House committee approves bills to weaken clean water protections

Media Contacts
John Rumpler

Clean Water Director and Senior Attorney, Environment America

Huron River, Ann Arbor, MI

Measures include a loophole for dumping toxic chemicals into rivers and streams

WASHINGTON – The House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee voted to approve six bills on Wednesday that would roll back clean water protections — including one (H.R. 7013) that would allow facilities to release PFAS and other chemicals into waterways, even if those pollutants are not listed in their permits.

Other measures added to that bill and approved by the committee would limit court review of projects that destroy wetlands (H.R. 7008), double the duration of nationwide permits that have limited requirements for preventing or mitigating pollution (H.R. 7023), and largely block the Environmental Protection Agency from rejecting huge polluting projects such as the Pebble Mine in Alaska’s Bristol Bay watershed (H.R. 7026). The committee also separately approved H.R. 5089, which would remove common-sense limits on pesticide spraying.

In response to the committee’s dirty water rollbacks, John Rumpler, clean water director for Environment America, made the following statement:

“These reckless rollbacks would open a Pandora’s box of pollution on our waterways — from PFAS to pesticides. More than 50 years since bipartisan passage of the Clean Water Act, Congress should be doing everything it can to make our rivers, lakes and streams safe for swimming and fishing. Instead, some on Capitol Hill are running in the opposite direction, trying to enact a wish list of polluter loopholes.

“PFAS are already contaminating the drinking water sources of millions of Americans.  But instead of prohibiting the discharge of these ‘forever chemicals,’ Rep. John Duarte’s H.R. 7013 would turn the so-called ‘permit shield’ into a sword, allowing companies to pour PFAS into our rivers even if they never asked state officials for approval to release such chemicals.

“Loopholes that allow toxic pollution and the bulldozing of wetlands put America’s ecosystems and drinking water at further risk. We urge Congress to reject these reckless rollbacks.”