Take Action to Stop the Dirty Water Bill
The Clean Water for Cooperative Federalism Act (H.R. 2018) introduced by Representative Mica (R-FL) and Representative Rahall (D-WV) will go to the floor for a vote in the House. Despite its title, this bipartisan bill has very little to do with protecting clean water. Instead, H.R. 2018 puts polluters before people by removing important safeguards under the Clean Water Act that have protected our streams and rivers for the last 40 years.
When Congress adopted the Clean Water Act in 1972, it was to prevent pollution and protect clean water – relying on a careful balance between state and federal responsibility and public participation. Before this historic legislation, there was not an effective federal safety net to prevent drinking water contamination and such concentrated pollution that rivers were actually catching on fire. Rivers, lakes, and streams aren’t bound by state borders and if one state failed to meet clean water standards, then other states would have to pay the price of dirty water with little recourse.
H.R. 2018 turns back the clock forty years by removing critical federal backstops to ensure that all states have similar access to safe and clean water. This bill limits the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) ability to compel states to comply or improve their water quality standards and prevents them from objecting to individual permits that fail to meet water quality standards. The bill also takes away EPA’s authority to veto dredge and fill permits issued by the Army Corps of Engineers when a proposed activity would dump rubble and fill materials into our rivers, lakes, and streams. This veto authority is scarcely used – it has only been employed 13 times in 38 years. But when EPA does use this authority, it is to stop projects that harm people and clean water.