Bad Riders On the Storm

from Wildlife Promise

Chesapeake Bay

Chesapeake Bay photo by Scott Bauer

The government shutdown clock is ticking away furiously in Washington, D.C. as Congress wrestles with a budget agreement.

While many Americans have no choice but to ride out the storm, bad water riders in the house-passed Continuing Resolution, or H.R.1, continue to cloud the budget battle.

These harmful and unnecessary pieces of legislation have little to do with the budget bill or spending cuts and more to do with handcuffing the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and creating giant loopholes for big polluters.

Bad water riders will:

  • Ban EPA from closing recent Clean Water Act loopholes that remove protections for many waters,  jeopardizing the drinking water for 117 million Americans, threatening over half the nation’s stream miles, and opening 20 million acres of wetlands and prime wildlife habitat to polluters and developers. The Clean Water Act gives the EPA the authority to hold polluters accountable for oil spills, sewage and animal waste dumps, and other pollutants that go into rivers, lakes streams, estuaries, and wetlands.
  • Ban EPA from protecting municipal water supplies, fisheries, and other critical water resources from being destroyed by large-scale mining, public works, and development projects that dredge, fill, and pollute productive waters.  EPA’s use of its Clean Water Act “404(c)” authority, a deliberative and open process rarely used, has saved taxpayers millions of dollars on wasteful and destructive public works projects, and saved Americans some of their most precious bays, rivers, and streams. This authority has only been used 13 times, and most recently to block the Yazoo Pumps project in Mississippi, which would have destroyed valuable wetlands and wasted billions of taxpayer dollars.
  • Endanger the Chesapeake Bay by blocking efforts to clean up the Chesapeake Bay just as progress is finally being made to limit allowable pollution in the waters that feed the Bay through fair and effective measures. The Chesapeake Bay is the largest estuary in the United States, covering 6 states and Washington, D.C. The watershed supports rural economies and the $730 billion-a-year outdoor recreation industry.
  • Endanger Florida Waters by blocking recently issued water quality standards for Florida’s lakes and flowing waters that are necessary to protect Florida’s waters from excess pollution from sewage, manure and fertilizer.  Excessive nutrient pollution from these chemicals and waste has created toxic algae blooms in Florida waters that can spread for over a 100 miles. The blooms undermine water quality in Florida, which lowers properties values, hurts waterfront businesses, and serves a major health risk to people, pets, and wildlife.
  • Endanger the San Francisco Bay Delta by blocking key measures to protect imperiled salmon, Delta smelt, and the health of the entire Bay-Delta ecosystem, which is reliant on its life-giving water supply.
  • Endanger Klamath salmon restoration by blocking a study critical to rebuilding what was once the Nation’s third largest salmon-producing river systems, while also accommodating fisheries, landowner, and electric utility stakeholders.
  • Allow more stream dumping of coal mining waste by blocking EPA from restricting water pollution from proposed mountain top removal and other coal-mining projects, and from the toxic coal ash waste that is contaminating our streams and water supplies.

Speak Up for Wildlife

You can help stop the attacks on water and wildlife in the Continuing Resolution by speaking up for wildlife at NWF’s Action Center. Don’t let these bad water riders wash away America’s bedrock environmental safeguards.