Budget Battle Threatens Drinking Water Sources

While attention is rightly focused on the debt ceiling deadline – the House budget bill is meanwhile taking a sledge hammer to clean water protections by slashing funding and adding major rollbacks to clean water safeguards in a funding bill. Apparently some members of Congress thought it was cool when rivers caught on fire back in the day…

One such budget rider is one we’ve seen before:  trying to stop the Environmental Protection Agency from clarifying how its field staff should determine which streams and wetlands are protected under the Clean Water Act. Such clarification sounds like a good idea, right – shouldn’t we have as much certainty as possible for those applying for and giving out permits for pollution and destruction of small streams that provide drinking water for 117 million Americans?

Well, that’s just what the Administration did – propose a scientifically sound guidance to clarify how to make these calls following some murky Court decisions. But now, the House is trying to stop this guidance from moving forward. EPA has taken public comment for almost 90 days following a transparent and open process.

Our rivers, much like our bodies, depend on a “capillary” system of small streams to filter out pollutants and provide nourishment. All of our mighty rivers start as tiny streams and wetlands – slashing common sense protections for these is a great illustration of the old adage “don’t lose sight of the forest for the trees.” Or maybe a new one – don’t lose sight of the rivers for the tributaries.

What Can You Do Right Now?

Please call your Representative and tell him or her to vote NO on HR 2584 (the Interior Budget) and that you want a budget without policy riders and that restores funding for clean water. To contact your U.S. Representative call 202-224-3121 or go to House.gov to locate their Washington DC or District office numbers and emails.

After you’ve made the call, leave a comment below and tell us how it went!