The need for strong regulations to protect our drinking water was made shockingly clear when it was revealed that back-room politicking by Michigan Governor Rick Snyder (R) resulted in a lead contamination crisis in Flint, Michigan, that poisoned as many as 8,000 children and countless adults. After the news of that broke, our Republican legislators in Congress fought tooth and nail against having to shell out emergency funds for the largely black and impoverished city of Flint- which still hasn’t received an aid bill from Congress. But now that a water source that is used by the House has been found to have minor lead contamination, the hypocrites are falling over themselves to pass new water safety regulations.
A bipartisan group of sixty one representatives have sent a letter to the Environmental Protection Agency demanding that they increase their water protection standards. The Lead and Copper Rule currently regulates how much lead needs to be detected before action must be taken, with a threshold of 10% of homes showing 15 parts per billion increase. These standards were laid down in 1991 using the “best available science” at the time, but have not been updated since. Both the World Health Organization and European Union Council Directive recommend taking action at 10 parts per billion.
Dan Kildee (D-MI) declared that “Congress has so far failed to act on Flint aid and now some Members of Congress have had their own water shut off due to high lead levels in their Washington offices… Every American deserves to have access to safe drinking water. America is the richest and most prosperous country in the world — we can afford to provide safe drinking water to our citizens.”
But unsurprisingly, when it comes to the health of the American people, Republicans would rather side with their corporate puppeteers than with the American people. Just this January, both the House and the Senate condemned President Obama’s updates to the Clean Water Act, decrying them as an “EPA power grab” and unanimously passed bills to revoke the rules, which were promptly vetoed. Rep. Bill Schuster (R-PA) complained that “the federal government shouldn’t be regulating every drop of water. Just about every wet area in the country is open to federal regulation under this rule…the rights of landowners and local governments will be trampled.”
But when it comes to their own water, the outrageous Republican hypocrites in the House sing a very different tune.
Colin Taylor is the editor-in-chief of Occupy Democrats. He graduated from Bennington College with a Bachelor's degree in history and political science. He now focuses on advancing the cause of social justice and equality in America.