Earth Day Statement by Joan Mulhern, Earthjustice senior legislative counsel, on the White House’s efforts to dismantle the Clean Water Act:
President Bush today announced a new national goal of moving beyond the policy of ‘no net loss’ of wetlands.
Yet throughout his administration, the President and his environmental agencies have done nothing but weaken, undermine and even repeal Clean Water Act programs that protect wetlands as well as streams, ponds, and other waters.
Despite what the President may say on Earth Day, every other day of the year he is implementing policies that destroy wetlands and other waters. Most notably, the Bush administration has instituted a policy – in place since January 2003 – that tells EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers not to protect many wetlands and streams that are not directly connected to navigable waters. This measure is intended to effectively repeal all federal Clean Water Act protections for as much 20 million acres of wetlands, and countless headwater streams and small ponds across the country.
Other anti-wetlands policy put in place by this administration include repealing the minimal requirement that every acre of wetlands filled or destroyed be replaced with at least one acre of new wetlands, and weakening the environmental standards for general permits to fill wetlands and streams.
For Earth Day, the President is trying to whitewash – or ‘greenwash’ – his anti-wetlands record because he knows that the public wants clean water. But trotting out a list of voluntary programs that already exist and calling them a new initiative while simultaneously dismantling the nation’s most important wetlands protection law, the Clean Water Act, is not going to wash with the American people.