Clean water wins as U.S. Senate leaders fail to overturn stream protections

Media Contacts
Rikki Seguin

Environment Oregon

Senators Wyden and Merkley and other champions of clean water beat back an attempt today by Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) to undo the Clean Water Rule, which restores protections for steams that feed the Willamette and Rogue Rivers and help provide drinking water for over 1.6 million Oregonians.

Finalized in May, the Clean Water Rule has support from more than 800,000 Americans, including over 40,000 Oregonians, and is backed by more than 1,200 peer-reviewed scientific studies. But it has drawn the ire of a wide variety of powerful polluting interests, including big developers, agribusinesses, and coal-giant Murray Energy, who have vowed to fight in the measure in Congress and in the courts.

“We’re glad to see Sens. Wyden and Merkley side with Oregonians and our rivers and lakes rather than the polluters,” said Rikki Seguin, State Director of Environment Oregon, “and we’re glad that clean water won today.”

The Clean Water Rule returns safeguards under the Clean Water Act to 2 million miles of streams and millions of acres of wetlands, including more than half of Oregon’s streams, left vulnerable to pollution and development following a pair of Supreme Court decisions in the 2000’s.

Today’s attempt to overturn the rule won’t be the last. Senator Jodi Ernst (R-Iowa) has filed a separate measure to invalidate the rule under the Congressional Review Act, and a vote is expected as soon as this week.

“With leaders in Congress bent on doing polluters’ bidding, we know that today’s attack on clean water is one of several,” said Seguin. “But with the strong backing of Sens. Wyden and Merkley, the president, and Oregonians, the Clean Water Rule will survive, and our rivers, lakes, streams and wetlands will get the protections they deserve.”