Congress Makes Drinking Water Supplies For Millions More Vulnerable To Pollution

March 29, 2023

Contact: Amy Souers Kober, 503-708-1145 

Today, the Senate voted 53-43 on a bill (H.J. Res. 27/S.J. Res. 7), also known as the Waters of the U.S. Congressional Review Act (CRA) resolution, that would invalidate the Biden administration’s Clean Water Restoration Rule, which clarifies the Clean Water Act’s “waters of the United States” and provides a balanced, science-based approach to protecting small streams and wetlands. 

Earlier this month, the House advanced the resolution through the CRA process, a legislative tool for Congress to overturn final rules issued by the federal agencies, to invalidate the rule and prevent the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Army Corps of Engineers to implement water protections.

Small streams make up at least 80 percent of the nation’s network of waterways. They are vital sources of drinking water, critical to the health of communities and ecosystems. Overturning federal protections for small streams and wetlands would make them vulnerable to pollution and destructive development, with potentially disastrous impacts to water quality, groundwater recharge, flood protection, and habitat for plants, fish, and wildlife. 

Tom Kiernan, President and CEO of American Rivers, made the following statement: 

“Too many communities across our country are threatened with polluted water. Too many species of fish, birds, and wildlife are at the brink of extinction because of habitat destruction. Now is not the time to roll back safeguards for clean water and rivers, or create more loopholes for polluters.” 

“The Biden administration’s rule provides a science-based approach that recognizes the common sense fact that pollution upstream can have downstream impacts. Overturning the rule would open streams and wetlands to pollution and destruction. It would threaten the water supplies for millions of Americans and cause far-reaching harm to the rivers on which all life depends.” 

“The Waters of the U.S. CRA aims to weaken bedrock protections under the Clean Water Act, our nation’s primary law governing federal water pollution. We now call on President Biden to veto the Waters of the U.S. CRA and uphold the administration’s Clean Water Restoration Rule.”