House of Representatives Rejects Clean Water Protections


Hunting, Angling and Conservation Groups Strongly Criticize Vote

Izaak Walton League * National Wildlife Federation
Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership * Trout Unlimited

Washington – The U.S. House of Representatives today struck a blow against Clean Water Act protections for streams that supply drinking water to 117 million Americans and wetlands that provide critical flood protection and fish and wildlife habitat. The full House rejected an amendment to allow the Army Corps of Engineers to proceed with Clean Water Act guidance and a future rulemaking.

The FY 2013 Energy and Water Appropriations bill (HR 5325), which the House debated today, includes a provision barring the Corps of Engineers from taking any steps – next year or in any future year – to revise the agency’s guidance on waters protected by the Clean Water Act. Representatives Jim Moran (VA) and John Dingell (MI) offered an amendment to strike this damaging provision, which would allow the Corps to finalize and implement new, science-based clean water guidance. Members of Congress who opposed this amendment voted to maintain the status quo of wetlands loss, stream pollution, and regulatory confusion.

“The vote today represented a clear choice between restoring Clean Water Act protections to critical streams and wetlands and postponing those protections indefinitely,” said Scott Kovarovics, Conservation Programs Director for the Izaak Walton League of America. “The amendment offered by Representatives Moran and Dingell provided a balanced path forward for clean water. Unfortunately, too many members of Congress chose not to take that path.”

“Clean water must be a bipartisan national priority,” said Steve Kline, Director of the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership’s Center for Agricultural and Private Lands. “Since 1972, the Clean Water Act has made significant progress in restoring and sustaining our nation’s rivers, lakes, and wetlands. The job is not done – and votes like today’s are a step in the wrong direction.”

“These provisions leave us with an intolerable status quo that threatens wetlands and tributaries that provide clean water for iconic systems like the Chesapeake Bay and Great Lakes, recharge aquifers, help retain floodwaters, and provide important fish and wildlife habitat,” said Jan Goldman-Carter, Senior Manager, Wetlands and Water Resources, for the National Wildlife Federation.

Loss of Clean Water Act protections for small streams and wetlands could affect more than drinking water and wildlife habitat – it could hurt the nation’s economy. Hunting, fishing, and outdoor recreation contribute billions to the economy, but these activities could be sharply curtailed by water pollution and loss of wetlands critical for ducks, trout, and other wildlife.

“American sportsmen greatly appreciate the efforts of Representatives Moran, Dingell, and others as they reminded the House what it seems to have forgotten: You can’t have fishable and swimmable waters if substantial numbers of wetlands and headwater streams go unprotected by the Clean Water Act,” said Steve Moyer, Vice President for Government Affairs for Trout Unlimited. “The Senate and the Obama Administration have rejected similar ill-conceived provisions in appropriations bills the past two years, and we urge them to do it again this year.”

For details about the proposed guidance, read “The Clean Water Act Guidance” fact sheet (PDF link).