Clean Water Rule saved from wicked attacks in Congress.
Today marks a very important victory in our battle to save EPA’s Clean Water Rule from a phalanx in Congress intent on destroying the rule by any legislative-means necessary. Opponents in Congress failed three times to stop a rule that will provide critical protection to our nation’s most vulnerable streams and wetlands that in turn give life to our larger rivers.
The attacks on the rule were relentless and you may say wicked, favoring polluters over the 1 in 3 Americans who get their drinking water from the streams protected by the Clean Water Rule.
To develop this rule, EPA held over 400 meetings, reviewed more than 1200 peer-reviewed scientific studies and amended the proposed rule to address the many concerns of big agriculture. The agency received over one million comments on the rule, which it considered before issuing a final rule in May, 2015. None of this was enough for certain congressional delegates.
First, a bill introduced by Senator John Barrasso would have blocked the Clean Water Rule AND narrowed the historical protections of the Clean Water Act itself.
Immediately following the defeat of the Barrasso bill, both chambers of Congress introduced a Congressional Review Act (CRA) challenge. The CRA is an extreme, rarely used tool for blocking federal rules, and is generally used by incoming presidents to overturn rules of the outgoing administration. Although the CRA challenge passed both houses of Congress, proponents did not gain enough votes to override a presidential veto.
Shamelessly, congressional opponents tried again with an anti-Clean Water Rule rider to the omnibus appropriations bills. And we defeated them again! We learned today that Congress agreed upon a spending bill that did not contain any riders attacking the Clean Water Rule. Hooray!
Yet the war to protect America’s rivers and wetlands is far from over. As we wrote previously, the rule faces legal challenges in federal courts across the country, including the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals, which is expected to rule shortly on whether it has jurisdiction to hear the case.
But for now, let us take a moment to celebrate. We’ve worked tirelessly to defeat the many challenges thrown at us, and it is a true victory to have defeated them. THANK YOU!
The Congressional Witch is “really most sincerely dead!” Sing it high, sing it low.