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October 2, 2014

MUDFLIX – The GOP War on Water

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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.

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26 Responses to “MUDFLIX – The GOP War on Water”
  1. mike from iowa says:

    For the record.we will have to go to the source of our larger problems-that being undue influence of money and monied interests in politics and elections. Start by impeaching about five US Supreme Court Jesters that decided money is free speech and corporations are endowed with individual rights.If you are allowed to purchase free speech,it is no longer free and not available to the vast majority of US citizens. That should be a no-brainer for all involved.

  2. Kat says:

    My birthplace & home town is a tiny, former lumber town, in No. CA. There is a beautiful pristine river in the close area. It’s also a depressed area because of the loss of the timber industry there, so the people are desperate to find new sources for jobs.

    Five years ago (approx.) Nestle approached the City Manager and offered him a deal to open a water bottling plant in town. They promised to employ 100-200 people (wow). Of course they meant to drain the water from the river to bottle which would devastate the whole eco-system. Without going through the town council, or holding any public meetings, he approved & signed the deal, then announced it. Talk about a shock to the town & surrounding communities. Long story short – the people rose up and made their voices known & the project was killed, the Manager was fired. Nestle has tried several times since, each time meeting heavy opposition. They finally announced late last year, that they wouldn’t be coming back. No one is counting on that, so are vigilant. I was so proud that they realized that quality of life (all life) was more important to them than the few promised (not delivered) jobs.

    So. Cal has been trying for decades to get water from this same river (McCloud river) diverted to them so they can continue to fill their pools, water their landscapes & build more & more housing developments. They co-opted the Colorado river already & many other sources. Now So.Cal wants to secede & form their own state. Guess what the predominant party is there? Yep, a big, huge, bright RED. They know only greed, raping the environment, knocking any entity, not wealthy & entitled down past the poverty line, turning our workers into their abject slaves.

    The country MUST do as this tiny lumber town did – stand up & face down the enemy & defeat them. The new buzz word? Corporate/Rethug/Tea party/Dominionists – NO YOU CAN’T! Wisconsin is showing us the way.

  3. AKjah says:

    I do not believe the state or federal government will side for the people on this issue. You are owned by the corporations and don’t forget that.

  4. dz says:

    Nestle, Pepsi and Coca-Cola are already laying claim to groundwater acquifers in communities across the nation for their bottled water brands as well as soda brands. In most cases the people living in the communities know nothing of their drilling operations until they are in place and never have an opportunity to protest or require that they pay for the water pumped out. There are several informative and well researched documentaries out there that everyone should see. One of the more shocking aspects is that there is very little government oversight on the quality of water they eventually sell back at 900% + profit to consumers. If anyone hasn’t already seen “Thirst”, “Tapped”, “Blue Vinyl” or “Blue Gold: World Water Wars”, it’s time to put any one or all of these fine documentaries on their movie queue. Our focus on oil for energy needs is important but the quest for water will likely prove more critical to our survival.

    • lilybart says:

      Corporations are buying up the world’s fresh water for their next profit center.

      human beings have to have clean water to live
      corps should not own it
      are people crazy?

  5. sali says:

    Please read the Stonekettle blog (Stonekettle Station shown on the Missing Links) of Wednesday, July 13, “Playing Chicken With Disaster”.

  6. benlomond2 says:

    I wonder how fast they’d change their tune, if we took away their bottled water, and had them drink ouf of their own state’s rivers ??

  7. overthemoon says:

    The Fox Party (may it not live forever) is intent on stripping the regs so their owners can come in and privatize water sources and services across the country. THAT is why the apparatchiks in congress are so insistent on keeping every possible penny in the tills of the corporation that make up the membership of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) (may they trip over their piles of gold doubloons.)

  8. Polarbear says:

    Just wanted to add that while the economic importance of the Bristol Bay fishery is an excellent argument against the Pebble Mine, we must be mindful of the migration of Limited Entry permits out of Alaska, not only for Bristol Bay drift and set-net fisheries, but also for the salmon fisheries of the eastern Aleutian area, including Nelson Lagoon, Cold Bay, False Pass, Akutan, King Cove, and Sand Point. We need to do something to return access to these fisheries to Alaska fishing families, and to make sure the economic opportunity is primarily for Alaskan families.

    Between the loss of Alaska ownership of Limited Entry permits, and the “rationalization” plans, there are many, many SW Alaska families who have no current nor future access to fishing. Area families with no chance to benefit from the fishing industry have few job opportunities, and Pebble starts to seem attractive. We would be smart to “reset” Limited Entry and get Alaska families back into the fishery.

  9. Kerry says:

    The water is so bad where I live that the test results came back that there is 3 to 5 times more arsenic in the water than was allowed before the idiot Bush declared that “them sciencers don’t know nuthin” and threw out the water safety regulations!

    I tried drinking it when I first moved here but it made me sick, turned my cooked white rice brownish and stained my stainless steel cookware.

    I spent $750.00 for a stainless steel, automatic in-line water distiller that makes up to 6 gallons of 99.9 pure distilled water every 24 hours. Great tasting, doesn’t leave any deposits in my humidifier or carpet steamer or coffee pot. Have to clean the distiller out about evey 2 to 3 months and get about 4 to 5 cups of a thick grey sludge of minerals and crap that was in the water.

    Some people here drink the water and put that garbage in their bodies.

  10. Diane says:

    The sad thing about this is, that once damaged, it takes years, if ever to correct that damage.
    People’s health have been affected, people die from pollution. Think Love Canal. People lost their lives and their houses. And what about the children? What are the long term affects of pollution on their lives?
    For a party that supposedly loves children from conception onward, they do not show that love.
    They gut regulations to protect children, they cut spending to feed, care for and maintain their health.
    They are hypocrites of the nth degree.

    • mike from iowa says:

      I think Rethuglicans love children only when they are in fetal stage and then when they are around ten and can be tried for murder,especially minority kids,and then when they are old enough to fight foolish wars Rethuglicans are bound and determined to start somewhere. Of course after the young soldiers are maimed and disfigured,they are a burden to profit minded insurance and health care providers which means the gov’t will try to disown their future obligations. The GOP has been trying since before Raygun to totally deregulate everything so profits go up.

      • beaglemom says:

        You are absolutely right. I also wonder every time I hear Republicans go on about doing away with environmental protections, education, health care, etc. if they simply all hate their children and grandchildren. Good schools, good health care and strong environmental protections help all children and grandchildren, even those of Republicans. Why are they always opposed?

    • Zyxomma says:

      The answer to this paradox is that they only care about “children” when they’re in the womb. They couldn’t (and don’t) give a fig about their health, education, or wellbeing, or that they have a fit place on earth in which to grow to adulthood. Hypocrites.

      • leenie17 says:

        Actually, I think they care for them from conception until birth and then beginning again at age 18, but ONLY if they’re willing to join the military OR if they’re uneducated and willing to work for minimum wage. If they’re between 0 and 18 or educated, they have no use for them. And if they’re getting any kind of government assistance…all bets are off!

        And they are only allowed to serve in the military if they agree to return KIA or healthy…none of that injured nonsense that good god-fearing taxpayers might have to pay for!

        I’m beginning to think that Republicans think that the example of the greedy Grinch’s heart being two sizes too small is an admirable goal to strive for. There must be a special Republican edition that ends before he realizes the error of his ways!

        • Mo says:

          Have I mentioned lately that’s it’s now immoral to vote Republican? For anyone, anywhere?

          No matter how charmed you are by the candidate, just take a look at the party behind them.

    • lilybart says:

      This will be GREAT! Now a state can lure a toxic factory to its river on the border with another state, and all the toxic chemicals released in the river will go immediately to the next state! YAY!!!

  11. leenie17 says:

    These are two very smart women and I thoroughly enjoy listening to them because I rarely come away without learning something.

    Other than the very good points Professor Harris-Perry brought up, my big question about turning responsibility for water pollution legislation over to the states – aren’t many rivers, lakes and other bodies of water in contact with more than one state? Just look at how many states the Mississippi River and its tributaries flow through. I can’t even imagine the chaos if each state was allowed to determine their own regulations.

    There are some things that simply need to be overseen by the federal government in order to make them safe and workable for the country at large. And frankly, I would not trust many of our current governors not to sell out our precious water resources to the corporation giving the highest campaign contribution.

    • ibwilliamsi says:

      Indeed. Consider the Columbia. It begins in Canada, runs through Washington and Oregon, and feeds 22 tributaries which flow through Oregon, Washington, Montana, Idaho, and Wyoming. I won’t even go into what tributaries those 22 rivers flow into. Like the Mississippi, it also feeds into what are eventually international waters at the Pacific.

      Let me also point out that if they want the States to take control of pollution control, we’d also gladly take control of the dams and all of the profit that stems from them.

    • mike from iowa says:

      Iowa towns mayors along the Missouri are barking at the Corps of Engineers for releasing water in Montana and South Dakota reservoirs when the Missouri River is already at or above flood stage.Several years ago South Dakota entered into an agreement with Wyoming to sell Missouri River water for a coal-slurry pipeline. Iowa,Nebraska and the state of Missouri sued to stop the project for fear that diverting the Missouri River would end lucrative barge traffic from the Mississippi River to Sioux City, Iowa.

    • fishingmamma says:

      The use of public waterways for any reason has been regulated by the Fed since 1824, when the Marshall court handed down the decision in Gibbons v. Ogden, when the court ruled that a state can regulate commerce that begins and ends in its own territory but not when the transaction involves crossing a state line; then the national authority takes precedence.

      • fishingmamma says:

        The argument here for the EPA to regulate Bristol Bay Salmon spawning grounds is that the affected fish leave the state and enter international waters. So the effects of the Pebble project affect more than in-state populations.

        • Alaska Pi says:

          H.R.2018 — Clean Water Cooperative Federalism Act of 2011 (Engrossed in House [Passed House] – EH)

          http://thomas.loc.gov/home/thomas.php
          You can search for the text at the Thomas home site.

          Our Rep Young was a co-sponsor – surprise!!!
          He had filed something similar back in about Jan.

          from the article linked above by AKM:
          “Those pollution problems go beyond a single state.

          A Democratic-led effort to exempt multi-state watersheds from the bill failed Wednesday.”

  12. marlys says:

    Yes, Virginia, absolutely nothing is sacred to $ome people. I will be emailing as well*~~~

  13. lisa says:

    Once again the House GOP wants to poop in the nest and act like we should all be proud they are “looking out for all of us.” This sent me over the top. I am emailing Murkowski and Begich right now.

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