In Urgent Issues, Water policy, Water Pollution, Water Quality

Action Alert – Tell EPA: “Don’t Blow a Hole in the Clean Water Act”

Kristine Oblock, Clean Water Network, and Gayle Killam, River Network, at the River Rally Action Station

It’s hard to believe that two weeks have already passed since we were with 450 clean water protectors from across the country at River Rally 2018. River Rally has so much to offer – learning, networking, celebrating – and an opportunity to take action. At this year’s River Rally Action Station we had the opportunity to talk with dozens of River Rally attendees about important and timely policy issues and offer ways they could weigh-in and make their voices heard.

A key issue we highlighted is a rollback the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has proposed and is currently taking comments on until May 21, 2018. At River Rally we collected 247 comments representing 36 states to mail into EPA on this important issue.

247 of these postcards, from 36 states, were signed at River Rally and sent to EPA asking them to not move forward with the rollback

If you don’t know about the proposed rollback yet – or haven’t had a chance to weigh in with EPA –  here’s the scoop: The EPA has a longstanding position that when a polluter puts pollution into the ground and it moves into surface waters it is covered by the Clean Water Act.

Now, EPA is reconsidering that position – and we need to let them know that if pollution directly discharged into surface waters is covered by the Clean Water Act so should pollution that is discharged into the ground and ultimately ends up in our waterways.

These protections make a difference in our communities.  For instance, in Tennessee and Virginia, District Courts have found that energy companies have violated the Clean Water Act by allowing coal ash to seep into groundwater which then flows into nearby rivers. Frank Holleman, Senior Attorney at the Southern Environmental Law Center, testified at the hearing on this proposed rollback and did a great job of explaining how it “would blow a hole in the Clean Water Act.”

A reversal of this policy would be illegal, would undercut EPA’s mission to protect public health and the environment, and would expose people to unchecked pollution. It would also pass the burden of pollution on to the public, forcing us to pay the polluters’ costs in tax dollars, health risks, decreased property values, and degraded fisheries and recreational opportunities.

Here are two ways you can let EPA know they should NOT reverse this policy (and spread the word to your networks and help them take action): Clean Water Action has online action page here and here is a direct link to where EPA is taking comments online. We also developed a comment letter template, email April Ingle if you want us to send you a copy.

EPA should protect PEOPLE not polluters and continue to control this type of pollution under the Clean Water Act.

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