Labor, Environmental Leaders Applaud Improved Clean Water Act Protections

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Gina McCarthy today will announce the finalization of a rule to clarify Clean Water Act protections that impact the drinking water supply of over one hundred million Americans.

May 27, 2015

WASHINGTON, D.C. (May 27, 2015) – U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Gina McCarthy today will announce the finalization of a rule to clarify Clean Water Act protections that impact the drinking water supply of over one hundred million Americans. More specifically, this clean water rule restores pollution protections that used to exist for streams and wetlands that feed into bigger lakes and rivers, and strengthens enforcement of those protections.

“Clean water is a basic need we depend on for good public health and even for economic prosperity,” said BlueGreen Alliance Executive Director Kim Glas. “We can’t afford to take the streams and wetlands that supply clean drinking water for granted. This final rule takes important steps to better preserve and protect hundreds of thousands of miles of streams and wetlands.”

A recent poll conducted by the League of Conservation Voters showed more than two-thirds of respondents—Democrats, independents and Republicans alike—support the rule.

“Thanks to the Obama administration, the drinking water supplies of 117 million Americans will gain strong safeguards against pollution. These long-overdue protections also will ensure cleaner wetlands, headwaters, brooks and streams that we use for swimming, fishing and other recreational activities,” said Rhea Suh, President of the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC). “It was a long, hard slog to reach this day. Now we will redouble our efforts to defend the new Clean Water rule against developers, big polluters and their allies in Congress who want to kill it.’’

According to EPA, the proposed rule would provide an estimated $388 million to $514 million annually of benefits to the public by reducing flooding, providing wildlife habitat, supporting hunting and fishing, and recharging groundwater.

“The safety of our drinking water depends upon clean source waters,” said Michael Langford, President of the Utility Workers Union of America. “The Clean Water Act has restored and maintained the integrity of our waters since it was enacted nearly 40 years ago, and clean water would be impossible without protecting headwaters. Our water infrastructure is already challenged due to increasing demand and lack of investment. Restoring protection of our streams and wetlands is essential.”