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Groups Push For Tougher Environmental Laws

Greg Stotelmyer

The Republican-led Congress is receiving a failing grade from several national conservation and environmental groups.

The coalition of organizations claims Kentucky Senator Mitch McConnell's first 100 days as Majority Leader has been a failure on both the environmental and public health fronts.

Gene Karpinski, president of the League of Conservation Voters, says McConnell and his colleagues deserve an "F."

"It's an 'F' from our perspective," he says.

"Polluters and their allies in Congress, who invested over $700 million in this new Congress, are doing all they can to wreck our public health protections and destroy the Clean Air Act and the Clean Water Act,” added Karpinski.

McConnell claims the EPA's Clean Power Plan is a costly job-killer, which, in his words, "will not seriously address the global environmental concerns that are frequently raised to justify it." But the coalition that bestowed the failing grade says claims of economic calamity for upgrading power plants to emit less pollution are overblown.

According to the coalition, not since the passage of the Clean Water Act in the early 1970s has drinking water and the contamination of America's lakes, streams, and rivers been a more pressing issue.

Tim Joice, water policy director with the Kentucky Waterways Alliance, says the public is unaware of the scope of the problem.

"It's fair to say the average American thinks that our streams are clean," he says. "The hardcore truth is that many of our streams are still not clean, and aren't even close to that."

Joice is one of the many environmental watchdogs concerned about what's happening on Capitol Hill. In his view, Congress is trying to handcuff the EPA "every chance they get."

"The real challenge is trying to ensure the public understands that," he says. "In fact, we don't have clean air still, and we don't have clean water."

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