Last week the U.S. Senate moved forward on important legislation that ensures our streams, lakes, rivers and wetlands remain clean and safe. By a vote of 12-7, the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee advanced a compromise version of the Clean Water Restoration Act, important legislation that reinforces the scope of the Clean Water Act by guaranteeing that our nation's waterways are clean to swim and fish in and safe to drink.
While Earthjustice supports the original version of the bill—as introduced in April by Senator Russ Feingold (D-WI) and 23 other Senators—we appreciate the work the Committee did to advance the legislation, and will continue to work with the Committee and the rest of Congress to pass the strongest possible bill.
The Clean Water Restoration Act is necessary to bolster protections due to muddied Supreme Court decisions that weakened Clean Water Act. Corporate polluters and dirty industries have mounted a campaign to chip away at Clean Water Act protections, and Congress must act. The Clean Water Restoration Act restores the original intent of the law, that all waters should remain protected from pollution and destruction.
Last year, the bill was introduced in the House of Representatives by Rep. James Oberstar (D-Minn.) and 175 members joined him in co-sponsoring the legislation. This year, in April, the Senate took the lead when Sen. Russ Feingold (D-WI) introduced the Clean Water Restoration Act (S.787).
There is strong support for the bill from environmental groups, hunting and fishing groups, state governments and almost 200 favorable editorials from across the county. However, there is also strong and misguided opposition that is willing to sacrifice clean water for dirty profits and lax oversight. The markup is a sign of good things to come for the Clean Water Restoration Act and for keeping America’s rivers, lakes, streams and wetlands safe and healthy for future generations to enjoy.