House Assails Clean Water Act

Series of dirty water bills seek to disable clean water protections


Joan Mulhern, Earthjustice, (202) 667-4500, ext. 223


Raviya Ismail, Earthjustice, (202) 667-4500, ext. 221

This week the U.S. House of Representatives began their all-out assault on the Clean Water Act through a series of legislative maneuvers on various spending bills as well as stand-alone bills. According to environmental groups, this is the most anti-clean water House in 40 years.

On Tuesday, the House voted 250 to 170 to block the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers from implementing changes to Bush policy that limited Clean Water Act protections for streams, rivers, and wetlands.

Today, the House is debating an even more frontal assault on the Clean Water Act to severely limit the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s ability to ensure state water quality standards are met under the act. H.R. 2018, referred to as the “Clean Water Cooperative Federalism Act of 2011” was sponsored by Rep. John Mica and others.

The Obama Administration declared that it would veto H.R. 2018 because it significantly undermines the Clean Water Act.

But the attacks don’t stop there. The U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Appropriations is also proposing a series of amendments that would block the EPA from administering other important clean water measures that would protect our drinking water, wetlands and wildlife habitat from toxic dumping.

The following statement is from Joan Mulhern, Earthjustice senior legislative counsel:

“Several House members are using every means possible to kill clean water protections that our country so desperately needs. These elected leaders in the House are on a dangerous and misguided course to gut the Clean Water Act at any cost, even if it means our waters will be too polluted to drink or even swim in. Thankfully their efforts will come to a full stop if the bill ever reaches the President’s desk.

“These House leaders are charging full steam ahead to allow for laws that will pollute our drinking water, poison our valuable fish and wildlife habitats and threaten wetlands that protect communities from flooding.

“Congress continues to insist that states protect their own water sources, but history has shown us that without federal oversight states let their rivers burn, their lakes become dumping grounds for industrial waste and their streams die. Sadly, American citizens pay the price with our health.

“Clean water is vital to the health of all Americans. It is a right we have come to expect and the Clean Water Act is our most important safeguard for our nation’s waters. It’s time for our elected leaders in the House to stop throwing these health protections under the bus.

“We thank those House members who are fighting off these dirty water tactics. If these bills pass the Republican-controlled House, as expected, we will urge the Senate to stop them.”

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