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Senate defeats bill to derail clean-water rule

By Kristyn Brady, Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership

WASHINGTON, D.C. – In a Senate vote Nov. 3, “The Federal Water Quality Protection Act,” S.1140—which would have stripped Clean Water Act protections from some waters and nullified a rule to clarify protections for others—was defeated.

“For all Americans who love trout, beer, and a nice glass of water, today is a great day,” says Steve Moyer, Trout Unlimited’s vice president for government affairs. “We thank all of the senators who stood with sportsmen, turned away the blizzard of bad information, and supported clean water.”

Eight of the country’s leading sportsmen’s groups sent Senators a letter opposing the legislation, introduced by Sen. John Barrasso of Wyoming, saying that it would leave headwater streams and wetlands at risk, despite a multi-year public rulemaking process that highlighted the need to protect these areas. “Senators who voted against the Barrasso bill voted for clean water and the outdoor recreation economy, which depends on healthy streams and wetlands,” says Scott Kovarovics, executive director of the Izaak Walton League of America. “These lawmakers followed science and common sense and listened to hunters and anglers, who overwhelmingly support conserving vital water resources.”

“The science behind the rule is strong, as is its public support, and these streams and wetlands are critical for fish, wildlife, and our way of life,” says Collin O’Mara, president and CEO of the National Wildlife Federation. “So, while we are pleased that this bill failed to reach cloture, and we thank the senators who voted for clean water today, but it’s hard to understand why it was up for debate in the first place.”

However, multiple threats remain. Sen. Joni Ernst of Iowa has called for the use of the Congressional Review Act to overturn the current rule and prevent any future rulemaking. The Senate is expected to turn to Sen. Ernst’s proposal next.

“Hunters and anglers must remain vigilant despite our victory today,” says Whit Fosburgh, president and CEO of the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership. “Many in Congress are determined to undercut the safeguards we need to enjoy clean water and quality days afield, whether it’s through obscure legislative processes or tucking offending provisions into thousand-page must-pass spending bills at the end of the year.”

Learn more about these attacks and other threats to clean water here.

Several sportsmen's groups support restoring Clean Water Act protections to streams, wetlands and headwaters. Image: NWFSeveral sportsmen's groups support restoring Clean Water Act protections to streams, wetlands and headwaters. Image: NWF


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