The Importance of Protecting Clean Water Barely Heard in Clean Water Rule Hearing
The odds were stacked heavily against much discussion about the benefits to public health, drinking water supplies, and healthier rivers from the EPA and the Army Corps’ proposed Clean Water Rule during Monday’s field hearing of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee in Altoona, Pennsylvania.
Representative Shuster led the hearing from his home district in Pennsylvania, entitled “Federal Regulation of Waters: Impacts of Administration Overreach on Local Economies and Job Creation.” The panel consisted of witnesses from the Pennsylvania Farm Bureau, the Marcellus Shale Coalition, Rice Energy, the National Association of Home Builders, CONSOL Energy, and the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection. Many of the witnesses spoke about uncertain permitting reviews, delays, federal overreach, and high costs.
Of little debate was the importance of clean water to farmers, industry, and families. Yet, maintaining the status quo of uncertainty and declining enforcement continues to leave the small streams and wetlands that contribute to the drinking water of 117 million Americans vulnerable to pollution. Delays and declining enforcement [PDF] as the agencies are forced to pursue resource-intensive case-by-case analysis are just as problematic for clean water as they are for businesses.
The proposed Clean Water Rule is an important step forward to clarify the scope of the Clean Water Act. Through the public comment process, we will continue to work to strengthen the draft rule to get closer to historical protections. Help us stand up for clean water and ask the EPA to finalize a strong rule that protects clean water for our rivers and the communities that rely upon them.