MUDFLIX – The GOP War on Water
In this clip, Rachel Maddow interviews Melissa Harris-Perry, professor of politics at Tulane University about the role of the federal government in assuring safety in the commons – clean air clean water, national security, etc. The Republicans in the House just voted to strip the EPA of its right to overrule states decisions about water quality.
The Republican-controlled House passed a bill Wednesday that would sharply curtail the federal government’s role in protecting waters from pollution by barring the Environmental Protection Agency from overruling state decisions on water quality.
The bill passed on a 239-184 vote. Sixteen Democrats joined the majority of Republicans in supporting it. The White House threatened to veto the bill, saying it “would roll back the key provisions … that have been the underpinning of 40 years of progress in making the nation’s waters fishable, swimmable and drinkable.”
Under the Clean Water Act, states have primary responsibility for protecting waterways after the EPA signs off on their plans. But the agency can step in if it thinks water resources aren’t being adequately protected.
The measure strips the EPA of that oversight authority.
They say that it’s not that there shouldn’t be regulations, but that the states should handle it with no federal authority to overrule them. Harris-Perry makes a compelling argument demonstrating that states under difficult economic times have incentive to allow known polluters to locate industry in their particular state to satisfy the short-term need for jobs, while ignoring the long-term need for safety and security. And even if they have the best intentions, states simply do not have the capability
It brings to mind things like Alaska’s proposed Pebble Mine project. Left to the Republican controlled state, the hollow promise of jobs is used as a cloak used to disguise the real issue – industry having its way and moneyed interests trumping the needs and desires of local people, and commercial fishermen. Right now, the federal government is in a strong position to stop the mine dead in its tracks by using a statute in the Clean Water Act that is already on the books.
It is unlikely that the House bill will pass the Senate this go-around, but we must remain vigilant, and make sure that we support candidates who want to leave federal control where it stands, and actively support the efforts of the EPA who is the federal body ensuring that we all have basic standards of clean water and clean air.