House Appropriations Committee Blocks Clean Water Protections
Mekell Mikell, Ph.D.
The House Appropriations Committee recently blocked efforts to restore Clean Water Act protections for streams that supply drinking water to 117 million Americans and wetlands that provide flood protection and critical fish and wildlife habitat. The committee rejected an amendment by Representative Jim Moran (D-VA) that would have allowed the Army Corps of Engineers to revise guidance to its staff on this issue. By voting against this amendment, the Appropriations Committee is upholding a dangerous status quo of wetlands loss, stream impairment, and regulatory confusion.
Section 109: The Anti-Clean Water Rider
Section 109 of the bill would prevent the Army Corps of Engineers from finalizing clean water guidance that is being developed with a significant level of public input. As written, the guidance increases clarity and efficiency for agencies, farmers, and businesses without expanding the jurisdiction of the Clean Water Act. The anti-clean water rider also prohibits a formal rulemaking process for the guidance. However, stakeholders on all sides seem to agree on the need for a formal rulemaking as part of a long‐term solution. The rider, however, suspends this important process indefinitely.
“The Section 109 provision leaves us with an intolerable status quo that threatens wetlands and tributaries that provide clean water for iconic systems like the Chesapeake Bay and Great Lakes, recharge aquifers, help retain floodwaters, and provide important fish and wildlife habitat,” said Jan Goldman-Carter, National Wildlife Federation Wetlands and Water Resources Counsel.
Supporting Clean Water Act Protections
Loss of Clean Water Act protections for small streams and wetlands could affect more than our drinking water supplies and wildlife habitat – it could hurt the nation’s economy. Hunting, fishing, and outdoor recreation contribute billions to the economy, but these activities could be sharply curtailed by water pollution and loss of wetland habitat critical for fish and other wildlife. Show Congress that you support the Clean Water Act guidance and send an email to the EPA.
For more information about the proposed guidance, read “The Clean Water Act Guidance: What It Does and Does Not Do."