“We have waited 12 years for clarity. For 12 long years, our nation’s streams and rivers have been vulnerable to pollution and degradation, and for 12 years, farmers, industry, and developers have been wasting valuable time and money navigating through the regulatory morass on the Clean Water Act left behind by the U.S. Supreme Court and the Bush administration. The Obama administration, and especially EPA Administrator McCarthy and Assistant Secretary Jo-Ellen Darcy, should be commended for their dedication to provide a clear, predicable, and comprehensive way of protecting our nation’s waters,” said Napolitano.
Today’s final rulemaking to define the term “waters of the United States” is the culmination of 12 years of debate, over one year of public comment, and unprecedented outreach by the Obama administration to provide additional clarity and certainty on the scope of waters protected by the Clean Water Act. During that time, as administration witnesses testified before the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, the EPA and the Corps of Engineers received over 1,000,000 public comments on the proposed Clean Water Protection rulemaking, and held over 400 public meetings to discuss the proposed rulemaking, and to solicit recommendations for additional clarity and certainty.
“I, for one, am pleased with the changes this administration committed to make to address concerns raised by our constituents on the April 2014 proposed Clean Water rulemaking, especially ensuring that the rulemaking did not, inadvertently, change the status of municipal stormwater conveyances, water recycling or groundwater recharge areas. It is apparent that this administration heard these concerns, listened to them, and made appropriate changes in the final rule to address these concerns. This final rule is significantly improved from the April 2014 proposed rule, and provides a more definitive, more measurable, and clearly limited scope of Clean Water Act authority, based on the science and the law,” noted Napolitano.
“Over the past year, the administration has highlighted the importance of protecting our rivers, streams, and wetlands to protect our water, our Nation’s economy, and our cherished way of life – not only for current generations, but for our children and our grandchildren. As the events of the past few years in the West have demonstrated, water is a precious resource that deserves critical protection. In fact, the 99.2 percent of Californians that drink water from public systems that rely on the seasonal, rain-dependent, and headwater streams will greatly benefit from this final rulemaking in the protection of these critical resources,” added Napolitano. “As we ask the average Californian to be mindful of his or her daily water usage, we need to ensure that upstream interests share in this effort – this is a fundamental premise of this final rulemaking.”
“The Obama administration has met its commitment to protect our precious water resources for generations to come; now it is our turn to fulfill our duty to protect these resources. I only hope that those groups that have historically been opposed to reinvigorated protection of our Nation’s rivers, streams, and wetlands, take the time to read this final rule BEFORE they consider opposing it,” concluded Napolitano.
Napolitano is the top Democrat on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Water Resources and Environment Subcommittee. The Subcommittee has Congressional jurisdiction over the Clean Water Act and this finalized rule.
EPA’s Clean Water Act Webpage – http://www2.epa.gov/cleanwaterrule