Clean Water Attack

Clean Water Under Attack in Congress

Under its new pro-polluter management, the U.S. House of Representatives last week voted to jerk America back toward dirty water and vanishing wetlands.

The House voted to overturn the Biden Administration’s Clean Water Rule, which restores protections to critically important small streams, wetlands, and other waterways nationwide, including many in North Carolina. The vote was 227-198 to overturn the rule, mostly along party lines. Only one Republican, Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick of Pennsylvania, voted to oppose overturning the Clean Water Rule. Nine Democrats voted in favor of overturning the rule, including first-term Rep. Donald Davis of North Carolina. 

Rep. Davis’s opposition to an essential protection for water supplies, fisheries, wildlife habitat, and recreational waters marks an inauspicious start to his service in Congress. NCLCV commends the other six Democratic representatives from North Carolina for their stand in support of clean water.

The original Clean Water Rule confirming that the Clean Water Act protects small streams and associated wetlands was adopted by the Obama Administration in 2016. The Trump Administration immediately sought to overturn that rule, and replaced it with an extreme pro-polluter interpretation of the law which slashed protections for environmentally critical small streams and wetlands. The Biden Administration suspended the Trump Dirty Water Rule in early 2021, and worked through the process of finalizing a restoration of broader protections under a new Clean Water Rule adopted late in 2022. 

The bill overturning the Clean Water Rule faces an uncertain future in the U.S. Senate. President Biden has pledged to veto the bill if it reaches his desk.

“[This] vote puts big polluter profits ahead of the health of our families and communities. This dangerous legislation would severely weaken the Clean Water Act by revoking important protections for critical waters and allowing unregulated pollution and destruction of everything from small streams to rivers to wetlands,” said League of Conservation Voters Deputy Legislative Director Madeleine Foote. “Since the Act’s passage over 50 years ago, polluters and their allies in Congress have tried to roll back the important safeguards it provides and deny our basic human right of access to clean water for their own gain. But polling continues to show that voters want Congress to do more, not less, to protect the waters our families, communities, and economy depend on. We urge the Senate to reject this damaging attack on our waterways and commit to ensuring that everyone, no matter their race, zip code, or income, has access to clean, safe water.”

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