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E-M:/ Bush Launches Major Assault on Clean Water Act

Enviro-Mich message from Cyndi Roper <croper@cleanwater.org>


For Immediate Release: October 18, 2002 
For more information: Bethany Renfer (517) 203-0754



Today, on the official 30th anniversary of the federal Clean Water Act, Clean
Water Action declared its shock and disbelief about the Bush 
Administration's recently announced attempts to weaken the Act putting our
nation's lakes, rivers, and wetlands in danger. Within the past month, the 
administration announced that it plans to rewrite the rules to limit the number
of waters that are protected by the Clean Water Act. Almost every 
aspect of the law is being weakened by the Bush Administration efforts, from
prohibitions on dumping industrial waste and raw sewage into waters to 
saving critical wetlands.

"This is the most serious assault on clean water in decades," stated Cyndi
Roper, Michigan Director of Clean Water Action. "This new misinterpretation 
of the Clean Water Act could essentially remove 11,000 inland lakes and
thousand of miles of rivers in Michigan from protection under the Act," 
declared Roper. "The people of Michigan demand more from government than a
rubber stamp for polluters to foul our waters for their profit. Dismantling 
thirty years of progress is unconscionable."

Today, Clean Water Action is launching a campaign to inform tens of thousands
of Michigan residents about the assault. In the weeks ahead, 
CWA's professional outreach staff will be going door-to-door campaigning to
protect the Clean Water Act by calling attention to the fact that the Bush 
Administration is seeking to remove protections from all waterways in Michigan
shy of the Great Lakes and their connecting waterways. CWA staff 
and volunteers will be encouraging residents to write their lawmakers in

"Today, as we celebrate this important landmark date in the history of the
Clean Water Act, we challenge the Bush administration and ask our senators, 
representatives, and state officials to make good on the promise of clean water
to our communities: that all people deserve clean water," said Bethany 
Renfer, Program Coordinator for Clean Water Action. "Thirty years after
Congress passed the Act, federal clean water protections are at grave risk 
from the Bush Administration and we must call on our members of Congress to
ensure that the promise of the Act is fulfilled in this generation."

Clean Water Action and the over 1,000 other members of the Clean Water Network
nationwide challenge our elected federal officials to make good on 
the promise of clean water by taking the following steps as we recognize the
30th anniversary of the Act today.

1. Pass legislation reaffirming that the Clean Water Act protects all waters of
the United States, including tributaries, wetlands, and streams - (The 
Clean Water Authority Restoration Act [S 2780 / H 5194]); 

2. Oppose Bush administration efforts to weaken the Clean Water Act's polluted
water clean up program (known as the Total Maximum Daily Loads 

3. Pass the Clean Water Protection Act to prevent the Bush administration from
allowing polluters to bury waters with mining waste and other 
industrial wastes [H 4683];

4. Recommit to the national "no-net-loss" policy for wetlands; and 

5. Support efforts to end raw sewage discharges into the nation's waters. In
the early 1970s, pollution plagued the nation's waterways. Lake Erie was 
considered biologically dead, major rivers like the Hudson and the Mississippi
were open sewers, Ohio's Cuyahoga River actually caught on fire 
because of pollution, and only 30 to 40 percent of America's lakes, rivers, and
coastal waters were safe for fishing and swimming.

This September, US EPA released its biannual report of U.S. water quality
conditions, and the news is still not what it should be. This report shows 
that U.S. waterways are becoming more polluted. From 1998 to 2000, the
percentage of polluted rivers rose from 35 percent to 51 percent, and the 
percentage of polluted shorelines increased from 12 percent to 14 percent. Here
in Michigan we are still far from reaching the original goal of the 
Clean Water Act of restoring our waters back to swimmable and fishable.

* Every inland lake and river in Michigan has an advisory warning about
consuming the fish due to high levels of mercury and other contaminants.

* Roughly 50 billion gallons of raw or partially treated sewage overflow into
Michigan waters annually as the result of failing and outdated sewer 

* It is still legal, and in many cases free, for polluters to discharge into
Michigan waterways. In fact, Michigan taxpayers are picking up an annual 
bill of around $10 million to oversee the permitting program.

* In 2001, there were over 100 Great Lakes beach closings and advisories due to
unsafe water quality conditions. 

* Of Michigan's estimated original 11,200,000 acres of wetlands, circa 1780,
only 5,583,400 acres are estimated to still exist as of the 1980s, a net 
loss of 50%.

"On the thirtieth anniversary of the Act, the public and our elected officials
must recommit to the goal of clean and safe water for everyone, 
not destroy years of effort," continued Renfer.

Clean Water Action is a national organization with over 100,000 Michigan
members who are served by offices in East Lansing, Clinton Township (Macomb
Co.), and Grand Rapids. The group works at the national, state and local level
for clean safe and affordable water, the prevention of health 
threatening pollution, and the empowerment of people to make democracy work.
Clean Water Action's founder and national president, David Zwick, was a 
co-author of the federal Clean Water Act. The group is also celebrating its
30th anniversary this year.


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