Congress to block protections for 47,000 stream miles in Minnesota

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Environment Minnesota



For more information: Cora Ellenson-Myers, [email protected], (218) 341-8045

Minneapolis, MN.—nearly 47,000 stream miles in state across the state could remain vulnerable to development and pollution, under a bill expected to win approval today by the U.S. House of Representatives. The waters affected flow into the Mississippi River and Lake Superior, and help provide drinking water for over 970,000 Minnesotans.

The anticipated vote follows the release of the Summer Fun Index fact sheet  last week that shows that over 8.7 million people visited Minnesota State Parks with waterways this summer.

“Given how much Minnesotans use and enjoy them, we should be doing everything we can to protect our rivers and streams,” said Cora Ellenson-Myers, Campaign Organizer with Environment Minnesota. “Yet the polluters and their allies in Congress are doing everything they can to put our waters in jeopardy.”

The bill, HR 5078, would bar the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency from restoring protections of the Clean Water Act to more than half of the nation’s rivers and streams, including 51% of Minnesota’s rivers, left in limbo for nearly a decade after a pair of Supreme Court decisions created a loophole in the law.

In March, EPA proposed a rule to close this loophole and again safeguard under federal law the state’s smaller headwaters and streams along with 20 million acres of wetlands across the country.

A broad coalition of clean water advocates, farmers, mayors, small businesses, and thousands of Minnesotans have heralded the EPA move, but agribusinesses, oil and gas companies, and other polluters affected by the rule have waged a bitter campaign against it.

“Instead of siding with our rivers and the Minnesotans who love to fish, boat and swim in them,” said Ellenson-Myers, “today Congress is siding with the polluters.”

The attack blocks both the proposed rule and anything that might resemble it, and delays any effort to clarify the scope of the Clean Water Act for up to two years. The White House has threatened to veto the measure, whose prospects are less certain in the Senate.

The EPA rule is open for public comment through the fall.

“People from all walks of life want to see their rivers, lakes, and streams safeguarded,” said Ellenson-Myers, “our representatives should stand up for Minnesota’s waters and the people who love them.”