Water Quality
February 10 2015

Congress takes aim at the Clean Water Act

by Mara Dias

The Environmental Protection Agency and the Army Corps of Engineers are nearing the end of a robust and science-based, rulemaking process to clarify protections for streams, wetlands and other headwaters under the Clean Water Act.  Because of a legal loophole, these critical waterways are not adequately protected under the Clean Water Act.  The EPA is currently reviewing the over 1 million public comments they received on this proposed rule and plans to release a final rule later this spring, but polluters and the politicians they support are trying to block the Clean Water Rule from moving forward.

EPA Administrator, Gina McCarthy was on the receiving end of open hostility towards the proposed rule during a joint hearing held February 4, 2015 between the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee and the Senate Committee for the Environment and Public Works.  Polluters and opponents of Clean Water regulations have mis-branded this rule as government over-reach and an attempt by the EPA to regulate all waters including puddles and ditches.  Read more about this hearing here:  TheHill.com

The truth is that this proposed rule will only restore historic protections to wetlands and intermittent streams that were once commonly applied under the CWA before two recent Supreme Court decisions muddied the waters and left protections uncertain. The EPA is not proposing any new restrictions for agriculture or any other industries but rather to clarify jurisdiction saving time and money for permittees, government, and the environmental community alike.    Read more about the history and importance of this issue here: OneEarth.org

Our friends at NRDC have issued an action alert asking Congress to support the proposed EPA rule.  Send an email to your representatives in DC, and ask them to support this science-based rule to restore protections for nearly 20 million acres of wetlands, two million miles of streams, and the drinking water for 117 million Americans.  

Download comments submitted by the Surfrider Foundation in support of the Clean Water Rule here.