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Policy Pulse: Legislation Protecting Tributary Streams and Wetlands Introduced in U.S. House of Representatives

Jared Mott, IWLA Conservation Director
Outdoor America 2020 Issue 2
Two Ponds National Wildlife Refuge in Colorado - credit Beth Beres, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service

In May, Representative Peter DeFazio of Oregon, Chairman of the U.S. House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, introduced the Clean Water for All Act (H.R.6745). This bill would prohibit implementation of the Trump administration’s regulation redefining Waters of the United States (WOTUS). This regulation represents the most severe rollback of clean water protections in the history of the Clean Water Act.

This rule defines WOTUS in a way that eliminates protections for all wetlands that do not have a “continuous physical connection to a protected water body.” This means that if a wetland does not actually touch a large river, lake or the ocean, it could be drained and filled without a permit. In addition, all streams that only flow after precipitation events, known as ephemeral streams, would lose protection even though they flow right to streams and rivers that provide drinking water for millions of Americans. This definition threatens to dramatically harm water quality across America, is not supported by science and will undermine the outdoor recreation economy.

The Clean Water for All Act would:

  • Repeal the definition of WOTUS finalized by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on April 21, 2020.
  • Direct the EPA and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (which issues permits for wetland drainage) to propose a new definition of WOTUS that restores Clean Water Act protections to tributary streams and wetlands, based on the best available science.
  • Require that the new definition of WOTUS not degrade the nation’s water quality or increase pollution in drinking water sources.
  • Provide transparency and ample time for Americans to review a newly proposed rule by requiring at least 180 days for public comment.

Fighting for clean water has always been a core part of the League’s mission and we fully support this bill.

Learn more and take action