Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Environmental Working Group Recommends more Focus for EQIP Program

The goal of the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) is to encourage farmers to use conservation practices on their land that reduce farm runoff, improve water and air quality and preserve wildlife habitat. The initial implementation of a new conservation practice can be costly; this program helps provide funding to farmers who volunteer and who meet the eligibility requirements. More information about the program can be found here.

Agricultural practices are the primary cause of the Dead Zone in the Gulf of Mexico. Conservation efforts should help reduce agriculture’s impact on the gulf, but a new report released by the Environmental Working Group (EWG) found that relying on voluntary participation for conservation effort is not enough. Their report recommends targeting taxpayer money to the highest priority locations, particularly in the Mississippi River watershed, to make the most of the money and to have the most improvement on water quality.

This new EWG report is called Making EQIP Work for Water Quality in 10 Mississippi River Border States. The EWG recommends that the USDA NRCS takes action to increase the effectiveness of the EQIP program, including setting specific goals for how much pollution needs to be reduced, identifying which lakes, streams or tributaries are priorities for improvement, and setting a timetable to achieve the goals.

More information about this report can be found here.

Monday, June 8, 2009

The Clean Water Act Needs an Upgrade, and You can Help

For years, the Clean Water Act has protected US bodies of water from unregulated industrial pollution, oil spills and destruction by filling. Its effectiveness began its decline in 2001, when the US Supreme Court made a decision that suggested that the Clean Water Act may not apply to bodies of water that are far from navigable waterways or that are dry for part of the year. Since then, thousands of water bodies have lost their protected status. The status of others remains ambiguous, making it difficult to enforce the Clean Water Act.

A new act, called the Clean Water Restoration Act, would update the old law with text that clearly outlines what bodies of water are protected. It would protect rivers, streams, lakes, and wetlands from pollution and would give protected status back to the bodies of water that have lost it since 2001.

You can help. Click here to use a template email to contact your senator to make sure the Clean Water Restoration Act becomes law.