First Ever White House Campout

WH Campout

Girl Scouts Inaugural Guests at First Ever White House Campout

June 24, 2015 gsblog

On June 30, First Lady Michelle Obama will host the first-ever White House Campout as part of the Let’s Move! Outside initiative. The Campout is co-sponsored by the U.S. Department of the Interior and will celebrate the National Park Service Centennial as well as Great Outdoors Month. The Campout will take place in one of the most historic backyards and National Parks in the Nation – the White House South Lawn.

As Honorary National President of Girl Scouts of the USA, the First Lady will welcome fifty fourth-grade Girl Scouts to participate in activities to earn their Camper Badge, and to celebrate the release of the new Girls’ Choice Outdoor badges. The Girl Scouts will engage in both new and traditional outdoor activities, including rock wall climbing, knot tying, orienteering, and tent pitching. Later that evening, the participants will be joined by NASA astronaut Cady Coleman, who will join a stargazing activity led by NASA staff and scientists on the South Lawn before the girls settle in for the night.

Let’s Move! Outside was created to encourage kids and families to take advantage of America’s great outdoors—which abound in every city, town, and community. Through public-private partnerships and in conjunction with all levels of government, the Department of Interior leads  Let’s Move! Outside to inspire millions of young people to play, learn, serve and work outdoors.

As part of the centennial celebration of the National Park Service, in which the First Lady serves as honorary co-chair, President Obama launched the “Every Kid in a Park” initiative. This new initiative calls on each of our agencies to help get all children to visit and enjoy the outdoors and inspire a new generation of Americans to experience their country’s unrivaled public lands and waters. Starting in September, every fourth-grader in the nation will receive an “Every Kid in a Park” pass that’s good for free admission to all of America’s federal lands and waters — for them and their families — for a full year.

For more: http://blog.girlscouts.org/2015/06/girl-scouts-inaugural-guests-at-first.html

Let's Move Outside

Regular exercise in nature is proven to improve children’s physical and mental health. Outdoor activity helps kids maintain a healthy weight, boosts their immunity and bone health, and lowers stress. Let’s Move! Outside was created to get kids and families to take advantage of America’s great outdoors – which abound in every city, town, and community. Through public-private partnerships and in conjunction with all levels of government, the Department of Interior leads  Let’s Move! Outside to inspire millions of young people to play, learn, serve, and work outdoors.

Kids need at least 60 minutes of active and vigorous play each day to stay healthy, and one of the easiest and most enjoyable ways to meet this goal is by playing outside. By linking parents to nearby parks, trails and waters – and providing tips and ideas –  Let’s Move! Outside can help families develop a more active lifestyle.

Pitch a Tent to Protect Wildlife - Pledge Today
Pitch a Tent to Protect Wildlife – Pledge Today

Let’s Move! Outside

Fireworks on Federal land is illegal

BE SMART OUTDOORS

  • Essential wildfire prevention information
  • Learn how to build a SAFE campfire to prevent wildfires

Campfire Safety

See how easily burning debris can start a wildfire

Debris Burning

Understand how proper equipment maintenance can reduce wildfires

Equipment Maintenance

Safety is not only important outdoors, but also in and around our homes

House Safety

Wildfires Burning Today

Learn more: http://www.smokeybear.com/wildfires.as

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Tuesday, June 30, 2015
4:30 PM ET
First Lady Michelle Obama hosts the first-ever
White House Campout
White House South Lawn

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Great American Backyard CampoutPinterest

Great American Backyard Campout – Flickr

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Six Major Rulings from the Supreme Court

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Here Are the Six Major Rulings We’ll Get From the Supreme Court This Week

Jun 24, 2015 12:14 PM PDT Greg Shohr – bloomberg

The U.S. Supreme Court is saving the best for last.

The nation’s top court will issue a series of major rulings over the next several days as it closes its nine-month term. In addition to landmark gay-marriage and Obamacare cases, the court will decide on potentially far-reaching disputes involving housing discrimination, redistricting, air pollution and lethal injection.

“Almost all of the remaining rulings have huge implications and promise to be closely divided,” said Tom Goldstein, a Washington appellate lawyer whose Scotusblog website tracks the court.

The first of seven rulings will come at 10 a.m. Washington time Thursday, with more scheduled for Friday and Monday. The court doesn’t say in advance which decisions are being released which day, but it almost always resolves all its pending cases by the end of June.

Before they pack up, the justices will also say whether they will supplement the session that starts in October with new cases on abortion, affirmative action and union fees.

Here’s what’s coming from the Supreme Court over the next week:

  • Gay Marriage

No case is bigger than the one that could legalize same-sex weddings nationwide. Only 11 years after Massachusetts became the first gay-marriage state, the court would be putting the capstone on the biggest civil rights transformation in a half-century.

 The cases are: Obergefell v. Hodges (Ohio), Tanco v. Haslam (Tennessee), DeBoer v. Snyder (Michigan), and Bourke v. Beshear (Kentucky).

  • Health Care

Three years after upholding President Barack Obama’s signature health-care [Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act] law against a broad constitutional challenge, the court will decide whether a four-word phrase will severely undercut the measure.

The case: King v. Burwell

  • Housing Discrimination

The biggest race case of the term may produce a long-sought legal victory for lenders and insurers, as well as social conservatives. The court is poised to say whether people suing under the U.S. Fair Housing Act can win their case without showing intentional discrimination.

The case:  Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs v. The Inclusive Communities Project

  • Lethal Injection

The April 29 argument over lethal injection methods might have been the most heated of the term, with one justice accusing death penalty opponents of waging a “guerrilla war” and another saying she couldn’t trust a state lawyer.

The case: Glossip v. Gross

Supreme Court says Okla. lethal injection doesn’t violate Constitution

  • Clean Air

The utility industry and a group of states are trying to topple an Environmental Protection Agency rule that would cut mercury and other hazardous emissions from 460 coal-fired power plants.

The case: Michigan v. Environmental Protection

  • Redistricing

The court may deal a fresh blow to efforts to make federal elections more competitive by barring states from setting up independent commissions to draw congressional district boundaries. The issue is whether an Arizona commission strips state lawmakers of power reserved to them by the U.S. Constitution.

The case: Arizona State Legislature v. Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission

For more: http://www.bloomberg.com/politics/articles/2015-06-24/marriage-obamacare-highlight-decision-week-at-u-s-high

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US Supreme Court www.supremecourt.gov

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Statements of World Religions on Climate Change

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2006 UNITARIAN UNIVERSALIST: Threat of Global Warming/Climate Change

3/10/08 Southern Baptist Declaration on the Environment and Climate Change

12/1/08 Bahai International Community: Seizing the Opportunity: Redefining the challenge of climate change

April 2009 Presbyterian Church USA – U.S. Energy Policy and Global Warming

June 2009 A Quaker response to the crisis of climate change

11/30/09 Dalai Lama Urges World to Act on Climate Change

September 2011 United Methodist Church Statement on Climate Change

2/29/12 Judaism and Climate Change: The Yale Forum on Climate Change and the Media

4/19/12 Environment & Ecology in Islam

6/30/13 United Church Of Christ To Become First U.S. Denomination To Move Toward Divestment From Fossil Fuel Companies

5/30/14 Catholic – U.S. Catholic Bishops’ Statement on Climate Change

6/10/14 UNION THEOLOGICAL SEMINARY IN THE CITY OF NEW YORK VOTES UNANIMOUSLY TO DIVEST FROM FOSSIL FUELS

6/28/14 THE UNITARIAN UNIVERSALIST ASSOCIATION JOINS FOSSIL FUEL DIVESTMENT MOVEMENT

7/11/14 World Council of Churches rules out fossil fuel investments

9/18/14 First Sikh Statement on Climate Change

9/19/14 Anglican Church of Canada, The Episcopal Church, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada: A Pastoral Message on Climate Change

9/23/14 Interfaith Climate Change Statement

3/30/15 17 Anglican Bishops from all six continents have called for urgent prayer and action on the “unprecedented climate crisis

5/14/15 A Buddhist Declaration on Climate Change: The Time to Act is Now

6/15/15 Pope Francis’ ENCYCLICAL LETTER LAUDATO SI’ ON CARE FOR OUR COMMON HOME

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Learn about President Obama’s Actions to combat Climate Change

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National Pollinator Week 2015

“Pollinator Pathways ” 2012 Pollinator Poster bySteve Buchanan

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WHY POLLINATORS ARE IMPORTANT

Pollinators, such as most bees and some birds, bats, and other insects, play a crucial role in flowering plant reproduction and in the production of most fruits and vegetables.

Examples of crops that are pollinated include apples, squash, and almonds. Without the assistance of pollinators, most plants cannot produce fruits and seeds. The fruits and seeds of flowering plants are an important food source for people and wildlife.  Some of the seeds that are not eaten will eventually produce new plants, helping to maintain the plant population.

Over 75% of all flowering plants are pollinated by animals.

In the United States pollination by honey bees directly or indirectly (e.g., pollination required to produce seeds for the crop) contributed to over $19 billion of crops in 2010. Pollination by other insect pollinators contributed to nearly $10 billion of crops in 2010.

A recent study of the status of pollinators in North America by the National Academy of Sciences found that populations of honey bees (which are not native to North America) and some wild pollinators are declining.  Declines in wild pollinators may be a result of habitat loss and degradation, while declines in managed bees is linked to disease (introduced parasites and pathogens).

Find out more about migrating pollinators:

Mexican long-nosed bat
White-winged Doves

lesser long-nosed bat 
rufous hummingbird
Hear podcasts about pollinators
Gardening for Pollinators

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Bee Deaths May Have Reached A Crisis Point For Crops

May 07, 2013 6:03 PM by DAN CHARLES – NPR

Pettis says beekeepers can afford to lose only about 15 percent of their colonies each year. More than that, and the business won’t be viable for long.

According to a new survey of America’s beekeepers, almost a third of the country’s honeybee colonies did not make it through the winter.

That’s been the case, in fact, almost every year since the U.S. Department of Agriculture began this annual survey, six years ago.

Over the past six years, on average, 30 percent of all the honeybee colonies in the U.S. died off over the winter. The worst year was five years ago. Last year was the best: Just 22 percent of the colonies died.

“Last year gave us some hope,” says Jeffrey Pettis, research leader of the Agriculture Department’s Bee Research Laboratory in Beltsville, Md.

But this year, the death rate was up again: 31 percent.

Six years ago, beekeepers were talking a lot about “colony collapse disorder” — colonies that seemed pretty healthy, but suddenly collapsed. The bees appeared to have flown away, abandoning their hives.

Beekeepers aren’t seeing that so much anymore, Pettis says. They’re mostly seeing colonies that just dwindle. As the crowd of bees gets smaller, it gets weaker.

“They can’t generate heat very well in the spring to rear brood. They can’t generate heat to fly,” he says.

For more: http://www.npr.org/blogs/thesalt/2013/05/07/181990532/bee-deaths-may-have-reached-a-crisis-point-for-crops

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How You Can Help

Pollinators need your help! There is increasing evidence that many pollinators are in decline.  However, there are some simple things you can do at home to encourage pollinator diversity and abundance.

1) Plant a Pollinator Garden

 The most obvious need for pollinating species is a diversity of nectar and pollen sources.  Consider the following when choosing plants for your garden:

  • Choose plants that flower at different times of the year to provide nectar and pollen sources throughout the growing season
  • Plant in clumps, rather than single plants, to better attract pollinators
  • Provide a variety of flower colors and shapes to attract different pollinators.  NAPPC’s Pollinator Syndromepdf file icon table provides information on the types of flowers that different pollinator groups (bats, hummingbirds, bees, butterflies, etc.) find attractive.
  • Whenever possible, choose native plants.  Native plants will attract more native pollinators and can serve as larval host plants for some species of pollinators. Check field guides to find out which plants the larval stage of local butterflies eat. Pollinator friendly plants for your area can be found in NAPPC’s Ecoregional Planting Guides. Contact your local or state native plant society for help. Information on finding native plants and native plant societies for your area

2) Build a Bee Block

3) Avoid or Limit Pesticide Use

Pesticides can kill more than the target pest. Some pesticide residues can kill pollinators for several days after the pesticide is applied. Pesticides can also kill natural predators, which can lead to even worse pest problems. Consider the following when managing pests in your garden:

  • Try removing individual pests by hand if possible (wearing garden gloves)
  • Encourage native predators with a diverse garden habitat
  • Expect and accept a little bit of pest activity
  • If you must use a pesticide, choose one that is the least toxic to non-pest species, does not persist on vegetation, and apply it in the evening when most pollinators are not as active. Read and follow label directions carefully.

For more: http://www.fws.gov/pollinators/PollinatorPages/YourHelp.html#garden

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Native Bees

Follow these simple steps to create a pollinator-friendly landscape around your home or workplace.

  • Use a wide variety of plants that bloom from early spring into late fall.
    Help pollinators find and use them by planting in clumps, rather than single plants. Include plants native to your region. Natives are adapted to your local climate, soil and native pollinators. Do not forget that night-blooming flowers will support moths and bats.
  • Avoid modern hybrid flowers, especially those with “doubled” flowers.
    Often plant breeders have unwittingly left the pollen, nectar, and fragrance out of these blossoms while creating the “perfect” blooms for us.
  • Eliminate pesticides whenever possible.
    If you must use a pesticide, use the least-toxic material possible. Read labels carefully before purchasing, as many pesticides are especially dangerous for bees. Use the product properly. Spray at night when bees and other pollinators are not active.
  • Include larval host plants in your landscape.
    If you want colorful butterflies, grow plants for their caterpillars. They WILL eat them, so place them where unsightly leaf damage can be tolerated. Accept that some host plants are less than ornamental if not outright weeds. A butterfly guide will help you determine the plants you need to include. Plant a butterfly garden!
  • Create a damp salt lick for butterflies and bees.
    Use a dripping hose, drip irrigation line, or place your bird bath on bare soil to create a damp area. Mix a small bit of table salt (sea salt is better!) or wood ashes into the mud.
  • Spare that limb!
    By leaving dead trees, or at least an occasional dead limb, you provide essential nesting sites for native bees. Make sure these are not a safety hazard for people walking below. You can also build a bee condoby drilling holes of varying diameter about 3 to 5 inches deep in a piece of scrap lumber mounted to a post or under eaves.
  • You can add to nectar resources by providing a hummingbird feeder.
    To make artificial nectar, use four parts water to one part table sugar. Never use artificial sweeteners, honey, or fruit juices. Place something red on the feeder. Clean your feeder with hot soapy water at least twice a week to keep it free of mold.
  • Butterflies need resources other than nectar.
    They are attracted to unsavory foodstuffs, such as moist animal droppings, urine and rotting fruits. Try putting out slices of overripe bananas, oranges and other fruits, or a sponge in a dish of lightly salted water to see which butterflies come to investigate. Sea salt provides a broader range of micronutrients than regular table salt.
  • Learn more about pollinators
    Get some guidebooks and learn to recognize the pollinators in your neighborhood. Experiment with a pair of close-focusing binoculars for butterflies, bees and hummingbirds.

For more: http://www.fs.fed.us/wildflowers/pollinators/gardening.shtml

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Nature’s Partners: Pollinators, Plants and You

The North American Pollinator Protection Campaign’s Pollinator Partnership™ has launched a new curriculum, Nature’s Partners: Pollinators, Plants and You, designed to help students in grades 3-6 study the interactions of plants and pollinators. The North American Pollinator Protection Campaign is coordinated by the non-profit Pollinator Partnership, formerly known as the Coevolution Institute. The Fish and Wildlife Service has partnered with the two groups to protect pollinators by working together to help conserve pollinators and raise awareness of the importance of pollinators.

WH Pollinator Garden

June 03, 2015

Remarks by The First Lady at The White House Kitchen Garden Harvest Event

East Room

3:35 P.M. EDT

MRS. OBAMA: I’m excited that you guys could be here. I really am. Unfortunately — we usually do our garden harvest where? Outside in the White House Kitchen Garden. But the weather is bad, and we didn’t — wouldn’t want you guys to get soaked. We didn’t want to put you in inclement weather. So we had some folks go down and harvest everything — all of the vegetables you see here were harvested this morning from the garden.

So we’re going to do the fun part today, and we’re going to cook — chop, cook, eat, celebrate, okay? Is that okay with you guys?

CHILDREN: Yes.

MRS. OBAMA: I’m excited about it too. But we’re also celebrating the fifth anniversary of Let’s Move! And one of the things that I issued was a challenge — I called it my Gimme Five Challenge. Have you all heard of that? I’m challenging folks across the country to do five new healthy things. And when we planted the White House garden earlier in the season, we planted five new vegetables and challenged other people to do the same. And we also got some help from our friends at the National Pollinator Garden Network.

Now, do you guys know about pollinator gardens? Tell me something about pollinator gardens. Don’t be shy. Why are they important?

CHILD: Because they pass pollen around —

MRS. OBAMA: They do. And as a result, it helps our food grow. One out of every three bits of food that we take in this country is the result of a pollinator garden somewhere. So if we don’t make sure we have enough of those gardens for pollinators like butterflies — didn’t you have a sign for butterflies? You were supposed to do something when I said “butterflies.” (Laughter.) Okay. Butterflies, bats, bees, birds — all of those, they get attracted to the gardens, and then they go and sprinkle life around so that food grows.

So we planted a pollinator garden in the White House Kitchen Garden last year, but we challenged others to do the same. So there is the Pollinator Network have issued so that we get millions of more pollinator gardens planted out there around the country so that we don’t lose these important pollinating species.

For more: https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2015/06/03/remarks-first-lady-white-house-kitchen-garden-harvest-event

White House pollinator garden plants:

PBO Pollinator Memorandum

6/20/14 President Obama issued a memorandum directing U.S. government agencies to take additional steps to protect and restore domestic populations of pollinators, including honey bees, native bees, birds, bats, and butterflies – critical contributors to our nation’s economy, food system, and environmental health.

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Pollinator Partnership:  http://www.pollinator.org

National Pollinator Week : June 15 – 21, 2015

6/16/15 @ 1PM ET U.S. Geological Survey bee expert Sam Droege Tweets
live footage from the beehive on the White House South Lawn via Periscope

#PollinatorWeek

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California Cordell Bank, Farallones National Marine Sanctuaries Expanded

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Offshore oil drilling banned along new stretch of California coast

6/10/2015 By Paul Rogers mercurynews.com

In the largest expansion of national marine sanctuaries in California in 23 years, the Obama administration on Tuesday more than doubled the size of two Northern California marine sanctuaries, extending them by 50 miles up the rugged Sonoma and Mendocino coasts.

Under the dramatic move by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the boundaries of the Gulf of the Farallones and Cordell Bank national marine sanctuaries expand from Bodega Bay to Point Arena, permanently banning offshore oil drilling along that stretch of coast.

“These waters represent an extraordinary marine ecosystem, one of the richest on our planet,” said Maria Brown, NOAA’s superintendent of the Farallones sanctuary, headquartered in San Francisco.

For more: http://www.mercurynews.com/news/ci_28283645/offshore-oil-drilling-banned-along-new-stretch-of-california-coast

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PBO Restoring Protection for US Streams and Wetlands

#CleanWaterRules

April 21, 2014
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) published a proposed rule defining the scope of waters protected under the Clean Water Act (CWA) that was open for public comment, in light of the U.S. Supreme Court cases in U.S. v. Riverside Bayview, Rapanos v. United States, and Solid Waste Agency of Northern Cook County v. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (SWANCC). This proposal would enhance protection for the nation’s public health and aquatic resources, and increase CWA program predictability and consistency by increasing clarity as to the scope of ‘‘waters of the United States’’ protected under the Act.

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Protecting Clean Water While Respecting Agriculture

05/27/2015 Gina McCarthy & Jo-Ellen Darcy – epa.gov

Today, EPA and the Army finalized a rule under the Clean Water Act to protect the streams and wetlands we depend on for our health, our economy, and our way of life.

The Clean Water Act has protected our health for more than 40 years—and helped our nation clean up hundreds of thousands of miles of waterways that were choked by industrial pollution, untreated sewage, and garbage for decades.

But Supreme Court cases in 2001 and 2006 put protection of 60 percent of our nation’s streams and millions of acres of wetlands into question. At the same time, we understand much more today about how waters connect to each other than we did in decades past. Scientists, water quality experts, and local water managers are better able than ever before to pinpoint the waters that impact our health and the environment the most.

Members of Congress, farmers, ranchers, small business owners, hunters, anglers, and the public have called on EPA and the Army to make a rule to clarify where the Clean Water Act applies, and bring it in line with the law and the latest science. Today, we’re answering that call.

Every lake and every river depends on the streams and wetlands that feed it—and we can’t have healthy communities downstream without healthy headwaters upstream. The Clean Water Rule will protect streams and wetlands and provide greater clarity and certainty to farmers, all without creating any new permitting requirements for agriculture and while maintaining all existing exemptions and exclusions.

The agencies did extensive outreach on the Clean Water Rule, hosting more than 400 meetings across the country and receiving more than a million public comments. EPA officials visited farms in Arizona, Colorado, Maryland, Mississippi, Missouri, New York, Pennsylvania, Texas, and Vermont.

Our nation’s original conservationists—our farmers, ranchers, and foresters—were among the most crucial voices who weighed in during this process. Farmers have a critical job to do; our nation depends on them for food, fiber, and fuel, and they depend on clean water for their livelihoods.

Normal farming and ranching—including planting, harvesting, and moving livestock—have long been exempt from Clean Water Act regulation, and the Clean Water Rule doesn’t change that. It respects producers’ crucial role in our economy and respects the law.

For more: http://blog.epa.gov/blog/2015/05/protecting-clean-water-while-respecting-agriculture/

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Clean Water ActThe Clean Water Act

This Act [ voted into law on October 18, 1972 by Congress’ supermajority vote  over riding President Nixon’s (R) veto]  , is the principle law governing pollution control and water quality of the Nation’s waterways. The objective of this Act is to restore and maintain the chemical, physical and biological integrity of the Nation’s waters (33 U.S.C. 1251). The Act has been amended numerous times and given a number of titles and codification. It was originally enacted as the Water Pollution Control Act in 1948 (P.L. 80-845), and was completely revised by the 1972 amendments, the Federal Water Pollution Control Act Amendments (P.L. 92-500). The 1972 amendments gave the Act its current form, and established a national goal that all waters of the U.S. should be fishable and swimmable. The goal was to be achieved by eliminating all pollutant discharges into waters of the U.S. by 1985 with an interim goal of making the waters safe for fish, shellfish, wildlife and people by July 1, 1983 (86 Stat. 816, 33 U.S.C. 1251) . The 1977 amendments (the Clean Water Act of 1977 (P.L. 95-217)) gave the Act its current title. Additional amendments were enacted in 1981 (Municipal Wastewater Treatment Construction Grants Amendments (P.L. 97-117)) and in 1987 (Water Quality Act of 1987 (P.L. 100-4).  The Act regulates discharges to waters of the United States through permits issued under the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permitting program. The Water Quality Protection Division, issues the NPDES permits and the Water Enforcement Branch assures that all discharges comply with the NPDES permits.

 Learn more: http://www.epa.gov/region6/6en/w/cwa.htm

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Clean Water Legislative History

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clean_water_act

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CleanWaterRules poster

#CleanWaterRules

2015 Earth Day

Earth Day
Earth Day is April 22

Environmental Action means taking the simple steps in the place where we live. By choosing to act on five or more of these ideas you are joining thousands of others who are doing all they can to be a good and responsible citizen of the world.

Volunteer or Attend a Earth Day Event near you

Environmental Action You Can Take:
At home and in the garden
At work
At school
While shopping
In your community
On the road

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The Obama Administration is committed to protecting the air we breathe, water we drink, and land that supports and sustains us. From restoring ecosystems in the Chesapeake Bay and the Everglades, to reducing mercury pollution from power plants, we are bringing together Federal agencies to tackle America’s greatest environmental challenges such as:

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#EarthDayEveryDay

#ActOnClimate

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April 22, 2015
President Obama delivers remarks on climate change
Everglades National Park, Florida

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