The Clean Water Act has been weakened by two Supreme Court rulings that limit the law's safeguards to major "navigable" waterways.
Only an act of Congress can repair this giant loophole for polluters.
If adopted by Congress, the Clean Water Restoration Act will restore the law's intended power to protect American waterways from polluters.
Since Congress passed the Clean Water Act in 1972, we have made great progress in cleaning up our nation's waters, but that progress is in jeopardy today.
The law historically protected the nation's lakes, rivers, streams and wetlands from unregulated pollution and destruction.
Today, however, many water bodies are being denied the Act's protections against pollution.
Polluters argue that Supreme Court decisions from 2001 (SWANNC) and 2006 (Rapanos) mean that the law's safeguards are only available for "navigable" water bodies (or for waters that are significantly linked to such water bodies). They claim the Act no longer protects numerous wetlands, streams, rivers, lakes and other waters that historically had been covered. Ambiguous federal agency policy directives have helped these attacks.
The Clean Water Restoration Act is needed to restore the longstanding protections originally intended by Congress.
Every day that Congress fails to act, more streams, rivers, wetlands and other waters that have long been protected by the Clean Water Act are being polluted or destroyed.
The Clean Water Act is broken. The new administration, which on the campaign trail was supportive of measures to restore Clean Water Act protections, must immediately announce support for urgent Congressional action to pass legislation to restore the historic protective scope of the Clean Water Act for streams, rivers, wetlands, and other waters.
Legislation is needed to restore the traditional scope of protection intended by Congress. Americans need these safeguards to achieve the goal of restoring and maintaining the chemical, physical and biological integrity of the nation's waters.
Specifically, legislation should:
The Clean Water Restoration Act, as introduced in the 110th Congress, accomplished each of these goals. If adopted in the 111th Congress it would restore clear protections to water bodies that had been covered before the SWANCC and Rapanos rulings.