It’s been 42 years since Congress passed the Clean Water Act. But loopholes in the Act, along with attempts by big polluters (including agribusiness) to weaken the law, have left millions of acres of wetlands, and approximately 60 percent of America’s rivers and streams, unprotected.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) wants to restore protection to those wetlands and waters’the source of drinking water for 117 million Americans. Which is why the agency proposed the Waters of the U.S., a rule intended to un-muddy the waters around which types of waters are, and are not, covered under the Clean Water Act.
Who doesn’t want to protect those waters?
Under pretense of protecting small farmers, groups like the American Farm Bureau and the Cattlemen’s Association are speaking out against the rule. They’ve also used their lobbying power to persuade a group of 30 Republican U.S. Senators to introduce legislation to block it.
As if the opposition from the well-funded factory farm lobbyists and their super-lobbied senators weren’t enough, conservative media is also trying to block the EPA’s efforts to protect drinking water, by acting as a megaphone for industry.
Industrial agriculture has made more than 100,000 miles of rivers and streams and 2,500 square miles of inland lakes too polluted to sustain important uses such as swimming, fishing, drinking, or the maintenance of healthy populations of wildlife, according to Environment Minnesota. Still, companies like Cargill and Archer Daniels Midland, among others, want weaker, not stronger, rules for protecting your drinking water.