Sunday, June 17, 2007

American Rivers : River Policy Update

One year ago, a fractured decision by the U.S. Supreme Court threw a blanket of uncertainty over 35 years of Clean Water Act protections. Last week the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released a guidance document to guide the agency in carrying out the Court's decision, but it does little to ensure protection for many of the nation's waters. The guidance requires EPA staff to show on a case-by-case basis that waters such as wetlands and intermittent headwater streams are connected to permanent bodies of water such as rivers and lakes. The finding increases the workload required of EPA staff to show what is scientifically known - that upstream and downstream waters are connected. Conservationists contend the guidance will only generate more confusion by creating a multi-layered, laborious process to determine what waters are protected. They strongly support legislation that would reaffirm the original intent of the Clean Water Act to protect all waters of the United States. H.R. 2421, the Clean Water Restoration Act, was introduced recently by Representatives James Oberstar (D-MN), John Dingell (D-MI), Vernon Ehlers (R-MI) and over 150 additional cosponsors. A companion bill is expected to be introduced in the Senate by Sen. Russ Feingold (D-WI).

View the American Rivers River Policy Update here.

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