The Clean Water Blog

Capitol building reflected at night. Photo credit: Orhan Cam / Shutterstock

Two Visions, One Building

Congress has barely been in session for two weeks. Unsurprisingly, the House has continued its streak of standing up for corporate polluters at the expense of the American people. Two of the first votes of this session put our water, our health, and our economy at risk

Yesterday the House passed HR 1644. HR 1644 will gut the Department of the Interior's Stream Protection Rule and allow more waste from mountain top removal coal mining to be dumped in streams throughout Appalachia and other coal mining regions. The Stream Protection Rule is an important step that ensures mining communities don't become sacrifice zones. It makes sure that these communities have access to clean water and a healthy environment, especially after mining operations are over. It requires more of mining companies. But big coal doesn't like being held accountable for its activities, and its allies on Congress made sure they won't be.

Following the vote on HR 1644, the House passed SJ Res 22 today. SJ Res 22 was passed by the Senate in late 2015 and repeals the Clean Water Rule, which ensures that streams and wetlands throughout the nation are protected by the Clean Water Act. For years these streams and wetlands, and the drinking water sources they feed, were at risk of pollution and destruction. And when the Obama administration finally acted to safeguard these vital resources, the response was overwhelmingly positive. Americans submitted more than 800,000 comments in support of strong action, and poll after poll show that nearly 80% of Americans want Congress to get out of the way and let EPA protect clean water. Despite this, Congress decided to stand with polluters instead of their constituents.

Fortunately President Obama will veto both pieces of legislation and we'll continue the fight to protect clean water. We have to be ready - because this won't stop.

This Congress has made its priorities clear. Over the course of the next year we can expect to see renewed assaults on the Clean Power Plan, attempts to undo the historic agreement the President signed at COP 21 in Paris, and more attempts to roll back safeguards like the Clean Water Rule. It's a hopeless vision for the future and one I know we'll reject.

Here's why. Last night, in his final State of the Union address, President Obama called us to action:

We need every American to stay active in our public life and not just during election time so that our public life reflects the goodness and the decency that I see in the American people every single day. It is not easy. Our brand of democracy is hard. But I can promise that, a little over a year from now, when I no longer hold this office, I will be right there with you as a citizen, inspired by those voices of fairness and vision, of grit and good humor and kindness, that have helped America travel so far.

Voices that help us see ourselves not first and foremost as black or white or Asian or Latino; not as gay or straight, immigrant or native born; not Democrat or Republican; but as Americans first, bound by a common creed.

Voices Dr. King believed would have the final word — voices of unarmed truth and unconditional love. And they’re out there, those voices. They don’t get a lot of attention. They don’t seek a lot of fanfare, but they’re busy doing the work this country needs doing.

I see them everywhere I travel in this incredible country of ours. I see you, the American people. And in your daily acts of citizenship, I see our future unfolding.

This year's SOTU was the strongest yet on climate and clean energy - "Rather than subsidize the past, we should invest in the future" - but it was his call to action, to a shared civic duty that stood out. That floored me. And the reaction on social media told me something - it floored a lot of other people too.

If we can tap into that vision of civic duty, if we can mobilize enough people (we can) - then votes like HR 1644 and SJ Res 22 won't matter in the end - except to help us hold accountable those politicians who would rather support polluters than stand with Americans.

Congress has barely been in session for two weeks. Unsurprisingly, the House has continued its streak of standing up for corporate polluters at the expense of the American people. Two of the first votes of this session put our water, our health, and our economy at risk.

Yesterday the House passed HR 1644. HR 1644 will gut the Department of the Interior’s Stream Protection Rule and allow more waste from mountain top removal coal mining to be dumped in streams throughout Appalachia and other coal mining regions. The Stream Protection Rule is an important step that ensures mining communities don’t become sacrifice zones. It makes sure that these communities have access to clean water and a healthy environment, especially after mining operations are over. It requires more of mining companies. But big coal doesn’t like being held accountable for its activities, and its allies on Congress made sure they won’t be.

Following the vote on HR 1644, the House passed SJ Res 22 today. SJ Res 22 was passed by the Senate in late 2015 and repeals the Clean Water Rule, which ensures that streams and wetlands throughout the nation are protected by the Clean Water Act. For years these streams and wetlands, and the drinking water sources they feed, were at risk of pollution and destruction. And when the Obama administration finally acted to safeguard these vital resources, the response was overwhelmingly positive. Americans submitted more than 800,000 comments in support of strong action, and poll after poll show that nearly 80% of Americans want Congress to get out of the way and let EPA protect clean water. Despite this, Congress decided to stand with polluters instead of their constituents.

Fortunately President Obama will veto both pieces of legislation and we’ll continue the fight to protect clean water. We have to be ready – because this won’t stop.

This Congress has made its priorities clear. Over the course of the next year we can expect to see renewed assaults on the Clean Power Plan, attempts to undo the historic agreement the President signed at COP 21 in Paris, and more attempts to roll back safeguards like the Clean Water Rule. It’s a hopeless vision for the future and one I know we’ll reject.

Here’s why. Last night, in his final State of the Union address, President Obama called us to action:

We need every American to stay active in our public life and not just during election time so that our public life reflects the goodness and the decency that I see in the American people every single day. It is not easy. Our brand of democracy is hard. But I can promise that, a little over a year from now, when I no longer hold this office, I will be right there with you as a citizen, inspired by those voices of fairness and vision, of grit and good humor and kindness, that have helped America travel so far.

Voices that help us see ourselves not first and foremost as black or white or Asian or Latino; not as gay or straight, immigrant or native born; not Democrat or Republican; but as Americans first, bound by a common creed.

Voices Dr. King believed would have the final word — voices of unarmed truth and unconditional love. And they’re out there, those voices. They don’t get a lot of attention. They don’t seek a lot of fanfare, but they’re busy doing the work this country needs doing.

I see them everywhere I travel in this incredible country of ours. I see you, the American people. And in your daily acts of citizenship, I see our future unfolding.

This year’s SOTU was the strongest yet on climate and clean energy – “Rather than subsidize the past, we should invest in the future” – but it was his call to action, to a shared civic duty that stood out. That floored me. And the reaction on social media told me something – it floored a lot of other people too.

If we can tap into that vision of civic duty, if we can mobilize enough people (we can) – then votes like HR 1644 and SJ Res 22 won’t matter in the end – except to help us hold accountable those politicians who would rather support polluters than stand with Americans.

- See more at: http://blog.cleanwateraction.org/2016/01/13/two-visions/#sthash.JYJC3stU...