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Legislation aims to restore Clean Water Act safeguards to wetlands, lakes and streams
Senator Russ Feingold (D-Wis.) and 23 co-sponsors, including Environment and Public Works Committee leaders Senators Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) and Ben Cardin (D-Md.), introduced the Clean Water Restoration Act on April 2, aimed at restoring Clean Water Act safeguards to wetlands, lakes and streams.
“America’s waters are closer to getting back longstanding Clean Water Act protections as Congress intended,” said Larry Schweiger, president and 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% of our nation’s streams are at risk of losing protections--Congress must act quickly to restore these protections.”
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 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% of stream miles in the U.S. that do not flow year-round are at risk of losing protection.
“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.”