Friday, May 29, 2015

Conservative "Bipartisanship" Means Contaminated Drinking Water In Streams And Lakes


This week, you probably heard a lot of Democrats applauding the promulgation of a new rule by the EPA and Army Corp of Engineers meant to limit pollution in rivers, lakes and wetlands. Progressives may be angry with Obama over TPP but were overjoyed that he's moving ahead with this environmental promise. Co-chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus Raúl Grijalva, the ranking member on the House Natural Resources Committee and a top member of the Subcommittee on Water and Power, sent out a press release congratulating "the Obama Administration for bringing long-overdue clarity to the vital issue of clean water."
One in three Americans gets their drinking water from streams currently lacking clear protection. This Rule will help prevent the destruction of our nation’s water resources and support the numerous industries and jobs that depend on clean water. The Supreme Court left the scope of the Clean Water Act unclear, but protecting clean drinking water is far too important to be open to interpretation. It’s time to implement a clear Clean Water Rule that protects our drinking water supplies and ends the regulatory uncertainty that allows unscrupulous polluters to hide in the regulatory shadows. The new Rule does exactly that, without creating any new permitting requirements and maintaining all existing exemptions.
Fellow co-chair Keith Ellison concurred, saying:
Clean water is vital to life in Minnesota. 970,000 Minnesotans drink water from public water systems that would be further protected under the EPA’s final rule, while others rely on our state’s waterways for business and recreation. But an ongoing statewide assessment of our waterways by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency found that half of the waters assessed so far are unfit for swimming and fishing. This is why the EPA’s rule is so critical to our state. I applaud Administrator Gina McCarthy for writing a strong Clean Water Rule. I look forward to working with my state and local partners to keep Minnesota’s water clean for generations to come.
Generally speaking, congressional Democrats are on the same page as Obama, the EPA, Grijalva and Ellison on this. But not all congressional Democrats. Writing for The Hill yesterday, Timothy Cama found a gaggle of reactionary Democrats-- the usual suspects-- who are backing the GOP's anti-regulation agenda. So far 3 right-wing Democrats in the Senate: Heidi Heitkamp (ND), Joe Manchin (WV) and Joe Donnelly (IN), and two dozen Blue Dogs and New Dems in the House are backing Boehner and the GOP against Obama, labeling the new rule to protect clean drinking water "a power grab."
In rolling out the final rule Wednesday, the administration questioned the motives of opponents.

“The only people with reason to oppose the rule are polluters who want to threaten our clean water,” said Brian Deese, Obama’s top environmental adviser.

The Senate bill would overturn the water rule and give the EPA specific instructions and a deadline for writing it in a way that senators hope would cover fewer bodies of water and impede less on private and state property rights.

“It’s frustrating that after so much time, the EPA today decided to finalize this rule instead of conducting more consultations and releasing a revised rule as our legislation would require,” Heitkamp said in a Wednesday statement.

“For the past several months, I’ve been working on a bipartisan bill to fix this issue by actually taking into account the needs of our farmers and ranchers, and giving them clarity without adding more federal regulations,” she said.

In his own statement, Manchin accused the EPA of “once again dangerously overreaching its boundaries by expanding the definition of water sources it can regulate.”

He said the rule “will certainly have a significant impact on West Virginia’s economy, hindering businesses, manufacturing and energy production.”

The two dozen House Democrats joined all 237 Republicans present earlier this month to pass the Regulatory Integrity Act, sponsored by Reps. Bill Shuster (R-Pa.) and Bob Gibbs (R-Ohio), to overturn the rule.
Democrats voting with the GOP include rabid right-wing dogs like Jim Cooper (Blue Dog-TN), Gwen Graham (Blue Dog-FL), Kyrsten Sinema (Blue Dog-AZ), Sanford Bishop (Blue Dog-GA), Brad Ashford (Blue Dog-NE), Jim Costa (Blue Dog-CA), Tim Walz (MN) and Henry Cuellar (Blue Dog-TX), David Scott (New Dem-GA), Cheri Bustos (Blue Dog-IL), John Delaney (New Dem-MD), Cedric Richmond (New Dem-LA), Kurt Schrader (Blue Dog-OR), Collin Peterson (Blue Dog-MN), Filemon Vela (New Dem-TX) and Sean Patrick Maloney (New Dem-NY).

It probably doesn't surprise you to find out that the Blue America-endorsed candidates all favor the attempt to keep our streams and rivers and lakes unpolluted. Lou Vince, running for the House seat in Santa Clartita, the Antelope Valley and Simi Valley (CA-25), last night reminded us:
California is facing one of the most severe droughts in its recorded history. We need all the clean water we can get. The clean water rule proposed by the EPA and Army Corps of Engineers will help Californians save critical water resources. I am once again disappointed by Steve Knight’s failure to lead for his constituents, instead standing with special interests-- in this case, polluters.

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