Maude Barlow is the National Chairperson of the Council of Canadians and Senior Advisor on Water to the President of the United Nations General Assembly. She also chairs the board of Washington-based Food and Water Watch and is a Councillor with the Hamburg-based World Future Council. Maude is the recipient of seven honorary doctorates as well as many awards, including the 2005 Right Livelihood Award (known as the “Alternative Nobel”), and the 2008 Canadian Environment Award. She is also the best selling author or co-author of 16 books, including the recently released Blue Covenant: The Global Water Crisis and The Coming Battle for the Right to Water.
Maude Barlow: The Clean Water Act is a very important act here in the United States. In fact, there is good legislation here in the United States to protect water. More could be done.
The problem has been enforcement, particularly under this current administration. In the last, almost eight years now, the [George W.] Bush administration--about over 4000 environmental rules have been gutted or ignored entirely. The trust has been given over, and the responsibility for all the environmental areas of concern, to large corporations.
The Bush administration started this when [George W.] Bush was governor in Texas and he has taken this into the White House where he basically says to the energy, automobile, forestry and mining companies, "Go on into the national force and monitor yourselves and polish yourselves and beat yourselves up if you want, or don’t if you don’t want to." He has gutted the reporting mechanisms in just an astounding way; I think Americans need to understand.
I want to say this: this is not a left or right issue. This isn't a Democrat or Republican issue. This is an issue of survival of our beautiful country, of North America, of our world and our people. Water scarcity isn't a left or right issue when you wake up one morning and you have got no water.
I really think we need to take it out of that discourse and place it in a discourse of survival and also of conservation.
People on the left and the right have cared about conservation of parks and water ways and you don’t have to be left or right to care about the Hudson River, that if your kid happens to fall in, then you are not going to be worried that he is going to swallow water and die, and that we need to preserve this gorgeous place that we have been given to live on. I just wish we could take it out of those kind of left-right debates.
That being said, I think this government [i.e. the George W. Bush administration] has to be held accountable for its appalling lack of respect for the environment and its abandonment of the tenets of the Clean Water Act.
Recorded On: March 17, 2008