Celebrating the 43rd Anniversary of the Clean Water Act

Kent Island, Md.

In 1972, the Clean Water Act amended the Federal Water Pollution Control Act, which was the first major U.S. law to address water pollution. This law established the basic structure for regulating pollutant discharges into the waters of the United States, and it has been the cornerstone of efforts to protect our nation’s waters.

Today , I spoke on the Senate Floor about recent efforts to protect America’s waterways, such as the EPA’s final Clean Water Rule, and why we should defend these efforts and allow for nationwide implementation.

In May, the EPA released their final Clean Water Rule, which completed another chapter in the Clean Water Act’s history.

As the Clean Water Act worked to restore the health of our nation’s water resources, we saw the U.S. economy grow exponentially, demonstrating that America doesn’t have to choose between a healthy environment and a robust economy.

A few Supreme Court decisions, however, called on the EPA and the Army Corps to clarify the definition of “Waters of the U.S.”
The EPA’s final rule restores some long overdue regulatory certainty to the Clean Water Act.

This rule allows the Clean Water Act to continue its important function of restoring the health of our nation’s waters. The rule became effective this August, but immediately following implementation and on this anniversary, there have been unprecedented attacks on the final rule.

As the rule came out, a federal district court in North Dakota granted a preliminary injunction blocking its implementation.
The EPA continued to implement the rule in all states but the 13 states that filed the suit that led to the injunction.In October, however, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit decided to stay implementation of the Clean Water Rule for the entire nation.

This attempt to overturn the Clean Water Rule is a dangerous, shortsighted, and partisan step away from good governance, public health, and commonsense environmental protection.

Over half our nation’s stream miles and 20 million acres of wetlands are now without the protections afforded by the Clean Water Act.
These protections are needed for the drinking supplies of one in three Americans.

I am also very concerned about how this decision puts at risk the clean, safe, reliable water Marylanders and the Maryland economy rely on every day.
The Clean Water Act and the EPA’s final rule are essential to the health of the Chesapeake Bay.

I hope the court moves swiftly to affirm the rule in its final decision and restores the invaluable protections needed for the drinking supplies of one in three Americans.

As we recognize the anniversary of the Clean Water Act, I want us to continue to defend this nation’s waters from pollution. This act ensures that our citizens receive the clean water they need. The EPA’s final Clean Water Rule provides further regulatory clarity that we need to ensure the health of our water resources.

I therefore urge my colleagues to continue to defend and fight for clean water as we recognize the 43rd anniversary of the Clean Water Act.
We need to implement the EPA’s final Clean Water Rule nationwide.