Wisconsin Senator Russell Feingold (D) and thirty-four of his colleagues sent letters to President Bush asking the President to withdraw a Clean Water Act policy directive issued in January 2003 that stripped environmental protections from streams, wetlands and lakes nationwide. Senator Feingold led the effort to defend the Clean Water Act among Senate Democrats, gathering the support of thirty other Democrats and the Senate's one Independent, James Jeffords (I-VT). Senator Lincoln Chafee (R-RI) and three other Senate Republicans sent a similar letter making the same request of President Bush.
"The Clean Water Act has always had strong support in Congress, and today's announcement restates that support in the strongest terms," said Joan Mulhern, senior legislative counsel for Earthjustice. "Senator Feingold knows that goal of the Clean Water Act -- to make all of the nation's waters safe for fishing, swimming, drinking and other uses -- cannot be met if any waters are cut out of the law's scope, as President Bush has done."
"We commend Senator Feingold for taking the lead on this issue, and thank him and the other Senators of both parties for speaking out for clean water and against the President's destructive policy," Mulhern added. "The Senators' letters send a strong signal to the White House that efforts to weaken the nation's fundamental clean water protections will be met with great resistance."
The Senate letters ask President Bush to rescind the policy announced on January 15, 2003 that is meant to remove Clean Water Act protections for many streams, wetlands, ponds, lakes, and other waters. The policy -- initiated through a joint memorandum issued by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) -- directs federal officials to ignore Clean Water Act environmental safeguards over many kinds of wetlands, streams, and other waters unless they first get permission from their national headquarters in Washington, DC. The policy leaves more than 20 millions of acres of wetlands and as much as 60 percent of the nations' streams without any federal protections. Prior to the Bush policy, these waters were protected by EPA and the Corps under the Clean Water Act for over 30 years.
Read the Feingold Letter Here
Read the Chafee Letter Here