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As His State Suffers From Ongoing Drought, Utah Senator Decries ‘Oppressive’ Water Use Regulations

By Scott Keyes and Ryan Koronowski

"As His State Suffers From Ongoing Drought, Utah Senator Decries ‘Oppressive’ Water Use Regulations"

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Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT)

Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT)

CREDIT: AP

ST. CHARLES, Missouri — Even with his home state of Utah suffering one of the worst droughts in recent memory, Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) decried “oppressive” government regulations limiting personal water use.

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.

Even so, the Beehive State’s junior senator took aim Saturday at what he views as the real problem: not water shortages, but “oppressive” government regulations that make it slightly more difficult for people to use as much water as they want.

Appearing at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) outside St. Louis, Lee gave a lengthy speech against what he saw as government impinging on the rights of Americans. He lambasted the federal government for 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.”

LEE: 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. 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.

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Yet Senator Lee is fine with the fracking industry using 2-4 million gallons of water every time they drill a well. There are 35,000 wells drilled in the U.S. each year, meaning the industry consumed 140 billion gallons per year. States that do not have abundant water supplies must wonder what that wastewater looks like when it’s no longer needed by oil and gas companies.

Senator Lee is a big advocate of hydraulic fracturing, and appears uninterested in having oversight over this process. He cosponsored a bill that would prevent the government from regulating fracking at all. Since only about 20-25 percent of the water used in the fracking process is recovered, that means most of those millions of gallons of Utahan’s water stay deep underground, below the water table, and out of aquifers.

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