House passes anti-Clean Water Rule bill

America's trout and salmon were dealt a blow today by Congress, which passed a bill that would trash the Clean Water Rule and prevent future rules like it. Fortunately, the White House has promised a veto. 

 

By Kate Miller

The House today approved Senate Joint Resolution 22, a measure that—if passed into law —would crush the Clean Water Rule and deny Americans the chance to make our water cleaner.  Thankfully, that won’t happen.  

President Obama has promised to veto the measure, and as today’s vote demonstrated, the votes to override his veto are clearly not there.

We have been here before. This is the third attempt by the House during this Congress to derail the EPA/Army Corps of Engineers Clean Water Rule.  Enough already!  Americans support this rule, and commented in droves in favor of it during the rulemaking process.  

Congress and President Obama have rejected similar attacks in the recent past. In the 2016 Omnibus Appropriations Bill passed into law just before Christmas, Congress wisely decided to reject a rider that would have derailed the 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 resource law, the Clean Water Act.  

The measure approved by the House today is an extraordinary and radical action to overturn the Rule, which was rightfully created through an open and deliberative agency rulemaking process.  By using the Congressional Review Act, this joint resolution would not only wipe out the final Clean Water Rule, but it would also prohibit any substantially similar rule in the future.  This action would lock in place the current state of jurisdictional confusion and offers no constructive path forward for regulatory clarity or for ensuring protections for our nation’s waters.  America’s hunters and anglers cannot afford to have Congress undermine effective Clean Water Act safeguards, leaving communities and valuable fish and game habitat at risk indefinitely. 

American sportsmen and women support the Clean Water Rule.  We understand the importance of the rule when it comes to protecting headwater streams and valuable wetlands, which provide essential benefits for drinking water, flood control, nutrient filtration and not the least of which, for the trout, ducks and other wildlife so valued by anglers and hunters.  Our waterways support a robust outdoor recreation economy.  The sportfishing 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. 

This rule is not a power grab.  It’s not anti-business.  It is a much-needed step toward a more efficient and effective process by an agency with a mandate to protect and preserve our nation’s waters so that our rivers, lakes and streams can continue to support recreation, farming, clean drinking water and a multitude of other uses—not just today, but into the future.  

Some in the House seem to have forgotten that Chief Justice Roberts and dozens of stakeholders asked the agencies to develop the Clean Water Rule.  The rule provides needed clarity that will help minimize disputes and make the job of protecting our waters more efficient and reliable.

The Clean Water Rule should not be scrapped, particularly not by a Congress that offers no constructive path forward for regulatory clarity or for ensuring protections for our nation’s waters.  The rule should be allowed to get its full day in court. When the procedural steps are complete and the merits are addressed, we believe the rule will prevail.  As its critics can attest, it is not perfect, but it is a legally and scientifically sound step toward resolving longstanding uncertainty—and it is good for clean water in America. 

Trout Unlimited offers our thanks to the 166 members of the House who voted today in support of clean water and particularly to Reps. DeFazio, Polis, Bernice-Johnson, Napolitano and Ellison who stood on the House floor and spoke out in favor of clean water for all Americans.  

Kate Miller is the director of government affairs at Trout Unlimited. She works from TU’s Arlington, Va.-based headquarters. 

 

Comments

 
said on Wednesday, January 13th, 2016

I'm so freaking mad!

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