Bladensburg, MD—More than 740,000 Americans support a plan to restore Clean Water Act protections to 2 million miles of rivers and streams, a coalition of conservation organizations and clean water advocates said today. Joined by U.S. Senator Ben Cardin of Maryland, Environment America and allies presented their comments to federal officials along the banks of the Anacostia River just outside of the nation’s capital.
“We’re here today because Americans value clean water,” said Anna Aurilio, director of the Washington, D.C. office for Environment America. “We’re thrilled with the proposal to restore protections for our streams and wetlands, and so are nearly three-quarters of a million people across the country.”
More than half of the nation’s streams, affecting the drinking water for 117 million Americans, lack guaranteed protections under the law, thanks to a loophole created by a pair of polluter-driven Supreme Court decisions nearly a decade ago. In March, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency proposed a rule to close the loophole, and ensure that smaller streams and 20 million acres of wetlands are again safeguarded under the law.
“Clean water is too important to our families and the vital habitats for our country’s fish and wildlife for its protections to continue to undergo legal limbo,” said U.S. Sen. Ben Cardin (D-MD), chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works, Water and Wildlife Subcommittee.
A broad coalition of clean water advocates, farmers, mayors, small businesses, and hundreds of thousands of Americans have lined up behind the EPA move, but agribusinesses, oil and gas companies, and other polluters affected by the rule have waged a bitter campaign against it. The agency will take public comments on their proposal until November 14.
“The American people expect their government to protect their water,” said Bob Wendelgass, Clean Water Action President and CEO. “They do not want some of the interest groups who oppose this rule to be deciding what’s best for our water.”
Over the last six months, Environment America canvassers from more than a dozen offices around the nation have held face-to-face conversations with nearly 400,000 people about the proposed EPA rule, helping to gather the more than 200,000 public comments submitted today by Environment America alone.
Other groups who presented comments to EPA officials today included: Clean Water Action, National Resources Defense Council, National Wildlife Federation, League of Conservation Voters, American Rivers and National Parks Conservation Association.
Environment America is the federation of statewide, citizen-funded advocacy groups working for the places we love and the environmental values we share.