Based on its current projected path, Tropical Storm Isaias could bring heavy rains up and down the East Coast, from the Carolinas and Virginia to the Delmarva Peninsula, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey. Along the way, the storm could swamp industrial facilities, coal ash ponds, concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs), and more.
From Hurricane Florence to Hurricane Harvey and beyond, in the past 15 years, we've seen numerous tropical storms flood unprepared facilities. This has caused significant infrastructure damage and unleashed toxic floodwaters into nearby communities and waterways, threatening public health and making residents sick.
While no one can predict the exact path of any given storm, we do know the importance of preparing for extreme weather and adapting to the climate crisis. For resources on this issue, you can review CPR's report on toxic floodwaters in Virginia, our paper on toxic floodwaters and public health, and our recommendations for improving our nation's preparedness for storms like Isaias.
If you live in the path of Isaias, please be safe. If you witness or hear about flooding at industrial sites, coal ash ponds, CAFOs, and other facilities near you, let us know.
In April, states in the Chesapeake Bay watershed published drafts of the latest iteration of plans to reduce pollution and protect their rivers and streams. New analyses from the Center for Progressive Reform show that the plans fall far short of what is needed to restore the health and ecological integrity of the Chesapeake Bay.
The draft plans, known as Phase III watershed implementation plans (WIPs), were developed as part of the Bay Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) framework that includes all the states in the Chesapeake watershed. CPR Policy Analysts David Flores and Evan Isaacson focused on three states – Maryland, Pennsylvania, and Virginia – that are responsible for nearly 90 percent of nitrogen pollution to the Chesapeake and represent more than 90 percent of the remaining pollution reductions needed to reach the final 2025 pollution reduction target.
Isaacson examined and evaluated the draft WIPs with several criteria …
2018 was one of the wettest years on record in Virginia, causing catastrophic floods and landslides, as well as unexpectedly high levels of pollution in the Commonwealth’s waterways and the Chesapeake Bay. While the last waterlogged year is only a recent memory for Virginians, seemingly unremarkable snow and rainfall at the end of February caused the James River to crest last week at its highest level in Richmond in almost ten years. Climate change has clearly transformed our experience with weather and our relationship with water. In a new report published today, the Center for Progressive Reform explores how this drives environmental injustice in Virginia through toxic flooding and the increasing risk of chemical exposures.
Over the last two years, plant explosions in Texas and flooded coal ash impoundments in North Carolina have reminded us about an unmet need to adapt our approach to chemical safety. And …
This op-ed originally ran in the Bay Journal. Reprinted with permission.
Recent extreme weather — Hurricanes Harvey and Florence — caused widespread toxic contamination of floodwaters after low-lying chemical plants, coal ash storage facilities and hog waste lagoons were inundated.
Such storm-driven chemical disasters demonstrate that state water pollution permitting programs are overdue for reforms that account for stronger and more intense hurricanes and heavy rainfall events, sea level rise and extreme heat.
As the District of Columbia and the states in the Chesapeake Bay watershed prepare their final watershed implementation plans for cleaning up the Bay, two important lessons should be clear from the recent disasters: First, climate change will greatly complicate Bay cleanup efforts and must therefore be factored into planning. Second, the state regulation of pollution sources can and should be a critical component of the plan.
The potential pollution implications of climate change are many …
This post is part of a series about climate change and the increasing risk of floods releasing toxic chemicals from industrial facilities. It is based on a forthcoming article that will be published in the Sustainable Development Law & Policy Brief.
As climate change makes extreme weather events increasingly frequent, the risk of flooding on our rivers and shores increases. As I noted in a previous post in this series, this puts us at risk for toxic flooding – the combination of floodwaters and industrial toxic spills unleashed during flooding events. Although the storms themselves are not preventable, we can at least avoid placing toxic chemicals in the path of floodwaters. So what role can the American people play in developing stronger, more proactive policies designed to prevent, rather than merely respond to, toxic flooding?
The good news is that existing federal and state environmental laws provide vehicles …
Today, the Mid-Atlantic Regional Office of the Environmental Protection Agency officially released its assessment of Chesapeake Bay restoration progress. This marked the formal conclusion of the multi-year process known as the "midpoint assessment" for the Chesapeake's cleanup plan.
2017 represents the halfway point for the cleanup, at which time state and federal partners were supposed to have reached 60 percent of their final 2025 nutrient and sediment pollution reduction targets. Unfortunately, 2017 will go down as another in a long line of missed deadlines for the Bay.
Several weeks ago, the Chesapeake Bay Program released the official progress data on the 2017 interim pollution reduction targets. The data reveal that for nitrogen, long considered the limiting pollutant in the Bay TMDL cleanup plan, the seven Chesapeake jurisdictions and all sources combined were only a …
This post is part of a series on Judge Brett Kavanaugh's nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court.
President Trump's nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to a lifetime seat on the Supreme Court has enormous environmental and public health implications – true of any high court nomination, but particularly true in this case because he would replace Justice Anthony Kennedy, the high court's long-time swing vote.
As it stands, Kavanaugh has already had an outsized impact on the shape and direction of environmental law in the United States. A review of Kavanaugh's judicial opinions shows that he has been one of the most prolific writers of environmental law decisions over the last decade on what is considered the nation's second-highest court, and the one with jurisdiction over much of the federal regulatory system. Only one other judge on the United States Court of Appeals for the District of …
The Chesapeake Bay restoration effort is arguably one of the largest conservation endeavors ever undertaken. The Bay watershed is made up of 150 major rivers and streams and contains 100,000 smaller tributaries spread across Delaware, Maryland, New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia and the District of Columbia. It supplies drinking water for more than 17 million residents and is one of the most important economic drivers on the East Coast of the United States.
The Chesapeake Bay Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL), enacted in 2010 by the Environmental Protect Agency (EPA) in collaboration with the Chesapeake Bay states, is a framework for allocating and eliminating excessive loads of nitrogen, phosphorus, and sediment polluting the watershed. It was designed to ensure that pollution control measures would reduce persistent dead zones in the Bay and its tidal tributaries by 2025. As part of the TMDL, the states and …
This is the second in a series of posts to explore progress in cleaning up the Chesapeake Bay, as reflected in recent data from the Chesapeake Bay Program’s elaborate computer model of the Bay, which accounts for what the states are actually doing to reduce pollution. Read the first post, taking a look at the overall region’s progress, here.
Judging solely from the Chesapeake Bay Program’s Watershed Model, the Commonwealth of Virginia is doing a pretty good job of reducing its pollution “contribution” to the Bay. The most recent data (2014) from the Model indicate that the Commonwealth has achieved 97.6 percent of its nitrogen reduction goal for 2017 and 150.4 percent of its phosphorus reduction goal, three years ahead of schedule.
Virginia’s experience exemplifies two themes common among the Bay jurisdictions: (1) the Bay has reaped the benefits of actions …