Saturday, October 13, 2012
Forty! It Only Gets Better From Here?
The Clean Water Act turns 40 on October 18th, with a remarkable record of accomplishment. I remember back in the 1960s when the Great Lakes were declared dead, the Cuyahoga River caught on fire and many of our rivers were so full of toxic chemicals that they’d eat the paint right off boats. I remember being told not to eat the fish from Lake Ontario or to swim at the beach near my neighborhood.
Today, the Clean Water Act has fixed many of those problems. The Great Lakes are much healthier and cleaner. Rivers in cities like Philadelphia, Providence, Washington DC and others are now tourist attractions! Fishing, boating and water-based recreation are huge job-creators and sources of income for communities. We’ve made incredible progress in cleaning up our rivers, lakes and streams, and our communities are healthier and more vibrant for it.
So you’d think the 40th anniversary of the Clean Water Act’s passage would be a time of celebration and re-dedication to the cause of clean water. You’d think we’d be focusing on the challenges we still face and the problems we haven’t yet solved. But instead, polluters and their allies in Congress can’t stop trying to weaken this landmark law. In fact, on the very last day before they recessed for the election in September, the U.S. House of Representatives passed yet another bill that would undermine EPA’s ability to make sure states uphold the clean water protections in the Act!
It only gets worse from there. Since January 2011, the U.S. House of Representatives has voted 38 times to roll-back critical Clean Water Act protections. Thankfully, the Senate and Obama Administration have prevented any of these roll-backs from becoming law. This is one of the main reasons Clean Water Action has endorsed Obama for President in 2012. The contrast between the environmental platforms of the two presidential candidates could not be starker – while the Obama administration has introduced guidelines to help restore Clean Water Act protections to streams and wetlands, a Romney administration would only protect so-called “navigable” water from pollution and destruction. You can learn more about our 2012 campaign endorsements here.
This month Clean Water Action is joining other environmental groups to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Clean Water Act. We are celebrating its accomplishments and the incredible progress we’ve made. And we are rededicating ourselves to the goal the Act laid out: making all of our nation’s waters fishable and swimmable. I hope you will join us in celebrating 40 years of Clean Water success!