Protecting U.S. Waterways is Good Politics

It’s not too soon to begin asking politicians seeking election in November where they stand on restoring clean water safeguards. Currently, the U.S. House of Representatives is slated to vote on the House Energy and Water Development and Related Agencies Appropriations Act (HR 5325.)

 If anything, this bill actually blocks the President from restoring critical clean water protections, according to the ENEWSPF website.  When I Googled the bill, nowhere did I find provision for clean water protections, which deserve to be at the top of the list of priorities. On the National Resources Defense Council website, I found several riders to the bill, listed by section, that blocked the Army Corps of Engineers, The Dept. of the Interior and the Environmental Protection Agency, among others, from doing their job. Checking pollution runoff from coal mining, urban stormwater systems, pesticides, agricultural runoff, release of ballast water were all blocked.

 However, the bill seemed to include abundant money for construction. Since reading about the growing, very profitable international environmental consulting businesses, I wonder how such corporations play into this Act. The US usually insists that an environmental impact statement (EIS) be written before a major infrastructure project is undertaken. The problem noted in Patrick McCully’s book, Silenced Rivers, is that these assessments are written by consultants from a relatively small number of companies that are also involved in, for example, dam building. Sometimes, the company assessing the environmental impact also gets the contract to build the project. At any rate, there could be a bit of back scratching going on.

 If any of the projects listed in the Act were found to threaten our clean water supply, a whole new can of worms would manifest itself. Perhaps some of the projects allocated billions of dollars wouldn’t pass muster and our tax dollars wouldn’t support more environmental mayhem.

 We wouldn’t put a fox in charge of safeguarding a chicken coop. Maybe we need to be just as careful in checking out the proponents of HR 5325. If having clean water is number one on the list for keeping us healthy, we owe restoring clean water protection provisions our respect and support. We need to be sure we know what we are voting for this fall. It’s not about being a Republican or a Democrat; it’s about survival.

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