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Sportsmen Commend Introduction of House Clean Water Bill
New legislation would restore Clean Water Act protections, conserve fish and wildlife habitat and hunting and fishing opportunities
WASHINGTON – The nation's leading sportsmen-conservation groups today commended the introduction of legislation in the U.S. House of Representatives that would restore critical Clean Water Act protections for streams, lakes, wetlands and other important waters. The America's Commitment to Clean Water Act would help sustain the healthy habitat, robust fish and wildlife populations and range of economic benefits that rely on America's waterways and wetlands and would reverse recent Supreme Court decisions that jeopardize the nation's water resources.
The Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership, the Izaak Walton League of America, the National Wildlife Federation and Trout Unlimited have been vocal proponents of legislation that reinstates safeguards previously in place via the Clean Water Act. The bill introduced by Rep. Jim Oberstar of Minnesota responds to these groups' calls for congressional action that strengthens conservation measures for water and wetland ecosystems essential to American hunting and fishing traditions.
"America's waterways and wetlands form the cornerstone of our fish and wildlife populations and our continued ability to enjoy the outdoors," said Tom Franklin, TRCP director of policy and government relations "and so the nation's sportsmen speak together in commending Congressman Oberstar's leadership in introducing the America's Commitment to Clean Water Act – and urging his House colleagues to exercise similar sound judgment in supporting this crucial legislation's speedy passage into law this spring."
The bill represents a new approach to addressing threats posed by the Supreme Court's SWANCC and Rapanos decisions by including
"America's Commitment to Clean Water Act is a new bill that would ensure the Clean Water Act protects streams, lakes, wetlands and other waters," said Scott Kovarovics, conservation director with the Izaak Walton League. "It's a balanced, common-sense solution that the House should quickly approve."
The threats to America's water resources caused by the Supreme Court decisions radiate across the landscape:
"Congressman Oberstar's important legislation underscores the threats facing clean water and habitat," said Steve Moyer, Trout Unlimited vice president of government affairs, "yet it also presents a clear path forward for enabling our leaders to right the deficiencies of current law. American sportsmen offer the congressman our thanks for responding to our repeated requests for such forward-thinking measures and look forward to working with him and his House colleagues to advance this bill into law."
"The America's Commitment to Clean Water Act reflects Representative Oberstar's commitment to listen to a wide spectrum of interests when developing legislation for Congress to consider," said Jan Goldman-Carter, wetlands and water resources counsel with the National Wildlife Federation. "The EPA and state agencies are finding enforcement of the Clean Water Act increasingly difficult under current law. By acting now, the House of Representatives can conserve drinking water, irreplaceable fish and wildlife habitat and our nation's sporting legacy."
More than half of the estimated 221 million acres of wetlands originally existent in the United States have been lost. More than 90,000 Americans recently signaled their support of restoring federal protections for wetlands and clean water by signing the We Are Wetlands petition, launched by the TRCP. The petition far exceeded its goal of 80,000 names – one for each acre of natural wetlands that our country loses each year – and calls for a legislative fix restoring the integrity of the Clean Water Act.