A Flint Of Our Own Making? #ProtectCleanWater
The Trump Administration has tried to change many things in the past years. However, the proposed amendment that proves to be one of the most confusing is the attack on the Clean Water Act.
At its core, the CWA regulates the dumping of waste by companies into “navigable waters.” These are waterways that are deep or wide, and moving, with enough room for a vessel to pass through. The law prevents companies from dumping waste into canals and rivers without obtaining a permit from the EPA.
Sounds like common sense, right? You would think so. Our politicians in Washington don’t seem to agree. They are proposing that we amend this act. They want to knock out Obama-era WOTUS, Waters of the United States amendment. The WOTUS amendment, created with input from the Army Core of Engineers, expanded on which waterways the EPA should protect. The rule now includes stream beds that flood yearly and wetlands that don’t have a continuous water surface. By law, it protects these areas from dumping. A good thing as these waterways are necessary for environmental self-regulation
Anyone who turned on the news knows Trump is a nonbeliever in climate change and its effects. A scroll through his twitter reveals a great deal of other things that our president does not believe in. Beyond his drive to knock out all Obama-era regulations, why dismantle an act that protects water? The only thing this writer can think of is short-sighted, capitalist greed and cost cuts. A general disrespect for our environment also seems to be at play.
As a Southerner, I’ve grown up on and around waterways, navigable and otherwise. Pick anyone from South Carolina to Florida, they all can name or know of, a lake, river, marsh or creek. This is because water is so vital to our way of life. Even if you aren’t a farmer, relying on streams and ponds for irrigation or for animals, water is essential. Protecting streams and rivers protects Tourism, drinking water, endangered animals and plants. The environmental integrity of an ecosystem also depends on water. By scaling back on environmental protections, we are dismissing the trillions of organisms that depend on them.
Farmers disagreed with WOTUS when Obama proposed it, saying it was a power grab by the EPA. Despite reasoning that the amendment would only clarify which were government protected waters, they remained unconvinced. Now, the Trump Administration has set up rollbacks that will limit what a protected waterway is. Environmentalist believes these rollbacks will remove protection from necessary bodies of water, like wetlands. They also fear this will pave the way for land developers.
While destroying natural landscapes can make room for houses, resorts, hotels, and golf courses, I’m not convinced that we have to. Instead of tearing down nature to make way for humans, can’t humans make room for nature? Can’t we share the space? South Carolina has long made the wetlands and waterways a tourist industry. It’s a part of our biological makeup at this point. It would cripple the fishing and hunting industry without regulatory policies in place. I grew up learning about endangered species that lived in our coastal waters and marshes. Sesquicentennial State Park was a major draw in for elementary schools. I hiked around Issaquena Falls with my mother and sisters on a family vacation. Do our politicians not have similar memories? Do land developers not care about their environmental impact? What about the responsibility to conduct their business in a safe manner?
After Flint’s Water Crisis, I’m surprised that people aren’t more irritated by this. Trump and the EPA are arguing for less protection of waterways. The whole time, people in Flint, Michigan still don’t have clean water. While the problems in Flint wasn’t due to dumping, cost-cutting was a factor in the poisoning of water. Such oversights, while seeming ideal at the time, can prove detrimental in the long run. We see it time and time again.
So, are we doomed to repeat our mistakes? Is it possible to avoid this painful scenario? Of course! But it takes work and the voices of the American people. If you believe in protecting the natural beauty of our home, speak up! Waterways are the veins and arteries of the land. Just as we care for our bodies, we have to care for it. That means protecting our waterways, interconnected and not, flowing yearly and not. It means spending extra to keep the American people and their homes safe. It means listening to science, unbiased science, and ignoring knee-jerk political party rejections. If it takes more paperwork, more funding, isn’t it worth it to ensure clean water? Southern Environment is trying to bring this issue to the attention of Americans.
Southern Environment is calling out to Americans. They ask that we use a brief window of opportunity to object to these rollbacks to the Safe Water Act. Regulations set by the Administrative Procedure Act, declare there must be public notice of new rules. This includes a public commenting period. Pruitt’s attempt at the suspension of WOTUS in 2017 failed because he ignored that rule.
We cannot afford to let this chance slip away again. Southern Environment has made it easy to object to this new rule on their site. Reading their articles will show you how these changes will affect people and the environment. #ProtectCleanWater is an act that everyone should want to stand behind. After all, we are all affected. The food we eat, the water we drink, and land consistency we depend on are too important to ignore. Raise your voice. Trust me, someone hears.