Waterkeepers Identify Multiple CAFO and Coal Ash Spills Following Hurricane Florence


Waterkeeper Alliance and Waterkeeper groups across North Carolina have identified multiple releases of pollution from industrial animal operations and coal-fired power plants as a result of flooding from Hurricane Florence.

Staff from Waterkeeper Alliance, Sound Rivers, Haw Riverkeeper, and French Broad Riverkeeper discovered multiple releases of coal ash from inundated ponds at Duke Energy’s H.F. Lee coal-fired power plant near Goldsboro, NC. Water samples from today’s investigation are expected to be analyzed within the week.

“Today we investigated, documented and collected water samples from multiple ongoing, active coal ash spills from HF Lee facility where 1 million tons of coal ash is now completely underwater. Half-mile Branch creek and the Neuse River flood waters are actively eroding the dam between the ponds and all three ponds are washing coal ash into the Neuse River,”  said Donna Lisenby, Global Advocacy Manager for Waterkeeper Alliance. “Coal ash will continue spilling every minute of every day from the HF Lee coal ash ponds until flood waters recede sometime later this week.”

Waterkeeper Alliance and Upper Neuse Riverkeeper discovered a similar coal ash release at the plant following flooding from Hurricane Matthew in 2016. Conditions at Lee are worse than they were in 2016.

“Yet again, the Neuse River is experiencing an ongoing coal ash spill. This not just an environmental concern, it is a concern for downstream communities as well, including Goldsboro which has a water intake less than 10 miles downstream,” said Matt Starr, Upper Neuse Riverkeeper. “Like during Hurricane Matthew, Duke Energy has made inaccurate statements.  The tree cover is not preventing coal ash from being eroded and spilled into the Neuse River. Duke should have learned from Hurricane Matthew that the contents of these coal ash ponds need to be excavated and removed from the banks of the Neuse River, in order to protect our river and communities.”

Additionally, Cape Fear Riverkeeper Kemp Burdette discovered two breached hog lagoons, with their contents completely emptied, and dozens of inundated lagoons across the Cape Fear River Basin.

According to Burdette, “These cesspools of hog waste failed completely, spilling millions of gallons of untreated hog waste into floodwaters. Even worse, these contaminated waters will flow through communities downstream, threatening homes, churches, schools, and anything else in their path.”

Our partners at Environmental Working Group estimated, based on geospatial analysis, that two lagoons contained more than 7.3 million gallons of untreated swine waste. The larger cesspool stored more waste than was discharged by the spill of partially treated wastewater from the Southside Wastewater Treatment plant near Wilmington in the wake of Hurricane Florence. And, North Carolinians have seen significantly larger volumes of swine waste from a single lagoon breach, including the notorious discharge of more than 25 million gallons from a breached lagoon at Oceanview Farms in 1995.

Waterkeeper Alliance and Waterkeeper groups in the Carolinas are documenting the devastating aftermath of Hurricane Florence. Video and images are updated daily and are available here for download.

The Waterkeeper Alliance Rapid Response initiative provides trusted and independent information following disasters on our waterways. In a climate of lax federal regulations and budget cuts to state departments of environmental conservation, the need for Waterkeeper Organizations and Waterkeeper Affiliates to speak truth about the devastating impacts of water emergencies on communities has never been greater. Waterkeeper groups will remain involved as long as necessary in order to assure that proper clean-up, mitigation, and enforcement is completed.


About Waterkeeper

United as one powerful force, Waterkeeper Alliance fights for every community's right to drinkable, fishable, swimmable water. For more information please visit waterkeeper.org

Cape Fear Riverkeeper Reports “ongoing failure” at Sutton


sutton florence hurricane coal ash spill

Cape Fear Riverkeeper Kemp Burdette, who is on site at Duke Energy’s Sutton Power Plant investigating breaches at the Sutton coal ash landfill, reports that there are at least two sections of the site with overflows. As of 9:45 a.m., both breaches were “very large,” according to Burdette, and a “waterfall’ actively pouring out.

Mr. Burdette said, “When I saw it at 9:45 am on Sunday morning September 16, the breach was not contained. It appears to be a major ongoing failure of their containment measures.  Every time we get a new band of showers and more rainfall, it will continue discharging. I am extremely concerned that this significant, ongoing discharge will eventually make it to the Cape Fear River just upstream of Wilmington.”

Video of Kemp at the site is here.

Duke Energy reported a release at the plant, which is in Wilmington, NC, around 9 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 15. The release occurred when Hurricane Florence flood waters washed coal ash from a landfill near Lake Sutton.

Although 2,000 cubic yards of material was displaced—enough to fill 150 dump trucks—Duke Energy officials say they do not believe the spill will have an impact on the environment. However, they could not say if any coal ash washed into Sutton Lake, a popular spot for fishing and boating, or the Cape Fear River.

Coal ash contains high concentrations of toxins and heavy metals, such as arsenic, chromium, and mercury. Historically, Sutton coal ash ponds discharged arsenic, selenium, mercury, antimony, cadmium, chromium, lead, and zinc into Sutton Lake. A 2013 study by U.S. Forest Service Research Fish Biologist Dennis Lemly found that hundreds of thousands of fish in Sutton Lake suffered severe selenium-induced deformities, or had died because of selenium exposure. Duke’s own water- testing data showed there are high levels of groundwater radioactivity at 11 of 18 of its plants. Coal-fired power plants are the number one source of toxic water pollution, by volume, in America.

“Much as Duke Energy might try to spin otherwise, these heavy metals and leaks of radioactive water from their coal ash ponds are a fact,” said Donna Lisenby, global advocacy manager at Waterkeeper Alliance. “Toxic coal ash, radioactivity, and heavy metals shouldn’t be anywhere near the state’s lakes and rivers, nor should they be leaking into North Carolina groundwater and surface water daily,  as they are now, even on days when the rivers are low and the sun is shining.”

Duke Energy pled guilty to criminal violations of the Clean Water Act in May 2015. Since then, Duke has downplayed ongoing problems at its coal-fired power plants in reports to its federal court-appointed monitor, who oversees the company’s compliance with terms of its five-year probation.

Hurricane Matthew previously showed the vulnerability of Duke facilities to severe weather. But even normal rainfalls have led to spills: Duke blamed an October 2017 spill in Cliffside on 3.74 inches of rain. Another release from the Asheville airport structural fill in October 2017 was caused by what Duke called “severe thunderstorms.”

Waterkeeper Alliance reviewed EPA records of historical waste releases from coal ash ponds in North Carolina. Among them: A breach of an internal pond dike at the W.H. Weatherspoon Power Station in 2001; flooding that washed away waste at Cliffside Steam Station in 2005; and a pond breach at the Roxboro Power Station in 2008. On September 28, 2010, a coal ash pond dam failed at Sutton. Employees found the failure when they drove a truck into the breach. Approximately 10 cubic yards of coal ash was released from the breach estimated to be approximately eight feet deep and about 22 feet wide by 100 feet long. Photos of the 2010 breach at Sutton can be found here.

Waterkeeper Alliance and Waterkeeper groups in the Carolinas are documenting the devastating aftermath of Hurricane Florence. Video and images will be available here.

The Waterkeeper Alliance Rapid Response initiative provides trusted and independent information following disasters on our waterways. In a climate of lax federal regulations and budget cuts to state departments of environmental conservation, the need for Waterkeeper Organizations and Waterkeeper Affiliates to speak truth about the devastating impacts of water emergencies on communities has never been greater. Waterkeeper groups will remain involved as long as necessary in order to assure that proper clean-up, mitigation, and enforcement is completed.


About Waterkeeper

United as one powerful force, Waterkeeper Alliance fights for every community's right to drinkable, fishable, swimmable water. For more information please visit waterkeeper.org

Waterkeeper Alliance responds to Sutton coal ash spill


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Following Duke Energy’s disclosure of a coal ash release at its L.V. Sutton Power Station outside Wilmington, N.C. on Sept. 15, 2018, Donna Lisenby, global advocacy manager of Waterkeeper Alliance, released the following statement:

“Duke Energy knows the toxic coal ash at 14 of its plants in North Carolina is a threat to our waters, but it slow-walked cleanups by spending millions on lobbying and legal fights. If Duke had used that money instead to clean up its coal ash sites and begin excavation of flood-prone coal ash ponds at H.F. Lee, Weatherspoon, and Cape Fear sooner, all those dangerous sites would be much further along by now.

“Coal ash contains high concentrations of toxins and bio-persistent heavy metals, such as arsenic, chromium, selenium, and the now-banned rat poison thallium. Duke’s own water- testing data showed there are high levels of groundwater radioactivity at 11 of 18 of its plants. Much as Duke Energy might try to spin otherwise, these heavy metals and leaks of radioactive water from their coal ash ponds are a fact. Toxic coal ash, radioactivity, and heavy metals shouldn’t be anywhere near the state’s lakes and rivers, nor should they be leaking into North Carolina groundwater and surface water daily, as they are now, even on days when the rivers are low and the sun is shining.”

Waterkeeper Alliance and Waterkeeper groups in the Carolinas are documenting the devastating aftermath of Hurricane Florence. Video and images will be available here.

The Waterkeeper Alliance Rapid Response initiative provides trusted and independent information following disasters on our waterways. In a climate of lax federal regulations and budget cuts to state departments of environmental conservation, the need for Waterkeeper Organizations and Waterkeeper Affiliates to speak truth about the devastating impacts of water emergencies on communities has never been greater. Waterkeeper groups will remain involved as long as necessary in order to assure that proper clean-up, mitigation, and enforcement is completed.

 


About Waterkeeper

United as one powerful force, Waterkeeper Alliance fights for every community's right to drinkable, fishable, swimmable water. For more information please visit waterkeeper.org

Cape Fear Riverkeeper Investigating Sutton Coal Ash Release


Cape Fear Riverkeeper Kemp Burdette is investigating a coal ash release of unknown size at Duke Energy’s Sutton Power Plant in Wilmington, NC. The release occurred when Hurricane Florence flood waters washed coal ash from a landfill near Lake Sutton.

Although 2,000 cubic yards of material was displaced—enough to fill 150 dump trucks—Duke Energy officials say they do not believe the spill will have an impact on the environment. However, they could not say if any coal ash washed into Sutton Lake, a popular spot for fishing and boating, or the Cape Fear River.

Coal ash contains high concentrations of toxins and heavy metals, such as arsenic, chromium, and mercury. Historically, Sutton coal ash ponds discharged arsenic, selenium, mercury, antimony, cadmium, chromium, lead, and zinc into Sutton Lake. A 2013 study by U.S. Forest Service Research Fish Biologist Dennis Lemly found that hundreds of thousands of fish in Sutton Lake suffered severe selenium-induced deformities, or had died because of selenium exposure. Coal-fired power plants are the number one source of toxic water pollution, by volume, in America.

Duke Energy pled guilty to criminal violations of the Clean Water Act in May 2015. Since then, Duke has downplayed ongoing problems at its coal-fired power plants in reports to its federal court-appointed monitor, who oversees the company’s compliance with terms of its five-year probation.

Hurricane Matthew previously showed the vulnerability of Duke facilities to severe weather. But even normal rainfalls have led to spills: Duke blamed an October 2017 spill in Cliffside on 3.74 inches of rain. Another release from the Asheville airport structural fill in October 2017 was caused by what Duke called “severe thunderstorms.”

Waterkeeper Alliance reviewed EPA records of historical waste releases from coal ash ponds in North Carolina. Among them: A breach of an internal pond dike at the W.H. Weatherspoon Power Station in 2001; flooding that washed away waste at Cliffside Steam Station in 2005; and a pond breach at the Roxboro Power Station in 2008. On September 28, 2010, a coal ash pond dam failed at Sutton. Employees found the failure when they drove a truck into the breach. Approximately 10 cubic yards of coal ash was released from the breach estimated to be approximately eight feet deep and about 22 feet wide by 100 feet long. Photos of the 2010 breach at Sutton can be found here.

“Regular thunderstorms lead to spills from Duke Energy ash ponds,” said Donna Lisenby, global advocacy manager at Waterkeeper Alliance. “Coal-fired plants in South Carolina remediated their ash quickly; Duke has dragged its feet. As climate change fuels more intense storms, these increasingly risky industrial waste sites must be removed from our river banks or we will continue seeing spills.”

Waterkeeper Alliance and Waterkeeper groups in the Carolinas are documenting the devastating aftermath of Hurricane Florence. Video and images will be available here.

The Waterkeeper Alliance Rapid Response initiative provides trusted and independent information following disasters on our waterways. In a climate of lax federal regulations and budget cuts to state departments of environmental conservation, the need for Waterkeeper Organizations and Waterkeeper Affiliates to speak truth about the devastating impacts of water emergencies on communities has never been greater. Waterkeeper groups will remain involved as long as necessary in order to assure that proper clean-up, mitigation, and enforcement is completed.


About Waterkeeper

United as one powerful force, Waterkeeper Alliance fights for every community's right to drinkable, fishable, swimmable water. For more information please visit waterkeeper.org

Waterkeeper Alliance offering patrol opportunities in Florence impacted areas


florence

Waterkeeper Alliance and Waterkeeper groups in the Carolinas are preparing to document the potentially devastating aftermath of Hurricane Florence. Waterkeepers will be monitoring conditions at coal ash pits, factory swine and poultry operations, and other pollution threats to the states’ waterways. Video and images will be available here.

Hardest hit will likely be the Neuse, Cape Fear, Lumber, and Pee Dee river basins. The Neuse and Cape Fear have the highest concentration of massive industrial swine sites. Both coal-fired plants and industrial animal agriculture operations store waste in unprotected open-air pits and cesspools, some of which are larger than football fields.

“We have been working in North Carolina for two decades to push the state and industry to handle waste more responsibly,” said Will Hendrick, Waterkeeper Alliance staff attorney and manager of the Pure Farms, Pure Waters campaign. “These industries’ irresponsible waste management practices are a threat to the environment even under blue skies. Because they dragged their feet on solutions, that threat is now exacerbated.”

As soon as it is safe to fly, Waterkeeper Alliance and Waterkeeper Organizations will be overflying power plants and industrial agriculture operations to document any flooding. Ground patrols will also commence as soon as they can be safely conducted.

North Carolina environmental agencies permitted swine lagoons and coal ash ponds to be sited in the floodplains of the state’s rivers. The result is that when storms with high rainfall occur, these industrial waste sites flood and rivers become devastatingly polluted with coal ash and waste from industrial animal production facilities.

“During Hurricane Matthew, coal ash ponds at the H.F. Lee Power Plant flooded, spilling toxic coal ash into the river. Since then, not a single shovel of coal ash has been removed from those pits,” said Upper Neuse Riverkeeper Matthew Starr. “Flooding from Hurricane Matthew also spilled waste from feces and urine from massive swine cesspools into our water. As with the coal ash, no action has been taken to remove that threat.”

In 1999, flooding from Hurricane Floyd dumped massive amounts of raw animal waste from industrial meat production facilities into the Neuse River.

As climate change causes more and more of these devastating weather events, we simply cannot afford these continued assaults upon our waterways and communities.

Click here to read about our North Carolina “Fields of Filth” report and connect to a map of all the industrial poultry and swine farms in North Carolina.

As the storm moves inland, Waterkeeper groups in South Carolina will be monitoring threats in that state. Fortunately, unlike Duke Energy, the utilities in that state have removed much of the coal ash from riverside impoundments and there are far fewer, and less concentrated, industrial animal agriculture operations. However, structural failure of dam infrastructure is a major concern in South Carolina.

Throughout the storm, Waterkeeper groups in the Carolinas will continue to monitor threats to water quality in addition to the aforementioned high priority targets.

The Waterkeeper Alliance Rapid Response initiative provides trusted and independent information following disasters on our waterways. In a climate of lax federal regulations and budget cuts to state departments of environmental conservation, the need for Waterkeeper Organizations and Waterkeeper Affiliates to speak truth about the devastating impacts of water emergencies on communities has never been greater. Waterkeeper groups will remain involved as long as necessary in order to assure that proper clean-up, mitigation, and enforcement is completed.

**Photo by NOAA/STAR


About Waterkeeper

United as one powerful force, Waterkeeper Alliance fights for every community's right to drinkable, fishable, swimmable water. For more information please visit waterkeeper.org

Waterkeeper flyovers provide “before” images of N.C. coal ash ponds and animal waste cesspools


As Hurricane Florence threatens North Carolina and the southeastern U.S., Waterkeeper Alliance and North Carolina Waterkeeper groups are actively preparing to document the possible impacts of flooded coal ash ponds, industrial hog waste cesspools, and industrial poultry facilities on the state’s waterways.

The organizations performed flyovers Wednesday to document pre-storm conditions at coal ash basins and industrial animal agriculture operations. Images are available on Waterkeeper Alliance’s Flickr page; this album will be updated as we continue our aerial patrols throughout the weekend in the aftermath of the storm. Severe flooding is expected in the Neuse and Cape Fear river basins, which have the highest concentration of industrial swine farms in the state.  These facilities store millions of gallons of hog feces and urine in open cesspools; 166 of these cesspools sit in the state’s 100-year floodplain.

Waterkeeper Alliance and Waterkeeper groups are also closely watching coal ash ponds, which could spill directly into the Neuse River, carrying toxic waste downstream.

“Hurricane Florence poses a tremendous threat to the Neuse River,” said Matthew Starr, Upper Neuse Riverkeeper. “During Hurricane Matthew, coal ash ponds at the H.F. Lee Power Plant flooded, spilling toxic coal ash into the river. Since then, not a single shovel of coal ash has been removed from those ponds. Flooding from Hurricane Matthew also spilled waste from feces and urine from massive swine cesspools into our water. As with the coal ash, no action has been taken to remove that threat.” North Carolina environmental agencies permitted swine lagoons and coal ash ponds to be sited in the floodplains of the state’s rivers. Because of this, past storms with high rainfall resulted in devastating pollution to the state’s rivers from coal ash and animal waste. While the state in 1999 began a voluntary buyout program for industrial swine farms, the program’s $18.7 million funding meant that while 138 facilities applied for the buyout, only 43 swine operations in the 100-year flood zone closed.  

In 2016, after Hurricane Matthew, Duke Energy’s H.F. Lee Facility in Goldsboro twice released coal ash into nearby waterways, with one breach dumping a one-inch thick layer of coal ash into the Neuse River. A subsequent analysis by Appalachian State University detected dangerous levels of heavy metals, including antimony and cobalt, in a sample from the spill. The flood waters also partially submerged 10 industrial swine operations with 39 barns, 26 large chicken-raising organizations with 102 barns, and 14 open-air cesspools holding millions of gallons of liquid hog manure.

In 1999, the impacts from Hurricane Floyd dumped massive amounts of raw animal waste from industrial meat production facilities into the Neuse River. Sampling conducted after Hurricane Floyd found dangerous levels of E. Coli and Clostridium perfringens in water, even after flood waters receded.  Current floods in North Carolina are likely to exceed the record levels set then.

There are 62 industrial swine operations within the state’s 100-year floodplain, housing more than 235,000 hogs. Those operations use open-air cesspools, many larger than Olympic swimming pools, to store swine feces and urine. In addition to the 166 cesspools within the 100-year floodplain, another 366 are within 100 feet of the floodplain. The floodplain is also home to 30 industrial poultry operations, housing more than 1.8 million chickens.

** To arrange interviews or flyovers with Waterkeeper Alliance staff and North Carolina Waterkeepers on the ground and in the air monitoring the conditions, contact: Maia Raposo, Communications & Marketing Director, at [email protected] or (212) 747-0622 x116, or Hailey Bossert, Mixte Communications, at [email protected] or (858) 437-2654.

Upper Neuse Riverkeeper Matthew Starr is available for interviews today and can be reached at [email protected], (919) 856-1180 or 919-961-2240 (cell).**

Click here to read about our North Carolina “Fields of Filth” report and connect to a map of all the poultry and swine farms in North Carolina.


About Waterkeeper

United as one powerful force, Waterkeeper Alliance fights for every community's right to drinkable, fishable, swimmable water. For more information please visit waterkeeper.org

Major consumer, climate groups call on insurance industry to ditch fossil fuels


New campaign Insure Our Future to hold US insurers accountable for a role in climate change as first US insurance company to commit not to invest in coal

On the eve of the Global Climate Action Summit (GCAS), a new campaign, Insure Our Future, is calling out the U.S. insurance industry as a major contributor to climate change and urging them to ditch fossil fuels. Insure Our Future is the first campaign focusing on the U.S. insurance industry’s significant role in perpetuating climate chaos.

The campaign launches as Lemonade, an insurance company powered by AI, becomes the first U.S. insurer to commit to never invest in coal, urging other insurers to follow suit.

“We’re calling on our industry – our reinsurance partners, our competitors, and our colleagues in health and life insurance companies – to join us,” wrote Lemonade CEO and co-founder Daniel Schreiber in a blog published today. “[F]or insurance companies in the business of underwriting polluting projects we have a simple ask: please don’t.”

Insurers were among the earliest voices warning about climate change in the 1970s, recognizing the potential for sharply increasing risk in an uncertain future. Yet this knowledge hasn’t so far translated into preventative action.

“The insurance industry is supposed to protect us from catastrophic risk, yet when it comes to climate change, they’re adding fuel to the fire through their investments and underwriting,” said Lindsey Allen, Executive Director of the Rainforest Action Network and a partner of the campaign. “Our communities are the ones who are paying the price – through catastrophic wildfires, massive flooding, increased premiums, and denial of coverage.”

The insurance industry fuels climate change by insuring destructive fossil fuel projects like coal-fired power plants and the Keystone XL pipeline. It is also a major investor in fossil fuel companies. The 40 largest U.S. insurers hold over $450 billion in coal, oil, gas and electric utility stocks and bonds, making insurers more invested in fossil fuels than average index funds. Through these twin roles, insurers are quietly locking us into dirty energy infrastructure for decades to come.

Insure Our Future and Lemonade’s announcements became public during a panel at GCAS featuring California’s Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones and representatives from major insurers, climate advocacy and consumer organizations. The panel discussed the important role the insurance industry can play in decarbonizing the economy.

The campaign launches almost two months after 17 leading consumer, climate and social equity NGOs sent a letter to 22 major U.S. insurers, urging them to stop insuring and investing in coal and tar sands and to scale up their support for clean energy. Not one insurance company, including AIG (NYSE: AIG), Liberty Mutual, Berkshire Hathaway (NYSE: BRK.A), Prudential (NYSE: PRU) and MetLife (NYSE: MET), has so far substantively responded to the July 13 letter.

“Given your access to top-level climate science and your role in shaping modern industrial society as risk managers and investors, insurance companies must be part of this effort,” the July 13 letter reads.

Instead of ditching fossil fuels, insurers are currently abandoning communities that live in the path of climate risks. In California, for example, complaints of spiked premiums and loss of coverage in counties at risk of wildfires have tripled.

“Insurance companies are gouging and deserting policyholders in fire-prone areas while fueling those very wildfires,” said Jamie Court, President of Consumer Watchdog and a member of the campaign. “Insurance companies that complain about the problem need to be part of the solution.”

Insure Our Future is a new arm of the international Unfriend Coal campaign that has driven significant coal exclusion policies from major European insurers. In the last three years, 17 large international insurers have divested about $30 billion from coal companies, and six have stopped or limited insuring the coal industry, including Allianz, Axa, Zurich and Swiss Re.

“Given the momentum in the international insurance industry, which includes decisive shifts by some of the world’s largest insurers, action by the U.S. insurance industry is long overdue,” the July 13 letter said.

The increased intensity and frequency of extreme weather (such as hurricanes, wildfires and floods) and rising sea levels means more people and businesses are filing insurance claims. The 2017 Northern California wildfires generated $12.6 billion in insurance claims, and the 2017 Atlantic hurricane season was the most costly ever, racking up more than $200 billion in damages.

Some municipalities and businesses are taking note of the insurance industry’s inaction. In July, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors became the first municipal body in the U.S. to pass a unanimous resolution urging the city to end partnerships with any insurer that doesn’t divest from and stop underwriting coal and tar sands.

“When it comes to fighting climate change, U.S. insurance companies are missing in action. That’s inexcusable for an industry based on managing risk,” said Ross Hammond, Senior Campaign Advisor to the Sunrise Project. “We’re inviting the public, insurance regulators, and major policy holders – like businesses and cities – to join us in demanding U.S. insurers change course before it’s too late.”

###

About Insure Our Future
Insure Our Future is a campaign pressuring the insurance industry to stop insuring and investing in coal and tar sands projects and companies.We are part of the global Unfriend Coal campaign which promotes a rapid shift of the insurance industry from fossil fuels to clean energy. Follow us on Twitter: https://twitter.com/Insure_Future

Early endorsers of the campaign, which also signed the letter to insurers, include 350.org, Asian Pacific Environmental Network (APEN), Center for International Environmental Law (CIEL) , Communities for a Better Environment, Consumer Watchdog, CREDO Mobile, DivestInvest, Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace USA, Indigenous Environmental Network, Oil Change International, Presente.org, Public Citizen, Rainforest Action Network, Sierra Club, The Sunrise Project, Waterkeeper Alliance

About Lemonade
Lemonade Insurance Company is a licensed insurance carrier, offering homeowners and renters insurance powered by artificial intelligence and behavioral economics. By replacing brokers and bureaucracy with bots and machine learning, Lemonade aims for zero paperwork and instant everything. As a Certified B-Corp, where underwriting profits go to nonprofits, Lemonade is remaking insurance as a social good, rather than a necessary evil. Lemonade is currently available for most of the United States, and looks to expand globally.

About the July 13 Letter

Recipients:
● American International Group (NYSE: AIG)
● Allstate (NYSE: ALL)
● AXIS Capital Holdings Ltd. (NYSE: AXS)
● Berkshire Hathaway (NYSE: BRK.A)
● Chubb Limited (NYSE: CB)
● FM Global
● Great American Financial Group (NYSE: AFG)
● Liberty Mutual
● Lincoln Financial Group (NYSE: LNC)
● Markel Corp. (NYSE: MKL)
● MetLife Inc. (NYSE: MET)
● Nationwide Financial Services, Inc.
● New York Life
● Northwestern Mutual (NYSE: NWE)
● Prudential (NYSE: PRU)
● Starr Companies, Inc.
● State Farm (MFD: STFGX)
● The Hanover Insurance Group, Inc. (NYSE: THG)
● The Hartford Financial Services Group Inc. (NYSE: NIG)
● The Travelers Companies (NYSE: TRV)
● TIAA
● W.R. Berkley (NYSE: WRB)


About Waterkeeper

United as one powerful force, Waterkeeper Alliance fights for every community's right to drinkable, fishable, swimmable water. For more information please visit waterkeeper.org

Oil-Spill Risks from Bayou Bridge Pipeline Highlighted in New Legal Action as Work is Suspended


New evidence shows the Army Corps of Engineers failed to independently assess the risk of spills from a company with more than 500 spills, millions in fines and private property damage.

Environmental groups took legal action today to address severe oil spill risks from the Energy Transfer Partners-owned Bayou Bridge pipeline in Louisiana. On behalf of Atchafalaya Basinkeeper, Louisiana Crawfish Producers Association, Waterkeeper Alliance, Gulf Restoration Network and Sierra Club, Earthjustice filed a motion for partial summary judgement in the United States District Court for the Middle District of Louisiana because the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers failed to independently analyze spill risks and the devastating impacts they would have on the Atchafalaya Basin.

Yesterday, Bayou Bridge Pipeline, LLC sought to avoid a loss in a court hearing for a separate legal challenge pending in St. Martin Parish. Energy Transfer Partners agreed to temporarily cease construction of the Bayou Bridge pipeline on private property where it failed to get the consent of all landowners and to complete the required process to condemn the property and obtain the legal right to construct the pipeline from all landowners.

In previous legal proceedings, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers assured the court that it had taken a “hard look” at the risks and impacts of spills from the proposed Bayou Bridge pipeline. But newly released information in the court record tells a different story.  While voluminous public comments raised serious concerns about the high risk of spills and the impact they would have on the particularly sensitive Atchafalaya Basin, the record shows that these comments were largely ignored by the Corps.

Remarkably, the Corps never conducted any independent analysis of the oil spill risk and response information submitted by Bayou Bridge Pipeline, LLC (BPP). Instead, it accepted, without question or oversight, BBP’s underestimated and incomplete spill assessment.  

“The Corps allowed ETP—which has a worst-in-the-industry safety record—to write its environmental review with zero oversight or independent review,” said Jan Hasselman of Earthjustice, lead lawyer for the plaintiff organizations. “Giving the fox the keys to the henhouse is not just wrong, its illegal – and we are going to have our day in Court to explain why.”

Earlier this year, Waterkeeper Alliance co-published a detailed report showing that pipelines constructed and operated by subsidiaries of Energy Transfer Partners spilled once every 11 days on average and those spills caused millions of dollars of damage to waterways and private property across the country. Just yesterday, another Energy Transfer Partners pipeline exploded in a massive fireball in Pennsylvania.

“One of the most dangerous things about the Bayou Bridge pipeline is its spill risk. Energy Transfer Partners is a notorious serial polluter with an egregious track record of hundreds of spills, explosions, and fires,” said Larissa Liebmann, staff attorney of Waterkeeper Alliance.

An oil spill in the Atchafalaya Basin would have devastating impacts on the unique ecological and economic role the Basin plays. “This spill risk is even higher in Louisiana where the Bayou Bridge pipeline will cross hundreds of waterways that the public needs for drinking water and crawfish producers rely on for their livelihoods,” said Jody Meche of the Louisiana Crawfish Producers Association. This risk is compounded by the fact that detecting and responding to an oil leak in the United State’s largest wetland would be particularly challenging.

The Corps had previously represented that it would rely on other agencies, such as the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA), to address the oil spill risk, but the record reveals that the Corps not only failed to consult PHMSA, but also misconstrued the agency’s role in the permitting process, falsely stating that approvals were required from PHMSA prior to the operation of the pipeline.  

“The fact that the Corps did almost no independent oversight of the issue that has the most potential to irreparably harm the Atchafalaya Basin is outrageous,” said Atchafalaya Basinkeeper Dean Wilson. “This is an outright dereliction of duty and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers headquarters in Washington, D.C. needs to remove people from the Louisiana office who failed to comply with federal regulations.”

“Pipeline spills in the Basin often go unreported or undetected without independent observers. And when spills do happen, the spill response can be to burn the swamp. The Corps can’t just ignore this issue,” said Scott Eustis, Community Science Director of Gulf Restoration Network.

“It is unacceptable for construction to continue on the Bayou Bridge pipeline when we still haven’t seen a full accounting of the risk of spills the pipeline would pose to the Atchafalaya Basin,” said Julie Rosenzweig, director of the Sierra Club Delta Chapter. “We can’t afford to just take Energy Transfer Partners’ word that everything will be fine, especially given this company’s track record. The people of Louisiana deserve a full, independent review of the threats this pipeline poses to our land, water, and communities.”


About Waterkeeper

United as one powerful force, Waterkeeper Alliance fights for every community's right to drinkable, fishable, swimmable water. For more information please visit waterkeeper.org

Energy Transfer Partners PA Explosion Another Example of Poor Pipeline Management


energy transfer partners pipeline explosion

Waterkeeper Alliance points to Energy Transfer Partners’ long history of pipeline accidents

Following the early morning explosion today of an Energy Transfer Partners pipeline in Beaver County, PA which prompted officials to close schools and evacuate dozens of homes, Waterkeeper Alliance Staff Attorney Larissa Liebmann has issued the following statement:

“Yet again, Energy Transfer Partners endangered lives when a pipeline exploded early this morning in Pennsylvania. We are thankful to the emergency first responders who acted swiftly to keep the community safe. Incidents like this are unfortunately all too common. Waterkeeper Alliance and Greenpeace meticulously documented more than 500 spills and millions of dollars in fines and property damage by Energy Transfer Partners in a report released earlier this year. The explosion this morning proves that ETP is still putting lives at risk and cannot be trusted to operate pipelines safely, and is a grim reminder of our nation’s need to quickly transition to clean and safe forms of energy like solar and wind.”

**Photo by WPXI


About Waterkeeper

United as one powerful force, Waterkeeper Alliance fights for every community's right to drinkable, fishable, swimmable water. For more information please visit waterkeeper.org

Waterkeeper Fights to Keep Clean Water Act Protections


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Waterkeepers challenge industry and Oklahoma AG’s attempts to strip protections from critically important waterways

Waterkeeper Alliance, Grand Riverkeeper, and Tar Creekkeeper are requesting to intervene in two Oklahoma federal district court lawsuits—one filed by Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter and one filed by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and other business groups—that seek to strip federal Clean Water Act protections from whole categories of waterways throughout the United States.

The conservation groups, represented by Earthjustice, David Page of Barber & Bartz, and Kelly Hunter Foster of Waterkeeper Alliance, filed their intervention request in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Oklahoma on Sept. 4 to protect the hundreds of thousands of miles of critically important streams, rivers, lakes, and other waters that could be polluted and destroyed if Clean Water Act protections for these types of waters are eliminated.   

The groups seek to intervene in suits filed against the U.S. EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers; the suits attempt to undermine fundamental aspects of the landmark 1972 Clean Water Act, leaving important bodies of water, fisheries, and drinking water supplies unprotected against pollution discharges, dredging, and filling. These protections could be eliminated at a time when more than half the streams and rivers in the United States assessed by state agencies are already categorized as “impaired” by pollution under the Clean Water Act.

“It is imperative that we be allowed to intervene in these lawsuits to protect the Clean Water Act and everyone who depends upon it,” explained Daniel E. Estrin, general counsel and advocacy director for Waterkeeper Alliance. “Currently, all of the parties to the lawsuits are in cahoots and working toward the same goal—to dangerously narrow the scope of waters protected under federal law. Everyone who uses and enjoys waterways across the country for drinking, fishing, and recreation deserves representation in these lawsuits as well.”

Hunter’s suit, which is challenging a 2015 rule that defined which waters are protected, is based on the faulty premise that the federal government’s jurisdiction was previously limited to interstate waters, or large bodies of water; and he wrongly claims that the 2015 rule would expand the Clean Water Act, allowing the federal government to “regulate virtually all land and bodies of water across the United States.”

“The Clean Water Act, as should be apparent from its name alone, does not regulate land—with or without this rule,” said Rebecca Jim, Tar Creekkeeper. “Similarly, the Clean Water Act has never been limited to protecting interstate waters or large bodies of water. It has protected rivers, streams, lakes, wetlands, and coastal waters for the last 40 years, in every corner of the country, as intended by Congress.  These lawsuits are an obvious attempt to eliminate those long-standing protections.”

“A ruling by this court that adopts an interpretation of the Clean Water Act advanced by the plaintiffs would undermine the Waterkeepers’ efforts to protect the broad jurisdiction that Congress envisioned for the Clean Water Act,” said Earl Hatley, Grand Riverkeeper. “It would prejudice our ability to protect our waters—the waters our members depend on for drinking, fishing, and swimming.”


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United as one powerful force, Waterkeeper Alliance fights for every community's right to drinkable, fishable, swimmable water. For more information please visit waterkeeper.org