Bush Administration Water Guidance Policy Adds More Confusion

Clean Water Restoration Act offers clear legislative fix to muddied Supreme Court ruling


Joan Mulhern, Earthjustice, (202) 667-4500

Today, almost a year since the Supreme Court issued a fractured opinion in a Clean Water Act case that could jeopardize pollution protections for many streams and wetlands, the Environmental Protection Agency is expected to issue its interpretation of that ruling. The new “guidance” will define for EPA field staff which streams, tributaries, wetlands, lakes and rivers will retain Clean Water Act safeguards.

The following statement is from Earthjustice Senior Legislative Counsel Joan Mulhern on the new EPA guidance policy:

“There is a reason why it took the agency almost a year to issue their interpretation of the Supreme Court’s Rapanos decision: that decision is as clear as mud. EPA’s guidance policy essentially throws even more mud into the mix.

“Congress was clear when it passed the Clean Water Act that all waters of the United States were to be safeguarded from pollution. Some justices on the Supreme Court are now questioning whether Congress meant what it said. A policy that simply tries to implement those misguided opinions cannot possibly reflect Congress’ original intent.

“There is only one way that the American people can be assured that all the waters they care about will remain safe from pollution. Congress must pass the bi-partisan Clean Water Restoration Act to reaffirm that all of our waters are protected from pollution. Representatives James Oberstar (D-MN), John Dingell (D-MI) and Vernon Ehlers (R-MI) have championed this legislation, which was recently reintroduced with 158 original co-sponsors. Senator Russ Feingold (D-WI), a longstanding leader of this issue in the Senate has announced that he will reintroduce similar legislation in the Senate soon.”

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