Today the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure approved a dirty water bill by Representatives John Mica (R-FL) and Nick Rahall (D-WV). The Mica-Rahall bill, H.R. 4965, aims to ban federal agencies from restoring water protections under the Clean Water Act, blocking Clean Water Act safeguards for 60 percent of our country’s streams and at least 20 million acres of wetlands. If enacted into law, the bill will threaten the drinking water of 117 million Americans.
In an effort to free the critical waters that supply Americans their drinking water from this dirty water bill, Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) offered an amendment that would exempt those waters from the bill’s ban on restoring coverage under the Clean Water Act. Members of the House committee used a procedural trick to thwart Rep. Norton’s effort to get their vote on clean drinking water.
The following is a statement by Earthjustice senior legislative counsel Joan Mulhern:
“We continue to see the House of Representatives shred our clean water protections and gut the nation’s premier anti-water pollution law, the 40-year-old Clean Water Act, which protects our drinking water and lakes, rivers, and streams. But today our representatives in the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure delivered an even lower blow on the American people by directly voting against Rep. Norton’s amendment to safeguard the waters that 117 million Americans rely on for drinking water.
“The committee’s action today goes even further than blatant disregard for Americans’ health and safety—it is a dark favor to their polluter friends and political contributors that will convert our waters into waste dumps, directly hurting the American people who deserve so much better than this from their elected representatives. It seems these politicians think a vote like this makes sense for their political ambitions, but it makes absolutely no sense for the American people whom they represent.
“In voting for this bill and against Ms. Norton’s amendment to protect drinking water sources, these politicians are sacrificing our drinking water and the places our families swim, fish, and play in for their political gain. The American people deserve better. We urge House representatives who care about Americans’ drinking water to prevent this dirty water bill from moving forward.”