Why You Should Care: An Overview of Environmental Issues Only in Your State

EPA Administrator Says Drinking Water is “Biggest Environmental Threat”:

The head of the Environmental Protection Agency is expected to announce Wednesday that he believes water safety is a bigger environmental crisis than climate change. Only on CBS News, EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler spoke with Major Garrett in his first interview since being confirmed. -CBS This Morning (March 20, 2019)

Last year, our new EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler informed us that drinking water is our biggest environmental threat and after doing extensive research in all fifty states in America, I learned he’s not wrong about that. But as CBS This Morning stated at the end of their report, climate change and a lack of concern for our environment has a direct impact on water sources and our drinking water specifically. Currently, companies like Nestle Waters are allowed to extract millions of gallons of water from our community aquifers, put it in plastic bottles, and sell it for an outrageous profit; companies like DuPont are allowed to dump toxic waste in our waterways which negatively impacts our ecosystems; and agricultural run-off is not monitored the way it should be negatively impacting the soil and water sources in the surrounding areas.

Our spring fed dug well went dry on December 14, 2019 after generations of use and it was at this point I became curious why this happened. While I sat here with no water, I watched as many environmental documentaries I could find on all platforms. It was after watching all of them and seeing the cumulative effect, I was convinced we have to make environmental issues a priority because these issues impact all of us including our health. I researched each state over the past couple of weeks to see what kind of environmental issues they were facing and learned no state was immune. Although I only included one report for each state, there were many, many more. If you want to learn more about your state’s environmental issues, it’s only a google search away.

Here’s an update by Frontline PBS titled “War on the EPA” highlighting where things stand with the Environmental Protection Agency under the Trump Administration:

The Trump administration took a formal step towards repealing the Clean Power Plan. To anyone following Trump’s vow to end what he described as “the war on coal” — and the ascent of his EPA administrator, Scott Pruitt — the move shouldn’t have come as a surprise. -FRONTLINE PBS | Official (October 11, 2017)

Alabama (AL):

Alabama is suffering from a drought that began this summer, with some areas receiving no rain for more than 70 days. -Al Jazeera English (December 11, 2016)

Alaska (AK):

For decades, a small village in Alaska has been disintegrating and falling into the surrounding river. And for decades, the village’s residents, most of them native Alaskans, have been asking state and federal agencies for the help and funding they need to relocate the entire community. -Vice News (November 16, 2017)

Arizona (AZ):

As the Colorado River’s flow declines mostly due to overuse and climate change, water supplies in seven states are imperiled by potential shortages. That includes Arizona, which recently passed legislation outlining steps it would take if water from the river continues to decrease. But what does a looming water shortage mean for Phoenix, the state’s most populous city? -PBS News Hour (May 26, 2019)

Arkansas (AR):

U.S. Rep. Bruce Westerman introduced legislation Thursday that would reduce the risk of wildfires in cities surrounded by forests, called wildland-urban interfaces. -KARK 4 News (December 7, 2018)

California (CA):

What happens when your town dries up? In California’s Central Valley, residents of Stratford—traditionally an agricultural community—describe how difficult their lives have become in the wake of sweeping droughts that have decimated the farmland. -The Atlantic (October 8, 2019)

Colorado (CO):

The EPA is racing to contain a toxic spill polluting a river in Colorado that is now heading towards Arizona and the Grand Canyon. -NBC News (August 10, 2015)

Connecticut (CT):

NBC Connecticut Investigates has learned thousands who use well water in Connecticut might have a new issue to worry about: contamination from road salt. -NBC Connecticut (May 17, 2019)

Delaware (DE):

Former regional EPA administrator Shawn Garvin joined Environment America in criticizing budget cuts proposed by President Trump. Standing along the Christina River at Tubman Garret Riverfront Park in Wilmington, members of Environment America discussed their report showing the impacts of proposed budget cuts on the Delaware River and Bay. -WHYY (August 31, 2017)

District of Columbia (DC):

In America’s capital, Washington DC, concerns are rapidly increasing over a potential water crisis, similar to that of the outbreak of lead contamination in Flint, Michigan. Of the public pipes in the capital, more than 12,300 are made of lead, and there are nearly 8,000 private lead pipes. -RT America (June 28, 2016)

Florida (FL):

The wonderful state of Florida has pumped so much groundwater from underground aquifers that its foundation is literally sinking. The result: A rash of sinkholes across the state’s gut has been sucking homes, humans, and housepets into the Earth. -Vice (November 14, 2012)

Georgia (GA):

Georgia residents are in extreme alert over toxic groundwater caused by chemicals from firefighting foams used at air-force bases. Test results reveal extensive amounts of contamination, however the Air Force is claiming that the drinking water is safe. -RT America (January 7, 2019)

Hawaii (HI):

Despite the vastness of Earth’s oceans, plastic pollutants are turning up everywhere, from the deep sea to the Arctic ice pack. In this short film from filmmaker Chris Hanson, 17 Hawaiian students study the impact of plastic pollution on their local beaches. -National Geographic (February 21, 2017)

Idaho (ID):

Wildland firefighters throughout southern and central Idaho are bracing for severe fire weather this week. -KTVB (July 23, 2019)

Illinois (IL):

Demetra Turner and her family moved into the West Calumet Public Housing Complex in East Chicago, Indiana in May 2016. A month later, she found out she would have to evacuate her new home due to extremely elevated levels of lead and arsenic in the soil and water. It turned out the public housing complex was sitting on top of a Superfund site, one of the most toxic in the country. -The Atlantic (June 26, 2017)

Indiana (IN):

In this second of a two-part series, Jimmy Jenkins reports on unregulated coal ash ponds and how it affects one south-central Indiana community’s drinking water. Click here for Part 1. -WTIU (May 9, 2014)

Iowa (IA):

Iowa is home to some of the richest farmland in the country, but the Des Moines Water Works says that has come with an environmental price. The city water authority has filed a lawsuit against three rural counties claiming that nitrate from fertilizer is contaminating their urban water supply. -PBS NewsHour (October 25, 2016)

Kansas (KS):

The largest aquifer in North America is nearing depletion in many areas, putting massive stress on farmers and communities. In places around the world, supplies of groundwater are rapidly vanishing. As aquifers decline and wells begin to go dry, people are being forced to confront a growing crisis. -USA Today (December 10, 2015)

Kentucky (KY):

‘We have no idea what is really making it to our faucets’ — Martin County in Kentucky has gone nearly two decades without clean water. Now residents are fighting to get the state to acknowledge and respond to the water crisis. -NowThis News (November 9, 2019)

Louisiana (LA):

Native Americans’ tribal lands along the Louisiana coast are washing away as sea levels rise and marshes sink. Part of our Coping with Climate Change series, Hari Sreenivasan reports from Isle de Jean Charles, a community that is slowly disappearing into the sea. -PBS NewsHour (June 1, 2012)

Maine (ME):

Some Maine residents think less bottled water should come from their state and are challenging Poland Spring over water rights. -PBS NewsHour (October 1, 2015)

Maryland (MD):

The problem of nutrient pollution from agriculture is global, a leading reason why the number of dead zones worldwide has grown exponentially since the 1960s. -VOA News (November 9, 2015)

Massachusetts (MA):

Protecting Cape Cod against water contamination is among the pressing issues the Association to Preserve Cape Cod focuses on related to conservation and preservation. -Chronicle 5 WCVB (June 3, 2019)

Michigan (MI):

Nestle, the world’s largest food and beverage company, bottles Michigan’s water for next to nothing and sells it at great profit. And the state has just approved its request to pump even more, despite the failed promise of jobs and 80,000 public comments against Nestle. -AJ+ (May 24, 2018)

Minnesota (MN):

It’s a growing concern throughout Southeast Minnesota, contaminated water from fertilizers on farmland. Yesterday, a permit was denied for a large hog farm in our area because the potential of higher groundwater pollution. -KIMT News 3 (December 19, 2018)

Mississippi (MS):

After first seeing the “utter obliteration” from Hurricane Katrina through the window of a helicopter on Aug. 30, 2005, Mississippi’s then-Gov. Haley Barbour’s was haunted by thoughts of all the lives lost. -USA Today (August 19, 2015)

Missouri (MO):

Mining in the area dates back to the 1700’s. Lead got into the soil, often because it was used as fill dirt on people’s properties. McCauley’s home was on list of hundreds the federal government was promising to clean up. But fast forward from 2013 to 2019 and she is still waiting. -KMOV St. Louis (May 16, 2019)

Montana (MT):

In Western Montana, global warming is obvious. Scientists are studying melting glaciers at Glacier National Park and Native Americans are seeing it firsthand in their homelands. Some tribal leaders there are looking to their ancestral values as they adapt to climate change. -Washington Post (May 27, 2016)

Nebraska (NE):

Activists and some Nebraska landowners are preparing for a new fight against the Keystone XL pipeline. State regulators approved a revised path for the pipeline through Nebraska, removing the last major obstacle to construction. -CBS This Morning (November 21, 2017)

Nevada (NV):

Lake Mead, one of the most critical water sources in the country, is at dangerously low levels and federal employees are struggling to manage the depleted reserves. -Vice News (February 27, 2017)

New Hampshire (NH):

New Hampshire environmental officials are tackling the biggest water contamination case in state history, but the investigation began in New York, where one man has waged a long battle. -WMUR-TV (May 20, 2016)

New Jersey (NJ):

In Newark, New Jersey, worries and anger over contaminated drinking water are growing by the day. High lead levels have been found at many of Newark’s homes, in a case echoing the 2014 water crisis in Flint, Michigan. City officials have distributed water filters, but now the EPA says they may not be enough. -PBS Newshour (August 15, 2019)

New Mexico (NM):

There are tens of thousands of Americans living without clean, running water on the Navajo Nation today. This is because decades of uranium mining have contaminated the majority of water sources on the reservation. VICE News travels to New Mexico to find out how people are coping, and if there is hope for the future. -Vice News (November 24, 2015)

New York (NY):

Every time it rains in New York City, billions of gallons of raw sewage are piped directly into the Hudson River. It’s a direct effect of the way New York City’s wastewater pipes were built, and it’s the same basic infrastructure problem facing over 40 million people in 700 American cities. -Vice (November 13, 2012)

North Carolina (NC):

Willie Copeland’s claims for benefits have been denied three times in the last six years. He is among almost a million service men and women who spent enough time at Camp Lejeune to potentially have health impacts from contaminated water. -11Alive (September 23, 2019)

North Dakota (ND):

Last year, the Obama administration froze the Dakota Access Pipeline, designed to carry North Dakota oil to Illinois. But President Trump has rebooted construction, which is now near completion. Public media’s “Inside Energy” in conjunction with Rocky Mountain PBS produced a documentary called “Beyond Standing Rock.” -PBS NewsHour (March 1, 2017)

Ohio (OH):

The EPA is moving to keep chemicals linked to cancer out of your drinking water. High levels of PFOA were dumped into the Ohio River for years from a DuPont chemical plant in Parkersburg, West Virginia, and ended up in nearby drinking-water supplies. A scientific study statistically linked PFOA to six diseases, including two cancers and ulcerative colitis. -Local 12 (February 19, 2019)

Oklahoma (OK):

Native Americans in the US have a precious resource that the government wants: water. It is on tribal land, reserved for them after European settlers forced them from their homes. Now, hundreds of years later, Native American leaders are having to fight to protect it. -Al Jazeera English (October 24, 2013)

Oregon (OR):

With 30 million acres of forestland, Oregon has a lucrative timber industry that makes $13 billion each year. But some residents are worried about health and environmental risks posed by a common practice to increase tree growth: chemical spraying. -PBS NewsHour (September 12, 2012)

Pennsylvania (PA):

By 2020, for the first time in 70 years, the US is predicted to become a net energy exporter. Most of this progress can be attributed to the combination of two technologies known as hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling. American consumers, oil and gas companies, and landowners have benefited significantly from the shift, while others say they have lost a great deal. -CNBC (January 5, 2020)

Rhode Island (RI):

Aging sewer systems and urban storm runoff are two of the worst sources of water pollution in the United States. In Newport, R.I., residents live with regular beach closings and sewage overflows. -The New York Times (November 23, 2009)

South Carolina (SC):

It’s not just Flint, Michigan. Bad water is more widespread than you think. Aging infrastructure is leaving thousands of rural communities vulnerable to contamination with no fix in sight. CNN travels to two of them. -CNN (November 28, 2018)

South Dakota (SD):

The Keystone Pipeline leaked 210,000 gallons, or 5,000 barrels, of oil Thursday in Marshall County, South Dakota near Amherst. Officials are currently investigating the cause of the leak. TransCanada, the company that owns the pipeline, said it detected a drop in pressure and shut down the pipeline. -TomoNews US (November 17, 2017)

Tennessee (TN):

The EPA rolled back Obama-era rules on how to handle and store toxic waste residues from burning coal on Tuesday. And now, drinking water across the country could be at risk of being contaminated by the byproduct of burning coal for power: toxic coal ash. -Vice News (July 21, 2018)

Texas (TX):

O’Brien, Texas is just one of thousands of small communities in the United States that struggle to find the resources to ensure that the water coming out of the tap is safe to drink. The recent budget proposal by the Trump administration will only make matters worse. -Earth Institute (June 13, 2017)

Utah (UT):

In the United States, five Native American tribes are joining forces to fight plans to reduce public lands in the state of Utah. The government’s proposals could see ancestral land opening up to mining. But environmentalists say it is a dangerous land grab that threatens the very idea of conservation. -Al Jazeera English (April 22, 2019)

Vermont (VT):

A manufacturer in a bucolic Vermont town became famous for its revolutionary fabrics. Now it’s better known for polluting the town’s soil with the toxic chemical PFOA. -VTDigger (August 27, 2017)

Virginia (VA):

Welcome to Tangier Island, on the Virginia side of the Chesapeake Bay, where 500 residents are struggling to cope with rising waters that are claiming more of their land each year. Since 1850, the island has lost two-thirds of its land mass. Many residents believe building a $30 million sea wall is Tangier’s only hope of saving what remains of the island, but Congress hasn’t approved funding for the wall. -VICE News (November 7, 2016)

Washington (WA):

More than three decades after the Clean Water Act, two iconic waterways—the great coastal estuaries Puget Sound and the Chesapeake Bay—are in perilous condition. With polluted runoff still flowing in from industry, agriculture, and massive suburban development, scientists fear contamination to the food chain and drinking water for millions of people. -Frontline PBS (April 16. 2009)

West Virginia (WV):

The film is inspired by Bilott’s real-life saga. The corporate attorney battled chemical giant DuPont over PFOA toxins, which West Virginia native Bucky Bailey and his family say impacted their lives. -ABC News (November 26, 2019)

Wisconsin (WI):

Water levels at lakes in central Wisconsin are dropping. The high-capacity wells have been blamed for drying up lakes and rivers in what’s known as the Central Sands Region. The area, with good sandy soil for farming potatoes and beans, is home to a quarter of the state’s 12,500 high-capacity wells. Could area farmers be to blame? -WLUK-TV FOX 11 (July 22, 2014)

Wyoming (WY):

Residents of a small Wyoming town have complained for decades of water pollution at the hands of the oil and gas industries, but they may now see some changes coming their way. A new study shows that not only the water, but also the air has been contaminated with byproducts of oil and gas extraction. -RT America (June 28, 2016)

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