Who Wants Clean Water, Anyway?

from Wildlife Promise

Urgent Action! Please Speak up for Wildlife Now!

Help stop dangerous legislation that slashes critical funding for agencies that defend our nation’s wildlife. Call your U.S. Representative and tell them to “Vote No on the Continuing Resolution.”

Smog over downtown Los Angeles, 1965 (Metro Transportation Library and Archive)

Pollution isn’t a Republican issue or a Democratic issue; mercury poisoning and acid rain don’t discriminate.  Many of our most important environmental laws were passed with bipartisan support, and we all benefited.

Yet for decades polluters have been trying to sell a lie to the American people.  We have been told that “what’s good for society” is cheap power and corporate profits, that any regulations are a threat to our way of life.

Never mind the fact that business-as-usual meant poisoned drinking water in our taps and dirty air that gave our kids asthma, or that it wiped out natural habitat and decimated wildlife across the country.  Never mind that our history is littered with countless examples of industrial abuse: the Cuyahoga River; Love Canal, NY; the Gulf of Mexico, the razed peaks and toxic streams of West Virginia.  Never mind that it has too often left behind working-class Americans while stuffing the wallets of CEO’s.

Communities in every state have stories like this, but they also have stories about how they were helped by environmental regulations.  In the 40 years since they were enacted, laws like the Clean Air Act and the Clean Water Act have been a thin green line safeguarding us from polluter excess, giving us clean skies and keeping poisons out of our streams.  They have spurred economic growth and green jobs while preserving our cherished wildlife legacy. It has been a long and sometimes bumpy road, but our country has made real progress.  Drop a match on the Cuyahoga now and you’re going to see a fizzle, not a flame.

Photo: Michael Devlin

But the fight is far from over, and this weekend we learned that the polluters and their allies in Congress are taking another shot:

Buried within the House’s new budget proposal are attacks intended to cripple these two landmark bills and the Environmental Protection Agency.

The first would prevent EPA from working to protect our nation’s wetlands, streams, lakes and headwaters.  The second would force the agency to turn a blind eye to carbon dioxide pollution from smokestacks, in defiance of a Supreme Court order and sound science.  For all their talk of fiscal responsibility, it’s telling that House leaders refused to consider cutting $3.6 billion in giveaways to Big Oil — cuts highlighted in President Obama’s budget plan.  Yet the overall budgets for EPA and the Interior Department, which oversees our public lands and natural resources, would be slashed by $4.4 billion.

The Arctic Fox is one of many species threatened by climate change (photo: Robby Bieber)

These policies would affect liberals and conservatives, East Coast soccer moms and Wyoming hunters.  The public understands this: a recent poll confirms that 77% of Americans, including 61% of Republicans, believe that “Congress should let the EPA do its job.” Only 18% believe that “Congress should block the EPA from updating pollution safeguards.”

So we stand now at a real crossroads – one path leads back to the bad old days when factories dumped toxic waste into our fisheries, but the other leads us forward to clean water and clean air, healthy wildlife and green jobs.  It’s an easy choice.

Speak up for wildlife against big polluters — tell your Representative to vote NO on the “continuing resolution.”

You can read more of NWF’s budget breakdown here.