Opponents: Gardner, rest of Colorado GOP House members vote to gut Clean Water Act

U.S. Rep. Cory Gardner, R-Colo., and the rest of Colorado’s majority Republican congressional delegation are all wet for voting along with the GOP-controlled House to pass the Clean Water Cooperative Federalism Act by a margin of 239-184 on Wednesday, according to the bill’s many outraged opponents.

“Rep. Gardner has once again made an extremist vote that increases profits for polluters at the expense of the public’s health and the environment” said Gary Wockner of Fort Collins-based Clean Water Action. “Rep. Gardner says he supports jobs, but he’s only voting to support corporate polluters’ profits.”

U.S. Rep. Cory Gardner.
Gardner had not issued a direct statement on the passage of the bill – either on his Facebook page or his official website – as of Thursday morning, but the freshman from Colorado’s 4th Congressional District in northeastern Colorado has been relentlessly attacking the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency since entering office.

“It is time for the EPA to give Congress some straight answers about the consequences its regulations have on jobs and the economy, without knowing that information how can we judge whether a regulation is necessary or harmful?” Gardner said in a recent release.

The Clean Water Collective Federalism Act of 2011, sponsored by John Mica, R-Fla., would amend the 40-year-old Federal Water Pollution Control Act (more commonly known as the Clean Water Act) to prohibit the EPA administrator from revising current water quality standards or mandating new ones for a pollutant if a state already has standards in place, according to the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service.

That could be disastrous for Colorado waterways, according to Wockner, especially in Gardner’s own district. Clean Water Action fears less federal oversight could lead to an “increase in the levels of selenium, cadmium, lead, zinc, copper, manganese, E. coli bacteria, mercury, and fecal coliform in northern Colorado’s lakes and streams, including Horsetooth Reservoir, Carter Lake, the South Platte River, the Cache la Poudre River, and the Big Thompson River,” according to a release.

“Rep. Gardner’s extremist vote to increase water pollution could undermine the health of northern Colorado citizens,” Wockner said.

All three Democratic members of Colorado’s congressional delegation voted against the bill, but Gardner joined fellow Colorado Republican House members Doug Lamborn, Mike Coffman and Scott Tipton in bucking the Obama administration, which earlier in the week promised a veto in the unlikely event the bill makes it out of the Senate.

“The Administration strongly opposes H.R 2018 because it would significantly undermine the Clean Water Act (CWA) and could adversely affect public health, the economy, and the environment,” stated an Obama administration press release.

National environmental organizations were similarly outraged by the House passage of the bill, calling it the “Cooperating with Polluters Act” and blasting it for undermining “enforcement of water quality standards and protection of waters and wetlands from discharges of dredged and fill material.”

“H.R. 2018 endangers our nation’s rivers, lakes, bays, wetlands and streams that are so vital to our health and economy,” said Piper Crowell, clean water advocate for Environment America. “Specifically, if this bill became law, it would undermine the progress that has been made to protect cherished places like the Chesapeake Bay, the Everglades and endangered areas like those affected by mountaintop removal (coal mining).”