the government could reclaim the precious mineral rights, valued at billions upon billions of dollars? When coal ash was pumped into the mines for a period of seven years in an attempt to extinguish the fire, were the former residents aware of the 67 toxic chemicals that were polluting their air and water?

RED ASH: BurningRights begins as a story about Centralia but becomes the catalyst to a worldwide environmental crisis that is happening right now. Centralia was a town that was built on coal and obliterated by coal. The documentary explores the devastating dangers of coal ash, the by-product of coal-fired power plants that supply more than half the world’s energy. To date, there is no federal regulation on coal ash disposal. “Governments around the world are selling us on “clean coal” but that is deceptive propaganda. The truth is our governments are allowing big corporations to poison our air, our soil and our drinking water as we speak” say the filmmakers Mr. Serraino and Ms. Sparrow.

Come out and join the conversation.  You’ll be surprised to know that coal ash is being dumped in your own backyard!  Share and like our page at

Friday, November 7, 2014

5 Simple Things that Governor Tom Wolf can do for Pennsylvania’s Environment

UPDATE 1.29.2015 - Governor Wolf signed an executive order placing a moratorium on new leasing for oil and gas drilling in our state parks and forests.   This action reinstates a 2010 moratorium on new leases of state lands that was established after agency review determined that no additional state forest acreage was suitable for natural gas development without compromising its natural character.


In the last four years, Governor Corbett and the Pennsylvania House and Senate have made repeated attacks on environmental protection and sought to maximize the profits of the gas, oil and coal industries at the expense of Pennsylvania’s health and safety.  

The November 4th election saw the loss of pro-environment seats in both houses of the legislature, predicting further attacks on the environment.  Fortunately, Governor-Elect Tom Wolf will have significant power to block those attacks and to move forward on crucial environmental protections, and has promised a cleaner future for Pennsylvania. 

Clean Water Action, Conservation Voters of Pennsylvania, PennEnvironment, PennFuture, and the Sierra Club Pennsylvania Chapter congratulate Governor-Elect Wolf on his victory and look forward to working with his administration to protect Pennsylvania’s environment. 

To that end, these organizations urge Governor-Elect Wolf to prioritize the following during his first 100 days in office.

·         Save Pennsylvania’s State Parks and Forests
·         Plan for the Future on Climate and Energy
·         Let the Department of Environmental Protection Protect the Environment
·         Keep Our Water Safe
·         Regulate Methane and Clean Up Pennsylvania’s Air

Using the executive authority of the Governor of Pennsylvania, Tom Wolf can and should:

Save State Parks and Forests
In 2014, Corbett overturned a 2010 executive order that created a moratorium on gas leasing in public lands managed by the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources. Wolf should reinstate that order and make it clear that the order applies to both state parks and state forests, and to both surface and subsurface leases. Wolf should do everything in his power to prevent natural gas development in the Clarence Moore lands of the Loyalsock State Forest.

Plan for the Future
Both state and federal laws will require Pennsylvania to adopt new plans to reduce global warming pollution in the coming years. Wolf should produce climate and energy plans based on sound science and focused on rebuilding the wind and solar industries in the state.

Let the Department of Environmental Protection Protect the Environment
Wolf can reverse Corbett’s damage to the DEP’s commitment and ability to enforce environmental regulations.  He can start by implementing the recommendations of the state Auditor General to ensure both full transparency and strong enforcement of gas drilling rules.  Wolf should overhaul the DEP’s permitting process for gas drilling and create mandatory enforcement penalties to ensure that public health trumps politics and profits in gas operations.  Finally, he should instruct the DEP to ban fracking waste pits, a simple way to significantly reduce the health risks of toxic fracking chemicals.

Keep Our Water Safe
The Delaware River Basin Commission currently prohibits fracking in the Delaware River Watershed, from which 15 million Americans get their drinking water.  Wolf should publicly restate his support for the moratorium, seek to restore the Commission’s budget, and ensure that the DRBC Commissioner from Pennsylvania works to keep our water clean.  Additionally, he should push the Susquehanna River Basin Commission to launch a cumulative impact assessment of fracking on the Susquehanna watershed.

Regulate Methane and Clean Up Pennsylvania’s Air
Pennsylvania ranks among the worst states in the nation for air pollution and illnesses like asthma. Currently, Pennsylvania does not directly regulate methane pollution from natural gas operations and lags behind other states in controlling air emissions. Governor-Elect Wolf should work with DEP to directly regulate methane emissions from natural gas operations. Additionally, Pennsylvania should enact a strong “Smog Rule,” to limit pollutants like nitrogen oxide and volatile organic compounds.  

To implement these policies, Governor-Elect Wolf needs to build a team of agency leaders committed to environmental protection and independent of the special interests that these bodies oversee – new leadership for the Department of Environmental Protection, the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, the Public Utilities Commission, the Delaware River Basin Commission, and the Susquehanna River Basin Commission.

Leaders of these agencies should know that climate change is a problem; enthusiastically support renewable energy, clean air, and clean water; and understand that their first duty is to protect the health and safety of Pennsylvania’s citizens.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Fairness Needed to Clean Up the Three Rivers

Whenever it rains here in Pittsburgh region – even just a little bit – stormwater runoff from rooftops, parking lots, roads and sidewalks runs into the sewers. There is so much water that it overwhelms the system and that sewage and stormwater are discharged into the Monongahela, the Allegheny and the Ohio – our beloved Three Rivers.

The federal government has mandated that the Allegheny County Sanitary Authority (ALCOSAN), the main sewer authority in the Pittsburgh area, fix this problem. This will be the region’s largest public works project ever and it is ALCOSAN ratepayers that will bear the cost.

Ratepayers in the 83 southwestern Pennsylvania municipalities that ALCOSAN serves will see a cost increase of 60% over the next four years to pay for the purchase of a $70 million bond to finance the project. And that $70 million is just a small fraction of the total projected cost of over $2 billion. Ratepayers will be seeing many rate hikes in the future.

It is very important that the money for fixing this problem be invested wisely, fairly and in a way that brings the most benefits back to our communities. Other communities facing the same mandates have decided to invest in green infrastructure strategies that catch as much of that stormwater where it falls instead of letting it go into the sewer in the first place.

This includes planting trees, installing permeable pavement, building green roofs etc. When those communities made that choice they found that the got many other benefits beyond catching the stormwater. The green investments created jobs. They raised property values. They revitalized business districts. They produced cleaner, cooler air. They reduced flooding.

We want to live in a clean, vibrant Pittsburgh with good jobs and healthy neighborhoods. We have the opportunity to invest in that future now. It is up to us to ensure that this biggest ever public investment creates economic opportunities and healthy communities for generations to come.

ALCOSAN’s original plan was to build big tunnels under the three rivers. This plan was rejected by the EPA because it didn’t give us the clean rivers we need and deserve. ALCOSAN is negotiating with EPA on a new plan but their public announcements indicate they are still planning to prioritize the tunnels.

The Sierra Club is a founding member of the Clean Rivers Campaign. The Campaign is calling for a public meeting to support investing ratepayer money in the wisest way possible. We want all members of the community to pay their fair share of the cost. We want an assistance program for ratepayers who will be unable to pay the large rate increases that are coming. We want maximum benefits coming back to our communities.