Statement: Many wetlands lose Clean Water Act protections

Media Contacts
Lisa Frank

Executive Director, Washington Legislative Office, Environment America; Vice President and D.C. Director, The Public Interest Network

States, Congress must prevent pollution and degradation

WASHINGTON – The Biden administration issued a new rule on Tuesday stripping many wetlands of federal protections from pollution and degradation. The announcement aims to comply with a Supreme Court decision in Sackett v. EPA that limited Clean Water Act protections to only those wetlands with a continuous surface connection with other waterways. Wetlands are vital to our ecosystems — filtering out pollutants, providing wildlife habitat and protecting communities from flooding.

In response to the EPA rule, Lisa Frank, executive director of Environment America’s Washington Legislative Office, released the following statement: 

“For decades, Americans have worked to make all our waterways fishable, swimmable and drinkable in accordance with the vision set forth by the Clean Water Act. Wetlands are critical to this vision. As water meanders through wetlands, sediment drops to the bottom, nutrients help plants and animals flourish and toxic substances are removed or degraded by microbes. Without wetlands, more pollution pours into rivers, lakes and the ocean, threatening drinking water, wildlife and swimmers.

“We still have a long way to go to achieve the original Clean Water Act goals. Roughly one-half of U.S. beaches were potentially unsafe for swimming in 2022. The last thing we should be doing is stripping protections from wetlands, especially when we’ve already lost so many of them to mining, highways and parking lots.

“We call on all 50 states to act immediately to protect wetlands from pollution and degradation. Ultimately, Congress must amend the Clean Water Act to restore federal protection to all of America’s waterways, including wetlands.”