We’re not really sure what Senator Kirk is up to now. His Great Lakes Water Protection Act was always a bit sketchy in that it appeared to simply prohibit what the Clean Water Act already prohibits. Basically, Kirk’s Protection Act outlaws the dumping of untreated sewage to the Great Lakes by 2035. The Act would also increase the penalties for those caught dumping sewage and direct those penalties to a trust fund to be used for improving sewage treatment, habitat protection, and wetland restoration in the Great Lakes region.
Sounds great, right? Well, two problems. First, as we said, the Clean Water Act already prohibits the dumping of untreated sewage. So why didn’t Senator Kirk’s bill simply increase the penalties, create the trust fund, and let the Clean Water Act do its job?
Second, and far more troubling, Senator Kirk attached his Great Lakes Protection Act to an Interior appropriations bill crammed with poisonous provisions that among other offenses kill EPA’s Clean Water Rule and its budget by cutting $1billion of the agency’s funding. The appropriations bill also cuts State Revolving Funds (SRF), which is federal money used to help finance sewage treatment upgrades. Nonsensical! Kirk naturally voted for the appropriations bill and his Great Lakes Protection Act.
EPA’s new Clean Water Rule (and the SRF) provides essential protection to water quality in the Great Lakes. Without the new rule, 90% of the wetlands in the Great Lakes and many of the streams that are tributary to the Great Lakes remain at risk of pollution and destruction.
So, what is Kirk doing? It appears he’s using his Great Lakes Water Protection Act to cloak the very dirty pro-polluter agenda of destroying the EPA. Kirk thinks he can vote to kill fundamental environmental protections AND be a champion of the Great Lakes.
Well, you can’t fool us, Senator Kirk. Stop undermining the Clean Water Act while pretending to protect the Great Lakes.