Guest Column: Small waterways in need of protection
By Max Muller
Once again, Lake Michigan is in trouble.
This time, instead of BP trying to pump more wastes into the lake’s waters, a few judges have stirred things up, leaving the streams and wetlands that feed and filter Lake Michigan more vulnerable to pollution and reckless development.
As Congress prepares to hold hearings on this problem, I hope you’ll join me in demanding the full restoration of Clean Water Act protection to all of our waterways.
For three decades, the meaning of the Clean Water Act was as clear as a high mountain stream: Lake Michigan? Protected. The Illinois River? Protected. The Big Muddy? Salt Creek? The small springs that interlace northwestern Illinois? Protected, protected and protected, along with every single lake, river, stream and wetland in Illinois, big and small.
Then, in a controversial decision, a bitterly-divided Supreme Court exempted small streams and many wetlands from the law. The effect? In Illinois, the law now leaves half of our streams and 150,000 acres of wetlands open to more pollution and development. That’s disturbing news. As we know, when it comes to our environment, whatever goes around comes around—if we allow polluters and developers free rein over smaller streams and wetlands, it’s only a matter of time before the effects extend downstream, including Lake Michigan.
The Bush administration only made things worse. Under Barack Obama, we finally have a chance to make things right.
That’s why, with Capitol Hill hearings coming up, it’s critical that our congressional delegation—especially Reps. Costello, Hare, Johnson, Lipinski and Schock, who sit on the committee that will hold the hearings—know that you, and thousands of others who care about our waters, are on our side. Show them your support for full protection for all of our waters by signing this petition now. http://www.environmentillinois.org/action/protect-lake-michigan/petition-congress?id4
It’s time to restore all of America’s waters to health. Thanks for making it possible.
Max Muller is the program director of Environment Illinois.
From the October 28 – November 3, 2009
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