Potomac Riverkeeper Appeals Decision on Clean Water Act Permit
Potomac Riverkeeper filed an appeal on March 14 of the Environmental Quality Board's approval of West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection's (DEP) controversial issuance of a Clean Water Act permit for the proposed North Mountain Shale quarry in Gerrardstown. Potomac Riverkeeper is concerned that the permit will allow the quarry to discharge sediment-laden water into Mill Creek, a listed trout stream. The Permit affirmed by the Board violates the Clean Water Act because DEP did not consider the characteristics of the quarry site when it set limits for sediment pollution, known as total suspended solids, in Mill Creek. The Permit also ignores State Law that requires turbidity limits for discharges to trout waters.
Mill Creek is included in the Potomac Direct Drains Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) program, which identifies existing sources of sediment in the watershed and seeks to reduce total pollution loads. "Instead of performing the site-specific analysis required by the Clean Water Act, DEP illegally relied on the TMDL Report to set a generic sediment limit for this permit," said Upper Potomac River Manager Brent Walls. "Since federal regulations do not impose nationwide sediment limits for quarries, DEP was required to conduct a site-specific analysis using their best professional judgment. They didn’t do that for North Mountain Shale's discharge permit. West Virginia clearly failed to do what is required by Federal Law, and now the quarry can muddy what is now a beautiful trout stream."
Every year, West Virginia spends resources to stock Mill Creek, a trout stream listed by DEP, with trout for recreational and spawning purposes. Highly turbid waters degrade trout habitat by clogging the spaces in gravel stream beds that are used as nurseries and increases the temperature of the water which put harmful stresses on the trout. State law requires permits for certain quarrying operations to include turbidity limits, which protect Mill Creek and other trout streams from excess sediment. "DEP completely ignored State Law that requires turbidity limits for all discharges into trout waters that protect the existing conditions for that stream," said Brent Walls. "Instead, DEP claimed that complying with the law was not practical, but that just isn’t true and doesn’t justify ignoring the law. West Virginia law requires DEP to set a turbidity limit to protect Mill Creek."
The appeal of the Environmental Quality Board’s order was filed in Kanawha County Circuit Court. Potomac Riverkeeper also recently filed an appeal on the Surface Mine Board's decision affirming DEP’s issuance of a quarry permit to North Mountain Shale in Berkeley County Circuit Court. Both appeals will result in a review of the legal conclusions reached by the Boards in their respective orders affirming the permits.
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By Jake Johnson
Amid reports that oil industry-friendly former Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz remains under consideration to return to his old post in the incoming Biden administration, a diverse coalition of environmental groups is mobilizing for an "all-out push" to keep Moniz away from the White House and demand a cabinet willing to boldly confront the corporations responsible for the climate emergency.
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Anger, anxiety, overwhelm … climate change can evoke intense feelings.
"It's easy to feel dwarfed in the context of such a global systemic issue," says psychologist Renée Lertzman.
She says that when people experience these feelings, they often shut down and push information away. So to encourage climate action, she advises not bombarding people with frightening facts.
"When we lead with information, we are actually unwittingly walking right into a situation that is set up to undermine our efforts," she says.
She says if you want to engage people on the topic, take a compassionate approach. Ask people what they know and want to learn. Then have a conversation.
This conversational approach may seem at odds with the urgency of the issue, but Lertzman says it can get results faster.
"When we take a compassion-based approach, we are actively disarming defenses so that people are actually more willing and able to respond and engage quicker," she says. "And we don't have time right now to mess around, and so I do actually come to this topic with a sense of urgency… We do not have time to not take this approach."
Reporting credit: ChavoBart Digital Media
Reposted with permission from Yale Climate Connections.
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