Poll: Rural Americans Want Greater Water Protection
James L. Oberstar (MN), chair of the Committee on Transportation and
Infrastructure, and U.S. Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson (TX), chair of the
Subcommittee on Water Resources and Environment, reacted recently to a
poll showing that rural voters are very concerned about pollution in
America’s waterways and water supplies.
More than half of the nine
hundred voters polled in three rural congressional districts said they
care deeply about protecting the environment and sources of safe
drinking water. Earthjustice, a nonprofit environmental law firm,
commissioned the poll.
Among the findings of the poll are that two-thirds of rural voters are
very concerned about pollution of drinking water. One-third of poll
respondents said they are concerned about drinking water straight from
their tap at home.
“Although we have made great strides since the Clean Water Act was
enacted in 1972 toward the goal of restoring and maintaining ‘the
chemical, physical, and biological integrity of the nation’s waters,’
we have not yet completed our task, because one-third of our waters
still do not meet the ‘fishable’ and ‘swimmable’ standard,” said
“Efforts to clean up America’s waters have stalled -- even slipped --
under the stewardship of the Bush Administration. In the past several
years, the federal government has let down municipalities’ efforts to
protect watersheds, provide safe drinking water, and make recreational
water sources fishable and swimmable.”
“Our nation’s clean water sources have been put further at risk by two
Supreme Court decisions that have created confusion about the
jurisdictional understanding of the Clean Water Act,” said Oberstar.
“As a result, there has been great uncertainty for federal, state and
local governments, agencies, courts, communities and land owners
regarding where federal authority begins and ends under the Clean Water
By more than a two-to-one margin, rural voters in the poll support Clean Water Act protection for all bodies of water.
“This poll reaffirms the need for H.R. 2421, the Clean Water
Restoration Act, which reestablishes jurisdictional standards used for
three decades by the Environmental Protection Agency and the Army Corps
of Engineers,” said Oberstar. “Additionally, this poll shows that a
majority of rural voters, including farmers, agree that ‘government has
not gone far enough with laws to protect the environment and keep our
water free from pollution’ – contrary to what opponents of the
legislation have claimed.”
“The Earthjustice poll shows that rural Americans want the federal
government to protect and maintain our natural resources and preserve
our safe drinking water supply,” Johnson concluded. “We are at a
turning point in history, and our responsibility to this generation and
our legacy to future generations is to advance the cause of protecting
the most precious of natural resources – clean water.”
The poll was conducted in rural congressional districts in Illinois, Ohio, and Tennessee.
Results can be found at:http://www.earthjustice.org/library/background/voters-cupport-clean-water-protections.html.