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Pantsios writes: "Americans like the Clean Water Act (CWA), which was passed in 1972 to clean up the country's waterways polluted by decades of industrialization and weak regulation, because they like having access to safe drinking water as well as clean water for activities like swimming, boating and fishing."

Some corporations feel it's their right to dump what they want in public waterways. (photo: Shutterstock.com)
Some corporations feel it's their right to dump what they want in public waterways. (photo: Shutterstock.com)


Koch Industries Spends Millions to Gut Clean Water Act Protections

By Anastasia Pantsios, EcoWatch

02 March 15

 

mericans like the Clean Water Act (CWA), which was passed in 1972 to clean up the country’s waterways polluted by decades of industrialization and weak regulation, because they like having access to safe drinking water as well as clean water for activities like swimming, boating and fishing. It seems like a no-brainer. So it was no surprise when the general public submitted more than 800,000 comments during the public comment period last year in support of President Obama’s plan to restore CWA protections to the country’s small waterways.

However, a new report from Environment America, Polluting Politics: Political Spending by Companies Dumping Toxics in our Waters, shows opponents to the CWA are spending significant amounts of money to act against the public interest.

“Year after year, polls show that more Americans are concerned with the pollution and quality of our waterways more than any other environmental issue,” the report begins. “And after toxins in Lake Erie left 400,000 Toledo, Ohio residents unable to drink the water coming out of their taps last August, the need to protect our waterways is clear and present.”

But, the report says, “Corporations and industry groups that oppose restoring Clean Water Act protections can drown out the voice of the average voter by spending enormous sums on election campaigns and lobbying.”

The report reveals that currently, half of the U.S.’s lakes, rivers and streams are unsafe for fishing, swimming and drinking, and that 206 million pounds of toxic materials are dumped in our waterways each year. Polluting Politics ties some of the polluters to investments in political candidates who might work to minimize CWA protections.

“As it turns out, the same companies that are polluting our waterways with toxic chemicals are also polluting our politics with their spending,” said report author Ally Fields, clean water advocate at Environment America.

What these companies want is to stave off regulations that would limit the discharge of industrial chemicals from fracking and agricultural runoff (especially from factory farms), and restore wetlands and protect them against development. Those are regulations the public likes and wants. But to a large degree, the public interest has been trumped by several U.S. Supreme Court decisions since 2006 that have left half the country’s waterways—which provide drinking water for a third of Americans—vulnerable to toxic pollution. And these big spender have swooped in to try to exploit those loopholes.

The report revealed that AK Steel Holding Corp, the top water polluter, dumped 19,088,128 pounds of toxics into waterways in 2012. And in 2014 it spent $739,752 on lobbying to try secure its ability to keep on polluting. Industrial foods company Tyson Foods, the second biggest water polluter with 18,446,749 pounds dumped, spent $1,163,838 on lobbying. The U.S. Department of Defense was the third largest waterway polluter at 10,868,190, but does not spend money on lobbying. But chemical company Cargill, checking in at fourth, spent about $1,300,000 to allow it to keep dumping more than 10,600,000 pounds of toxic materials into U.S. waterways.

Those top polluters were not the biggest spenders though. That honor went to the number six polluter, Koch Industries, a notorious source of large campaign contributions to industry-friendly candidates. It dumped 6,657,138 pounds of toxics in 2014. Last year, it spent a whopping $13,800,000 on lobbying, with another $7.7 million spent in last year’s elections, according to Polluting Politics. Given the Koch brothers’ propensity for pouring campaign money into 501 (c) 4 groups that don’t have to reveal their funders, the amount was likely much more.

Another outsized spender was chemical company DuPont, which dumped about 5,500,000 pounds of toxics and spent nearly $9,300,000 to protect its right to do so. According to the report, the top 10 companies were responsible for almost 100 million pounds of toxics in public waterways—as well as $53 million on lobbying and $9.4 million in campaign contributions. And the three top polluting industries—energy/natural resources, agribusiness and construction—spent more than $237 million on campaign contributions in the 2014 elections. Meanwhile, industry groups such as the American Petroleum Institute and the American Farm Bureau, spent tens of millions more on lobbyists who were frequently well-connected former government officials.

“It’s clear that our nation’s polluters have deep pockets, but hundreds of thousands of Americans have raised their voices in support of doing more to protect our waterways, from the Chesapeake Bay to Puget Sound,” said Fields. “It’s time for Congress to listen to citizens, not the polluters, and let the EPA finish the job to protect our waterways.”


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+12 # reiverpacific 2015-03-02 10:26
Somehow, it should be brought to the attention of these destructive, arrogant, short-sightedy blinkered and unfortunately dominant behemoths who have utterly no regard for their "Poor earth born companions and fellow mortals" (Burns) the Cree Prophecy;
“When all the trees have been cut down,
when all the animals have been hunted,
when all the waters are polluted,
when all the air is unsafe to breathe,
only then will you discover you cannot eat money.”
or;
"They claim this mother of ours, the Earth, for their own use, and fence their neighbors away from her, and deface her with their buildings and their refuse."
Tatanka Leyoté (Sitting Bull) Hunkpapa lakota.
 
 
-11 # MidwestTom 2015-03-02 10:45
Like all government programs that have good intentions the Clean Water Act sounds like something we all should like, nobody is opposed to forcing big polluters, as listed above, to clean up their outfall. Where the problem comes in is when the Federal enforcers come on your property without notice and inform you that they have total control over the ditch that you share with your neighbor. The ditch only has water in it when it rains. The Inspector is an arrogant idiot with a badge, and he threatens to fine you $10,000 per day if you interfere with him or here walking in your side yard.

There is definite shortage of reasonableness in enforcement of practical laws.
 
 
+7 # tedrey 2015-03-02 11:27
If the facts are as you state, you should have legal recourse. Now let's get back to the wider issues.
 
 
+7 # reiverpacific 2015-03-02 11:48
Quoting MidwestTom:
Like all government programs that have good intentions the Clean Water Act sounds like something we all should like, nobody is opposed to forcing big polluters, as listed above, to clean up their outfall. Where the problem comes in is when the Federal enforcers come on your property without notice and inform you that they have total control over the ditch that you share with your neighbor. The ditch only has water in it when it rains. The Inspector is an arrogant idiot with a badge, and he threatens to fine you $10,000 per day if you interfere with him or here walking in your side yard.

There is definite shortage of reasonableness in enforcement of practical laws.

Baloney!
It would cost these monster polluters a tiny amount of their massive profits to install a package or even full size Wastewater Treatment Plant in each of their facilities, especially the Military.
I've done a lot of Construction Management and Inspections on Water and Wastewater for many large to small cities and object to being categorized as an "Idiot" (I don't wear a badge) for enforcing standards, verifying that Engineered design and specs are met so that the resultant water is safe for public use and treated effluent is clean enough to discharge in to their waterways.
You're obviously one who places industrial/mili tary profit and shortcuts before the safety of the population, footed, finned, winged and crawling critters that depend on a basic species necessity.
 
 
+13 # fredboy 2015-03-02 10:49
Visit Florida's springs, estuaries, and coastline. One hundred years ago they were crystal clear and teeming with life. Now they are hideous. Fertilizer streaming off golf courses and lawns have created a Bacteria Coast.
 
 
-9 # lnason@umassd.edu 2015-03-02 11:55
Fredboy:

You are in error -- Florida waterways have been "black rivers" since long before the area was settled. With little drainage and massive influxes of tidal surges due to the flatness of the peninsula, the rivers have always been unswimmable and undrinkable due to biologic decomposition. Humans only made the situation worse than it had been.

The worst pollution was in the early 1970's and since then, much of the man-made pollution has been discontinued. Fertilizer emissions and government sewage systems are still a major problem and they should be addressed. The rivers are still not swimmable but it is unlikely that they ever will be.

Lee Nason
New Bedford, Massachusetts
 
 
+1 # Merlin 2015-03-02 15:38
Lee 2015-03-02 11:55

Really? What is your source?
 
 
+1 # reiverpacific 2015-03-02 18:41
Quoting Merlin:
Lee 2015-03-02 11:55

Really? What is your source?


Forget it!
You'll NEVER, EVER get a response citing a source from this hubristic shill; some of us have tried for Gawd knows how long.
 
 
-5 # lnason@umassd.edu 2015-03-02 12:01
The flaw in the table in this article is in compiling all of the Koch lobbying into one number and implying it was all spent on addressing EPA issues. This implication is completely false since much of their lobby is done on behalf of working toward a more open immigration system, more government transparency, tax reform, healthcare reform, union policy, deficit and debt reduction, etc., etc. You may agree with them on these issues or not but it is unfair to claim that all of the money was spent to undermine the EPA.

Lee Nason
New Bedford, Massachusetts
 
 
+6 # mmcmanus 2015-03-02 13:03
So Lee, how long have you been on the Koch payroll.
 
 
+3 # reiverpacific 2015-03-02 13:20
Quoting lnason@umassd.edu:
The flaw in the table in this article is in compiling all of the Koch lobbying into one number and implying it was all spent on addressing EPA issues. This implication is completely false since much of their lobby is done on behalf of working toward a more open immigration system, more government transparency, tax reform, healthcare reform, union policy, deficit and debt reduction, etc., etc. You may agree with them on these issues or not but it is unfair to claim that all of the money was spent to undermine the EPA.

Lee Nason
New Bedford, Massachusetts

There you go again you silly ol' Koch-lover you!
First off just for once, give us some back-up from a reputable source and not y'r typical speculative declamations from the cloisters, expecting us to just take it as read.
This isn't "USA Today" y'know!
Second, it's generally accepted and known, even by some thinking conservatives, that the entire thrust of the Koch's Americans For Prosperity (for a few) and their other shadowy groups distributed around the US, is dedicated to reducing the entire workforce to peasant status with no benefits, paid time off or retirement, as dispensable drones very much like Walmart, whose upper management do well if they make no waves and touch their forelocks but their floor and stockroom working "Associates" are just that -easily replaced components.
I agree that it's not only the Brothers Grim 1/2-way down the table, which makes it more scary!
 
 
+6 # torch and pitchfork 2015-03-02 12:40
Koch Industries the true Environmental Terrorist. They would be a far richer company if they spent money on clean up and invention rather than their current modus oporendi.
 
 
0 # Robbee 2015-03-04 22:19
i think any proposed amendment to get money out of politics needs to include a clause that prevents all in-kind benefits or payments to politicians, their immediate family or staff

no one running or elected or appointed to public office can accept anything from anyone within a year before they announce candidacy or a year after they leave office

anywhere they or their family or staff travel, any meal or meeting or housing they attend, at market rates they buy their own everything, all the way to bottled water - if they attend some function put on by koch bros it's on their own dime, period - if they broke the law it voids their election or appointment, period

if we go thru all the work of amending our constitution to get money out of federal, state and local politics, it needs to be thorough about the money-out part

for now, i'd like some dem candidates to announce support for an amendment, what they promote, if anything but that pitiful excuse for an amendment dem senators proposed last year
 

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