From the National Wildlife Federation:
Washington, DC – U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Chairman of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, today made the following remarks regarding a letter from the Obama Administration urging enactment of legislation to amend the Clean Water Act to clarify the scope of the Act’s protections in response to recent Supreme Court decisions, and outlining principles for that legislation.
Senator Boxer said: “The Obama Administration has provided a clear call for legislation to ensure that the Clean Water Act continues to be an effective tool to keep America’s waters clean and our families healthy. I look forward to working closely with the Administration and my colleagues in the Senate to enact legislation that protects rivers, lakes and wetlands and keeps Americans’ drinking water safe while providing the clear guidance that farmers, businesses, federal agencies, and state and local governments need.”
The letter, signed by Nancy Sutley, the Chair of the White House Council on Environmental Quality; Lisa Jackson, the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency; Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack; Interior Secretary Ken Salazar; and Acting Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works Terrence Salt, outlines principles for legislation to clarify the meaning of the term “waters of the United States.”
Supreme Court decisions in 2001 (Solid Waste Agency of Northern Cook County v. United States Army Corps of Engineers) and 2006 (Rapanos v. United States) narrowed the prior interpretation of the scope of waters protected by the Clean Water Act, fostering confusion and uncertainty and making it difficult for federal agencies to effectively implement the law to protect public health and the environment. Senator Russ Feingold (D-WI) has authored legislation to address this issue, and Senator Boxer has pledged to work with her colleagues to move legislation forward as soon as possible.