News Feature | October 28, 2013

Senator Links Water Use Regulations To 'Oppressive' Government

By Sara Jerome


A Republican senator is speaking out against water use regulations, calling them an example of government overreach. 

In remarks at the Conservative Political Action Conference, Utah Sen. Mike Lee framed personal water use limitations as "oppressive."

"With our federal government now regulating everything from how many grams of riboflavin are listed as being contained in your breakfast cereal to how many gallons of water your toilet can flush, what kind of light bulb you use," Lee said. 

He continued: "It just keeps getting worse and it keeps getting more personal. We must, as citizens of this great republic, assert our right to live in a land that’s free from an oppressive, distant national government."

Here's a video of the speech. 

The remarks did not sit well with certain critics, who said he is not considering the interests of his home state. ThinkProgress, a blog by the think tank Center for American Progress, pointed out that Lee comes from a drought-ridden region. 

"This summer, a record heat wave scorched Utah, causing droughts across the entire state. Currently, water reservoirs have reached a 20-year low as a drought rages on across the state," the blog said

At the state level, Utah promotes water conservation. But officials say it is sometimes misunderstood. 

"Although water conservation helps, some people have misconceptions about what water conservation can and can't do. A significant level of water conservation can be achieved without major changes in lifestyle," the state's Division of Water Resources reported.

For the most part, federal water issues are not this politically charged. But Lee is known for bucking certain norms.

It does not always serve him well at home. The Washington Post reported: "Utah, one of the most Republican states in the nation, has a long tradition of being represented by pragmatic, business-minded conservatives in the U.S. Senate. Lee broke that pattern by governing as an ideological firebrand — standing alongside Texas Sen. Ted Cruz in the push for a shutdown in a failed bid to undermine President Obama’s health-care law."

As Water Online previously noted, Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul spoke out against toilet flushing rules earlier this year. 

Image credit: "Quantity of Water You Will Waste," © 2007 nicolasnova, used under an Attribution 2.0 Generic license:

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