The Republican-controlled House has launched an all-out assault on the environment since taking control in January. One of the latest anti-environment bills is the Clean Water Cooperative Federalism Act of 2011 (HR 2018), introduced into the House last week. The bill amends the Clean Water Act (CAA) to allocate main responsibilities to states. To put it bluntly, it erodes the EPA’s ability to regulate the CAA. Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman John L. Mica (R-FL) introduced the bill with a Democrat, the Committee’s Ranking Member Nick Rahall (D-WV).
“Under the Obama Administration, EPA continues to strangle economic growth in this country with its overreaching and arbitrary regulatory regime,” Mica said in a press release. “This bill will help ensure a common sense regulatory regime that does not unnecessarily harm our nation’s farmers, miners and other businesses critical to our economy. We must restore and preserve the federal-state partnership that is the foundation of the Clean Water Act but which is being progressively undermined by EPA.”
Mining industry groups, such as Faces of Coal, support the bill. The organization said in a press release that the bill will “reverse the erosion of states’ authority and partnership with the federal government under the Clean Water Act.” The release claimed that the federal/state partnership to enforce the CAA “has come under increasing attack by the Obama Administration’s Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).”
It should come as no surprise that coal industry groups want the CAA to be weakened. Coal mining contaminates water. The Kentucky Division of Water found that almost 2,500 miles of streams do not meet water quality standards, the main suspect, according to the Division, is coal mining. The bill will allow coal companies to pollute waterways even more.
Earthjustice staff attorney Jennifer Chavez said that if the bill is passed, “states will have a race to the bottom in order to attract business interests, loosening environmental regulations when it comes to clean water.” Chavez added, “That is exactly what Congress meant to avoid when it adopted the Clean Water Act.”