Monday Mission #40

We have a couple of issues to follow up on this week. The first is an attempted end run of the Clean Water Act. That law, passed in 1970, has been the primary tool to protect the “waters of the United States” from industrial pollution. (You’ll remember the EPA has been trying to narrow the definition of that term so that mining waste and other pollutants can be dumped in intermittent streams and arroyos.) However, the question before the EPA now is whether releases of pollutants that are not directly discharged, but seep or leach into a stream, river, or lake should be regulated. This is apparently a problem because groundwater contamination is not directly covered by the Clean Water Act. It seems to me the clear intent of the Act was to protect running or standing water regardless, but the EPA would like you to weigh in. Just kidding! They are hoping you won’t. The comment button is in the upper right when you follow this link.

Scott Pruitt of the EPA announced last Tuesday a rule to enhance “transparency” at the EPA at a ceremony that was closed to the press. The “transparency” rule he’s proposing would in fact hobble his own agency’s ability to use the best science to make regulations. Several efforts have been made in Congress to impose a similar rule. They’ve failed, so Pruitt met with their sponsors, who include some of Capitol Hill’s biggest hacks for the oil and gas industry and foes of open scientific inquiry, and offered a back door to the same goal. So what is the problem? Well, requiring a review of all the raw data behind a scientific study is just a way for anti-scientists to jam up the system. Patients’ health records, for example, are confidential. And rejecting any study that is not ‘reproducible’ means, for example, throwing out a decade-long study on the effect of the smoke from a powerplant to nearby residents. It’s not like you can go back and reproduce that. Scott is only allowing a 30 day period to comment. Let him know you are not taken in by this scam. The page is here and you can follow the link to comment.

Lastly, I want to apologize for missing one last week. The National Park Service is moving forward with recommendations which would allow off-road vehicle use in Glen Canyon National Park. The comment page was here. It closed as I was writing this.

Many of us have visited Glen Canyon and marveled at the other world beauty of the river winding through the sandstone formations. Now imagine that quiet scene with ATV’s tearing up and down the slopes. It loses something. The damage caused in that fragile environment would take centuries to heal. The Park Service is under Zinke at the Interior Department. I’d like to tell him to take a hike.

Stay strong. Speak out.

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