The US Senate and House are headed in very different directions when it comes to the environment, as is evident to anyone taking a look now and then.  The House is a battleground on which the environment has, recently, been losing.

First: the bad and the ugly.  Recently, the House passed the “Clean Water Cooperative Federalism Act,” which would essential repeal the Clean Water Act of 1972 and eliminate the authority of the EPA to regulate water pollution, returning responsibility for water quality to individual states.  Which would immediately result in all the problems we had before this important safeguard was instituted nearly 40 years ago.  A race to the bottom to curry favor (and campaign contributions) with industry in statehouses across the US. This NY Times editorial gets to the gist:

Republicans in the House of Representatives — with the support of some key Democrats — seem determined to destroy the intricate and essential web of laws and regulations protecting the country’s environment. Their latest target is the hugely successful 1972 Clean Water Act.

It is not all about partisan politics.  Some of those trying to gut our basic water protections are from the other side of the aisle:

Among its chief sponsors are John Mica, Republican of Florida, who is angry at the E.P.A.’s recent crackdown on the agricultural pollutants that are destroying the Everglades, and Nick Rahall, Democrat of West Virginia, who is furious at the agency’s effort to stop mountaintop mining from poisoning his state’s rivers and streams.

The total injustice that the “Halliburton Loophole” represents– holding most industries to the protective standards of the Clean Water Act, but allowing oil and gas industry projects to not comply with any of the standards– is immediately obvious to anyone to whom it is explained.  Rather than fix this unjust situation by bringing the polluters under our laws, some forces would prefer that we simply allow all industries to function without federal EPA oversight. Some extremists in Congress are even calling for elimination of the agency altogether. Where would we be if the federal government gave states the license to allow total lawlessness in regard to water pollution?  This huge step backward is, thankfully, something that the President has vowed to veto should it pass the Senate, but, the fact that it was approved by the House is terrifying.

Now: the good.

A bill to address the serious issue of endocrine disrupters in our environment has been introduced into the House by Virginia Representative James Moran, co-sponsored by others including NY’s own Nita Lowey and Maurice Hinchey.


Latest Title: To reduce human exposure to endocrine-disrupting chemicals, and for other purposes.
Rep Moran, James P. [VA-8] (introduced 7/13/2011)      Cosponsors (12)
Latest Major Action: 7/13/2011 Referred to House committee. Status: Referred to the House Committee on Energy and Commerce.

COSPONSORS(12), ALPHABETICAL [followed by Cosponsors withdrawn]:     (Sort:by date)
Rep Capps, Lois [CA-23] – 7/13/2011
Rep Connolly, Gerald E. “Gerry” [VA-11] – 7/13/2011
Rep Grijalva, Raul M. [AZ-7] – 7/13/2011
Rep Hinchey, Maurice D. [NY-22] – 7/13/2011
Rep Lowey, Nita M. [NY-18] – 7/13/2011
Rep McGovern, James P. [MA-3] – 7/13/2011
Rep Miller, George [CA-7] – 7/13/2011
Rep Norton, Eleanor Holmes [DC] – 7/13/2011
Rep Price, David E. [NC-4] – 7/13/2011
Rep Richardson, Laura [CA-37] – 7/13/2011
Rep Rush, Bobby L. [IL-1] – 7/13/2011
Rep Schakowsky, Janice D. [IL-9] – 7/13/2011

As science learns more about the effects of chemical pollutants on our health, as well as the health of the animals and ecosystem (more hermaphrodite frogs?  YUCK), we need to respond by curtailing the dumping of these toxic substances into the environment, not by rolling the clock back to pre-1972.  Make your opinions clear to your Senators and Representatives.