Today, hearings begin in the 110th Congress on what many are calling the most important Clean Water Act legislation in three decades. The Transportation and Infrastructure Committee in the U.S. House of Representatives will hold two full committee hearings this week — today and July 19 — on the current state of the Clean Water Act in light of recent U.S. Supreme Court decisions and administrative actions that are jeopardizing federal water pollution protections for the majority of the nation’s streams, rivers, and wetlands.
Witnesses will also address legislation aimed at correcting this nationwide problem, known as the Clean Water Restoration Act (HR 2421), a bipartisan bill that reaffirms and clarifies Congress’ intent to protect all the streams, wetlands, ponds, and rivers throughout the United States from unregulated pollution. The legislation is sponsored by Representative James Oberstar, Chairman of the Transportation & Infrastructure Committee, and currently has 165 cosponsors.
The following statement is from Joan Mulhern, Senior Legislative Counsel for Earthjustice on the need for Congress to ensure protections for all waters of the United States:
“Not since the Clean Water Act was passed in 1972 have protections for the nation’s waters been in greater jeopardy from attacks by polluting industries that are seeking to roll back the law. Efforts by polluters in the courts and before federal agencies are trying to effectively repeal the Clean Water Act for up to 60 percent of the nation’s streams, creeks, and rivers and tens of millions of acres of wetlands.
“We applaud Chairman Oberstar for holding what could be landmark hearings in the history of the federal Clean Water Act, starting the process for adopting The Clean Water Restoration Act, one of the most important pieces of clean water legislation in the last 30 years.
“Clean water is one of our nation’s most precious natural assets, supplying drinking water, recreational activities, fish and wildlife habitat, flood protection, and healthy and prosperous communities. Our country’s rivers, lakes, streams and wetlands depend on federal protections to guarantee that pollution does not poison or destroy these waters. But the law cannot work unless pollution is eliminated at its source, including in headwater streams and wetlands.
“We all can remember the river, lake, stream, or beach where we swam and fished and played as kids. It’s our responsibility to guarantee these waters remain clean for other generations to enjoy.
The Clean Water Restoration Act reiterates what Congress originally intended when it passed the Clean Water Act over 30 years ago: all our waters deserve protection from pollution that poisons and destroys this important resource.”