Washington, DC - In advance of a rare joint Congressional hearing this Wednesday, 250 local elected officials – from Duluth, MN to Durango, CO - joined Environment America in supporting U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) proposed clean water rule and urging Congress to back off and let EPA do its job.
“Clean water is necessary to the health of our families and communities,” said Duluth City Councilor Joel Sipress. “In Duluth we are the guardians of the largest body of fresh water in the world, and we take that responsibility very seriously.”
Due to loopholes in the law from polluter-driven lawsuits, more than half our nation’s streams and 20 million acres of wetlands no longer have clear protection from pollution under the Clean Water Act. The unprotected streams help provide drinking water for 117 million Americans.
EPA’s proposed rule to close the loophole enjoys broad public support – with 800,000 Americans submitting comments in favor of the rule. Yet a wide range of polluting industries – including corporate agribusiness, oil and gas, big developers, and coal companies - have enlisted their Capitol Hill allies in a bitter campaign to derail the rule. Wednesday’s joint hearing – before the Senate Environment and House Transportation Committees – is widely seen as their latest attempt to do so.
Today’s letter of support from 250 local officials nationwide is particularly relevant as the committees have cast their hearings around the theme of local and state clean water impacts. On Tuesday, an even wider set of constituencies – including businesses and farmers – will discuss their support of the clean water rule on a teleconference (see separate advisory).
“Last year, tragedies from Toledo to West Virginia reminded us how precious clean water is for our communities,” said John Rumpler, senior attorney for Environment America. “Today, cities and towns are counting on our leaders in Congress to stand up for EPA’s clean water rule.”
The Clean Water Act has helped countless communities protect or restore their local waterways, as documented last fall in a report by Environment America Research & Policy Center titled Waterways Restored.
Community officials are urging their U.S. senators to take a stand for clean water this week. The letter from local officials in Virginia to Senator Tim Kaine begins as follows: “As elected officials across Virginia, we write to urge you to declare your support for the Clean Water Rule proposed by U.S. EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers to restore Clean Water Act protections to thousands of waterways here in Virginia and across the country.”