It would seem inarguable that one of the government’s basic responsibilities is to set standards ensuring that people in the United States have safe drinking water. So in May 2015 when the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released its final version of the Clean Water Rule, “the agency cheered the broad reach of the rule, arguing that it would protect the drinking water of some 117 million Americans, or roughly a third of the population.”
But then along came Senator Joni Ernst (R-IA), who promptly introduced a resolution to kill the EPA’s Clean Water Rule that was passed in November – ostensibly to protect “farmers and ranchers”, who coincidentally only comprise two percent of the population. Yesterday, the Republican-led House similarly voted 253-166 for a resolution to overturn the EPA ruling. President Barack Obama has, all-along, threatened to veto the resolutions should they pass Congress.
The agencies and their supporters say the safety of drinking water and stream health are threatened because of weak state and local regulation and a lack of enforcement. The rule is meant to make it clearer which waterways the EPA and the Corps of Engineers can oversee under the 43-year-old Clean Water Act, which covers “navigable waters” such as the Mississippi River and Lake Erie, but is vague on how far upstream protections must go to keep those water bodies clean.
CNN noted that “Flint residents say they were kept in the dark for 18 months until a local doctor, Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha a physician in a local medical center pediatric ward took things into her own hands. “When (my research team and I) saw that it was getting into children and when we knew the consequences, that’s when I think we began not to sleep…at first, the state publicly denounced her work, saying she was causing near hysteria. They spent a week attacking her before reversing their narrative and admitting she was right.” Ironically, adding that agent would have cost about $100 a day, and experts say 90 percent of the problems with Flint’s water would have been avoided........
We know, through their well-established litany of ignorant utterances, that Republicans don’t care about science – only about the corporations and greedy oligarchs that pull their strings. Consider the list of backers who lobbied against the EPA rule: The US Chamber of Commerce and the National Association of Manufacturers have joined the ranks of the American Farm Bureau Federation, Dairy Farmers of America, pesticide manufacturers, mining companies, home builders, and the Koch-owned-and-run timber industry, to name but a few.
Now consider that the citizens of Flint are mostly poor, with 40 percent of the population living below the poverty level. So when House Speaker Paul Ryan writes: “The Obama administration’s sweeping new rule, dubbed Waters of the United States (WOTUS), could upend the way water is used across the country,” for whom is he speaking? Clearly he is not concerned about ensuring clean drinking water for the 117 million Americans or the poor residents of Flint.
Should it ever be necessary in this country in the 21st century to call out the National Guard to distribute drinking water because a Republican governor or any official elected or otherwise decided to poison a city of people to save $100 a day?
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