Gov Ned Lamont (D-CT) signed a bill Monday phasing out the use of PFAS-- "forever chemicals" like firefighting foam and food packaging that contain per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances. Congress is trying to do the same thing-- and the House passed a bipartisan bill doing so yesterday-- but with McConnell blocking everything with a Manchin-and-Sinema-protected filibuster, it's unlikely to become law unless conservative senators are replaced with progressive ones in 2022. Pro-pollution-- or bribe-taking-- conservatives like Ron Johnson (R-WI), Marco Rubio (R-FL), Randy Paul (R-KY) would have to be beaten and progressives would also have to replace retiring senators Rob Portman (R-OH), Pat Toomey (R-PA), Richard Burr (R-NC), Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and Roy Blunt (R-MO). In the unlikely event that all of that happens-- a bets cased scary-- the 50 seat filibustering GOP would sink down to a 42 seat filibustering majority, putting the power in the hands of "4 conservative deciders of everything" (Manchin, Sinema, Susan Collins and, if she is reelected, Lisa Murkowski). The 4 off them would run the Senate in all but name. Alan Grayson, the progressive running for Rubio's senate seat, noted last night "I imagine that Marco Rubio might do something about dirty drinking water, if he weren’t being paid so much by lobbyists to look the other way. On the other hand, if Rubio is not going to do anything about a deadly virus in the air, then why should he do anything about lethal pollutants in the water? At least he’s consistent."
Like Grayson, Erica Smith is a Blue America-endorsed Senate candidate. Having represented and lived in a rural northeast North Carolina district, she has been aware of water pollution for his whole career. "As we’ve traveled the state during our hundred county tour," she noted yesterday, "we have heard from Democrats, Republicans, and independents alike who are concerned that the water they are drinking is not clean and that their livelihoods and health are being sold out by their representatives. What I stand for, what I believe, and what the people of North Carolina are looking for, is someone who will put our communities over corporations. Not only do I support this legislation, but I’m hopeful that we can build on it even further and continue to empower the EPA to protect our water, our air, and our way of life. As someone who grew up on a family farm, as a black woman, I understand that when water is polluted, it isn’t the water of the wealthy and the well-connected, it’s the water of working people and underserved communities. This is just another example of Republicans trying to protect corporate power at the expense of the lives of working people."
Anyway, back to protecting Americans' drinking water from PFAS... The House vote yesterday was 241-183. All 218 Democrats voted for it, as did 23 Republicans, most of whom represent swing districts. 183 Republicans followed Kevin McCarthy's lead and voted in favor of deadly pollutants in the drinking water. I really wonder what McCarthy's constituents in Kern County think of them kind of deadly obstructionism. Three of McCarthy's closest California puppets, Mike Garcia, Jay Obernolte and David Valadao, also voted for water pollution and against their own constituents.
Basically what the bill proposes-- and what McCarthy and his allies object to-- is requiring the EPA to establish national drinking water standards within 2 years for these toxic perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl compounds that cause, among other diseases, life-threatening kidney and liver problems. In the past, notorious bribe-takers Mitch McConnell and Donald J. Trump have prevented forever chemicals from being regulated.
I asked McCarthy's opponent for the Kern County congressional seat, progressive Democrat Bruno Amato, how he feels about McCarthy's role in politicizing something so basic to human well-being. "Under human rights laws, water is protected as a human right," he told me last night. "Unless of course you live in Kevin McCarthy's district. While Kevin is in Washington, living in Frank Luntz's 16 bedroom, 12 bath penthouse and sipping Perrier water, the residents of the 23rd District are drinking polluted water. In McCarthy's hometown of Bakersfield, the tap water has toxic levels of Chromium 6, giving it's residents a 30 times higher cancer risk. There's an old Indian prophecy, 'Only when the last tree has been cut down, the last fish been caught, and the last stream poisoned, will people realize they cannot eat money.' Kevin McCarthy still hasn't realized that because the money from those corporations polluting our water are lining Kevin's pockets with cash."
Due east of McCarthy's district you'll find the massive 8th CD, currently occupied by Jay Obernolte, who does whatever McCarthy tells him to do. The progressive Democrat running for the seat this cycle, Derek Marshall, told me that "It's disappointing, yet entirely unsurprising, to see ultra-wealthy members of the Republican Party continually prioritize the profits of big business over policies that protect the health and well-being of their constituents. People across the West face a multitude of existential threats stemming from the under-regulation and de-regulation of industry at the behest of corporate lobbyists, something we are seeing the results of playout in real-time. As the faucets of our friends, families, and neighbors run dry during the midst of another generational drought, we are quickly reminded that it is the duty of elected officials to fight for the safety of the people they vowed to represent-- that means ensuring every single person has access to the basic necessities of life like safe, clean drinking water."