Sierra Club
Sierra Club Press Release

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 13, 2011

Contact:
Virginia Cramer, 804-225-9113 x102

U.S. House of Representatives Votes to Gut Clean Water Act

Washington, DC -- In a 239 to 184 vote, the U.S. House of Representatives today voted for legislation that threatens the safety of the lakes and rivers that provide much of our nation's drinking water. Sponsored by Reps. John Mica (FL) and Nick Rahall (WV), H.R. 2018 guts the Clean Water Act, severely limits the federal government’s ability to protect waterways, and seeks to return the country to an era of inconsistent and ineffective state water safety standards without a federal safety net. Representatives also voted against an amendment that would have ensured continued protection of municipal drinking water sources.  

In response, Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune issued the following statement.


"Today's unprecedented attack on clean water protections is an assault on Americans' health, environment and economy – and further exposes a House of Representatives that no longer represents the interests or the values of the American people.

We applaud President Obama for his strong support of clean water protections for our families. We should all be able to eat the fish we catch, swim in our lakes and drink from our taps without fear of getting sick.

The federal safety net that Congress created when it passed the Clean Water Act has stopped billions of pounds of pollution from entering our waters and doubled the number of waterways that meet clean water standards.  

Without it, cities would still be dumping untreated sewage into waterways every day and industries would still be using rivers for waste disposal.  Lake Erie would still be 'dead.' 

But the work of cleaning up our waters is far from over. There are still too many places where water is not safe for fishing and swimming. Now is not the time to roll back essential clean water protections or prevent the Environmental Protection Agency from protecting Americans’ drinking water."

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H.R. 2018 would:

- Thwart states from protecting their drinking water sources and other waters from pollution discharges from upstream or neighboring states.

- Prevent the Environmental Protection Agency, without state concurrence, from taking action to revise outdated state water quality standards, making it easier for companies to dump their waste and garbage into lakes and rivers.

- Eliminate the federal safety net ensuring that states update their water quality standards as scientific understanding evolves.

- Allow states failing to meet minimal federal clean water standards to continue receiving federal taxpayer funding for inadequate programs.

- Prevent the EPA from intervening in the most destructive proposed waste-dumping permits and projects that would threaten drinking water supplies, fisheries, wildlife and recreational areas at an unacceptable level. The EPA has exercised this authority only 13 times in the history of the Clean Water Act-- most recently prohibiting a mine waste dump that would have filled six miles of Appalachian streams.