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water pollution

Our Children and Water Pollution Video

Below watch a video on the importance of pure water and what it means to the life of our children.

Water is Life

by Rev. Mitch Hescox

Not too long ago, my wife, Clare, accidently sliced her finger. We performed what we thought was proper first aid. However, the small wound continued to hurt, swell, turn red, and the discoloration started to travel up her arm. At this point, we visited our primary care physician and thankfully Clare received antibiotics that stopped the infection that was beginning to be transported into her bloodstream and throughout her entire body.

In far too many ways, this is an apt analogy for danger our streams and rivers face since the U.S. Supreme Courts vacated protections for our wetlands, headlands, and interment streams. Small problems may result in dangerous pollution as water like blood is interconnected.

We seem to forget what the Bible simply states: 
All streams flow into the sea,
yet the sea is never full.
To the place the streams come from,
there they return again. Ecclesiastes 1:7 (NIV)

When the Clean Water Act was passed in 1972, we were on the right track in defending our waters to supply clean water for drinking, agricultural use, industry use, hunting, fishing, and recreation. However, Supreme Court decisions in 2001 and 2006 and actions by the Bush II administration have narrowed legal protections and muddied understanding of what waters are covered under the law. Protections have been especially confusing for smaller, interconnected streams and wetlands. The Reagan years provided cleaner and better protection for our waters than today and even better protection than our current understanding of the joint EPA and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers WOTUS Standard.

The EPA and Corps' rule is not an "overreach" of the federal government as some have stated, but a simple restoration to the way the Clean Water Act was supposed to work and did so effectively until it was changed by litigation. New York Times reported, that the EPA has not pursued more than 1,500 pollution cases due to indistinct jurisdiction and in my home state, Pennsylvania, EPA dropped four enforcement cases and downgraded six due to what it called "uncertainty about EPA's jurisdiction over the receiving waters" over the past several years. Pennsylvania already dumps over 10,000,000 pounds of toxic chemicals into its waterways each year, according to 2012 government data. We don't need un-clarity, non-enforcement, and unknowing to place our children at further risk. Is our water safe? Increasingly, the answer is no.

An important part of the reason our water isn't safe for many is the inability of our government to adequately enforce the Clean Water Act as outlined above. In effect, in many cases our clean water cops are no longer on the beat, with nearly half of major polluters effectively beyond their reach. Because of this hindering of enforcement, right now the drinking water sources of 1 in 3 Americans are threatened and increasingly undefended, and enforcement actions have dropped by almost half.

For Christians called by Jesus to love others and protect the vulnerable, and for others of good will, this situation is unacceptable and presents an opportunity to make a difference. We must work for a righteous water supply. Water is important for life and from the rock struck by Moses at Kadesh to Jesus saying, "I am the water of life" at the Samarian well clean water provides both physical life and symbolizes spiritual life. However, humanity's desire for short-term gains have often become long-term threats to health and life, especially for our children. As I stated on numerous occasions, "If God wasn't a gracious landlord, humanity would have been evicted from the earth long ago." In promulgating WOTUS and not threating its enactment through a CRA or other means, we will become a bit better as stewards of God's creation

WOTUS now restores a portion of the headwaters and wetlands once protected for the sake of our children. WOTUS redefines the total mess of confusion, inaction, and failure what was once easily defined under Ronald Reagan and allows our "clean-water cops" to protect our kids' health. On the other hand scuttling WOTUS only dirties our water, threatens the most vulnerable and certainty doesn't follow the biblical pro-life principals that my fellow evangelical and Republicans claim to uphold.

We are thankful that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) have worked together to propose a new rule that clarifies the protection needed to ensure pure water, defend our children's health, and codify exemptions that have long applied to farmers. We need this new standard so we can once again attain the level of water purity achieved during the Reagan years, and then to build upon this success for even greater water purity and a righteous water supply.

In closing, let me state my comments today are simply not mine alone. Over 120,000 pro-life Christian supportive comments from 14 states comments were delivered to the EPA on WOTUS by The Evangelical Environmental Network.

Our comments stated:

"As pro-life Christians, we believe that it is essential that the water we give our children is clean and pure. We urge the EPA and Congress to do everything you can to make sure that all of our waters, especially our headwaters, are protected."

For those of us who affirm that we are to be stewards of God's creation, we should do nothing less. Water is life. To protect life we must have pure water. An essential step towards pure water and our children's health is the implementation of a strong Army Corps-EPA regulation. Join with us to create a righteous water supply.

Rev. Mitch Hescox is the President & CEO of the Evangelical Environmental Network 

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