For Immediate Release
Feingold Reintroduces Effort to Protect the Drinking Water of Over 100 Million Americans
Only Congressional Action Can Stop Roll Back of Clean Water Act
WASHINGTON - U.S. Senator Russ Feingold reintroduced
legislation today to restore protections for waterways throughout the country
that impact the drinking water of more than 100 million Americans.
Feingold's Clean Water Restoration Act (CWRA) would ensure protections
for rivers, streams and wetlands, which were long protected under the Clean
Water Act (CWA), but are now in jeopardy of losing protections as a result of
two recent Supreme Court cases. Since those decisions, more and more
waters continue to be stripped of protections previously provided by the CWA,
which became law in 1972. Feingold is joined by twenty-three cosponsors
including Senator Barbara Boxer, Chairman of the Environment and
Public Works (EPW) Committee, and Senator Ben Cardin, Chairman of the EPW
Water and Wildlife Subcommittee.
"The choice before us today is simple but urgent: If you support
the Clean Water Act, you must also support this bill to restore the
protections of the Clean Water Act," Feingold said. "Every day Congress
fails to reaffirm Clean Water Act protections, more and
more waters are stripped of their protections, jeopardizing the
drinking water of millions of Americans, as well as our nation's
wildlife habitats, recreational pursuits, agricultural and industrial
uses, and public health. I am pleased the bill has such broad support
from governors, attorneys general, farming groups, outdoor recreation groups
and others who recognize the great danger of leaving our waters and
The CWA was enacted in 1972 to clean up and protect our nation's
waters, including isolated wetlands and headwater streams, which are critical
to our environment and economy. However, two controversial, closely
decided U.S. Supreme Court cases, Solid Waste Agency of Northern Cook County v.
Army Corps of Engineers in 2001 and Rapanos v. United States in 2006, greatly
reduced the scope of the CWA, undermining decades of clean water
protections. The decisions have also led to significant
confusion, permitting delays and increased costs caused by
uncertainty about which waters remain protected after the court decisions.
The president and members of his administration have spoken in favor of
restoring the scope of the CWA. During the campaign, President
Obama's campaign stated that if elected, he would support and sign into
law legislation that effectively restores the historical scope of the
CWA. During her nomination hearings, Lisa Jackson, Environmental
Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator, stated that if confirmed, she would
assist Congress with legislation to clarify the scope of the
CWA. And in April 2008, Carol Browner, who served as the EPA Administrator
under President Clinton and who currently works on climate change issues in the
Obama administration, testified in support of Feingold's
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"Farmers were the first conservationists and they will continue
to lead in protecting United States
waters, which is why the Wisconsin Farmers Union is pleased to support Senator
Feingold's reintroduction of the Clean Water Restoration Act," said Sue Beitlich, President of the Wisconsin Farmers Union. "Recent court rulings have
rolled back the protection of bodies of water and farmers' livelihoods
depend on these basic protections. This legislation is a prime example of
economically-sustainable environmental policy. It will not force farmers
to stop farming on wetlands that have been utilized for years, nor alter the
regulation of agricultural activities. WFU believes that wetlands that
have not been farmed should not be used for any additional agricultural
activities. And harming sensitive, ecologically important
waterways-the lifeblood of our profession-is and never should be a
viable option in agriculture. It's best to take a common sense
approach - farm on what's been used, as needed, and leave the rest
"The County of Door thanks Senator Feingold for continuing to lead
the effort to restore Clean Water Act protections for small streams and
isolated wetlands," said Michael J.
Serpe, Administrator of County of Door (Wisconsin).
"Restoring Clean Water Act protections to all our streams and
wetlands protected prior to Supreme Court decisions has taken on greater
significance as counties across the nation are dealing with massive flooding
and lack of clean drinking water. On top of that, until Congress
takes action, we are further burdened by new threats of unregulated industrial
pollution to our streams drinking water sources, and confusing permitting tests
and processes that contribute to delays and strained resources at all levels of
government as we grapple with the uncertainty created by the
"The Wisconsin Wildlife Federation applauds Senator Feingold and
the Clean Water Restoration Act's cosponsors for leading the fight to
waters," said George Meyer, Executive
Director of the Wisconsin Wildlife Federation.
"Wisconsin sportsmen and women are very
concerned with the loss of fish and wildlife habitat due to the rollback of
Clean Water protections. Congress must move quickly to restore these
long-standing protections for wetlands, lakes and streams."
The legislation is cosponsored by Senators Boxer, Cardin, Brown,
Cantwell, Carper, Dodd, Durbin, Gillibrand, Kerry, Kohl, Lautenberg, Leahy,
Levin, Lieberman, Menendez, Merkley, Reed, Sanders, Schumer, Shaheen, Stabenow,
Whitehouse, and Wyden. A complete list of endorsements is available here.
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