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E-M:/ Action Urged On Clean Water In Wake of EPA Memo

Clean Water Action News                             Contact: Lynn Thorp 202-895-0420 Ext. 109
                                                                                                           David Holtz 313-300-4454 (cell)
For Immediate Release
Tuesday, July 08, 2008                                                            


Congress Urged To Act In Wake of Leaked EPA Memo 

Clean Water Act Violations Ignored By Bush Administration

Washington, DC – A leading public interest group called on Congress to act immediately on the proposed Clean Water Restoration Act after it was revealed in a government memo today that enforcement of the federal Clean Water Act was suffering.  

 “It is outrageous if not surprising that the Bush administration has failed to protect America’s waters in more than 300 instances, and unless Congress moves to remedy the situation we can expect more of our drinking water sources and other waters to be open season for polluters,” said Lynn Thorp, Clean Water Action’s National Campaigns Coordinator.

The Washington Post reported today that a memo by Granta Y. Nakayama, The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Assistant Administrator for Enforcement and Compliance Assurance outlines confusion that has afflicted federal wetlands protections since a new permitting guidance from the administration went into affect following a Supreme Court decision. 

The Post reported that in his memo to Benjamin Grumbles, EPA's assistant administrator for water, Nakayama said the EPA’s June 2007 guide to regulators' decisions is having "a significant impact on enforcement." Nakayama and his staff concluded that between July 2006 and December 2007, EPA's regional offices had decided not to pursue potential Clean Water Act violations in 304 cases "because of jurisdictional uncertainty," the Post reported today.

Waters covering 59 percent of the nation’s waterways that are the drinking water source for more than 100 million people were put at risk by federal agency policies put into place after a series of court decisions followed by federal agency actions in 2003 and 2007 resulted in removal of many wetlands and streams and other bodies of water from protections under the nation’s 35-year-old Clean Water Act.

 U.S. Rep. James Oberstar (D-MN), chair of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, held a hearing in April on the proposed Clean Water Restoration Act.  The bill, HR2421,  first introduced in 2004, is meant to clarify Congress’ original intent to prevent pollution and destruction in all water bodies.   The bill, and its  Senate version,  SB1870,  await action by Congress. Passage of the Clean Water Restoration Act is a priority for Clean Water Action in 2008.

 In his testimony at the April hearing, Clean Water Action’s Darrell Gerber noted intensified and more frequent flooding and deeper droughts, in part due to global warming.  “Passing the Clean Water Restoration Act will protect the very resources which function to lessen the impact of these problems,” said Gerber.  “Now more than ever we need federal water protections that meet the original goals of the Clean Water Act to ensure that our water is fishable, swimmable and drinkable.”

Washington Post article: 



David Holtz
Director of National Communications
Clean Water Action

1200 Michigan Ave, Ste A
Lansing, MI 48823
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