The Clean Water Cooperative Federalism Act of 2011: Colorado Republican U.S. Representatives march in lockstep with their party (and a handful of Democrats) in an attempt to gut the Clean Water Act

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From the Colorado Independent (David O. Williams):

U.S. Rep. Cory Gardner, R-Colo., and the rest of Colorado’s majority Republican congressional delegation are all wet for voting along with the GOP-controlled House to pass the Clean Water Cooperative Federalism Act by a margin of 239-184 on Wednesday, according to the bill’s many outraged opponents.

“Rep. Gardner has once again made an extremist vote that increases profits for polluters at the expense of the public’s health and the environment” said Gary Wockner of Fort Collins-based Clean Water Action. “Rep. Gardner says he supports jobs, but he’s only voting to support corporate polluters’ profits.”

“It is time for the EPA to give Congress some straight answers about the consequences its regulations have on jobs and the economy, without knowing that information how can we judge whether a regulation is necessary or harmful?” Gardner said in a recent release…

All three Democratic members of Colorado’s congressional delegation voted against the bill, but Gardner joined fellow Colorado Republican House members Doug Lamborn, Mike Coffman and Scott Tipton in bucking the Obama administration, which earlier in the week promised a veto in the unlikely event the bill makes it out of the Senate.

More coverage from (Liz Judge). From the article:

The House passed this legislation 239-184, despite a vow from the White House promising a veto if the bill makes it through the Senate. This legislation is the most offensive in a fresh spate of clean water attacks waged by the majority of the 112th House. The bill undoes the basis of the Clean Water Act, the 40-year-old cornerstone of all drinkable, swimmable and fishable waters in this country. Without this landmark law, and the system it set up for federal oversight of waters across all states, we wouldn’t have the clean waters that we have today. HR 2018 removes federal oversight and leaves the fate of our waters, which flow between states and know no state boundaries, up to states.

More H.R. 2018 coverage here.

H.R. 2018: The Clean Water Cooperative Federalism Act of 2011

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From the Colorado Independent (Virginia Chamlee):

Rep. Jon Mica, R-FL, has introduced the “Clean Water for Cooperative Federalism Act of 2011″ (.pdf), a bill that aims to “amend the Federal Water Pollution Control Act to preserve the authority of each State to make determinations relating to the State’s water quality standards, and for other purposes.” In other words, Mica’s bill would rewrite the Clean Water Act — removing the EPA’s authority to object to state-approved permits and revise state water quality standards.

The bill would also limit the agency’s authority to veto dredge-and-fill permits, which some conservationists argue could be a threat to public health.

Among its provisions, the bill would remove the EPA’s authority to object to state-approved permits under the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System, which was put in place to manage discharges of pollutants into waterways. The EPA would also lose the ability to revise state water quality standards, an especially controversial measure considering the agency’s much-touted numeric nutrient criteria, a set of standards that aim to enhance pollution regulations in Florida waterways. The criteria are revered by environmentalists and abhorred by state lawmakers and industry heads who’d prefer not to increase costs simply for the sake of the environment.

More coverage from Stacy Detwiller writing for American Rivers. From the article:

Specifically, the bill attacks the shared responsibility between the states and the federal agencies for clean water. This careful balance allows states to take most of the responsibility for clean water programs, but ensures that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has sufficient oversight to make sure citizens in all states have similar access to clean and safe water. As an example, the bill removes the EPA’s authority to object to state-approved permits under the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES), which was put in place to manage discharges of pollutants into our water. The EPA would also lose its ability to revise state water quality standards when those standards fail to protect clean water without approval from the states.

The bill also takes away EPA’s authority to veto dredge and fill permits [PDF] issued by the Army Corps of Engineers when a proposed activity would discharge dredge or fill materials into our rivers, lakes, and streams. Activities like mountaintop removal mining, for instance, where the tops of mountains are blown off to expose coal seams and the surrounding valleys and streams are filled with discarded rubble, would no longer be subject to veto by the EPA. This veto authority is scarcely used – it has only been employed 13 times. But when EPA does use this authority, it’s to stop projects that harm people and clean water.

Here’s the GovTrack link.

More H.R. 2018: The Clean Water Cooperative Federalism Act of 2011 coverage here.