Even Joe the Plumber Can't Fix Senator McCain's Dirty Water Record

While Senator McCain has repeatedly pledged his concern for the household budget of "Joe the Plumber," McCain's actual record on what comes out of our kitchen faucets would leave a bad taste in the mouth of most Americans.  

There's almost nothing as fundamental to our quality of life as the water we drink and our next president will face significant challenges preserving this essential resource. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimates that 47 percent of America's assessed rivers and streams and 59 percent of America's assessed lakes are too polluted for fishing, swimming or other uses. Our rivers, lakes and streams are burdened by industrial pollution, contaminated runoff, sewage overflows, and a host of other threats. Unfortunately, the last eight years under President George W. Bush represent a large step backward that contrasts sharply with decades of progress in protecting waterways.  
Since the last presidential debate, Senator John McCain has been desperate to distance himself from President Bush. Given McCain's voting record, that's a tall order. From the cleanup and disclosure of toxic waste to drinking water standards, Sen. John McCain has too often stood with President Bush and taken the side of polluters in opposing stronger protections for our waterways.  

On Toxic Chemicals: McCain Stands with the Polluter

In 2006, the most recent year for which we have data, polluters dumped more than 244 million pounds of toxic chemicals into America's waterways. Toxic substances contaminate the land, air and water across the country. In the Senate, John McCain voted against the public's right to know when factories and manufacturers release dangerous pollutants, toxic metals, and poisonous fumes and opposed making polluters pay for the cleanup of Superfund toxic waste sites -- leaving taxpayers to pick up the tab.  

On Drinking Water: McCain Stands with the Polluter

Not only has Senator McCain opposed our right to know where toxic chemicals are dumped, he's opposed our right to know about chemicals we might be drinking. Senator McCain voted against the law that requires water utilities to inform customers of contaminants in their drinking water. And when the issue of removing toxic and carcinogenic arsenic from the nation's drinking water supplies came before him, Senator McCain ignored the recommendations National Academy of Science and voted to push back tightening the standard. That delay would have exposed as many as 34 million Americans to increased risk of cancer.  

On Protecting Precious Source Waters: McCain Stands with the Polluter

The Senator whose campaign in 2008 chants "drill baby drill" at rallies around the country, voted in 2002 to exempt the oil and gas industry from Safe Drinking Water Act regulations. The move would have made it easier for oil and gas companies to use water to break up rocks and discharge waste water containing toxic chemicals, including benzene, xylene and toluene, which in even small quantities can contaminate million of gallons of water. The Senator has stood with polluting mining companies as well when he voted against stronger clean water rules for hardrock mining operations, which have already polluted 40 percent of all watersheds in the West.  

Senator Barack Obama Will Stand Up For Clean Water

Americans depend on clean water for drinking, recreation, farming and the preservation of healthy ecosystems for fish and wildlife. America needs a president who understands the importance of clean water to the nation's economy and our environment and who will take on the polluters. Unfortunately, during his time in the U.S. Senate, John McCain too often stood with the polluters as they worked to dismantle America's protections for clean water.  

Americans have a choice this November. In Barack Obama, Americans have a champion who is willing to take on the polluters and fight to restore our waterways. Sen. Obama has committed to fully fund programs to replace and upgrade aging sewer systems that put the health of our waterways at risk, strengthen safeguards for drinking water, promote conservation as a solution to water quantity problems in the West, and restore the Great Lakes.

AlterNet is a nonprofit organization and does not make political endorsements. The opinions expressed by its writers are their own.

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