Don't Drink the Tea. Think With the WE.
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House Republicans Send the Clean Water Act, 40 Years of Progress Downstream

Last week, the Republican led House of Representatives passed a bill titled The Clean Water Cooperative Federalism Act, or HR 2018, which will likely erase much of the progress made in the past 40 years by environmentalists trying to protect the nation’s water supply. The war against the environment makes little sense, in that clean water is not a left or right wing issue, It is an issue that affects everyone and everything that comes in contact with our water (also known as “everyone”).

223 Republicans voted in favor of the measure, compared to 16 Democrats. 171 Democrats opposed the bill, compared to 13 Republicans.

This particular battle in the Republican war on the environment is being waged by Rep. John Mica of Florida and Rep. Nick Rahall of West Virginia. It seek to weaken the Clean Water Act in that it would:

* Prevent states from protecting their waterways from pollution that is discharged upstream or by neighboring states.
* Prevent the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) from requiring states to update and revise water quality standards that don’t adequately protect rivers, lakes, springs, and estuaries.
* Create a system of inconsistent water quality rules, regulations and programs that don’t provide adequate protections for our nation’s waterways.
* Allow states failing to meet minimal federal clean water standards to continue receiving federal taxpayer funding for inadequate programs.
* Prevent the EPA from providing a safety net and intervening, when necessary, in proposed permits and projects that would threaten the health of waterways and drinking water supplies. The EPA has apparently exercised this authority only 13 times in the 40 years of the Clean Water Act, most recently to prohibit a mine from filling six miles of Appalachian streams with its waste.

Many Tea Party Republicans try to frame the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as a leftist loony bin intent on scaring Americans into giving them more money to spend on San Francisco pleasure palaces and vegan pulled pork sliders. In reality, the EPA’s true flaw in the eyes of the Powers that Tea is their supporters’ proclivity to vote Democrat and their interest in allowing the government to do its job. The Tea Party would prefer that the states have full say in their policies without regard for federal mandates concerning the nation’s health.

Rep. Mica apparently sponsored the legislation in retaliation for the numeric nutrient criteria that was established by the EPA to address Florida’s widespread nutrient pollution problem. Excessive nutrients from sewage, fertilizer runoff, and municipal and commercial wastewater continue to trigger toxic algal blooms and fish kills throughout the state.

The truth is that EPA was forced to step in and establish these important safeguards for Florida’s polluted waterways, because our state politicians and the FL Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) failed to fulfill this important responsibility. The DEP has repeatedly acknowledged the benefit and need for numeric nutrient criteria, yet failed to follow through despite having over a decade to get the job done.

This problem is not specific to Florida. Weakening the Clean Water Act would affect water supplies in various parts of the country. In Colorado, many are worried about what changes to the law would mean to them. From

Jim Martin, EPA’s regional administrator in Denver, echoed support for protecting waters that contribute to the state’s economic vitality.

“The guidance we are proposing will help protect the streams and wetlands that keep Colorado’s watersheds, and the state’s multi-billion dollar recreational economy, healthy,” he said. “A fundamental part of that plan is reaffirming the clear application of the Clean Water Act.”

To make this into a partisan issue is beyond irresponsible. Perhaps Joe Finucane, in aKnoxNews letter, said it best when talking about the problems his region has witnessed:

In 2003 the Tennessee Clean Water Network had to sue Knoxville Utilities Board under the Clean Water Act to stop polluting the Tennessee River with raw sewage. The problem was that sewer pipes and sewer laterals were old and leaky, so that groundwater could get into them and flood the sewage treatment plants, which in turn would overflow and dump human and other waste into the river — one and a half billion gallons of it in the first five months of 2003, according to TCWN….

… Now here comes U.S. Rep. John J. Duncan Jr. complaining about left-wing radicals in the EPA trying to enforce the Clean Water Act. What’s radical about clean water?

There’s no right wing or left wing about it.

Dumping crud in the Tennessee River is just plain disgusting.


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