Bringing Down Roadblocks to Clean Water Protection

  • Posted by Dawn Merritt

    By Scott Kovarovics, IWLA Conservation Director

    As the year comes to a close, we have another reason to celebrate. Through a concerted effort by sportsmen and environmental groups – including League members and leaders – we brought down Congressional roadblocks to restoring Clean Water Act protections.

    Over the course of the year, members of Congress introduced various “riders” that would have blocked the Environmental Protection Agency and Army Corps of Engineers from taking any steps to clarify and restore Clean Water Act protections for streams, wetlands, and other waters. But when the House and Senate voted late last week on a final budget package for 2012, that package did NOT include these riders. This is a significant victory in and of itself and absolutely essential to moving forward next year.

    The League has been a leader on this issue in the sportsmen community since the first damaging Supreme Court decision in 2001. We built on that leadership over the past year as Congress, especially the House of Representatives, repeatedly tried to block EPA and the Corps from taking positive – and long overdue – steps to clarify and restore Clean Water Act protections to streams and wetlands. At risk streams flow to public drinking water supplies for 117 million Americans. Wetlands that could be drained and filled provide critical habitat for waterfowl and other wildlife and underpin the multi-billion dollar hunting and angling economy in this country.

    In the coming year, we’re going to need to maintain our engagement and persistence to move the process forward to rulemaking. The Obama administration will make critical decisions over the next few weeks about how to proceed. The White House needs to hear from hunters, anglers, and other Americans who enjoy the outdoors that taking the next step is something we support – and something they need to do. Active support from our community can produce positive results.

    Congress isn’t going to solve the problem – it’s more likely to throw up additional roadblocks to conserving the resources important to us and the sports we enjoy. On the other hand, EPA and the Corps can make real progress administratively to clarify and restore some of the lost Clean Water Act protections. By supporting EPA and the Corps and pushing back against attacks from Congress, we can make progress as well.

    – Scott Kovarovics, IWLA Conservation Director

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