What Congress is Saying About the Clean Water Rule

Congresswoman Grace Napolitano (D-CA)

Rep. Napolitano Praises Administration’s Release of Final Clean Water Act Rule

(Washington, DC) Today, the Ranking Member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee on Water Resources and Environment, Grace F. Napolitano (D-CA), praised the public release of the final Clean Water Protection rulemaking by the Obama administration.  This rulemaking fulfils the requests of members of Congress, state and local officials, industry, agriculture, and environmental organizations to clarify the scope of Clean Water Act protections over our nation’s rivers, streams, and wetlands.

“We have waited 12 years for clarity.  For 12 long years, our Nation’s streams and rivers have been vulnerable to pollution and degradation, and for 12 years, farmers, industry, and developers have been wasting valuable time and money navigating through the regulatory morass on the Clean Water Act left behind by the U.S. Supreme Court and the Bush administration.  The Obama administration, and especially EPA Administrator McCarthy and Assistant Secretary Jo-Ellen Darcy, should be commended for their dedication to provide a clear, predicable, and comprehensive way of protecting our Nation’s waters,” said Napolitano.

Today’s final rulemaking to define the term “waters of the United States” is the culmination of 12 years of debate, over one year of public comment, and unprecedented outreach by the Obama administration to provide additional clarity and certainty on the scope of waters protected by the Clean Water Act.  During that time, as administration witnesses testified before the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, the EPA and the Corps of Engineers received over 1,000,000 public comments on the proposed Clean Water Protection rulemaking, and held over 400 public meetings to discuss the proposed rulemaking, and to solicit recommendations for additional clarity and certainty.

“I, for one, am pleased with the changes this Administration committed to make to address concerns raised by our constituents on the April 2014 proposed Clean Water rulemaking, especially ensuring that the rulemaking did not, inadvertently, change the status of municipal stormwater conveyances, water recycling or groundwater recharge areas.  It is apparent that this Administration heard these concerns, listened to them, and made appropriate changes in the final rule to address these concerns.  This final rule is significantly improved from the April 2014 proposed rule, and provides a more definitive, more measurable, and clearly limited scope of Clean Water Act authority, based on the science and the law,” noted Napolitano.

“Over the past year, the administration has highlighted the importance of protecting our rivers, streams, and wetlands to protect our water, our Nation’s economy, and our cherished way of life – not only for current generations, but for our children and our grandchildren.  As the events of the past few years in the West have demonstrated, water is a precious resource that deserves critical protection.  In fact, the 99.2 percent of Californians that drink water from public systems that rely on the seasonal, rain-dependent, and headwater streams will greatly benefit from this final rulemaking in the protection of these critical resources,” added Napolitano.  “As we ask the average Californian to be mindful of his or her daily water usage, we need to ensure that upstream interests share in this effort – this is a fundamental premise of this final rulemaking.”

“The Obama administration has met its commitment to protect our precious water resources for generations to come; now it is our turn to fulfil our duty to protect these resources.  I only hope that those groups that have historically been opposed to reinvigorated protection of our Nation’s rivers, streams, and wetlands, take the time to read this final rule BEFORE they consider opposing it,” concluded Napolitano.

Napolitano is the top Democrat on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Water Resources and Environment Subcommittee. The Subcommittee has Congressional jurisdiction over the Clean Water Act and this finalized rule.

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SEEC (Sustainable Energy and Environment Coalition)

Statement on Clean Water Rule

Washington D.C.–Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Army Corps) finalized the Clean Water Rule.

SEEC Members released the following statement:

“For too long, many of our nation’s streams and wetlands have lacked clear protection under the Clean Water Act. Access to clean drinking water is a fundamental right of all Americans, and today’s Clean Water Rule will help protect drinking water for more than 117 million Americans. Based on public input, science, and the law, the certainty provided by this rule will also help support our economy, recreation, fishing, and healthy ecosystems. Many in Congress have proclaimed their support for clean water, while simultaneously voting to prevent the enactment of the Clean Water Rule. Let us be clear: a vote against the Clean Water Rule is a vote for dirty water. We appreciate the EPA and Army Corps’ work to protect clean water, and we look forward to working with them to ensure these protections are enacted and enforced.”

http://seec-israel.house.gov/press-release/seec-statement-clean-water-rule

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Congressman Jared Polis (D-CO)

Polis: Clean Water is Essential to Coloradans’ Way of Life

WASHINGTON, DC —Representative Jared Polis issued the following statement in response to the release of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Army Corps of Engineer’s Clean Water Rules.

“This rule is a result of nearly 15 years of analysis, a million public comments, and over 400 public hearings. I applaud the Administration for listening to the concerns that many had and addressing them in the final rule. Clean water is essential to Colorado’s $13.2 billion outdoor recreation economy, the needs of the growing local brewery industry, the health of rural and urban populations alike,  and the sustainability of our unparalleled open spaces. By balancing environmental safeguards with a streamlined regulatory process for small businesses and addressing the concerns my constituents expressed , the EPA and Army Corps have made a strong and lasting commitment to the future of Colorado and our country.”

Rep. Polis worked with many local stakeholders as well as the EPA and Army Corps to ensure the final rule incorporated the input of those most impacted and minimized unintentional consequences­­, such as the overregulation of ditches and groundwater.

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Congressman Don Beyer (D- VA)

Clean Water Rule Makes a Splash

May 27, 2015 (Washington, DC) – Congressman Don Beyer applauded the final “Waters of the United States” rule announced today by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to update and clarify the protections offered by the 1972 Clean Water Act.

“This is such an important step toward fully protecting the streams and wetlands most vulnerable to pollution and destruction,” said Rep. Beyer. “Right now, nearly one in three Americans get their drinking water from unprotected seasonal rivers, lakes, and streams.  The Waters of the U.S. Rule is vital to waterways that we depend on for our health and economic security.”

An estimated 117 million Americans rely on headwater or seasonal streams for their water needs. Major economic sectors, including manufacturing, farming, ranching, tourism, and recreation also depend on clean water.

Currently, only major bodies of water are protected by the Clean Water Act, leaving the smaller streams and headwaters potentially unregulated and at risk of exposure to pollutants. The updated rule will ensure that these smaller bodies and sources of water are protected.

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Senator Bob Menedez (D- NJ)

Menendez on Restoring Protections for U.S. Waterways

NEWARK, N.J. – U.S. Senator Bob Menendez released the following statement regarding today’s announcement by the Environmental Protection Agency of a new rule clarifying what types of water bodies the government can protect from pollution:

“For decades, the Clean Water Act has been a cornerstone of U.S. environmental protections—ensuring that millions of Americans have access to safe drinking water, pollution-free places for swimming, fishing, and hunting and reliable water sources for business operations and agriculture.  Unfortunately, these safeguards have been jeopardized by several conflicting court rulings that created confusion for businesses  and made it difficult to go after polluters.

“I’ve heard from thousands of my constituents about the need to restore these protections—and I’m pleased to see the Administration has done just that.  This rule will make clear which waters are protected under the Clean Water Act while maintaining appropriate exemptions for agriculture and creating greater certainty for business.  I strongly support the Administration’s proposal and will continue fighting to preserve clean water for New Jerseyans and all Americans for generations to come.”

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Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI)

Sen. Whitehouse Applauds EPW Clean Water Rule

Washington, DC – Today the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Army Corps of Engineers released their final Waters of the United States rule, which will enable the agency to better protect public waterways and drinking water from pollution.  U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), the Ranking Member on the Environment and Public Works Subcommittee on Fisheries, Water, and Wildlife, issued the statement below praising the rule:

“This final rule makes clear that the claims from its opponents – that it would impose federal regulations on mud puddles and every ditch – are flat-out wrong.  The truth is that downstream states like Rhode Island and many others need this rule to protect us from pollutants discharged in upstream states.  This rule provides commonsense guidelines to protect the public from exposure to harmful toxins and pollutants, and helps meet our basic obligations to assure clean water for American families.”

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 Congressman Chris Van Hollen (D- MD)

Van Hollen Applauds New Clean Water Rule
Will Be Critical to Improving the Health of the Chesapeake Bay

Today Maryland Congressman Chris Van Hollen issued the following statement on the Clean Water Rule announced by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Army to clarify Clean Water Act protections:

“Clean water is critical to the health of every single American.  In Maryland, protecting the Chesapeake Bay is central to the success of our families, our farms, and our economy.  We’ve made much progress, but our work is not done. Today’s rule is integral to strengthening the important work done in the Clean Water Act and ensuring that its legacy continues for future generations.”

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Congresswoman Donna Edwards (D- MD)
Edwards Statement in Support of Final Clean Water Rule

Washington, D.C. – Congresswoman Donna F. Edwards (MD-4) today issued the following statement regarding her support of the Obama Administration’s issuance of the final Clean Water rule that will protect the nation’s interconnected water resources, including the Chesapeake Bay.

“Today’s rule assures safe drinking water for American families, clean water for our businesses, and is the biggest step in protecting our waters nationwide in more than a decade,” Edwards said. “This will have a positive effect on the Chesapeake Bay Watershed, which is fed by 110,000 miles of creeks, rivers, and streams and where 70 percent of Marylanders receive drinking water. It is clear that both the Environmental Protection Agency and the Army Corps of Engineers listened to all the comments and criticism they received during the 208-day comment period and in 400 public meetings. This rule will give all stakeholders the clarity and certainty they have been seeking since 2001.”

Maryland is within the six-State Chesapeake Bay Watershed and several of its tributaries, including the Anacostia, the Patuxent, Potomac, and Severn Rivers flow through the Fourth Congressional District. Nationwide, 117 million people, or more than a third of the total population, receive and depend on these clean waters.

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Congressman Keith Ellison (D – MN)

Rep. Ellison Applauds EPA’s Final Clean Water Rule

MINNEAPOLIS—Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN) released the following statement today after the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released the final Clean Water Rule.

“The Environmental Protection Agency’s final Clean Water Rule protects our way of life by helping to ensure Minnesota’s lakes, rivers, and drinking water supplies are clean and preserved for the future.

“Clean water is vital to life in Minnesota. 970,000 Minnesotans drink water from public water systems that would be further protected under the EPA’s final rule, while others rely on our state’s waterways for business and recreation. But an ongoing statewide assessment of our waterways by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency found that half of the waters assessed so far are unfit for swimming and fishing. This is why the EPA’s rule is so critical to our state.

“I applaud Administrator Gina McCarthy for writing a strong Clean Water Rule. I look forward to working with my state and local partners to keep Minnesota’s water clean for generations to come.”

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