Environment Rhode Island
PROVIDENCE––Twenty-two Rhode Island small businesses and organizations signed a letter to the state’s representatives in Washington, D.C. urging them to champion the protection of Narragansett Bay and other waters in the state and across the country by leading the fight against legislation in Congress aimed at rolling back the Clean Water Act.
“Recent months have seen some of the worst congressional attacks on clean water in our nation’s history,” the letter reads, referring to the unprecedented number of anti-environmental “riders” added to must-pass House and Senate bills in 2011. Many of these amendments have threatened to ease or eliminate longstanding Clean Water Act protections and to undermine the Environmental Protection Agency’s ability to enforce environmental regulations.
“Rhode Islanders care deeply about clean water,” the letter goes on. “We want more safeguards for our rivers, beaches, and drinking water.”
Cosigners of the letter included businesses and organizations from around the state, from the Rhode Island Saltwater Anglers Association to the Living Water Surf Company in Little Compton to Bassett Marine in Warwick. Signatures were collected by Environment Rhode Island, a grassroots environmental advocacy group. Volunteers with the group spoke with recreational and marine-based businesses, and to those located in areas dependent upon beach and waterfront driven tourist traffic.
“Almost any small business owner you ask in Rhode Island will tell you that they care about the health of the Bay,” said Channing Jones, Field Associate with Environment Rhode Island. “This letter illustrates the wide-reaching importance of clean water not just for public health, recreation, and the environment, but also for the livelihoods of people in Rhode Island––those employed directly in industries such as fishing and boating, as well as those who rely on business generated by recreation and tourism.”
The letter adds that much of the attack on the Clean Water Act has been spurred by large special interest groups such as “the oil and gas industry, the mining industry, corporate agribusinesses, and mega-developers.” The latest such effort in Congress, an amendment proposed by Senators Barrasso and Heller, would bar the Army Corps of Engineers from restoring longstanding Clean Water Act protections to bodies of water nationwide.
Members of Rhode Island’s congressional delegation have voted repeatedly against these “dirty water” amendments, both on the Senate side with Sens. Jack Reed and Sheldon Whitehouse, and in the House of Representative with Reps. Jim Langevin and David Cicilline. The letter applauds their ongoing work to keep pollution out of Narragansett Bay, and emphasizes the importance that they take an active role by “leading the defense against all attacks on our water.”
“We can only expect this barrage against the Clean Water Act to continue into 2012,” explained Jones. “That is why this letter is timely. It’s crucial that our representatives be reminded going into the new year that their constituents are worried––and that they expect them to take aggressive action to protect Narragansett Bay and the water in our state.”