New Guidance Moves to Restore Clean Water Act Protections

Agencies take important first step in restoring key safeguards for water and wetlands

04-28-2011 // Mekell Mikell, Ph.D.

Forty years ago, the Clean Water Act was established to protect our nation’s surface waters and wetlands from pollution and destruction. But, two confusing Supreme Court rulings led to a rollback of those protections and made it difficult for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) to fully safeguard our nation’s waters. Oil spills, mine waste, sewage, animal waste from factory farms, and runoff filled with sediment, nutrients, and bacteria are fouling waters around the country that we depend on for drinking water, healthy food, and outdoor recreation. This toxic mix, and the outright destruction of wetlands and streams, is also harming essential wildlife habitat.

The EPA and the Corps are taking an important and necessary step to restore the Clean Water Act by providing new guidance grounded in law, science, and public health. This move will begin the process of restoring vital environmental safeguards for rivers, lakes, streams, and estuaries that are essential for sustaining healthy communities for people and wildlife.

“A strong Clean Water Act protects the lifeblood of our nation,” said Larry Schweiger, president and CEO of the National Wildlife Federation. “To fulfill a fundamental value to safeguard America’s clean water, this guidance is a very encouraging first step.”

Add Your Voice to Restore the Clean Water Act

In issuing their new Clean Water Act guidance, the EPA and the Corps are seeking public comment for 60 days. The National Wildlife Federation encourages you to add your voice to protect clean water. The final and most crucial step in the guidance process is a solid and binding rulemaking by the agencies clearly defining the waters protected under the Clean Water Act.

This is not just some bureaucratic piece of paper,” said Jan Goldman-Carter, wetlands and water resources counsel for the National Wildlife Federation. “The guidance is a down payment to fulfill our government’s fundamental responsibility to ensure abundant, clean water for all Americans – the lifeblood of our nation’s wildlife and recreation.”

Click here to find out more about what is at stake from the loss of Clean Water Act protections and what is needed to restore them.

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