Bill to Stop EPA from Ensuring Clean Water Passes House
GOP says EPA Is "Strong-Arming" the States ... really?
Remember when we asked if Republicans wanted us drinking dirty water? Well, apparently a lot of them do. A few Democrats from coal-mining states do as well. Yesterday the House passed H.R. 2018, which would essentially relieve the Environmental Protection Agency of its federal duties to hold states accountable by enforcing the Clean Water Act, which protects our water supply.
The bill was financed with a lot of dirty coal money -- coal extraction operations, whether mountaintop removal or mining, often leads to a lot of toxic material in the water. It's clear the fossil fuel business wants the feds out of their business.
But the stated justification for passing this bill was odd. Rep. Nick Rahall, a Democrat from the coal industry-intense West Virginia, said after the vote: "The agency may claim that it is only following the law, and 'assisting' the states, but the reality is that the agency is strong-arming the states."
The Congressional Budget Office, tasked with analyzing how much a bill will end up costing the government to implement, scored H.R. 2018 a couple weeks before the vote. They found that since EPA rarely even bothered to take action on the states on CWA issues that the bill would cost next to nothing.
From the CBO cost estimate:
"However, many of the activities that would be precluded under H.R. 2018 occur infrequently under current law and have not accounted for a significant fraction of the annual resources devoted to implementing the CWA. (For example, since the inception of the CWA in 1972, EPA has vetoed permitting decisions by the Army Corp of Engineers 13 times, and EPA has never withdrawn a state’s delegated program.)"
That's strong-arming? It sounds like Rahall did some overreaching when talking about EPA overreaching its authority.
It's alarming that EPA has vetoed the Corps only 13 times in the last 39 years. In Louisiana alone, wetlands disappear at the rate of one whole football field an hour. Meanwhile, Congress is already trying to shortchange the amount of money states can use to restore wetlands. If sounds like EPA needs to reach harder in their authority.