Where Are the Clean Water Rules?

By Shelley Vinyard
Regional Program Director

Across the country, 60 percent of our streams, 117 million Americans’ drinking water, and 20 million acres of wetlands lack adequate protection from pollution. President Obama took a step toward fixing this in April of last year by proposing new guidelines to restore these protections, and Environment America has played a huge role in making this happen.

But the protections have not been finalized yet—in part due to polluter influence and continued threat of roll back in Congress. We have defended against the Congressional roll backs, and are having hundreds of thousands of conversations on this issue this summer across the country. We need the President to finalize these protections now, to ensure our rivers, lakes, and streams are adequately protected. The New York Times editorialized on the issue in today's print version. Among other things, the editorial says:

Environmentalists welcomed the guidance for its clarity and common sense: Small tributaries and wetlands with a hydrological connection to larger downstream waters would be covered. Irrigated areas, and farm ponds constructed for watering animals, would not. Not surprisingly, commercial and farming interests denounced the proposal as another “job-killing” regulation from the E.P.A. The White House, which has been under steady attack from House Republicans for supporting new clean air rules, appears eager to avoid another fight.

This is bad environmental policy, and it doesn’t buy the president much of anything politically. Instead of trying to appease Republicans — who will come after the White House no matter what — Mr. Obama should release the guidance and explain to Americans why it is essential for keeping this country’s water clean and safe.

The Times really hit the nail on the head here and we hope the Administration takes heed.