Senate moves to restore strong protections for America's waters

April 3, 2009
Today, Senator Russ Feingold (D-WI) and 23 co-sponsors, including Environment and Public Works Committee leaders Senators Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and Ben Cardin (D-MD), introduced the Clean Water Restoration Act to restore Clean Water Act safeguards to America's wetlands, lakes, and streams...

WASHINGTON, DC, April 2, 2009 -- Today, Senator Russ Feingold (D-WI) and 23 co-sponsors, including Environment and Public Works Committee leaders Senators Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and Ben Cardin (D-MD), introduced the Clean Water Restoration Act to restore Clean Water Act safeguards to America's wetlands, lakes, and streams.

"America's waters are closer to getting back longstanding Clean Water Act protections as Congress intended," said Larry Schweiger, President & CEO, National Wildlife Federation. Every day that passes puts at risk America's streams, wetlands and our sources of clean water. We simply cannot let at least 20 million acres of wetlands go unprotected and stand by while 60 percent of our nation's streams are at-risk of losing protections-- Congress must act quickly to restore these protections."

"People and wildlife depend on safe, clean water, and healthy watersheds," Schweiger added. "Restoring Clean Water Act protections is a vital first step in safeguarding America's drinking water supplies, reducing flood damage, and maintaining and restoring fish and wildlife habitat. . This is more urgent than ever because global warming will continue to bring more intense storms, droughts and habitat loss. Healthy wetlands, rivers and streams are essential to help people and wildlife survive the impacts of global warming."

The Clean Water Restoration Act reaffirms the traditional scope and clear purpose of the Clean Water Act. Two recent split decisions of the U.S. Supreme Court have put many of America's wetlands, streams, lakes and ponds at risk by creating ambiguity over the scope of the law. As a result of these decisions and subsequent agency guidance, at least 20 million acres of the nation's wetlands are currently losing Clean Water Act protections, and many more are at risk. Additionally, some 60 percent of stream miles in the United States which do not flow year-round are at risk of losing protection. Meanwhile, Clean Water Act enforcement is being crippled by the confusion and added workload triggered by these decisions and related guidance.

"These waters are the lifeblood of our country's diverse water system," Schweiger said. "Weakening protections puts us all at risk because it reduces the ability of water systems to replenish, filter out pollution, work as buffers against storms and floods, and provide habitat for America's fish, birds and other wildlife.

"National Wildlife Federation applauds Senator Feingold and the bill's co-sponsors for leading the fight to protect America's waters," Schweiger concluded. "The Clean Water Restoration Act will help return us to our fundamental responsibility to maintain and restore our nation's wetlands, lakes and streams for our children's future."

The National Wildlife Federation inspires Americans to protect wildlife for our children's future.

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