WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, Environment America released letters signed by 107 farmers, 87 academics and 89 members of the House of Representatives, all calling on the Obama administration to protect America’s waterways by closing loopholes in the Clean Water Act. The loopholes leave 20 million acres of wetlands and more than half the nation’s streams at risk of unchecked pollution.
“There isn’t a single crop in America that doesn’t need clean, unpolluted water to thrive, and there isn’t a community in America that doesn’t need clean drinking water,” said Ally Fields, clean water advocate with Environment America. “We’re standing with America’s farmers, scientists and 89 members of congress today asking for clean water. We urge the Obama administration to ensure that our waterways are safe for swimming and drinking, and for our farms, for generations to come.”
The release of the letters to the Obama administration coincides with today’s meeting of the Environmental Protection Agency’s Science Advisory Board panel, which is charged with reviewing the EPA’s draft report on our waterways’ connectivity. The report compiled more than 1000 peer-reviewed studies on the effect of pollution in headwater streams and wetlands on larger downstream waters. It makes the scientific case for restoring Clean Water Act protections to streams and wetlands all across the country.
The draft report was released as the EPA announced they were moving forward with a rulemaking that, if finalized, would close the loopholes that have left so many headwaters without clear protections from pollution. The rule is currently at the Office of Management and Budget for review and is scheduled to be formally proposed in the coming months.
“Clean water for the country’s farms and the drinking water for 117 million Americans is on the line,” said Fields. “We encourage the EPA to keep following the science and propose this rule now.”
Earlier this fall, more than 150,000 people submitted public comments to the EPA in support of the administration’s steps to protect our waterways. Environment America also rallied more than 80 academics to weigh in supporting the science in the EPA’s connectivity report.
“From the Chesapeake Bay to the Puget Sound, people from all walks of life want the EPA to protect our waterways,” Fields continued. “All our waterways — big and small — deserve to be protected for future generations to enjoy.”
Also released today were the names of 89 members of the House of Representatives who signed a letter, led by Reps. John Dingell (Mich.), Jim Moran (Va.) and Louise Slaughter (N.Y.), calling on the EPA to move swiftly through the rulemaking process and restore protections to these waterways.
"As an original author of the Clean Water Act, I have worked for decades to see to it that this important legislation is not only properly implemented, but reviewed and working to its absolute best potential," Dingell said. "It is my hope that EPA will take the necessary steps to prioritize the rulemaking process, restore these important protections, and clearly define how to ensure that our waterways are free from pollution."
The Science Advisory Board's panel took public comment yesterday and continues its deliberations today and tomorrow. The report is expected to be finalized in 2014, before a rulemaking would be finalized.