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By Bob Wendelgass, President and CEO In my 20 years of working with Clean Water Action, I have never seen a Presidential race in which the choice was so stark. That’s why earlier this week, Clean Water Action joined with Sierra Club, the League of Conservation Voters and Environment America to endorse President Obama for reelection in 2012. He has an outstanding record on environmental issues, and despite a hostile Congress, has taken incredibly important actions to address climate change, air pollution and water pollution and other health and environmental challenges. For months the Republican challengers for President have been playing politics with our environmental protections. Mr. Romney tried to outdo his opponents in denouncing environmental safeguards, calling protections for our water and our health “job killers.”  Fortunately, most Americans understand that strong environmental protections are essential ingredients for both healthy communities and a healthy economy.  Mr. Romney threatens, if elected, to roll back decades of progress in protecting our water, our air and our health. He wants to repeal the Obama Administration initiatives dealing with climate change, and would cut regulation on gas and oil drilling.  His positions on the environment are more extreme than any serious Republican contender for President in recent memory. On the other hand, despite the most anti-environment Congress in history, President Obama has taken gigantic steps to protect our water, our communities, and our health.
  • To better protect drinking water and vital water resources, the Administration will be publishing the Guidance that clarifies Clean Water Act protection for streams and wetlands, which will, we expect, be followed by a formal rulemaking.  The Administration also issued a strong Executive Order on the Chesapeake Bay and took action to clean up and preserve other important water bodies.
  • On air pollution and climate change, the EPA has issued long overdue programs to reduce harmful air pollution from industrial boilers, cement kilns and coal fired power plants.  Just recently, the EPA issued a historic draft rule requiring new power plants for the first time to control their greenhouse gas emissions.
  • On hydraulic fracturing for gas and oil, the EPA just issued a new rule limiting air pollution from oil and gas operations, and is preparing new guidance on the use of diesel fuel in fracking.  Meanwhile, the Department of the Interior is working on new rules that would set new standards for fracking on federal lands, including requirements to disclose the chemicals that are being used.
And this is just a partial list. We have a choice in 2012. We can either continue moving forward to build a future of clean water, healthy air and clean jobs, or we can go back forty years to a time when rivers caught on fire and the air in many cities was unhealthy to breathe.  We can either reduce the emissions that are causing climate change, creating new jobs and growing our economy, or we can spend billions dealing with the damage that climate change will cause. The choice couldn’t be clearer.  We must re-elect Barack Obama President this fall.