Sadly, Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott's August 11th letter to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) threatening to sue if it does not retreat from its plan to strengthen protections for the sources of our drinking water is more about politics and ideology than public health. For Abbott, it does not matter that EPA simply wants to return protections back to where they were during the Clinton and Reagan administrations. It does not matter that its proposal is based on peer-reviewed scientific studies. It does not matter that the proposal would restore protections to headwater streams and wetlands that connect with the drinking water supply of 117 million Americans, including 11.5 million in Texas. It does not matter that 75% of stream miles dry up part of the year in our drought-prone state, and hence could lose protections if Abbott has his way. It does not even matter that EPA will not issue a final rule before 2015, at which time Abbott will no longer be in a direct position to sue, since he is resigning as AG to run for governor. All that really matters to Abbott is that he advance his campaign to weaken the ability of EPA to protect the public from polluters at every turn. This is the same attorney general who unsuccessfully sued EPA over its plans to protect Americans from carbon emissions that are accelerating climate change and worsening drought in Texas and beyond. He sued EPA in federal court to stop it from protecting Texans from air pollution that blows in from other state. In fact, he has sued the federal government over environmental protections a total of 16 times to date. He has also said that he does not believe communities have the right to know what dangerous chemicals are stored in their midst, even after an explosion at a West, Texas fertilizer plant killed 14 people and destroyed much of the town. No wonder he enjoys the support of the Koch brothers and other well-heeled polluters. If Abbott wins his race for governor, he will be able to appoint the leaders of many key state agencies, including the commissioners to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality. I shudder to think how far he and his appointees might be willing to go to strip Texans of their right to clean air and clean water. It is because of politicians like him that we need the federal backstop that is the Clean Water Act to guarantee our right to clean, safe water. The EPA proposal would restore much-needed protections to our water. They deserve our support.
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