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Clean Water Act Alert

Finally, after years of delay, the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee (EPW) is going to mark up (vote on) a compromise version of the Clean Water Restoration Act (S. 787) THIS Thursday, June 18.
This is an all-hands-on-deck alert!
We need your help to make sure our Senators know how critically important it is to move this bill through the Committee with no weakening amendments and then have a full Senate vote.

Please use any of the information and language in this alert to:

Call your Senators. Please have your organizations, colleagues, volunteers, activists, family and friends make calls to their Senators.  Even if your Senators are not on EPW, we still need to call them because this has the potential to move quickly to the floor, and our Senators need to know we support clean water. Please refer to the talking points below and this excel spread sheet, which contains your Senators’ DC contact information and highlights if they are on the EPW committee and/or if they are co-sponsors of S. 787.

Send out action alerts. Please encourage your own networks to make calls and send emails. If you can send an electronic action alert out, please do so as soon as possible. If you do not have those capabilities, please encourage your members to make calls. Feel free to use the summary language or talking points here to help you craft your message.

Background On the Clean Water Restoration Act

When Congress passed the Clean Water Act in 1972, it intended to establish broad protections for all waters to achieve the law’s goal of restoring and maintaining the physical, chemical, and biological integrity of the nation’s waters. However, since 2001, Supreme Court decisions have called into doubt these broad protections.

The Senate EPW committee will mark up the bill on Thursday, June 18. Even though this bill is a significant compromise compared with the bill that Senator Russ Feingold introduced just a few months ago, Congress must act now to resolve the confusion and uncertainty around the Clean Water Act because we are losing many vital waters to pollution and complete destruction.

EPW Committee Chairman Barbara Boxer of California deserves credit for bringing committee members together on a compromise.  It is the bare minimum needed to overturn the Supreme Court’s decisions in Rapanos and SWANNC, and re-establish the scope of protection that existed in 2001. The current bill does not assert constitutional authority to protect waters as clearly as Senator Feingold’s bill. It also puts two existing regulatory exemptions (prior converted cropland and waste treatment systems) into the statute.

Some members of the committee have floated weakening amendments, such as exemptions in the permitting program for discharging pesticides into water and for lead pollution at shooting ranges.  Those exemptions are not in the compromise bill, but we anticipate that some members may offer these and other weakening amendments at the markup.

We applaud Chairman Barbara Boxer for moving this bill forward. This is just one step of many the Congress must take to enact this bill into law and we cannot afford any further weakening of the bill and still achieve the goal of restoring Clean Water Act protections to all waters of the U.S. as they existed prior to 2001.

Talking Points 

For EPW Committee Members:
The Clean Water Restoration Act needs to move forward now to resolve the confusion and uncertainty around the Clean Water Act that is leaving many vital waters open to pollution and complete destruction.

We applaud Chairman Barbara Boxer for moving this bill forward, but the version scheduled for markup this week is a significant compromise compared with the original bill.  The current bill is the bear minimum needed to overturn the recent Supreme Court decisions that have left many of our nation’s waters under threat.  However, this threat needs to be addressed immediately since we are losing waters every day.

Members of the EPW committee should support this bill and oppose any weakening amendments.

For Senators not on the EPW Committee:

The Senate EPW committee is expected to mark up a version of the Clean Water Restoration Act on Thursday, June 18.   It’s a significant compromise compared with Senator Feingold’s original bill, but many critical waters are losing protection, and Congress needs to move forward quickly to re-establish the same protections the law provided in 2001.

After the markup, we hope that the full Senate will take action quickly.  Please examine this compromise bill and give it your support.

We look forward to working with members of Congress to restore the Clean Water Act and guarantee clean water for all of our community
Clean Water Network

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