Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Profits Not Protection

Industry lobbies are mounting a push to roll back EU clean water regulations, even though less than half of the continent’s rivers, wetlands and lakes are in a healthy state.
The lobby offensive is aimed at weakening the bloc’s floods and water framework directives, which require all states to ensure their waterways are in “good ecological condition” by 2027. Conservation groups say the proposed changes could sound a death knell for several endangered aquatic species.
Andreas Baumüller, the head of natural resources at WWF’s European policy office, said: “Rivers, lakes and wetlands are our life support systems but they are being annihilated under our very eyes. We have the legal tool to stop this – the EU water law – but member states must actively stand up to the sectors that pollute and destroy the most.”

Industry lobbyists claim the directive’s rules are too stringent.

The Swedish mining company SveMin says the rule “cannot prevail” because of its “severe negative impact on investments”. The document calls for more flexible exemptions and a new definition of a good ecological water state.

The UK’s National Farmers’ Union also wants the rule reviewed for costs to industry and feasibility. Its submission argues that the onset of climate change necessitates a “reality check”, including more derogations from “unachievable” water flow targets.

Europe’s hydropower industry appealed for more consideration of industry costs, subsidiarity principles and dam approvals under EU “non-deterioration” standards.

Ariel Brunner, Birdlife Europe’s policy chief, said, “Instead of actually cleaning up the water and making it healthy, this debate is about redefining the word ‘healthy’ to include the ‘unhealthy’. It is just dressed up as making targets realistic and achievable.”

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