WASHINGTON, DC —After a Senate committee voted today to block protections for streams that feed drinking water supplies for 1 in 3 Americans, Environment America unveiled a new video as part of its $1.8 million effort to galvanize public support for the Clean Water Rule.
The short video features a dozen businesses, anglers, public health professionals and elected officials from around the country offering testimonials in support of the Obama administration rule, which closes a loophole in federal law that had left 60 percent of the nation’s streams vulnerable to pollution and development for nearly a decade.
“The essence of public health is having clean water,” said Dr. Walter Tsou, professor at the University of Pennsylvania and past president of the American Public Health Association, “and it’s something that we take for granted.”
“My business depends directly on good water quality in our rivers and lakes,” said Jonathan Kahn, owner of a kayak and ski shop in Denver, Col., “because if people are afraid of getting in the water, they’re not going to want to go paddling.”
“There’s an ethic that comes with growing up being a fisherman,” said Pete Goodman, an angler in southeastern Pennsylvania. “We should be keepers of the stream.”
The video’s diverse voices are a testament to the 1,000 businesses, local elected officials, farmers, and others who back the Clean Water Rule. They stand in stark contrast to the rhetoric of Sen. John Barrasso (R.-Wyo.) and 10 other senators who voted to scrap the clean water protections this morning.
“The senators who voted against clean water today weren’t listening to the majority of Americans who want to see their rivers, streams, and livelihoods protected from pollution,” said Ally Fields, federal clean water advocate with Environment America.
Though a range of constituencies, 80 percent of Americans, and 800,000 public comments have backed the Clean Water Rule; developers, golf course owners, oil and gas companies and other polluting industries are lobbying heavily against it.
Many Senate leaders have taken up the polluters’ cause. While the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee was voting to block the Clean Water Rule, the Senate Judiciary Committee was planning to take its own pot shot.
Despite multiple votes and millions spent against protecting wetlands, small streams and headwaters, the president and his officials have stood firm against the attacks, as have many members of Congress. Sens. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), Ben Cardin (D-Md.), and Ed Markey (D-Mass.) were among several forceful advocates for the nation’s drinking water during this morning’s committee meeting.
“Instead of advancing a bill that would allow more pollution of the nation’s waterways, we should listen to the wide variety of stakeholders that support the proposed clean water rule,” said Sen. Boxer.
Sen. Barrasso’s bill to block the clean water protections now heads to the Senate floor, where it would need 60 votes to pass.
With the full backing of the president, the American people, and enough members of Congress, the Clean Water Rule can survive polluter-driven attacks like that levied by Sen. Barrasso, Environment America said.
“The Clean Water Rule is immensely popular,” said Fields. “That’s why we’re counting on our Senators to stand with our rivers, lakes, and drinking water at the end of the day, not the polluters.”