Since 1997, Red Sox Nation has celebrated home victories with the post-game anthem “Dirty Water,” the 1966 cynical paean to the Charles River and Boston Harbor. “Well, I love that dirty water; Oh, Boston you’re my home.”
Beginning in the 1800’s, the Charles River and Boston Harbor were polluted by domestic, municipal and industrial wastes. Raw sewage, chemical discharges, and leaching riverbank landfills turned the river into a toxic sluiceway flowing into the nastiest harbor in the world.
Read More → “…Oh, Boston you’re my home.”
Each September through November, volunteers participate in COASTSWEEP, a state-wide coastal cleanup of marine debris. Sponsored by MassCZM in coordination with the Ocean Conservatory’s International Coastal Cleanup, individuals, families, organizations and companies collect and catalogue the waste defiling our beaches and waterways, identify the sources of the debris, and act to stop ocean dumping. Our clients spend billions to build homes and businesses and to recreate in the coastal zone that is under constant attack from trash, primarily from land-based sources (washed out to sea by rivers, streams and storm drains). Plastics pose the greatest risk to marine wildlife (seabirds and turtles). Marine debris damages the health and safety, economics, and aesthetics of those who live, work and play along Massachusetts’ 1,500 miles of coastline.
We shouldn’t wait for the islands of ocean garbage to landfall; or for syringes, feces and nasty floatables to wash up on our beaches (as happened in Quincy prompting the cleanup of Boston Harbor). We encourage our clients, consultants and friends to join in an important opportunity to make a difference by cleaning up fishing nets, lines, traps and buoys, plastic bags, and consumer products that desecrate our marine environment. To learn more about eye-opening marine debris statistics and oddities, cleanup events, and organizing, joining or sponsoring a team, go to MassCZM’s COASTSWEEP site.
Embrace your stewardship!
In our Spring 2015 Environmental Law Update we predicted that there would be judicial and legislative challenges to the EPA and Army Corps’ new Clean Water Rule expanding the scope of jurisdictional waters of the United States. The Rule seeks to codify existing criteria that EPA and the Corps have been applying on a case-by-case basis using the three alternative tests announced by the U.S. Supreme Court in Rapanos v. United States. Even before the Rule was to take effect on August 28, 2015, 27 states filed federal lawsuits challenging the regulation.
On October 9, 2015, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit stayed the Rule nationwide. The morass of litigation prompted EPA to move to centralize pretrial proceedings in the District of Columbia. On October 13, 2015, the United States Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation issued an Order denying transfer because the various lawsuits will involve very limited pretrial discovery as the cases will be decided on the administrative record and will turn on questions of law on alleged exceedances of statutory and constitutional authority in promulgating the rule. The EPA and the Corps have resumed nationwide use of the prior regulations by applying case law, policy and the best science and technical data on a case-by-case basis in determining which waters and wetlands are protected under the Clean Water Act. On the legislative front, on November 4, 2015, over the threat of a Presidential veto, the U.S. Senate approved a resolution to nullify the Clean Water Rule. “The more things change, the more they stay the same.” Stay tuned.