Stevieslaw: Making the rivers burn again

Stevieslaw: Making the rivers burn again

While we were worrying about President Orange starting a nuclear war with a foe or a friend, Congressional Republicans scrapped a Obama era regulation that prevented coal mining debris from being dumped into the nation’s streams. Perhaps that was a tip of the hat to the President, as one characteristic of streams that ran near coal mines was their orange color.

The last time the Cuyahoga River, which flows into the Lake Erie, caught fire was in 1969, although river fires weren’t all that unusual in the 50’s and 60’s. The Chicago, Buffalo and Rouge Rivers also caught fire. Many believe the 1969 fire helped create the Clean Water Act.

Now, it seems entirely possible that our children and grandchildren can get to relive the grandeur of the 60’s and witness a river or two on fire and enjoy the pollution and subsequent death of our waterways. The nostalgia our Republicans legislators feel for the era of a regulation-free America—The Great America—of robber barons and exploitation of women, of minorities, and the poor, was always a sad statement of their lack of belief in an America able to reinvent and surpass itself. Now that they are in power, it is an extremely dangerous one as well.

Speaking of nostalgia, with Pruitt set to head the EPA, we might revisit the lyrics of Tom Lehrer in Pollution (written in 1965). We never suspected it would be fresh again in the 21st Century:

If you visit American city,
You will find it very pretty.
Just two things of which you must beware:
Don’t drink the water and don’t breathe the air!

Pollution, pollution!
They got smog and sewage and mud.
Turn on your tap
And get hot and cold running crud!

See the halibuts and the sturgeons
Being wiped out by detergeons.
Fish gotta swim and birds gotta fly,
But they don’t last long if they try.

Pollution, pollution!
You can use the latest toothpaste,
And then rinse your mouth
With industrial waste.

Just go out for a breath of air
And you’ll be ready for Medicare.
The city streets are really quite a thrill –
If the hoods don’t get you, the monoxide will.

Pollution, pollution!
Wear a gas mask and a veil.
Then you can breathe,
Long as you don’t inhale!

Lots of things there that you can drink,
But stay away from the kitchen sink!
The breakfast garbage that you throw into the Bay
They drink at lunch in San Jose.*

So go to the city,
See the crazy people there.
Like lambs to the slaughter,
They’re drinking the water
And breathing [cough] the air!

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