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Kimberly Williams,
Environment America

Senate, House champions defend clean water

For Immediate Release

Washington, DC - As Congress held a rare joint hearing today, staunch defenders of clean water on Capitol Hill stepped forward to defend EPA’s clean water rule against the latest salvo of attacks from polluters and their allies. Environment America praised these Senators and Representatives for standing with more than 800,000 Americans - including hundreds of state and local officials, businesses, farmers, and local watershed groups – who have supported EPA’s effort to restore Clean Water Act protections to the nation’s waters. 

“The Clean Water Act has protected CT's rivers & lakes for generations - I won't support bills to roll back it back,” declared Senator Chris Murphy (CT) via Twitter.

EPA’s clean water rule – designed to safeguard drinking water sources for more than 117 million Americans – has come under repeated attacks from corporate agribusiness, oil and gas, developers, and their allies on Capitol Hill. Environment America praised those standing up for clean water – including Senators Boxer, Booker, Cardin, Leahy, Markey, Murphy, Whitehouse, Warren and Menendez – all of whom had drawn the line against another dirty water attack as of 4:00 PM.

In the House, clean water champions began speaking out to defend the EPA rule in advance of today’s hearings. Yesterday, Rep. Matt Cartwright (PA) took to the House floor to make an urgent plea for clean water.   As of 2:30 PM ET, other House members joining the defense of clean water today include Representatives Bernice Johnson (TX), Cummings (MD), Edwards (MD), Esty (CT), Holmes Norton (DC), Huffman (CA), Napolitano (CA), Ellison (MN), and Titus (NV).

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. Given the importance of drinking water to local communities, hundreds of state and local officials have joined the call for restoring Clean Water Act protections to America’s waters:

“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.”

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. Right before his first session as senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell declared his determination to kill U.S. EPA’s proposed clean water rule, in an interview on CNN. Wednesday’s joint hearing before the Senate Environment and House Transportation Committees is widely seen as setting the stage for a vote to kill the rule.