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Reports on Water
The reports below represent a sample of Frontier Group’s work on Water. For more of our reports on this and related topics, please visit www.PolicyArchive.org. Full archive coming soon.
In the early 1970s, many American rivers and streams were contaminated with toxic industrial pollution, choked with untreated sewage and trash, and, in many cases, devoid of aquatic life.
In 2014, 42 years after the passage of the Clean Water Act, many of these formerly degraded waterways are returning to health. But at least one-third of the country’s rivers, streams and lakes are not yet safe for fishing and swimming.
Our 15 case studies show that when the Clean Water Act applies to waterways, it is a powerful and effective tool for improving water quality for humans and wildlife.(October 2014)
South Portland, Maine, became “ground zero” for the tar sands debate when residents, in partnership with several statewide environmental groups, qualified a ballot initiative to stop the oil industry from establishing Portland Harbor as the U.S. East Coast shipping hub for tar sands’ entry into the world market. In response, Big Oil launched a massive, $750,000 campaign to defeat the initiative in a city of just 25,000 people. Using Big Oil’s campaign to defeat South Portland’s Waterfront Protection Ordinance as a case study, this report describes the tools and tactics the industry can be expected to use to keep alive the possibility of shipping tar sands oil out of Portland Harbor.(July 2014)
More than 40 years after passage of the Clean Water Act, industrial polluters continue to release more than 206 million pounds of toxic chemicals into America’s waterways each year. Wasting Our Waterways quantifies the amount of industrial pollution released into individual rivers, lakes and other waterways nationwide, names the states and waterways with the greatest releases of chemicals linked to environmental toxicity and human health problems, and issues a call to action to restore the promise of the federal Clean Water Act.(June 2014)
Factory farms threaten the health of Illinois’s rivers, lakes and streams. Across the state, large-scale releases of animal waste and other forms of pollution have fouled local waterways to the point where some can no longer sustain important uses such as swimming, fishing, drinking, or the maintenance of healthy populations of wildlife. This case study report highlights five specific instances of factory farm pollution damaging local waterways, and includes policy recommendations for stronger regulation and enforcement of these facilities in Illinois.(February 2014)
State decision-makers charged with keeping Wisconsin’s water clean have allowed industrial farming operations to spread, even though livestock operations have already polluted thousands of acres of lakes and hundreds of miles of rivers. As this report explores, the state’s failure to protect waterways from factory farming is the result of years of lobbying by powerful corporate agribusiness interests. To protect Wisconsin’s precious lakes and rivers, state officials must stand up to pressure from factory farming lobbyists, refuse to permit new factory farms, and ensure that existing ones follow the law.(December 2013)
Excessive water withdrawals threaten many of Texas’ most important and beloved rivers. Rivers are a central element of our natural heritage, but wasteful water use is harming wildlife, economically important estuaries, and the basic well-being of our communities. Down to the Last Drop highlights five rivers where water withdrawals present a threat to wildlife and ecosystems. Some rivers have already been devastated by wasteful water use; others are under threat from new water projects that would withdraw more water or fundamentally change the river.(November 2013)
Over the past decade, the oil and gas industry has fused two technologies—hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling—in a highly polluting effort to unlock oil and gas in underground rock formations. Fracking is already underway in 17 states, with more than 80,000 wells drilled or permitted since 2005. Fracking by the Numbers quantifies some of the key impacts of fracking to date—including the production of toxic wastewater, water use, chemicals use, air pollution, land damage and global warming emissions.(October 2013)
“Fracking” operations pose a staggering array of threats to our environment and health – many of them with significant “dollars and cents” costs. Current federal and state laws are supposed to hold drillers accountable for cleaning up well sites and compensating those who might be harmed by drilling activity, but are wholly inadequate to protect the public. Who Pays the Costs of Fracking? documents the current state of financial assurance rules for oil and gas drilling and lays out a policy roadmap for ensuring that the oil and gas industry bears the full cost of the damage it inflicts on the environment and public health.(July 2013)
Pennsylvanians increasingly want healthy, locally grown food that is produced in ways that reflect their values – including protection of the environment. The rapidly rising demand for organic food, the growth in the number of farmers markets and in community supported agriculture, and the expansion of community gardens across Pennsylvania are all indicators of a deep desire to reclaim our food system. This white paper profiles leading policy ideas that can encourage sustainable agricultural production, beginning at the farm and ending in kitchens across the the Keystone State.(March 2013)
The ongoing drought in Texas has reduced recreational opportunities, harmed wildlife, and threatened drinking water supplies. As Texas’ population and economy continue to grow, demand for water will increase, making it more important than ever to use water wisely. Keeping Water in Our Rivers documents opportunities to save water through improved efficiency and calculates the possible water savings from investing in conservation. Proven technologies and approaches can improve the efficiency of water use in agriculture, landscaping, municipal water infrastructure, electricity generation, and oil and gas drilling.(March 2013)
Coal- and natural gas-fired power plants pollute our air, are major contributors to global warming, and consume vast amounts of water—harming our rivers and lakes and leaving less water for other uses. Wind energy has none of these problems. It produces no air pollution, makes no contribution to global warming, and uses no water. Wind Power for a Cleaner America documents the environmental benefits that have accrued from America's doubling its use of wind power since the beginning of 2008.(November 2012)
The negative environmental and health impacts of fracking for oil and gas come with heavy “dollars and cents” costs, ranging from cleaning up contaminated water to repairing ruined roads. The experience of previous fossil fuel booms suggests that many of these costs will wind up being borne by the public. The Costs of Fracking highlights the many ways in which oil and gas production using hydraulic fracturing affects the environment, public health and our communities, and calls for steps to ensure that the oil and gas industry is held financially accountable for the damage it causes.(September 2012)
Forty years after adoption of the federal Clean Water Act, industrial facilities continue to dump millions of pounds of toxic chemicals into America's rivers, streams, lakes and ocean waters. Wasting Our Waterways 2012 reviews the latest federal data on toxic releases to waterways, reinforcing the need for stronger protections to protect the public and the environment.(March 2012)
Intensive chicken production on Maryland’s Eastern Shore generates large volumes of phosphorus-laden manure. Growers and farmers spread this manure on their fields as fertilizer, but when applied in excess, the nutrients that make manure useful for fertilizing crops also contribute to dead zones in the Chesapeake Bay. An Unsustainable Path explains how Maryland’s current approach to protecting the bay from phosphorus pollution is inadequate and how the state must end the practice of spreading chicken manure on farmland that is likely to pollute the bay.(December 2011)
Power plants continue to release large amounts of toxic pollutants, including mercury, into our air. Mercury pollution particularly threatens fetuses and infants, who can suffer irreversible brain damage due to mercury exposure. This report ranks U.S. power plants by 2010 mercury emissions, and makes the case for new toxic pollution standards the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will finalize in December to protect public health.(November 2011)