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BISHOP AMENDMENT WILL PRESERVE FEDERAL ROLE IN CLEAN WATER PROTECTION, ENFORCEMENT
WASHINGTON-- Congressman Tim Bishop announced today that he will seek to amend the Clean Water Cooperative Federalism Act of 2011 (H.R. 2018) during a full committee mark up of the bill to ensure that the federal government's ability to enforce water quality standards under the Clean Water Act is not limited. In its current form, H.R. 2018 would undermine the federal government’s ability to compel states to effectively implement updated water quality standards to deal with modern pollution and also block EPA from objecting to individual discharge permits that do not comply with water quality standards.
Bishop is Ranking Member of the Water Resources and Environment Subcommittee, which oversees EPA’s enforcement of the Clean Water Act. Bishop also said that consideration of the bill is premature since the Subcommittee will hold a hearing Friday to learn more about many of the issues that H.R. 2018 addresses. Bishop said his colleagues should have more time to study the impacts the bill will have on their districts and that stakeholders and experts should be able to offer their views on the potential impact of the major changes it proposes.
“Clean water is a right for all Americans, not only to protect public health but also to protect industries such as tourism and fishing that rely on healthy waterways to create jobs and spur local economies,” said Bishop. “It would be unacceptable for states to loosen their standards for water quality, allowing polluters to simply send their pollution downstream.”
An analysis by the Environmental Protection Agency shows that H.R. 2018 would fundamentally alter the current Federal/State relationship outlined in the Clean Water Act and would hinder the federal government's ability to ensure there is an equitable level of protection provided to our nation’s waters. He announced that during tomorrow's markup of H.R. 2018 in the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, he will offer an amendment to nullify the bill's restrictions and prohibitions on the EPA’s authority to protect water from pollution when waters are:
1) A source of public drinking water supply;
2) Provide flood protection for communities;
3) Are a valuable fish and wildlife habitat that provides economic benefit; or
4) Are coastal recreational waters.
“Under the Clean Water Act, we've made progress from the days of rivers catching on fire, but that is absolutely not a reason to take a giant step backwards as proposed in this bill,” Bishop said. “My amendment would reinforce the federal safety net that keeps our water safe and protects the livelihoods of the millions of Americans whose jobs rely on clean waterways.”
Bishop is recognized as a leader in clean water and environmental issues in Congress. Last year, he sponsored the Long Island Sound Improvement Act which sought to improve and restore water quality in Long Island Sound by providing new funding and provides regulatory tools for states and municipalities to protect waters throughout the Sound’s watershed.
Bishop's amendment has the support of American Rivers, Clean Water Action, Clean Water Network, Defenders of Wildlife, Earth Justice, Environment America, League of Conservation Voters, The National Wildlife Federation, Natural Resources Defense Council, Sierra Club, and the Southern Environmental Law Center.