Clean Water Rule Will Get Its Day in Court

By Steve Moyer

This post originally appeared in The Hill

Yes Virginia, there still is a Clean Water Rule.

The Omnibus Appropriations Bill was unveiled last week, and Congress wisely decided not to derail a rule that will help the federal government do a better job with the foremost of the fundamentals – deciding what is, and what is not, a waterway afforded protection by America’s favorite natural resources law, the Clean Water Act.

Now the Clean Water Rule will get its day in court, and hopefully get implemented, making America’s waters cleaner and healthier. Congress deserves thanks for keeping the rule alive, the Obama administration deserves thanks for it steadfast support of the rule and America gets a Christmas gift that, should the rule be fully implemented, will continue paying ecological and economical dividends for generations.

Some are surprised by this outcome. They see a rule facing fierce opposition, hostile hearings, critical GAO reports, terminating riders and bills. In their eyes, the Clean Water Rule has barely squeaked through its several battles, scarred and left vulnerable to the whims of the courts.

American sportsmen and women are not surprised by the outcome. We understand the importance of the rule when it comes to protecting headwater streams and valuable wetlands, which provide drinking water, flood control, nutrient filtration and not the least of which, trout and ducks for sportsmen and women. Our waterways support a robust outdoor recreation economy. The sport fishing industry alone accounts for 828,000 jobs, nearly $50 billion annually in retail sales, and an economic impact of about $115 billion every year.

A recent National Wildlife Federation poll of sportsmen and women found that more than 80 percent of respondents favored the Clean Water Rule. More than 800,000 Americans supported the rule during the public comment period. Sportsmen and women of all types, from all states supported the rule.

It’s not hard to understand. Americans want more clean water. Not less. Sincerely. Fervently.

Clarifying what are—and what are not—jurisdictional waters and activities under the Clean Water Act is always a very tough job, under any administration, any congress, or any decade since the Clean Water Act was established.

When the Clean Water Rule gets its full day in court, when procedural steps are complete and the merits are addressed, we believe the rule will prevail. As all of the opposition, riders, and criticism may attest, it is not perfect. But it is legally and scientifically sound, and it is good for clean water in America. Let’s not be surprised that millions of Americans care very deeply about that.

Moyer is the vice president for government affairs at Trout Unlimited.

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