For Immediate Release: June 19, 2014
Contact: Suzanne Barth, (202) 683-1250 X 338, SBarth@EnvironmentAmerica.org
MISSOULA, Montana—Industrial facilities dumped 195,732 pounds of toxic chemicals into Montana’s waterways in 2012 according to a new report by Environment Montana Research and Policy Center.
The “Wasting Our Waterways” report comes as the Environmental Protection Agency considers a new rule to restore Clean Water Act protections to thousands of waterways in Montana and across the nation.
“Montana’s waterways should be clean – for swimming, drinking, and supporting wildlife,” said Ally Fields, clean water advocate with Environment Montana Research and Policy Center. “But too often, our waters have become a dumping ground for polluters. The first step to curb this tide of toxic pollution is to restore Clean Water Act protections to all our waterways.”
The Environment Montana Research and Policy Center report on toxic pollutants discharged to America’s waters is based on data reported by polluting facilities to the EPA’s Toxics Release Inventory for 2012, the most recent data available.
Major findings of the report include:
- Conoco Phillips Co Billings Refinery was the biggest polluter in Montana, dumping 140,469 pounds of toxic pollution into our waterways.
- Industrial facilities discharged approximately 702 pounds of chemicals linked to human health impacts in 2012.
Environment Montana Research and Policy Center’s report summarizes discharges of cancer-causing chemicals, chemicals that persist in the environment, and chemicals with the potential to cause reproductive problems ranging from birth defects to infertility. The toxic chemicals dumped in Montana include ethylbenzene, which causes cancer, and developmental toxins, such as benzene, which can affect the way children grow, learn, and behave.
The report recommends several steps to curb this tide of toxic pollution – including requiring industry to switch from toxic chemicals to safer alternatives. But Environment Montana Research and Policy Center is highlighting one part of the solution that could actually become law this year: Restoring the Clean Water Act protections to all of Montana’s streams.
As a result of court cases brought by polluters, more than 170,000 miles of streams in Montana and 230,000 Montanans’ drinking water are now at risk of having no protection from pollution under the federal Clean Water Act. Following years of advocacy by Environment Montana Research and Policy Center and its allies, this spring, the EPA finally proposed a rule to close the loopholes that have left Montana’s waterways at risk and restore Clean Water Act protections.
But the clean water rule is being vigorously opposed by a wide range of polluting industries including the oil and gas industry.
“Looking at the data from our report today, you can see why polluters might oppose it,” said Fields. “That’s why we are working with farmers, small businesses, and thousands of ordinary citizens to make sure our voices for clean water are heard in Washington, D.C. The future of our waterways hangs in the balance.”
The public comment period on the clean water rule began the day before Earth Day, and it is still open right now.
“Montana’s waterways shouldn’t be a polluter’s dumping ground,” said Fields. “If we want Flathead Lake to be clean for future generations of Montanans, we must restore Clean Water Act protections to all of our waterways, and we must do it now.”
Environment Montana Research and Policy Center is dedicated to protecting our air, water and open spaces. We investigate problems, craft solutions, educate the public and decision-makers, and help the public make their voices heard.