Stopping the Ongoing Attacks on Clean Water


It’s summer and things are heating up here in Washington, DC; not just the hot air coming from the Capitol, although that’s plenty hot enough. The temperature is soaring well over ninety degrees every day with a heat index (something I don’t remember anyone talking about in Massachusetts and Maine, where I spent my childhood) often over 100 degrees.

So you’d think in a hot July like this one, the US House of Representatives would be working to protect clean water so that we can go swimming, fishing, and so that we can have clean water come out of our taps (and be in plentiful supply to our favorite breweries).

Well, you’d be wrong.

The House has picked up right where it left off last February, with legislation that will substantially undermine clean water protections.

The Interior-EPA Appropriations bill, coming to the House floor next week, has language in it that will undermine EPA’s efforts to protect the 117 million Americans who rely on head water streams and rivers for their drinking water.

The bill would block the EPA from regulating coal ash (the sludge that is left over when coal is burned in power plants, and which sometimes leeches into rivers), and block the EPA from putting in place common sense rules with respect to mountaintop mining.

For example, if you’re mining coal, and you blow the top of a mountain off, you shouldn’t then turn around and dump it in a river.  EPA thinks that’s not ok.  Neither do I.  But a majority of the House of Representatives disagrees.  They think it’s perfectly acceptable to dump rubble into streams, sometimes burying them, with no accountability.  How does your Representative feel?

The Interior-EPA bill doesn’t just stop there. It would also prevent the EPA from improving its programs to manage the polluted stormwater runoff that goes into sewers, mixes with human waste and flows untreated into rivers.  It also cuts about $1 billion in funding that goes directly to states to update and improve their drinking water infrastructure and to prevent and clean up polluted runoff and sewage overflows.

So…the water you swim in may have millions of gallons of untreated stormwater and sewage in it.  And in many places (like yours?) the water you swim in is also the water where your drinking water comes from.  So if your idea of cooling off from a hot summer day doesn’t involve immersing yourself in untreated sewage and polluted runoff and drinking a big glass of that same water, then join us in telling your Representative that this bill needs to be stopped. 

It’s a hot summer for all of us, but let’s make it a little hotter for people who are putting our clean water at risk.