Wednesday, April 22, was Earth Day, a decades-old celebration of Reduce-Reuse-Recycle marked by festivals devoted to composting and solar panels. It’s a perennial reminder of the small sacrifices we can make to reduce our personal impact on the environment.
But on the day after and for years to come, we continue to be faced with threats of environmental catastrophes, some of which are as much a consequence of decisions made by the people we elect as they are of our own actions.
At the federal level, many small waterways aren’t protected, leaving them vulnerable to pollution and even destruction. It’s been that way since the Bush Administration, when the Clean Water Act was weakened to where it no longer applies to streams and some wetlands.
This summer, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is poised to reverse that, and is now clarifying the new rules. Republicans in Congress have been trying to preempt the rollback.
In Florida, the restored protection could be essential for everything from tourism to craft beer, said Jennifer Rubiello, the clean water organizer for Environment Florida.
“Our wetlands are nature’s first line of defense against storms and flooding, and they feed and filter the waterways we depend on for our drinking water,” Rubiello said. “We need to protect what’s left of them.”