A bipartisan group of Representatives today announced that they have gathered 218 signatures on a letter to President Bush asking him to stop the proposed rulemaking that would limit the types of waters covered by the Clean Water Act. In addition, the letter requests the withdrawal of policy guidance issued in January that weakened enforcement of federal protections over some types of streams, wetlands, and ponds.
“The Clean Water Act has always had bipartisan backing, and today’s announcement restates that support in the strongest terms,” said Joan Mulhern, senior Legislative Counsel for Earthjustice. “These Members of Congress know that the 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.”
The letter to President Bush was organized by Reps. John Dingell (D-MI), James Leach (R-IA), James Oberstar (D-MN) and Jim Saxton (R-NJ). The letter urges the President “not to pursue any policy or regulatory changes that would reduce the scope of waters protected under the Clean Water Act. In particular, we ask that you not amend the long-standing definition of waters as suggested by the January 15, 2003 Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking and that you rescind the policy guidance issued at the same time.” Senators Russell Feingold (D-WI), Jim Jeffords (I-VT), Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and 22 other Senators sent a similar letter to President Bush in October.
“We commend these Members of Congress for standing up for clean water, one of the American people’s top environmental priorities,” said Mulhern.
The letter comes at a crucial time, according to Earthjustice. The White House is actively considering whether to move forward with a proposal to eliminate Clean Water Act protections for some waters. A recently leaked copy of the proposed rewrite of Clean Water Act rules shows that the Bush administration is considering eliminating federal safeguards for hundreds of thousands of miles of streams and tens of millions of acres of wetlands.
“No other President in the 30 years since the Clean Water Act was adopted has ever even considered such sweeping restrictions on federal clean water safeguards,” said Mulhern. “I think the Members letter sends a strong signal to the White House that any effort to weaken the nation’s fundamental clean water protections will be met with great resistance.”
House letter to President Bush (3,836 kb PDF)
List of Signatories to House letter (57 kb PDF)
Senate letter to President Bush (284 kb PDF)