The GOP-dominated U.S. Congress passed this bill, which will stop the EPA from caring for many of the waterways in the US, including the lead-polluted supply from the Flint River.
Corporate lobbyists spent millions encouraging Republicans to block clean water legislation despite the ongoing Flint water crisis. The bill has seen enthusiastic support from corporate interests. The US Chamber of Commerce, Dairy Farmers of America, chemical companies, utility companies, energy companies, mining companies, and logging companies are among over 230 organizations that listed the bill on lobbying disclosures since it was proposed in March 2014.
At first glance, the vote was unrelated to the Flint water emergency. If Obama does not veto this bill as he is expected to, it will allow more mismanagement of Flint’s already tainted water supply. Residents of the city will have life-long damages from lead poisoning, others are facing an already deadly Legionnaires’ outbreak, and many more were forced to buy expensive bottled water and filtration systems for years before the Governor Rick Snyder declared a State of Emergency and allowed people to begin providing aid.
Activists and residents are demanding the resignation of Governor Rick Snyder, and they furthermore demand that criminal charges be filed against him for mismanaging the Detroit water crisis. About 200 activists protested at Flint City Hall on January 8th. Today, dozens of people put on a demonstration inside the Michigan state Capitol.
House Democratic Leader Tim Greimel was quoted at the protest saying, “If the governor personally knew this was going on and decided not to do anything then yes, he should step down. But we first have to ascertain what did he know, and when did he know it.” More than 100 people came in on buses from Flint, and met with another group of protestors from Detroit. Protestors chanted that Snyder has “got to go.”
Officials from Michigan from the Department of Environmental Quality have already resigned over the crisis, and activists have the Governor in mind next.
Obama Drops The Hammer And Vetoes Republican Bill That Kills Clean Water Rules
In the aftermath of the poisoning of the children of Flint, Michigan, President Obama has vetoed a Republican bill that would have killed the EPA’s new clean water rules.
In his veto message, President Obama said:
I am returning herewith without my approval S.J. Res. 22, a resolution that would nullify a rule issued by the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of the Army to clarify the jurisdictional boundaries of the Clean Water Act. The rule, which is a product of extensive public involvement and years of work, is critical to our efforts to protect the Nation’s waters and keep them clean; is responsive to calls for rulemaking from the Congress, industry, and community stakeholders; and is consistent with decisions of the United States Supreme Court.
We must protect the waters that are vital for the health of our communities and the success of our businesses, agriculture, and energy development. As I have noted before, too many of our waters have been left vulnerable. Pollution from upstream sources ends up in the rivers, lakes, reservoirs, and coastal waters near which most Americans live and on which they depend for their drinking water, recreation, and economic development. Clarifying the scope of the Clean Water Act helps to protect these resources and safeguard public health. Because this resolution seeks to block the progress represented by this rule and deny businesses and communities the regulatory certainty and clarity needed to invest in projects that rely on clean water, I cannot support it. I am therefore vetoing this resolution.
Republicans were outraged because the EPA passed a new rule that would have given the federal government regulatory authority over small bodies of water and wetlands. Access to clean and safe water could be a big issue in the 2016 election after hundreds of children were poisoned by a Republican administration in Michigan.
President Obama has been there for the people of Flint, and he is standing tall for the basic right of access to clean water. In 2016, the American people should not have to rely on their president to protect their access to water, but such is the state of the Republican Party. Clean water is a matter of public health.
By dropping the veto hammer, President Obama has once again stopped the Republican agenda dead in its tracks.