It has been very interesting watching the way Senator Mark Kirk has been cloaking himself in the mantel of Great Lakes champion, while taking actions in DC that clearly would negatively impact those water bodies.
Just look at his actions last week. On the same day he posted an Op-Ed on the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel tut-tutting the paper and advocates for "accepting the status quo" for the Great Lakes, he signed on to sponsor a bill that would hamstring new Obama Administration policies which have restored protections for water bodies that flow into the Great Lakes (and elsewhere). Clearly, the Senator is advocating for policy that envisions a far worse water quality future than the status quo; not just in the Great Lakes but also, across the country.
The bill Senator Kirk has jumped onto would kill the Environmental Protection Agency and Army Corps of Engineers' new "Clean Water Rule," a commonsense initiative to restore protections against pollution that once existed for a variety of small water bodies and wetlands. My colleague Jon Devine analyzed the bill here, identifying how it relies on false assumptions, how it would make it harder to protect other important water bodies, creates confusion and wastes taxpayer money.
It's a clear departure from the stance Senator Kirk took when he represented the 10th District of Illinois. At that time, he was a strong supporter of the need to clarify which water bodies are protected by the Clean Water Act--the very essence of the "Clean Water Rule" he is now trying to kill. And in two consecutive Congresses he pushed for bills that would have gone further in protecting the same water bodies than the Clean Water Rule does (Clean Water Restoration Act of 2007 and Clean Water Authority Restoration Act of 2005). This is reminiscent of his 180 on climate change too: going from a supporter of bold action to someone who has tried to kill essential domestic cuts on the carbon pollution at the heart of the problem.
Senator Kirk, if you are not fighting climate change and you are not fighting for the health of the Great Lakes. And if you are not fighting pollution dumping in connected water bodies, then you simply aren't fighting to clean up the Lakes either.
This post originally appeared on NRDC's Switchboard blog.