Clean Water Restoration Act

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The Clean Water Restoration Act was introduced during the 110th Congress and re-introduced in the 111th Congress. It would amend the Clean Water Act (CWA), to "clarify the jurisdiction of the United States" and establish the CWA's application to U.S. waters, including interstate wetlands, tributaries, territorial seas, "intrastate lakes, rivers, streams (including intermittent streams), mudflats, sandflats, wetlands, sloughs, prairie potholes, wet meadows, playa lakes, or natural ponds." The bill is in reaction to two U.S. Supreme Court decisions, Solid Waste Agency of Northern Cook County v. United States Army Corps of Engineers (531 U.S. 159, 2001) and Rapanos v. United States (547 U.S. 715, 2006), which the bill blames for "confusion, permitting delays, increased costs, litigation, and reduced protections for waters of the United States." [1]

Re-introduction

Senate

On April 2, 2009, Senator Russell Feingold re-introduced the Clean Water Restoration Act (S.787). As of April 16, 2009, it had collected 23 cosponsors.[1]

A press release from Sen. Feingold's office states that "rivers, streams and wetlands, which were long protected under the Clean Water Act (CWA) ... are now in jeopardy of losing protections," because of the two Supreme Court decisions. "Every day Congress fails to reaffirm Clean Water Act protections, more and more waters are stripped of their protections, jeopardizing the drinking water of millions of Americans, as well as our nation's wildlife habitats, recreational pursuits, agricultural and industrial uses, and public health," Feingold is quoted in the statement as saying. [2]

<USbillinfo congress="111" bill="S.787" />

Consideration in the 110th Congress

House

The bill (H.R. 2421) was introduced by Rep. Jim Oberstar (D-Minn.), chair of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, on May 22, 2007. As of June 12, 2007, it had collected 162 cosponsors.[3]

Details

The measure amends the Federal Water Pollution Control Act in order to clarify the jurisdiction of the U.S. federal government in dealing with water pollution. To allow the jurisdiction to unambiguously extend to all waters in the U.S., it replaces the existing term "navigable waters" with "waters of the United States", which means "all waters subject to the ebb and flow of the tide, the territorial seas, and all interstate and intrastate waters and their tributaries, including lakes, rivers, streams (including intermittent streams), mudflats, sandflats, wetlands, sloughs, prairie potholes, wet meadows, playa lakes, natural ponds, and all impoundments of the foregoing, to the fullest extent that these waters, or activities affecting these waters." [4]

According to Beth Wellington of The Writing Corner, the measure, first introduced in 2003, is a response to U.S. Supreme Court decisions which previously eroded the strength of the Clean Water Act. For instance, the court's ruling in Solid Waste Agency of Northern Cook County v. United States (SWANCC) removed federal protection of "isolated" waters based solely on their use by migratory birds. The consolidated cases of Carabell v. United States and Rapanos v. United States, decided in June 2006, also eroded wetland protections.[5]

Support and opposition

Support

The measure received the support of environmental and citizens groups such as Riverkeeper, U.S. PIRG, Natural Resources Defense Fund, EarthJustice, National Wildlife Federation, Citizen's Campaign for the Environment, and the Sierra Club. [6]

Opposition

The measure was opposed by the National Water Resources Associations, a nonprofit federation which includes rural water districts, municipal water entities, and commercial companies and individuals. It was also opposed by the National Association of Counties, the National Corn Growers Association, and others.[7]

Articles and resources

Related SourceWatch articles

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 "S.787," Library of Congress Thomas website, accessed April 2009.
  2. Press release, "Feingold Reintroduces Effort to Protect the Drinking Water of Over 100 Million Americans," Sen. Russ Feingold's office, April 2, 2009.
  3. "OpenCongress page on H.R. 2421" OpenCongress.
  4. "OpenCongress page on H.R. 2421" OpenCongress.
  5. Beth Wellington "The Writing Corner" The Writing Corner; blog, accessed May 7, 2010
  6. Beth Wellington "The Writing Corner" The Writing Corner; blog, accessed May 7, 2010
  7. Beth Wellington "The Writing Corner" The Writing Corner; blog, accessed May 7, 2010

External resources

External articles