NRDC in the News Week of February 15, 2016 Highlights

1) Erik Olson joined NPR’s “On Point” program for a roundtable discussion of lead contamination in Americans’ drinking water in the wake of the Flint crisis. Among other things, Erik discussed the impacts of lead contamination on children and communities, and explained that low-income families are more frequently exposed to dangerous levels of lead due to a variety of systemic failures.

2) Erik Olson was also a guest on NPR's "Diane Rehm Show" this week to talk about the national implications of the Flint water crisis. In the course of the discussion, Erik covered the disproportionate burden of contamination borne by communities of color, the need for improved transparency from water utilities, and EPA’s failure to regulate another toxic substance, perchlorate, in drinking water.

3) Dimple Chaudhary spoke to the Good Housekeeping magazine about the lawsuit NRDC filed on behalf of impacted Flint residents and the fact that this is not a Michigan-only problem, saying “The water system in a lot of cities is old and full of lead pipes.”

4) Henry Henderson told Mother Jones that lead-related projects are “often stigmatized as just a sinkhole of meaningless environmental spending,” which is just one explanation for the sorry state of our nation’s drinking water systems.

5) The New York Times' “Dot Earth” blog pointed readers to David Doniger’s blog on the Supreme Court’s stay of Clean Power Plan implementation. David also expressed optimism for the future of the plan in the Boston Globe, saying the ruling will not “dampen the overwhelming public support for action on climate change and clean energy.” And he was quoted by The Hill and Mashable in their coverage of the court’s decision, as well.

6) Michael Wall spoke to the Wall Street Journal about how a set of laws passed by Wyoming’s legislature that criminalize the capture and transmission of data or photos on open land. Michael explained the new laws are “trying to make criminals out of Americans who see someone polluting and tell the government about it.”

7) David Pettit talked to the Associated Press about upcoming legal battles in the aftermath of the Aliso Canyon natural gas leak in California, saying “the government wants this to be so expensive that this company and others are going to take such exceptional care in their operations that this never happens again." Briana Mordick also spoke to Quartz about the regulatory failures that lead to the leak, saying it has been “a long-standing concern that [the state’s Natural Resources Agency] is too close to the industry that it regulates.” The New York Times’ “Dot Earth” blog explained how the leak highlights the need for federal action to address the oil and gas industry’s massive methane pollution problem nationwide, crediting a “convincing” NRDC action plan for EPA to follow. And Alex Jackson told LA Weekly that having the gas utility responsible for the leak buy carbon credits would be the “cleanest way of ensuring the atmosphere is made whole” from the impacts of the Aliso Canyon disaster.

8) Tracy Quinn criticized a proposal from the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California to cut a rebate program that encourages homeowners to remove artificial turf from their yards in the Los Angeles Times. She said dropping the program would be a “huge missed opportunity,” as there is no certainty around the area’s future ability to replenish depleted groundwater reserves.

9) Pierre Delforge explained to Consumer Reports that power adapters were a prime target for federal energy efficiency standards because of their wasteful nature. He explained that the adapters—which convert power from a wall outlet into the lower voltages needed to charge laptops, smartphones, and other devices—draw energy even if the devices they’re charging are already at full power.

10) VICE News, as part of a joint series with the Center for Public Integrity, spoke to Jen Sass for an investigation into concerns that two scientific journals are peddling industry-backed “junk science.” Jen explained that a weak, industry-influenced peer-review process “actually muddies the independent scientific literature” and stacks weight on industry’s “side of the scale.” The investigative report was also picked up by Yahoo! News.

11) Veena Singla worked with WJLA-TV—the local ABC affiliate in Washington, DC—to investigate whether consumers’ mattresses release toxic chemicals into the air. Finding respiratory irritants and potential carcinogens, Veena told WJLA that although the chemicals weren’t measured at levels above approved standards, we don’t fully understand the effect of ingesting small amounts of toxics over long periods of time, and it could be very harmful.

12) Karen Hobbs criticized a Milwaukee suburb’s tepid water conservation proposal being used to bolster its attempt to gain access to Great Lakes water in the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, saying that it “is too reliant on voluntary and educational measures.”

13) President Obama last week established three new national monuments to protect 1.8 million acres of California’s Mojave Desert, a move Helen O’Shea heralded as “an absolutely essential element of an overall vision for California's desert—a vision that includes both conservation and renewable energy development in the right places," in Environment and Energy Daily.

14) Kate Kiely spoke to Yahoo! Health about the environmental benefits of living with other people, saying: “As a general rule, the more you share, the less you waste. When more people use the same amount of resources, it reduces your individual environmental footprint.”

15) A TIME magazine article encouraged readers to buy longer lasting vegetables to help save money and reduce food waste, citing an NRDC study that found about 40 percent of food grown and sold in America is thrown out. The Christian Science Monitor and Salinas Californian also pointed to the same study for articles on penny-pinching and food waste legislation, respectively.

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