Navajo Nation files lawsuit against the U.S. @EPA over the Clean Water Act #DirtyWaterRule

From The Navajo Nation Facebook page:

The Navajo Nation filed a lawsuit on Monday against the U.S. EPA and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in the U.S. District Court for the District of New Mexico, arguing that the recent 2020 Waters of the United States rule significantly diminishes the number and extent of Navajo waters protected by the Clean Water Act in violation of the Administrative Procedure Act. The new rule could also adversely impact the amount of federal funding that the Navajo Nation Environmental Protection Agency receives for its water programs.

“At this point in time, with climate change occurring around the world, it’s more prudent than ever to protect our land, water and air. We, as Diné People, have a duty to preserve and conserve our natural resources to ensure that our future generations have access to clean water, air and land. The previous 2015 Waters of the United States rule provided clarity in protecting our Nation’s waters. Therefore, we strongly oppose and disagree with the revised WOTUS,” said President Nez.

The Nez-Lizer Administration is proposing to use $300 million from the CARES Act funding that the Navajo Nation received for water infrastructure and agriculture projects, which will require clean water resources to development and construct.

“Our Navajo people always say that water is life, and that’s very true. When we plan for any type of water projects, we are planning for future generations, not just for today or tomorrow. Clean water is a necessity for life,” said Vice President Myron Lizer.

“Clean water should be protected not only by the Clean Water Act, but also by the Navajo Nation’s treaty rights. It is a necessity of life that is vital to preservation of Navajo culture and tradition,” added Navajo Nation Attorney General Doreen N. McPaul.

Department Manager for Navajo Nation Environmental Protection Agency’s water programs Ronnie Ben said, “Since the inception of the Navajo Nation Environmental Protection Agency’s water programs, our main purpose and goal has always been to protect our Nation’s water sources. However, our job becomes difficult when the federal government rolls back environmental regulations in favor of polluters. We currently have organizations on the Navajo Nation who are not in compliance with Navajo Nation and Federal environmental laws and laxing Waters of the United States doesn’t help bring these companies into compliance.”

President Nez and Vice President Lizer thank Navajo Nation Attorney General Doreen N. McPaul, Navajo Nation Department of Justice Attorney Michael Daughtry, Contract Attorney Jill Grant, and Navajo Nation Environmental Protection Agency water program personnel for their efforts in bringing this suit on behalf of the Navajo people.

5 things you should do right now to fight the rising number of #COVID19 cases — The Conversation #coronavirus

Wearing a mask and using hand sanitizers can protect you and your family at this critical time.
d3sign/Getty Images

Kacey Ernst, University of Arizona and Paulina Columbo, University of Arizona

The increase of COVID-19 cases across the country calls for quick action. Sure, you and your family are exhausted from distancing, you miss your loved ones and you want to get back to your support groups or church.

But the coronavirus, which causes COVID-19, does not stop just because we are tired. In the absence of clear, consistent directions from the federal government, it is more important than ever that people pay attention to the medical and public health facts.

“The next couple of weeks are going to be critical in our ability to address those surges that we are seeing in Florida, in Texas, in Arizona and other states,” Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, told Congress June 23. Fauci and other public health experts testified before the House Energy and Commerce Committee. Fauci told Congress that he sees a “disturbing surge” in many parts of the country.

Dr. Anthony Fauci describes the ‘disturbing surge’ in coronavirus cases.

As an infectious disease epidemiologist from Arizona, one of the current U.S. hotspots, here are five things I urge you to do right now:

  1. Wear a mask. The World Health Organization recommends medical-grade masks for those people age 60 and over, or those with health issues, and triple-layer cloth masks for everyone else over the age of two. If you can’t find those triple-layer masks, you can use a simple cotton or silk cloth face covering to reduce the number of viral particles you emit or are exposed to. Make sure it covers your mouth and your nose. I have seen too many people wearing masks on their chins. And watch your hand-face contact – you can infect yourself by adjusting the mask too much and repeatedly touching your face.

  2. Physically distance. Avoid crowded spaces. If you want to visit friends or family, you must still wear a mask – and keep six feet apart. If at all possible, have these visits outdoors. Indoor activities are most commonly associated with SARS-CoV-2 transmission clusters. Transmission outdoors is less likely, and if you are in places other than Arizona (where the temperature is 106F as I type this), it is probably ideal summer weather to be outdoors.

  3. Wash your filthy hands. And, yes, they can be really dirty, even if they do not appear so. Bacteria and viruses can lurk on them, spreading infection from surface to surface and person to person. And then wash them again. Hand-washing is critically important. I wash every time I walk into the house. Immediately. The benefits of hand-washing regularly may seem obvious, but many forget them. According to studies, washing for about 15 seconds reduces bacterial counts by about 90% of the germs on your hands. Washing for an additional 15 lowers the count to about 99% percent. And yes, hand-washing is better than sanitizer because the soap and water mechanically rid your hands of germs. That said, I keep a small bottle of hand sanitizer in my car and wipes for after shopping.

  4. Plan ahead in case you or someone in your household gets sick. The reality is that many more of us are going to get sick before this pandemic is over. Planning ahead can give you some peace of mind that you are prepared. This includes doing such things as identifying people or services to transport essential items to your home and developing an emergency contact list. Also, keep cleaning high-touch surfaces, such as light fixtures, faucets and countertops, regularly. Know the symptoms and emergency warning signs for COVID-19. Also, if you live alone, find a buddy who will check in on you regularly in case you get sick. Prepare a kit for yourself that you can keep by your bed.

  5. Maintain awareness of the situation in your community. I know, the data is hard to sort out right now, but one thing to look for in your community is a decline in local cases. Local and state health departments are still providing updated numbers on cases. You can also follow an independent source that is assessing local situations.

This is a time of uncertainty and anxiety for all of us. We desperately want to get back to normal, but it just isn’t possible yet. So find time each day to take care of your mental health. Take a walk, talk to a friend, read a book, snuggle with a pet, meditate, reach out to others who may need your help, while still social distancing, and advocate for our most vulnerable populations. Your life and those of your loved ones depend upon following public health guidelines.

[_The Conversation’s most important coronavirus headlines, weekly in a new science newsletter.]The Conversation

Kacey Ernst, Associate Professor of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, University of Arizona and Paulina Columbo, Graduate student, Public Health, University of Arizona

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

#Drought news: (D2) and extreme (D3) drought designations remain for many locations in the #TX and #OK Panhandles, E. #NM, #Colorado, and W. #KS

Click on a thumbnail graphic to view a gallery of drought data from the US Drought Monitor.

Click here to go to the US Drought Monitor website. Here’s an excerpt:

This Week’s Drought Summary

Precipitation fell across much of the northern tier states and the eastern half of the CONUS this week. Much of the eastern United States has experienced increased dryness over the past 30-60 days and above normal temperatures. The heaviest rains missed many of the D0 and adjacent areas, warranting D0 expansion for several locations in the eastern CONUS. The Northeast (New York to New England) has seen conditions drastically deteriorate this week. Agricultural impacts are being reported across many areas in New England, particularly Maine, and 7-day USGS streamflows are below the 10th percentile for much of the Northeast Region. Areas just east of the Rockies missed out on some of the heavier precipitation this week, which fell over central Kansas, central Oklahoma, and northern Texas. This allowed for some improvement, mainly in areas that with D0 and D1 designations at the start of the week. However, severe (D2) and extreme (D3) drought designations remained for many locations in the Texas and Oklahoma Panhandles, eastern New Mexico and Colorado, and western Kansas. Mixed improvements and degradation in the northern Rockies and High Plains…

High Plains

Similar to the Southern and Central Plains, many areas in the High Plains Region have fallen victim to above-normal temperatures, high winds, and a lack of precipitation in recent weeks. Some reduction in drought coverage in areas receiving the heaviest precipitation throughout the region, most notably central Kansas where many areas received 2-6 inches of rainfall. However, elsewhere 30 and 60 day deficits continue to increase, corresponding with D2-D4 equivalent SPIs and 25-50 percent of normal precipitation over the past 30 days across most areas depicted in drought. Soil moisture also continues to suffer across western North Dakota, much of Wyoming, and all of Colorado (CPC showing soil moisture below the 5th percentile for much of Colorado). There have been reports of low reservoir levels in North Dakota. Colorado has reported several episodes of 100-degree days in the southeast portion of the state in recent weeks, as well as cattle being sold and failing winter wheat crops. As such, severe drought (D3) is status quo this week for southern and southeastern Colorado…


Much of the West remains status quo this week. Montana saw the most change, as 7-day rainfall accumulations over 1 inch were able to dig into some of the short-term departures, mainly in D0 areas. However, extreme eastern Montana missed out on rainfall this week. YTD SPIs are less than -2 in Richland County and USGS 7-day average streamflows are below normal (10th-24th percentile) near and just over the North Dakota/Montana state line, which warranted some D1 introduction there…


South-central Oklahoma and northern Texas saw very heavy precipitation this week (4-8 inches). However, accumulations were lacking a bit in areas with D2 and D3 designations. Above-normal temperatures, high wind events, and below-normal precipitation leading up to this week has led to high evapotranspiration rates and hardened soils, increasing runoff. So more rainfall over extended periods is needed for improvement in some of the driest areas in the Central and Southern Plains. Elsewhere in the Southern Region, 30-60 day deficits continue to be the headliner. Although much of the region saw precipitation, many D0 and adjacent areas saw near to below normal rainfall, warranting some D0 expansion in the Tennessee Valley and eastern Texas…

Looking Ahead

June 25-29 shows increased probabilities for precipitation across much of the northern tier states (0.5-1 inch), Midwest (widespread 1-1.5 inches), and Gulf Coast states (1-2 inches, with locally higher amounts), according to the Weather Prediction Center’s (WPC) quantitative precipitation forecast. New England is likely to miss out on any meaningful precipitation (only 0.25-0.5 inch, with locally higher amounts favored). Lesser rainfall amounts are favored for the Southern and Central Plains, which does not bode well for areas experiencing severe and extreme drought. Positive temperature anomalies and high winds are also expected to continue over the High Plains and Central Plains, according to WPC’s 4-7 day gridded forecasts. Much of the Intermountain West are favored to see below normal temperatures.

The CPC 6-10 day outlook (June 30-July 4) shows a highly amplified pattern with mean troughing over the western CONUS and mean ridging over the eastern CONUS. This pattern favors enhanced odds for below normal temperatures over the western CONUS and above normal temperatures everywhere east of the Rockies, except for portions of the Southeast (near normal). Above normal precipitation is favored over the northern Rockies and Northern Plains, in association with the mean trough over the West. Above normal precipitation is also favored in the Ohio and Tennessee Valleys. Weak probabilities of below normal precipitation are favored in southeastern areas of the Four Corners Region and southern Texas, with enhanced probabilities for below normal precipitation in the northern Great Lakes, extending to the Northeast.

And here’s the one week change map ending June 23, 2020.

US Drought Monitor one week change map ending June 23, 2020.