Statement: House bill would restore Clean Water Act protections

Media Contacts
John Rumpler

Clean Water Director and Senior Attorney, Environment America

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Environment America hails measure to reverse misguided Supreme Court decision that left many wetlands, streams open to polluters

WASHINGTON – As the nation marked the 51st anniversary of the Clean Water Act on Wednesday, more than 100 U.S. Representatives are supporting new legislation to restore federal protections for America’s waterways. The bill would reverse the Supreme Court’s decision in Sackett v. EPA, which, through a misreading of the law, left more than half of America’s streams and remaining wetlands without federal protection against polluters. The Senate Environment and Public Works Commitee also held a hearing on the Court’s ruling Wednesday morning.

The affected streams provide drinking water to millions of Americans. And wetlands are vital to our ecosystems — filtering out pollutants, providing wildlife habitats and protecting communities from flooding. Environment America has been working to protect the nation’s waters against pollution and degradation for nearly 20 years through research, advocacy, organizing and litigation.

In response to the bill’s introduction, John Rumpler, Environment America’s clean water director released the following statement: 

From the Great Lakes to the Chesapeake Bay, wetlands provide wildlife habitat and filter out pollutants, and streams help provide drinking water to millions of Americans. We commend Reps. Rick Larsen (WA), Grace Napolitano (CA), Don Beyer (VA) and Melanie Stansbury (NM) – along with 114 cosponsors – for introducing the Clean Water Act of 2023 to ensure that all of our nation’s waterways are protected from polluters.

“This vital bill would reverse the Supreme Court’s distorted interpretation of the 1972 Clean Water Act in Sackett v. EPA. The Court’s decision ignored the clear language and intent of the Act and instead cited justice-made rules to strip away federal protection from at least half of the nation’s streams and remaining wetlands. 

“Fifty-one years ago, Congress responded to public demand and voted overwhelmingly to protect all of our waterways under the Clean Water Act. With threats ranging from PFAS chemicals to toxic algae, our rivers, lakes and streams urgently need protection today as well. We urge our elected representatives to once again heed the public’s deep support for clean water and support this vital legislation.”

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