River Policy Update: March Wrap-Up

Locals Advocate for Wild and Scenic Rivers
In March, Congress heard from people who support Wild and Scenic River designations for their favorite rivers.

During a House Natural Resources Committee hearing on a bill that would designate the Molalla River as a National Wild and Scenic River, Michael Moody, President of the Molalla River Alliance testified on the benefits that Wild and Scenic River designation would bring to the communities that depend on a healthy Molalla River.

The hearing also covered designation of tributaries of the Rogue River in Oregon as Wild and Scenic Rivers, and a bill to increase protections for the Wild and Scenic Chetco River in Oregon.  While there was little to no opposition raised to these Wild and Scenic bills during the hearing, their future is uncertain if they are linked to a controversial forest plan being pitched by Oregon Representatives. 

On March 22nd, the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee held a hearing on the Senate bill to expand the Wild Rogue River Wilderness Area and designate many of the Rogue’s tributaries as Wild and Scenic Rivers. Dave Strahan, a resident of Grants Pass, Oregon whose recreation career depends upon a healthy Rogue River traveled to DC to testify at the hearing. Watch Dave’s story of his trip to DC to save the River he loves!

Updates on Clean Water

March brought two new Congressional attacks on clean water. Representative Goodlatte (R-VA) introduced his Chesapeake Bay Dirty Water bill, entitled the “Chesapeake Bay Program Reauthorization and Improvement Act” (H.R. 4153). Although this bill is targeted at weakening the Bay Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL), it could set precedents to weaken Clean Water Act protections across the country. At the end of the month, Senator Barrasso introduced a bill (S. 2245) to block the Environmental Protection Agency from clarifying the scope of the Clean Water Act. 

The Transportation & Infrastructure Committee held a second hearing at the end of March on innovative financing approaches for water infrastructure to follow their previous hearing in February.  The Committee also held hearings on the FY 2013 budgets for the Army Corps and Environmental Protection Agency.

The Administration still has not released final guidance to clarify the scope of the Clean Water Act. It is currently at the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) under review.