WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Ben Cardin, Chair of the Senate EPW Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee, and U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth, Chair of the Senate EPW Fisheries, Water and Wildlife Subcommittee, today were joined by multiple colleagues in urging the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) to restore science-based safeguards to protect America’s waters and wetlands.
Specifically, the senators are calling for the administration to finalize its November 2021 draft rule that would restore the scope of Clean Water Act protections, which had been assailed by the previous administration. The senators are urging the repeal of the seriously flawed Trump-era Navigable Waters Protection Rule, which failed to withstand legal challenges.
Joining Senators Cardin and Duckworth on correspondence to the EPA and Corps are Senators Jack Reed (D-R.I.), Tom Carper (D-Del.), Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Edward Markey (D-Mass.), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) and Alex Padilla (D-Calif.).
Chair of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.), Chair of the Subcommittee on Water Resources and Environment Grace F. Napolitano (D-Calif.), and Chair of the Joint Economic Committee Don Beyer (D-Va.) led 117 of their House colleagues in a companion letter to the agencies earlier this month.
“[C]lean water protections are critical to protecting national, regional, and local economies, including the businesses and industries that depend on the availability of clean water,” the senators write. “Intact, healthy wetlands and headwater streams that absorb precipitation and floodwaters, reducing the risk and severity of flooding, protect lives and livelihoods and promote the goals behind the Clean Water Act, as well as the administration’s overarching climate resilience goals.”
“We greatly appreciate the leadership of Senator Cardin, Senator Duckworth, and all the Senators who signed this letter and continue to fight to protect our clean water,” said Madeleine Foote, Deputy Legislative Director at the League of Conservation Voters. “Right now, our waters are in danger of pollution and destruction, especially in low wealth communities and communities of color who have historically borne the brunt of water pollution. It is critical that the EPA move quickly to restore Clean Water Act protections to all our waters, including small streams and wetlands, to ensure every family has access to the clean, safe water they need to thrive.”
“Businesses from across industries have supported the repeal of the Navigable Water Protection Rule and its replacement replace with strong, science-based clean water protections,” says Colton Fagundes, Senior Policy Manager at the American Sustainable Business Network, “From breweries to outdoor gear providers, lakeside retail and lodging to shellfish harvesters and sustainable farmers, the businesses that power our economy and support our communities need the same thing as our own families do – strong safeguards for clean water and our health.”
“Clean water is vital to the health of our families, communities, and the places we love, like the Chesapeake Bay,” said Kelly Moser, senior attorney and leader of SELC’s Clean Water Defense Initiative. “We commend the senators for urging EPA to promptly restore longstanding protections and then strengthen them to better safeguard our waterways and drinking water sources.”