Friday, July 29, 2011

Rolling back the Clean Water Act

On July 14th, the House of Representatives passed HR 2018, the "Clean Water Cooperative Federalism Act of 2011." This was the latest in a series of attempts to prevent the Environmental Protection Agency from protecting our air and water and enforcing federal laws that have been in place for 40 years. The Clean Water Act was written to give enforcement responsibility to the federal government because the patchwork of state laws did not work.

HR 2018 reverses this and leaves enforcement entirely up to the states. This is a blatant attack on health and environmental protection, and wipes out decades of partnership between the federal and state governments, especially in places like the Chesapeake Bay and Great Lakes where watershed-wide plans and actions are in place. As we all know in the Narragansett Bay watershed, water does not obey state boundaries and we must work together for the health of our environment.

While this bill is very unlikely to go anywhere in the Senate, it is still important to ask your Senators to oppose the act and any other efforts to undermine the ability of EPA to protect our air and water. We are likely to see more erosion of funding and enforcement capability within our federal agencies, and we must keep the pressure on our elected officials to keep these agencies intact. If you would like to send a letter to your Senator, you can use this handy tool.