A spending bill in the U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee shouldn’t be the place the Clean Water Act gets neutered, but if a handful of senators on the committee have their way this week, that’s exactly what could happen.
Earlier this spring, the EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers announces a proposed rule to clarify the protection given to small headwater streams by the Clean Water Act—a couple of misguided Supreme Court decisions in the early and mid-2000s muddied the water and left some of the most important trout and salmon habitat unprotected under the CWA.
This rule is now out for public comment, and will be well into July. But, if committee allows the spending bill to be amended by senators willing to play politics with clean water, then the rulemaking just becomes a colossal waste of time.
To that end, Trout Unlimited is asking anglers across the nation to contact the committee’s members and let them know that sportsmen aren’t too keen with politicians interfering with quality fish habitat and their fishing opportunity. Because the amendment is a last-minute development, TU is asking anglers to call, not write or e-mail, members of the committee, particularly if their senator or senators are on the committee.
“As many anglers know, few laws have helped sustain and restore America’s coldwater fisheries more than the Clean Water Act,” said Steve Moyer, TU’s vice president for government affairs. “Since 1972, the Clean Water Act has improved water quality in thousands of our nation’s streams and made fishing better for everyone. We now have the chance to restore protections to perhaps the most important waters in the country and a handful of senators want to stop that from happening, largely for political reasons. That’s not acceptable.”
Headwater streams provide vital spawning and rearing habitat for trout and salmon, and they contribute cold, clean water to countless American watersheds—water that ends up coming out of taps and faucets all over America. Protecting these waters is a huge priority for TU and for anglers across the country, Moyer said.
“We need anglers to step up and call their senators on this one,” he said. “It’s hugely important that we be heard and that the committee leadership nips this amendment in the bud.”
Chris Hunt is the national communications director for Trout Unlimited, and an AFFTA board member.