For much of the last week, policymakers’ eyes have been trained overseas, as President Obama tries to convince Congress (and the public) that the country must intervene in Syria. Some of those against a military strike on the region have called on Obama to focus on the issues at home: slow job growth, immigration reform, and the debt ceiling, which is expected to be hit next month.
But there’s another, rarely cited domestic issue that will likely be placed on the back burner, along with the others, now that Congress has returned from summer recess. And it’s one that, if taken to the extreme, makes a budget-crisis-induced government shutdown seem a little less worrisome.
The United States is running out of fresh water. Sen. Tom Udall, D-N.M., reminded the public of that at a conference Thursday in Albuquerque, N.M. Udall, who voted no to a resolution authorizing U.S. military intervention that ultimately passed, wants the country to focus on such domestic issues. “I don’t think this is the time for us to get embroiled in the Syrian civil war,” he told NPR on Thursday.
Global water consumption has tripled in the last 50 years. In the United States, the demand for fresh water will exceed the supply by 40 percent by the year 2030, according to a State Department report last year. Water scarcity results from short- and long-term droughts and human activity.
According to the Environmental Protection Agency, at least 36 states are faced with local or regional water shortages. In New Mexico, the Rio Grande is on the World Wildlife Fund’s list of the top 10 endangered rivers in the world. Last summer, residential wells in the Midwest, from Indiana to Missouri, began drying up, making it difficult to “wash dishes, or fill a coffee urn, even to flush the toilet,” The New York Times reported. In Texas, Gov. Rick Perry swore in board members on Wednesday to oversee the divvying up of $2 billion to finance water projects.
“The danger is clear, and we have to act to protect our way of life in the West,” Udall said at the conference. Next week, he will propose what he called a modest amendment, one that would grant $15 million for water pilot projects nationwide, to a Senate bill on energy efficiency.
Each month, 3.9 trillion gallons of water are consumed in the U.S. For many Americans, the idea that the country might someday run out of fresh water is unfathomable. That possibility is also extremely far off. There is, however, a chance that the country will start feeling some of the effects of a shrinking water supply much sooner. Hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, a practice that many feel could give the U.S. energy independence, requires millions of gallons of water every day to extract natural gas from the earth. Nearly all of that water is lost.
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"Former FBI Director Robert Mueller has been cleared by U.S. Department of Justice ethics experts to oversee an investigation into possible collusion between then-candidate Donald Trump's 2016 election campaign and Russia." Some had speculated that the White House would use "an ethics rule limiting government attorneys from investigating people their former law firm represented" to trip up Mueller's appointment. Jared Kushner is a client of Mueller's firm, WilmerHale. "Although Mueller has now been cleared by the Justice Department, the White House may still use his former law firm's connection to Manafort and Kushner to undermine the findings of his investigation, according to two sources close to the White House."
Senate Intelligence Committee chairman Richard Burr (R-NC) and ranking member Mark Warner (D-VA) will subpoena two businesses owned by former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn. Burr said, "We would like to hear from General Flynn. We'd like to see his documents. We'd like him to tell his story because he publicly said he had a story to tell."
The government alleges the company put eight “software-based features” on diesel engines in nearly 104,000 Ram pickups and Jeep Grand Cherokees from the 2014 to 2016 model years, which allowed the vehicles to emit fewer pollutants during EPA lab tests than during normal driving conditions.
At an open hearing of the House Intelligence Committee, former CIA chief John Brennan said he saw information on Trump-Russia contacts that were worth a further look. "Having been involved in many counterintelligence cases in the past, I know what the Russians do. They try to suborn individuals," Brennan said. "And they try to get individuals, including U.S. persons, to act on their behalf, whether wittingly or unwittingly. And I was worried by a number of the contacts that the Russians had with U.S. persons, and so therefore by the time I left office ... I had unresolved questions in my mind."
"President Trump is moving rapidly toward assembling outside counsel to help him navigate the investigations into his campaign and Russian interference in last year’s election, and in recent days he and his advisers have privately courted several prominent attorneys to join the effort. By Monday, a list of finalists for the legal team had emerged, according to four people briefed on the discussions."