Environmentalists Hail EPA Announcement to Improve Controls on Water Pollution

Program Will Cover 'Point' and 'Non-Point' Sources

WASHINGTON (July 11, 2000) - The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), U.S. PIRG, and Sierra Club applauded today's announcement by the Environmental Protection Agency that it will finalize a new rule to strengthen controls on water pollution from "point" sources such as factories and "non-point," or nonspecific, sources such as agricultural pesticide runoff.

"Today's rule is a critical step to control polluted runoff that damages our nation's lakes, streams and rivers," says Daniel Rosenberg, an NRDC attorney. "Polluted runoff is the number one water quality problem in this country."

The EPA's action will strengthen the Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) program just as Congress is attempting to undermine it. A cornerstone of the 1972 Clean Water Act, the TMDL program is a long-delayed effort to improve water quality in lakes and rivers not suitable for fishing, swimming or drinking. Currently 40 percent of our nation's waterways do not meet federal water quality standards.

In recent years, members of Congress have resorted to provisions known as riders to block environmental and public health legislation without providing the opportunity for public comment. "It's outrageous that politicians continue to tack on anti-environmental riders onto unrelated appropriations bills, " says Gene Karpinski, executive director of U.S. PIRG. "The result is dirty air and water."

Two weeks ago some members of Congress attached a harmful rider to an unrelated military construction funding bill to block EPA from finalizing or implementing the new TMDL rule. The agency is finalizing the rule before the president signs the funding bill into law.

"Polluting industries and their allies in Congress have tried to deny the American public its right to clean water by attaching damaging legislation to bills behind closed doors," says Debbie Sease, Sierra Club's legislative director, "Today we put the special interests on notice that we will fight any attempts to overturn the new EPA rule."

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 400,000 members nationwide, served from offices in New York, Washington, Los Angeles and San Francisco.