HR 2018: Clean Water Cooperative Federalism Act of 2011
The House of Representatives spent today debating and voting on a bill which would take enforcement authority and the power to sanction water polluters away from the Environmental Protection Agency. Instead of the EPA, HR 2018 will put individual states back in charge of enforcing clean water laws.
If the goal of HR 2018 to make sure our water is as clean as possible, this bill fails on it's face. As described by Tim Bishop (D-NY), the bill's most passionate opponent, "upstream states can pollute and down stream states would have no recourse."
On the other hand, if the goal is to make business easier for mining companies, this bill is brilliant! The EPA would no longer be able to regulate maximum amounts of chemicals dumped into water. The EPA would no longer be able to impose fines on polluters. Most importantly, the EPA would no longer be able to hold up mining contracts due to water pollution concerns.
The National Mining Association is HR 2018's endorsing organization. Need I say more?
The bill passed with 94% of the Republicans voting for it and 91% of Democrats voting against.
It should come as no surprise to learn that the lead sponsor of HR 2018 is a Republican, Floridiot John Mica. However, a dishonorable mention needs to go out to its co-sponsor Rep. Nick Rahall (D) of West Virginia, because Democrats are supposed to be our environmental protectors. Rahall's sponsorship was not on behalf of his constituents; he represented the mountaintop mining industry of Appalachia. His motivations are clear; he didn't try to hide them. During a recent interview with West Virginia's MetroNews, Rahall explained his endorsement:
"Under the current practices of the EPA the permits for surface mines throughout the Appalachian states have been bottled up for months. That is not the proper roll, in my opinion, of a government agency."Republican after Republican echoed his concerns. They don't want mining permits slowed or retracted. Companies over constituents every time.
The bill passed, but there is decent hope that it won't become law. It still needs to pass the Senate and President Obama has promised a veto.
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