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What we are about to lose

February 20th, 2017 | Posted by Lee

It begins; What we are about to lose

Just confirmed Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott “Pruitt told the Wall Street Journal on Friday that he expects to quickly withdraw both the Clean Power Plan and the Waters of the United States Rule, the Obama administration’s attempt at clarifying the EPA’s regulatory authority under the Clean Water Act.”

from an article by Natasha Geiling, in ThinkProgress


Graphic from the EPA website (for now): https://www.epa.gov/cleanwaterrule

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Riverkeeper Statement to Watertown ‘Sister Rally’

January 23rd, 2017 | Posted by Lee

It was an honor to be asked to be a part of Watertown’s ‘Sister Rally’ held Saturday in conjunction with the Women’s March on Washington and the hundreds of others held across the country. It was the beginning of a grassroots effort to remind the new administration and the new Congress that there is widespread support for a range of policies and programs the new President has expressed opposition to.

Although I was out of the area, Save The River supporter and volunteer Maria Purcell read my statement to the almost 300 participants from all over the River region and beyond*.

In part,

“The fact that the highest level appointees of the incoming administration have articulated a clear intention to minimize environmental protections in government decisionmaking is frightening. It threatens our very mission – the protection and restoration of the St. Lawrence River.

Access to clean water is the most fundamental human right. We are entering challenging times for many (if not all) social justice issues, within which we must include the right to clean – swimmable, fishable, drinkable – water.”

We are thankful that the St. Lawrence River and the Great Lakes and their tributaries have benefitted from decades of bipartisan cooperation at every level of government, from village, township, county, province and state to federal and international, by people of good will focused on restoring and protecting these waterbodies that hold 20% of the world’s fresh water and provide drinking water to millions. We cannot return to a time when they were viewed as resources to be consumed, dammed, diverted, filled and fouled.

The message Saturday was simple, we are watching and we will mobilize to protect hard fought and hard won victories for a clean St. Lawrence River now and for generations to come.

Save The River and the standing heron are registered trademarks. Riverkeeper is a registered trademark of the Waterkeeper® Alliance


Notes:

  • full text of statement
  • the event organizers noted RSVPs from Watertown, Cape Vincent, Redwood, Potsdam, Canton, Fort Drum, Edwards, LaRay, Carthage, Clayton, Adams, Hounsfield, Rutland, Chaumont, Pulaski, Brownville, Sackets Harbor, Cranberry Lake, Antwerp, Rodman, West Carthage, DeKalb, Massena, Lowville, Plattsburgh, Waddington, Lorraine, Lyme, Ogdensburg, Alexandria Bay, Gouverneur, Bombay, Lyonsdale, Theresa, Diana and Watson (all in the River region) and Brentwood, Rochester, Staten Island, Hanover, Worthington, Ithaca, NY, Fresno, CA, Albuquerque, NM, and Bellmead, TX.
  • media coverage of the event: Watertown Daily Times, 7 News Fox 28
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Save The Date! Winter Environmental Conference is Coming.

November 30th, 2016 | Posted by Lee

2017-wec-header

Save The River’s Winter Environmental Conference is a regionally significant event we have held every February for over a quarter of a century.

Saturday, February 4, 2017, we will host our 28th Winter Conference. Preparations are well underway. It will be another great opportunity for coming together with other friends of the River to share information, discussion and fellowship as we hear from national and regional policymakers, scientists, opinion leaders and students about the important issues facing the River we all love and want to protect.

Program and registration details will be available soon here and on our Facebook page.

It does take significant effort and resources to bring interesting and informative speakers to our conference and to hold it in a setting like the 1000 Islands Harbor Hotel. Individual and business sponsorships help make sure the conference is a continued success. If you are interested in supporting our conference, contact Bridget at (315) 686-2010 or bridget@savetheriver.org.

We’ll see you in February!

Save The River has reserved a limited block of rooms at the 1000 Islands Harbor Hotel at a rate of $109 per night. Reservations can be made by calling the hotel directly at (315) 686-1100. This discounted rate is only guaranteed through Wednesday, January 3, 2017.

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Save The River Questions Oil on the River at Great Lakes Forum 2016

October 11th, 2016 | Posted by Lee

Crude oil has no place on the River or its tributaries. While at the Great Lakes Public Forum, Riverkeeper and Save The River’s Executive Director had a chance to remind the panelists of the 1976 Nepco 140 spill of 300,000 gallons of crude oil on the St. Lawrence River – at the time the largest inland oil spill in North America and to ask about measures to deal with spills from pipelines, and rail, as well as ships.

Save The River has been fighting to protect the vulnerable and fragile natural and human environment on the St. Lawrence River for its entire history.

Although refined petroleum products are currently transported on the River, crude oil is not. Two very different and very dangerous types of crude are poised to transit the St. Lawrence River. One, Bakken crude, is extremely volatile, even explosive as seen in numerous “bomb train” incidents in recent years. The other, tar sands oil, is heavy enough to sink in freshwater where, with current technology it is unrecoverable.

Shipping on the St. Lawrence River has long been an all-risk and no-reward proposition, and the shipment of crude oil will exponentially increase the risk to our environment, our economy and our communities.

Having suffered a major oil spill on the St. Lawrence River, we know all too well the risks involved with even traditional cargoes. As pressure increases to bring these dangerous cargoes to the waters of the St. Lawrence River and Great Lakes, either in the holds of ships, through pipelines or in rail cars, we must take steps to protect our River before it’s too late.

More on Save The River’s position and advocacy to protect the St. Lawrence River from spills.

The whole Great Lakes Public Forum was live streamed by Detroit Public Television’s Great Lakes Now coverage. Click here for their coverage.

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International Joint Commission launches public consultations on progress by the governments to restore and protect the Great Lakes

September 30th, 2016 | Posted by Lee

Over the next year, citizens throughout the Great Lakes basin can participate in online & in-person discussions & meetings to provide their perspectives about progress by the governments of Canada & the United States under the 2012 Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement. Their viewpoints will contribute to the International Joint Commission’s (IJC) first assessment of progress made by the governments to restore & protect the Great Lakes under the 2012 Agreement.ijc-glwqa

“Residents of the Great Lakes basin have a vital interest in this Agreement, which embodies the spirit of cooperation between our two countries, as well as the joint goals & activities needed to restore and protect Great Lakes water quality,” said Gordon Walker, chair, IJC Canadian Section.

“Restoring Great Lakes water quality continues to be an ambitious undertaking, so it is critical that citizens express their views on progress to implement this Agreement & work that still needs to be done,” said Lana Pollack, chair, IJC US Section.

Throughout the next ten months, the IJC will host a series of monthly online discussions on its online democracy platform called ParticipateIJC. The sharing platform will include valuable information about the Agreement & provide opportunities for citizens throughout the Great Lakes region to contribute videos, photos, stories & comments, & talk with others about progress to restore & protect the lakes. It will also provide video from the Great Lakes Public Forum & other meetings held around the basin for those who cannot attend in person. ParticipateIJC will include a variety of discussion forums as well as new information as public meetings are held in towns throughout the Great Lakes region.

Between the end of October 2016 and mid-January 2017, the IJC will pull all the information together – the governments’ progress report, its advisory boards’ reports and assessments, and citizens’ comments – to write a draft of its Triennial Assessment Report. Once that’s released in mid-January, the IJC will head back out to hear what citizens think of that report and issues they’re concerned about in their area in a series of public meetings in communities across the Great Lakes basin. The draft report and its appendices will be posted at IJC.org and on ParticipateIJC to encourage discussion and comments. A final report will be released in summer 2017 that will incorporate all scientific, policy and citizen input.

Click here to join in the conversation.

More on the 2012 Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement (from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency website).

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Winter Icebreaking on the St. Lawrence River?

August 18th, 2016 | Posted by Lee

2013 Ice on the River at Clayton“We [Save The River and the River community] remain vigilant to any renewed efforts for destructive ice-breaking for winter shipping and we stand ready to block it again.”

In a August 17 story by Brian Kelly the Watertown Daily Times covers the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Governors and Premiers Maritime Transportation Strategy that, among other things, “suggests ways the shipping season could be extended.”

Ice-breaking on the St. Lawrence River has not and will not be appropriate – either economically or environmentally.

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St. Lawrence River & Key Figures Play Big Role in Upcoming Film – Updated

August 5th, 2016 | Posted by Lee

In June the crew from Changing Currents, PLU MediaLab, came to New York, Ontario and, specifically the St. Lawrence River for interviews and filming for “Changing Currents: Protecting North America’s Rivers”, an examination of river pollution and restoration efforts in North America.

While here they interviewed two of Save The River‘s strongest partners in our efforts to preserve and protect the St. Lawrence and the larger Great Lakes system – Jill Jedlicka, Executive Director of Buffalo Niagara RIVERKEEPER and Jeff Ridal, Executive Director of the St. Lawrence River Institute of Environmental Sciences.

Featured, as well, are Angie Barnes (Tsionerahtase) and Dr. Mary Arquette (Iotenerahtatenion). Both have dedicated their lives protecting the waters, culture, and environment for future generations in Akwesasne on the St. Lawrence River and both are employees of the Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe Environment Division, a strong and important voice in St. Lawrence River restoration.

Also interviewed was our very own Board President, Jeff Garnsey, as a local business owner and seventh-generation resident.

In the just released trailer we hear Jeff at the beginning, Angie at the 5 second mark, see Jill at the 30 second mark, Jeff at 46 seconds and Dr. Arquette at 55, all making excellent points. The whole trailer offers a glimpse of how impactful this production will be.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, about 40 percent of rivers and lakes in the United States are too polluted for swimming or fishing. The mission of the film is to educate others on ecological river health, encourage environmental stewardship and advocate for dialog regarding effective river protection. The film is currently in pre-production and will premiere on Nov. 12, 2016 in the Theatre on the Square at the Broadway Center for Performing Arts in Tacoma, Washington.

 

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We Remember

June 23rd, 2016 | Posted by Lee
40 Years Ago the St. Lawrence River joined the ranks of waterways abused and assaulted by the vagaries of careless industrial use when 300,000 gallons of petroleum was spilled and spread into its countless bays, backwaters and coves.
The River and the communities that depend on it being healthy have never been the same.
The River faces some of the same challenges now as then, but also new ones as well. NCPR helps us remember the “Slick of 76” and put it into a perspective for today, when our River has been named as one of the ten most endangered rivers in America for a water levels plan that predates the NEPCO 140 spill by almost 20 years. http://ow.ly/xwf0301xxBt
The “Slick” reminds us all that vigilance in the effort to protect our freshwater is a must.

40 Years Ago the St. Lawrence River joined the ranks of waterways abused and assaulted by the vagaries of careless industrial use when 300,000 gallons of petroleum was spilled and spread into its countless bays, backwaters and coves.

The River and the communities that depend on it being healthy have never been the same.1976 NEPCO 140 Spill A-Bay Cleanup

The River faces some of the same challenges now as then, but also new ones as well. NCPR helps us remember the “Slick of 76” and put it into a perspective for today, when our River has been named as one of the ten most endangered rivers in America for a water levels plan that predates the NEPCO 140 spill by almost 20 years.

The “Slick” reminds us all that vigilance in the effort to protect our River is a must. Personal action to ensure its health is imperative.

Now the action needed is replacing an outdated water levels plan with a modern one – Plan 2014 – to begin the restoration of the over 64,000 acres of wetlands the River and Lake Ontario have lost, bring back the native species whose populations have been decimated – Northern Pike down 70%, Black Tern down 80% – and give our children and their children the opportunity to know the River our grandparents knew.

Take action – Support Plan 2014.

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Transporting oil via pipelines carries risks

March 1st, 2016 | Posted by admin

Originally published in the Watertown Daily Times on March 1, 2016, from Lee Willbanks Upper St. Lawrence Riverkeeper and Save The River Executive Director.

In response to Wednesday’s editorial: “Cruising to Disaster“, Save The River would like to express our enthusiastic support of the editors’ position on the dangers and inappropriate risks of winter navigation on the St. Lawrence River. . . [however] while pipelines may be safer, they are by no means fail safe.

Click here for the full text of the Riverkeeper’s letter.

Kalamazoo River Spill (from EPA)

Kalamazoo River Spill (from EPA)

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Oil Shipments, Winter Navigation, Seaway Expansion – Oh My!

February 23rd, 2016 | Posted by admin

NEPCO 140

from today’s Watertown Daily Times story by Brian Kelly,

Revival of old idea(s) meets resistance

Some bad old ideas never seem to die. But to couple it with a new really bad idea – oil shipments on the St. Lawrence River – is no joke.

For the entire bad story click here: http://ow.ly/YEWyK

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