The Clean Water Act Under Attack Again

Another dirty water bill introduced by Representative John Mica and Representative Nick Rahall

06-06-2012 // Jaclyn McDougal

The Clean Water Act is under attack yet again with the introduction of another dirty water bill introduced by Representative John Mica (R-FL) and Representative Nick Rahall (D-WV). The bill (HR 4965) is scheduled for markup by the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee on Thursday, June 7th. If enacted, the Mica-Rahall bill would prohibit the Army Corp of Engineers and the Environmental Protection Agency from finalizing and implementing the much needed Clean Water Act guidance that would protect the nation’s prized water resources.

HR 4965 undermines the future of clean water, leaving streams, rivers and wetlands vulnerable by blocking Clean Water Act guidance and anticipated rulemaking—now and indefinitely.  Derailing the guidance now would lock in the current confusing regulatory process. Furthermore, the bill could nullify the previous guidance issued in 2008 under the Bush administration, leaving the public and federal agencies with no roadmap for implementing the Clean Water Act.  This bill is another effort on the part of opponents of clean water to roll back longstanding and successful Clean Water Act protections.

The proposed guidance is essential to begin the process of restoring protections for streams, wetlands and other waters critical to our wildlife, communities and outdoor recreation economy. It clarifies which waters are covered under the Clean Water Act as “waters of the United States.”

Currently, millions of acres of wetlands and stream miles that recharge aquifers, help retain floodwaters, provide important fish and wildlife habitat, and provide clean water for iconic systems like the Chesapeake Bay and Great Lakes are at risk. As these waters are polluted and diminished, their tremendous ecological, economic, and public health benefits are lost as well.

Clean water is a public right and fundamental in protecting our livelihoods, wildlife, communities and economy and should never be the subject of partisan wrangling. Every member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee should stand up this week and oppose the Mica-Rahall bill and protect our nation’s water,” said Jan Goldman- Carter, Senior Manager, Wetlands and Water Resources for the National Wildlife Federation.

Adoption of final guidance will begin to restore longstanding Clean Water Act protections for more than 2 million miles of headwater and intermittently flowing streams, and over 20 million acres of associated wetlands and other waters. Healthy waters and wetlands are essential for healthy wildlife, healthy communities and a vibrant economy.

For details about the proposed guidance, read The Clean Water Act Guidance (PDF) fact sheet.

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