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.

Factory Farms, Fouled Waters: How Industrial Livestock Operations Pollute Illinois Rivers, Lakes and Streams

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)
The Power to Pollute: Big Agribusinesses's Political Dominance in Madison and Its Impact on Our Waterways

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)
Down to the Last Drop: Wasting Water Endangers Texas' Rivers, Fish and Wildlife

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)
Fracking by the Numbers: Key Impacts of Dirty Drilling at the State and National Level

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)
Who Pays the Costs of Fracking?: Weak Bonding Rules for Oil and Gas Drilling Leave the Public at Risk

“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)
Healthy Farms, Healthy Environment: State and Local Policies to Improve Pennsylvania’s Food System and Protect Our Land and Water

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)
Keeping Water in Our Rivers: Strategies for Conserving Limited Water Supplies

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)
Wind Power for a Cleaner America: Reducing Global Warming Pollution, Cutting Air Pollution, and Saving Water

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 Costs of Fracking: The Price Tag of Dirty Drilling's Environmental Damage

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)
Wasting Our Waterways 2012: Toxic Industrial Pollution and the Unfulfilled Promise of the Clean Water Act

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)
An Unsustainable Path: Why Maryland's Manure Pollution Rules Are Failing to Protect the Chesapeake Bay

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)
America's Biggest Mercury Polluters: How Cleaning Up the Dirtiest Power Plants Will Protect Public Health

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)
Leading the Way Toward a Clean Ocean: Communities Around the World Take Action Against Plastic Bags

Our oceans are polluted with millions of tons of plastic trash. Throw-away plastic bags are a significant part of the problem. In this report, we document how more than 80 national and local governments across the planet have taken action to ban throw-away plastic bags or to establish fees or taxes on such bags - protecting our environment and reducing litter.

(July 2011)
Wisconsin's Lakes at Risk: The Growing Threat of Pollution from Agriculture and Development

Runoff pollution from farms and urban areas threatens water quality in waterbodies across Wisconsin. Wisconsin's Lakes at Risk documents how manure-tainted runoff from the state's growing number of factory farms, and construction and development in urban areas are adversely affecting Wisconsin's lakes and rivers.

(April 2011)
Growing Influence: The Political Power of Agribusiness and the Fouling of America’s Waterways

The agribusiness lobby is well known as one of the most powerful in Washington, D.C., and many states. Less well known is the fact that big agribusiness interests are among the largest roadblocks to cleaner water for the American people. Big agribusiness corporations have invested millions of dollars in campaign contributions and lobbying to defend agricultural practices that pollute America’s rivers, lakes and ocean waters and to defeat common-sense measures to clean up our waterways. The time has come for public officials to resist the entrenched power of big agribusiness and implement strong measures to protect our waterways.

(February 2011)

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