Clean water group takes role seriously

Jul 11, 2011


Clean Water Action has a long history of helping everyday people voice their concerns and offer solutions about threats to our water. They sign petitions, write letters, make phone calls ­­our 250,000-plus Michigan members do what it takes to make a difference for our Great Lakes system. Contributing money is another important way they help; because we are citizen-funded, Clean Water Action can be the independent citizen environmental voice in Washington, Lansing, and communities like Grand Haven. 

Before criticizing our citizen engagement efforts, perhaps Mr. Lenahan should have recalled what the Great Lakes and other waterways looked like before citizens’ outrage led to passage of the federal Clean Water Act. It’s not hard to find images of the infamous burning Cuyahoga River, the billions of gallons of raw sewage overflows, uncontrolled pesticides, fertilizers and industrial chemicals surging through our neighborhoods on their journey to the Great Lakes.

Mr. Lenahan might want to read “Water Wasteland” which was co-authored by our founder, David Zwick, who helped write key portions of the Clean Water Act. Clean Water Action was formed to lobby for the passage of the Clean Water Act, and it has evolved into a grassroots organization committed to insuring our water is protected.

Mr. Lenahan thought it was amusing that the “nice young man from Clean Water Action” couldn’t cite a specific legislative proposal when challenged. The truth is that attacks on our water and air protections don’t always come with a bill number. In fact, the current Congress chose to attach so-called “riders” to the federal government’s budget, which almost brought the entire federal government to a halt. 

Fortunately, after hearing from angry constituents, a majority of Congress sided with groups like ours and decided against forcing a federal government shutdown over stripping environmental protections. In the next few weeks, votes over raising the federal debt limit could also provide a vehicle for special interests to weaken environmental protections, and we’ll keep knocking on doors asking Michiganders to stand up for our water, our air and the health of our communities.

Mr. Lenahan seems to discredit Republicans by suggesting they might not care about clean water. In fact, Clean Water Action is a nonpartisan citizens organization, and we have tens of thousands of members who are Republicans.  There is no partisan divide when it comes to the need for clean water.

Concerning the statement Clean Water Action made about Planned Parenthood, Mr. Lenahan seems to have missed our point when we criticized Congress for threatening to shut the government down. We think it’s bad public policy to threaten government shutdowns to score ideological points. In April, some in Congress were using the budget impasse to gut environmental protections and health services to low and moderate income women. That was just wrong and we said so.

We take protecting our Great Lakes system seriously, and know most of your readers do too.   That’s why it’s no joke when someone takes an unfair shot at the work we and our members do.  It’s just not funny.

— By Cyndi Roper, the Michigan director for Clean Water Action. She has been affiliated with the organization since 1990.


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