Rule Will Better Protect America’s Waters

"Our rivers, lakes, and bays will be cleaner and healthier once this rule becomes the law of the land."

03-25-2014 // Lacey McCormick

Marie Murray

Today the Obama Administration proposed a landmark  rule that will clarify which types of water bodies are protected by the Clean Water Act. Two Supreme Court decisions over the past decade have left about 20 million wetland acres and two million miles of streams at increased risk of pollution or destruction. This proposal would restore protections to many, but not all, of the waters originally protected by the Clean Water Act.

Larry Schweiger, the National Wildlife Federation’s President and Chief Executive Officer, said in response to the Environmental Protection Agency’s announcement:

"This is a huge step forward for protecting America’s waters and wildlife. You cannot tear out a tree’s fine roots and expect it to survive. The streams and wetlands protected by this rule supply drinking water to more than one-third of all Americans. Our rivers, lakes, and bays will be cleaner and healthier once this rule becomes the law of the land.

"This proposal clarifies which waters are—and which are not—protected by the Clean Water Act. It will protect streams and wetlands that are currently in legal limbo. The rule also specifically excludes many man-made ditches, ponds, and irrigation systems and honors the law’s current exemptions for normal farming, ranching, and forestry practices. 

"Our only disappointment is that the proposal stops short of restoring full protections for many wetlands important for wildlife, such as prairie potholes, Carolina bays, vernal pools, and playa lakes. We look forward to making the legal and scientific case for protecting these waters during the comment period to come."