"It Always Takes A Woman"

The title of this post is stolen from EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson, who used the line during a recent public appearance.  (Click here, then click on the player button to watch it; the relevant discussion begins at about 15:40.)

Administrator Jackson was speaking of a particular woman -- Mother Nature -- and her ability to keep water safe and plentiful.  She's right.  Water bodies such as small streams, ponds, and wetlands can absorb flood waters, filter out water pollution, shelter wildlife, and recharge groundwater and surface water supplies used to supply drinking water. 

But, as Administrator Jackson indicated, Mother Nature is in trouble.  Across the country, numerous water bodies are at risk of losing protections that the Clean Water Act provide against unregulated pollution.   As I've discussed before, two Supreme Court decisions made the law -- which had been remarkably successful at improving the Nation's water quality for decades -- a mess.  Thousands of water bodies already have been denied legal protection; countless more await the same fate. 

This crisis is the subject of a report NRDC released today with a number of partner organizations, titled, "Courting Disaster: How the Supreme Court Has Broken the Clean Water Act and Why Congress Must Fix It".  The report spotlights dozens of cases where water bodies have either been found not to be protected by the law or where their status has been questioned.  The report shows how these legal decisions have real-world consequences for critical aquatic resources, and demonstrates the need for Congress to put the law right by passing the Clean Water Restoration Act.

Today's report, sadly, is a sequel to a prior report identifying many other waterways affected by the legal muddle.  I say "sadly" because the problem has persisted for way too long, with water bodies being polluted or destroyed all the while.  Yet I'm optimistic today, because leaders in Congress and the administration are focusing on fixing the problem.  Senator Feingold recently introduced the Clean Water Restoration Act with 23 co-sponsors and, in another recent appearance, Administrator Jackson identified this legal mess as her top water pollution issue.  (Click here -- the pertinent part of the discussion runs from the 17:09 mark to the 18:18 mark )  She noted her support for restoring protections to key waters, and more importantly, gave a sense of what kinds of waters she had in mind: "First and foremost, I want to make sure that we are embracing all the waters where we can potentially have impacts on human health and the environment."  Again, the Administrator has it right, and her approach suggests the need to restore the Act to its prior comprehensive scope, because all kinds of water bodies support wildlife habitat, clean drinking water supplies, fishing opportunities, irrigation, and more.

Passing the Clean Water Restoration Act and re-establishing protections for the Nation's water bodies will give Mother Nature the tools she needs to provide safe and sufficient water now and in the future.  She deserves the help.