FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Contact: Rick Kessler
December 16, 2003 202/225-4071
DINGELL REACTS TO EPA CLEAN WATER ACT ANNOUNCEMENT
MI Congressman Led 218 House Members in Bipartisan Effort to Stop Bush Rollback of Cornerstone Environmental Law
Washington, DC - Rep. John D. Dingell (D-MI), reacted with cautious optimism to today's announcement by EPA Administrator Mike Leavitt that the Bush Administration was abandoning its effort to reduce the scope of the Clean Water Act. Rep. Dingell, working with national environmental, conservation and sportsmen's groups, spearheaded the bipartisan congressional effort to stop the Administration's proposal.
"In November, a bipartisan majority joined me and Reps. Leach, Oberstar and Saxton in sending a letter to President Bush opposing this rollback of the Clean Water Act. I'm pleased that Administrator Leavitt seems to have recognized what the Bush Administration had previously failed to understand: the American people don't want the Clean Water Act rolled back or watered down," said Dingell.
According to the statement issued by EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers, "After soliciting public comment to determine if further regulatory clarification was needed, the EPA and the Corps have decided to preserve the federal government's authority to protect our wetlands." (The EPA/Corps release can be found at: <http://www.epa.gov/>)
On November 24, 2003, a bipartisan group of 218 Members of the U.S. House of Representatives sent a letter to President Bush asking that he halt efforts to reduce the scope of Clean Water Act safeguards for the nation's waters. The letter, one of the strongest demonstrations of support for the Clean Water Act on Capitol Hill in many years, was written in direct response to the policy rulemaking effort that the U.S. EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers mostly abandoned today. The letter urged the President "not to pursue any policy or regulatory changes that would reduce the scope of waters protected under the Clean Water Act. In particular, we ask that you not amend the long-standing definition of waters as suggested by the January 15, 2003 Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking and that you rescind the policy guidance issued at the same time." The letter noted that excluding waters from the Act would lead to increased pollution of streams, ponds, and wetlands and, as this pollution flows downstream, greater pollution of our lakes, rivers and coastal waters. (A copy of the Dingell-Leach-Oberstar-Saxton letter can be found at: http://www.house.gov/dingell/cwa2.pdf)
Although Rep. Dingell was pleased by today's announcement, he emphasized his concern that the Bush Administration seems to have not fully abandoned its rollback effort. Although EPA and the Army Corps announced today that they would not issue the new rule on federal regulatory jurisdiction over isolated wetlands, the Bush Administration appeared to leave in place the January 15, 2003 guidance originally issued along with the proposed regulation. That guidance, already in effect, may remove protection from an estimated 20 percent of the nation's
wetlands, some 20 million acres, as well as countless miles of streams across the country.
Concluded Dingell: "I hope that this is not an attempt by the Administration to pull the wool over the public's eyes. Until this guidance is also rescinded, both our nation's waterways and wetlands are still in danger. If the Administration is serious about preserving the Clean Water Act and protecting our water, then this guidance must be repealed."