Bush Administration Comes to Its Senses, Decides to Abandon Plans to Limit Clean Water Act Protections, Says NRDC

Statement by Daniel Rosenberg, NRDC Clean Water Project

WASHINGTON (December 16, 2003) - Late this afternoon Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Mike Leavitt announced that his agency would not issue a new rule on federal regulatory oversight of so-called "isolated" wetlands and streams. Below is a statement by Daniel Rosenberg, an attorney with the Clean Water Project at NRDC (the Natural Resources Defense Council).

"In the face of strong opposition to its plan for a rulemaking from members of Congress, 39 states, hunting and fishing groups, and scientists, the Bush administration saw the writing on the wall and decided that weakening the Clean Water Act could not withstand public scrutiny. We commend EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers for their announcement late this afternoon that they are abandoning their misguided plan to limit the scope of protection provided by the Clean Water Act for our nation's streams, wetlands and other waters.

"However, we remain concerned that the two agencies have not withdrawn the directive they issued to their staffs last January, which abandoned protection for 20 million acres of wetlands, as well as an unknown number of streams. While dropping plans for weakening the Clean Water Act is a big step in the right direction, our wetlands and streams have already been damaged, and that destruction will continue unless the agencies withdraw that directive.

"More than 200 House members sent a letter to President Bush last month, urging him to not only abandon plans to limit the scope of the law, but also to withdraw the directive. The time to do that is now. The next step, equally important, will be for the administration to repair the damage that its policies to date have already caused."

The Natural Resources Defense Council is a national, non-profit organization of scientists, lawyers and environmental specialists dedicated to protecting public health and the environment. Founded in 1970, NRDC has more than 550,000 members nationwide, served from offices in New York, Washington, Los Angeles and San Francisco.

Related NRDC Pages
July 11, 2003, Backgrounder: Bush Administration Plans to Limit Scope of Clean Water Act