New Legislation in US Senate Promises Clean Water Protections

Bill reaffirms that wetlands, ponds, streams should not be left without safeguards against pollution or destruction


Joan Mulhern, Earthjustice, (202) 667-4500

Today, Sen. Russell Feingold (D-WI) introduced important legislation  in the United States Senate that reiterates Congress’ intent to protect all waters of the United States from pollution and destruction. Recent Supreme Court decisions limiting the scope of the Clean Water Act, along with a comprehensive attack from industry and developers to challenge clean water protections, have muddied this important environmental law and could leave as much as 60 percent of the nation’s streams and rivers, and tens of millions of acres of wetlands, without federal protections. 

The Senate Clean Water Restoration Act, co-sponsored by 19 Senators, like companion legislation currently being reviewed in the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, simply affirms that Congress intended to protect all waters of the United States when it passed the Clean Water Act over 30 years ago.

The following statement is from Joan Mulhern, Senior Legislative Counsel for Earthjustice, on the introduction of Sen. Feingold’s clean water bill:

“Senator Feingold’s bill is needed now to reaffirm Congress’ original intent, embodied in the 1972 Clean Water Act, that it wanted to protect all waters of the United States from destruction and pollution.

“Not since the Clean Water Act was passed 35 years ago 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.

“Clean water is an important natural resource, and protecting the headwater streams, wetlands and ponds that feed the waters we use for drinking supplies, recreation, fishing and swimming is what Congress wanted to do when it passed the Clean Water Act. The Clean Water Restoration Act simply reaffirms that all Americans want and deserve clean water protections.

“Sen. Feingold has been a true champion on this issue and we applaud his efforts to pass this important legislation. Along with Representatives James Oberstar (D-MN), John Dingell (D-MI) and Vernon Ehlers (R-MI), who introduced the Clean Water Restoration Act in the House, there is strong leadership to protect America’s waters from pollution and destruction, and we hope this momentum continues.” 

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