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E-M:/ Environment Michigan and Huron River Watershed Council Joined Dingell to Protect the Great Lakes



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Enviro-Mich message from Danielle Korpalski <dkorpalski@environmentmichigan.org>
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For Immediate Release:

June 30, 2008

Contact: Danielle Korpalski, 313-550-4900

Congressman Dingell Joins Environmentalists to Call on

Congress to Pass the Clean Water Restoration Act

[Ann Arbor, Michigan] — With families across Michigan headed to the Great Lakes for the Fourth of July holiday, Environment Michigan and the Huron River Watershed Council joined Congressman John Dingell near the Huron River to urge Congress to protect the Great Lakes and pass the Clean Water Restoration Act (H.R. 2421 and S. 1870).

The Clean Water Restoration Act would restore Clean Water Act protections to all U.S. waterways, from streams and wetlands to the nation’s treasured waters like the Great Lakes. Environment Michigan is campaigning across the state this summer to pass the bill.

“The Great Lakes can only be as healthy as the streams and wetlands that feed and clean them,” said Danielle Korpalski, Environment Michigan Campaign Director. “Thousands of Michiganders are asking Congress to protect the Great Lakes and pass the Clean Water Restoration Act to safeguard all of our waters from pollution,” she added.

In 1972, Congress passed the Clean Water Act with the goals of eliminating the discharge of pollutants into waterways and making all U.S. waters swimmable and fishable. During the last thirty-five years, the landmark environmental law has made significant improvements in water quality in Michigan and around the country but the original goals have yet to be met. Making matters worse, several recent actions have undermined our ability to reach the goal of clean water for all Americans.

Two U.S. Supreme Court rulings, SWANCC in 2001 and Rapanos in 2006, and the subsequent Bush administration policies to exclude waters from the Clean Water Act have put thousands of U.S. waterways at risk of unlimited pollution and development.

As a result of the Supreme Court decisions and administration policies, waters covered by the Clean Water Act for decades now are threatened with losing protection. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimates that almost half of the streams in Michigan are headwater or seasonal streams, the types of streams most in danger. Nearly 300,000 Michiganders get their drinking water from public water supplies that are fed at least in part by these streams. In addition, nearly one million acres of Michigan’s wetlands are at risk of losing protection.

Congressman Dingell is helping to lead a bipartisan group of 198 members of the U.S. House and Senate, including Senators Levin and Stabenow and six other Michigan members of the House of Representatives, in sponsoring legislation to restore federal protections to all U.S. waters. The Clean Water Restoration Act would clarify that Clean Water Act protections apply broadly to America’s waters, including all streams and wetlands in the Great Lakes region.

"Because of the Clean Water Act, rivers like the Huron are cleaner. Congress has to pass the Clean Water Restoration Act to clean up a mess left by the Supreme Court. The Justices' interpretation of the law would eliminate Clean Water Act protections for more than 50 percent of the nation's wetlands and streams. The Clean Water Act has been a good thing for Michigan and for our country. Allowing the Court's 'watering down' of the original bill to stand would be a mistake," said Congressman Dingell.

The loss of Clean Water Act protections for streams and wetlands, the source waters for larger rivers and lakes, will have an impact on downstream waterways. These smaller waterways supply water, filter out pollution, slow flood water, trap sediment, and provide habitat for fish, birds and other wildlife.

“When BP proposed to expand its toxic pollution into Lake Michigan last summer, public outrage and Congressional action stopped this pollution increase in its tracks,” said Korpalski. “People throughout the region showed that they demand a higher standard of care for the Great Lakes. And the recent flooding reminds us of the importance of wetlands and streams to absorb and slow floodwaters. So many of the country’s wetlands have already been destroyed, we must safeguard those that remain. Congress should act now to protect the Great Lakes and all of America’s waters.”

Environment Michigan delivered more than 2,000 postcards from Michigan residents thanking Congressman Dingell for his leadership on the Clean Water Restoration Act.

“Michiganders should know that Congressman Dingell stands for policies that protect the Great Lakes and our other waterways,” said Korpalski. “He was an architect of the original Clean Water Act and is helping to lead the charge to restore protections to all of our waters. We look forward to working with him to pass the Clean Water Restoration Act,” she added.

The House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee is likely to vote on the Clean Water Restoration Act in the next month, with full House passage anticipated later this summer.

Environment Michigan called on the other members of the Michigan Congressional delegation to support the Clean Water Restoration Act. In particular, Environment Michigan urged Representative Candice Miller to support the bill when it comes up for a vote in the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.

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Environment Michigan is a statewide, citizen-based environmental advocacy organization.


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