Industrial facilities continue to dump millions of pounds of toxic chemicals into America’s rivers, streams, lakes and ocean waters each year—threatening both the environment and human health. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), pollution from industrial facilities is responsible for threatening or fouling water quality in more than 14,000 miles of rivers and streams, more than 220,000 acres of lakes, ponds and estuaries nationwide.
Since 2006, federally declared weather-related disasters in the United States have affected counties housing 242 million people – or roughly four out of five Americans. The breadth and severity of weather-related disasters in the United States – coupled with the emerging science on the links between global warming and extreme weather – suggest that the United States should take strong action to reduce emissions of global warming pollution and take steps to protect communities from global warming-fueled extreme weather events.
In the United States, 49 million Americans receive their drinking water from surface sources located within 50 miles of an active nuclear power plant —inside the boundary the Nuclear Regulatory Commission uses to assess risk to food and water supplies. Because of the inherent risks of nuclear power, the United States should ensure that all currently operating nuclear power plants are, at the latest, retired at the end of their operating licenses and the nation should move toward cleaner, safer solutions such as energy efficiency and renewable energy for our future energy needs.
The week of Thanksgiving is one of the busiest travel weeks of the year, when many Americans are hit hard by the economic pain of our dependence on oil. However, if the average passenger vehicle met a 54.5 miles per gallon (mpg) standard instead of the current 26.4 mpg standard, Americans would save millions at the gas pump on Thanksgiving travel this year.
America’s dependence on oil inflicts a heavy toll on our environment. There are many technologies and policy tools, however, that can curb America’s dependence on oil. By taking strong action to cut down on energy waste and shift to cleaner sources of energy, America could reduce its consumption of oil for energy by 1.9 billion barrels of oil per year by 2030—31 percent of today’s oil use— while achieving President Obama’s goal of reducing oil imports by one-third by 2025 and putting the nation on track to ending its dependence on oil.
Environment Maine Research and Policy Center is part of The Public Interest Network, which operates and supports organizations committed to a shared vision of a better world and a strategic approach to social change.