Judge Kavanaugh is a threat to Maine’s clean waters

While the news media and many interest groups have focused on Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s position on abortions, there are lots of troubling signs that he would be a disaster for our environment including thousands of miles of small Maine streams. I sure hope Senators Angus King and Susan Collins are aware of this.

If he gets onto the US Supreme Court, Kavanaugh will be in a position to undermine lots of protections of our clean water and environment. I received background information on Kavanaugh which is very concerning.

I’d been focused on Congress and President Trump, both of which are working to reduce protections in the Clean Water Act. Trump has already proposed to repeal a rule adopted in 2015 that extended the Act’s protections to Maine’s small headwater, intermittent, and ephemeral streams. These decisions may end up before the Supreme Court.

Thanks to the Clean Water Act, permits must be obtained by anyone wishing to discharge into a water body subject to the Clean Water Act.

Last time the Supreme Court considered what bodies are “navigable waters” covered by the Clean Water Act, the Justices were split. Justice Kennedy, who retired from the court in May, cast the deciding vote that concluded water bodies were subject to the Clean Water Act when they had a significant nexus to bigger rivers.

Justice Kavanaugh is expected to shift the court away from that decision. He has consistently, as a Judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, voted against safeguards designed to protect the environment.

Kavanaugh argued in favor of a company dumping coal mining waste into streams. In this case, EPA revoked a permit because the mountain top coal mining company had destroyed more than 6 miles of streams. But Kavanaugh argued against protecting the sctreams because EPA had failed to consider the costs to the coal company.

Here are some other examples of Kavanaugh putting polluters first:

Mercury pollution. In 2014, Kavanaugh argued against standards for toxins like mercury – which is linked to premature deaths, heart attacks and childhood asthma – by insisting that costs to polluters be considered.

Air pollution. In 2015 Kavanaugh overturned a rule to limit the amount of air pollution that crosses state lines. That rule could have prevented as many as 34,000 premature deaths.

Air pollution. In 2017, Kavanaugh ruled that the EPA could not require companies to replace fluorinated chemicals known as HFCs with other substances – even though replacement chemicals are readily available.

Kavanaugh has also argued that it’s okay to rely on the chemical industry’s data, and ruled in favor of dumping hazardous waste. He has questioned the ability of citizen groups, like victims of pollution, to get their day in court.

I do not want Kavanaugh to be the key vote limiting the scope of the Clean Water Act and repealing other environmental protections. The Environmental Working Group estimates that 3,476 miles of Maine streams could lose the protections of the Clean Water Act. Of those, 1,264 miles are headwaters for drinking water supplies.

Please do what you can to make sure our Senators vote against Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court.

George Smith

About George Smith

George stepped down at the end of 2010 after 18 years as the executive director of the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine to write full time. He writes a weekly editorial page column in the Kennebec Journal and Waterville Morning Sentinel, a weekly travel column in those same newspapers (with his wife Linda), monthly columns in The Maine Sportsman magazine, two outdoor news blogs (one on his website, georgesmithmaine.com, and one on the website of the Bangor Daily News), and special columns for many publications and newsletters. Islandport Press published a book of George's favorite columns, "A Life Lived Outdoors" in 2014. In 2014, George also won a Maine Press Association award for writing the state's bet sports blog. In 2016, Down East Books published George's book, Maine Sporting Camps, and Islandport Press published George and his wife Linda's travel book, Take It From ME, about their favorite Maine inns and restaurants.