The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers are finalizing a rule that will restore protections for small streams across Idaho and the U.S.A. Unfortunately, Congress is attempting to undermine these protections so that polluters can avoid responsibility under the Clean Water Act.

For the first 30 years of the Clean Water Act, intermittent streams that dried up during parts of the year still received full protections under the law. Following Supreme Court decisions in 2001 and 2006, uncertainty clouded implementation of the Clean Water Act.

As a result, protections were limited for 60% of small streams and 20-million acres of wetlands across the country. What that means is that the sources of drinking water for 117 million Americans are no longer protected by the Clean Water Act.

This matters, because guess where small streams flow…into larger streams and rivers. So, technically, you can’t pollute larger streams, but you can pollute smaller streams that feed those larger streams-unless commonsense provisions are restored.

To clear up the confusion and ensure protection for America’s waterways, the EPA and U.S. Army Corps, who regulate the Clean Water Act. issued a new rule which

  • specifically defines and protects tributaries that feed downstream waters
  • safeguards wetlands and ponds connected to nearby waters
  • restores protections to streams that were on the books for decades.

Contrary to opposition from anti-government and pro-industry interests, the rule will NOT result in regulation of puddles and is not an abusive overreach of executive privilege.

Nonetheless, Congress is up to their usual games, attempting to block the implementation of this rule that will provide protection for the drinking water of 1 out of every 3 Americans.

In fact, the U.S. House passed a bill attempting to undermine these protections.

Worse yet, they’ve attached the measure to a must-pass spending bill. After all, it just wouldn’t feel like summer in America without the threat of another government shutdown looming on the horizon…