By Lynn Thorp, Clean Water Action National Campaigns Director (Follow Lynn on Twitter – @LTCWA)
First up are funding appropriations for federal agencies, always an opportunity to use the power of the Congressional purse to interfere with ongoing efforts to clean up water pollution and address other important health and environmental issues. This week, the U.S. House of Representatives will vote on the Energy and Water Development and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2016 (H.R. 2028), which includes the Department of Energy, the Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) and more.
This funding bill is out of date given climate science and out of step with public opinion. It slashes funding for renewables and efficiency while boosting fossil fuel spending. It also includes “riders” seeking to block real clean water progress. One amendment blocks Corps spending to implement the soon-to-be-finalized Clean Water Rule clarifying protection for drinking water and all of our critical water resources. Another amendment blocks the Corps from implementing Clean Water Act updates that protect water resources from the ravages of mountaintop removal coal mining.
We’re asking Representatives in the U.S. House to vote against this bill.
Next, the U.S. House is likely to take up yet another Dirty Water Bill with the cryptic title of “Regulatory Integrity Protection Act.” This is a stand-alone bill to block the same Clean Water Rule that appropriations bill is attempting to stymie. This proposal is based on strong consensus science about how smaller water bodies impact larger ones. The policy will close loopholes that leave drinking water for over one third of the American people vulnerable to pollution. The Clean Water Rule has also been the object of one of the most exhaustive participation processes I have ever seen. Some special interests including oil and gas, coal, industrial agricultural and big developers do not want this Clean Water Act clarification to happen so the Congressional majority is not going to stop bringing it up. And we’re not going to stop asking Representatives to vote against these bills, which is why our online action covers all of these anti-water, anti-protection, anti-people and anti-wildlife efforts.