Over 200 people came to hear Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Gina McCarthy speak about the agency’s plan to restore Clean Water Act protections to more than half of Minnesota’s streams. Organized by Environment Minnesota and Friends of the Mississippi River, the Tuesday night forum at University of Minnesota student center also featured Representative Betty McCollum, staff from three other congressional offices, as well as farmers, business owners, and experts who echoed support for the EPA clean water rule.
The drinking water for 117 million Americans, including over 970,000 Minnesotans, has been left vulnerable to pollution by loopholes in the Clean Water Act for the past decade. The EPA clean water rule would close these loopholes, and restore protections to 1 in 3 Americans’ drinking water.
“Clean water is critical to healthy lives, and healthy economies, which is why we're committed to finalizing a rule that protects our nation’s water systems," said McCarthy. "Today, one in three Americans get their drinking water from streams that lack clear protection from pollution. Our rule will protect our economies that depend on clean water to function - from manufacturing and agriculture to tourism and recreation - so they can continue to thrive and grow."
Administrator McCarthy’s presentation comes as the EPA’s proposed Clean Water Rule is under attack in Congress.
Polluting interests such as corporate agribusiness, developers and the oil and gas industry have been fighting to stop the Clean Water Rule, and just last month their allies in Congress pushed a dirty water amendment through in the federal budget resolution. Environmentalists expressed concern that Senator Klobuchar had voted in favor of the Barrasso budget resolution amendment.
“After years of scientific review and overwhelming public support for the clean water rule, any move by Congress to delay, revisit, or otherwise meddle with it is basically a vote against clean water,” said John Rumpler, senior attorney for Environment Minnesota.
Attendees signed postcards to Senator Klobuchar expressing their disappointment with her recent vote, and asking her to support the Rule going forward.
Congresswoman Betty McCollum gave an impassioned speech in support of the Clean Water Rule, and her support was echoed by representatives from Congressman Keith Ellison and Congressman Rick Nolan’s offices.
“We’re thrilled to see so many people here today in support of clean water,” said Environment Minnesota Organizer Cora Ellenson-Myers. “We know that this rule is under attack in Congress right now, and we know that these attacks, orchestrated by polluters and their allies in Congress, will continue. Minnesota’s Senators need to hear from us that we’re counting on them to continue standing strong in support of clean water.”
Gina McCarthy, US Environmental Protection Agency Administrator;
4th District Congresswoman Betty McCollum
Greg Swanholm, Outreach Director for Senator Amy Klobuchar
Jamie Long, District Director for 5th District Congressman Keith Ellison;
Rick Olseen, Field Representative for 8th District Congressman Nolan;
John Rumpler, Senior Attorney, Environment America;
Josh Reinitz, Owner of East Henderson Farm, Henderson MN;
Tony Vavricka, Owner of Hard Water Sports, St. Paul MN;
Jill Bathke, Natural Resource Scientist, Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy;
SPONSORS: Environment Minnesota, Friends of the Mississippi River, Clean Up the River Environment, Clean Water Action MN, Conservation Minnesota, Izaak Walton League – Minnesota Division, Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy, Minnesota Environmental Partnership and National Wildlife Federation.