House Votes to Block Routine Sewage Dumping; Agency Pulls Controversial Policy

WASHINGTON (May 20, 2005) -- The House of Representatives last night voted overwhelmingly to block the Environmental Protection Agency from finalizing its so-called 'blending' proposal, which would have allowed sewer operators to routinely dump barely treated sewage into the nation's lakes, rivers and streams. A few hours before the House passed a bipartisan anti-sewage dumping amendment to an appropriations bill, the EPA announced its decision to drop the controversial policy.

The following is a statement by Nancy Stoner, Director of the Clean Water Program at NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council):

"When the time came for a public showdown over EPA's sewage dumping policy, the agency blinked.

"Faced with the prospect of an embarrassing defeat in the House, the EPA and its congressional allies had no choice but to wake up and smell the sewage. They finally got the message that people want less, not more sewage in the water they drink, the rivers where they fish and the beaches and lakes where they swim.

"With this victory, Congress delivered a strong message reminding EPA that its mission is to protect our health and environment. We're especially grateful to those who led the fight to safeguard us from sewage, particularly Representatives Bart Stupak (D-Mich), Clay Shaw (R-Fla), Jeff Miller (R-Fla) and Frank Pallone (D-N.J.).

"Already, billions of gallons of sewage flow into the nation's waterways every year, increasing the risk of illness for millions of people from exposure to bacteria, viruses and parasites in the water.

"If EPA had stuck to its plan to open the sewage floodgates, it would have caused more sickness, more beach closings, more economic suffering for local communities, and greater harm to fish and other wildlife."