Policy Pulse: New Allies in Fight To Protect Clean Water – and More Help Needed!

James River National Wildlife Refuge (Virginia). Photo credit: USFWS.

The effort to protect streams and wetlands from pollution and drainage is gaining new allies. You may have read previous League reports about the importance of the Clean Water Rule to restoring protections to America’s headwaters – streams and wetlands farther upstream from large lakes, streams, and rivers. The Army Corps of Engineers and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) have moved to restore those protections in a draft rule that is open for public comment until October 20. Many hunters, anglers, and conservationists have supported the rule from day one, and new allies are stepping up to help out.

Small business owners also understand the importance and value of clean water and want upstream waters protected. Eighty percent of owners of businesses with 100 employees or less favor federal rules to protect upstream headwaters and wetlands. This includes 78 percent of Republican business owners and 91 percent of Democrat owners. Why? Maybe it’s because 67 percent of small business owners are concerned that water pollution could hurt their bottom line. The poll was conducted by Lake Research Partners in June 2014 for the American Sustainable Business Council and can be read online at http://bit.ly/CleanWaterReport.

Local governments have budgets to worry about too and are often stuck paying a heavy price to clean sediment and pollution from upstream users out of their community’s drinking water. Maybe that’s why more local governments are chiming in to support the Clean Water Rule. The Pittsburgh City Council, for example, unanimously approved a resolution supporting the Clean Water Rule. Councilman Dan Gilman said, “Thanks to our Three Rivers, Pittsburgh is blessed with abundant water, but we need to be good stewards of that resource.”

Nonetheless, the opponents of this rule – particularly the Farm Bureau – are relentless in stirring up opposition, despite the numerous agricultural exemptions in the rule. That’s why your support is critical.