Letter to Congress: Oppose Rollbacks in the Water Resources Development Act of 2018

June 4, 2018

June 4, 2018

U.S. House of Representatives Washington, DC 20515

Dear Representative:

On behalf of our millions of members and supporters, the undersigned organizations urge you to oppose all efforts to roll back environmental laws in the Water Resources Development Act of 2018 (WRDA). Further, if any anti-environmental amendments are included in the final legislative package, we urge you to oppose the bill.

The version of WRDA 2018 that passed out of Committee is largely free of controversial policy riders that would compromise the environment and public health. As you know, the inclusion of anti-environmental riders has undermined the House’s ability to pass important infrastructure legislation in the past. To help maintain regular order and to ensure bipartisan support, we urge you to keep the WRDA bill free of environmental policy provisions that would roll back the National Environmental Policy Act, or undermine the Clean Water Act or Endangered Species Act.

Specifically, please oppose any amendment or final bill that repeals the 2015 Clean Water Rule. This repeal provision would subvert the entire rulemaking process by disregarding public input, including

1.5 million comments submitted in support of the rule and opposing attempts to roll it back. It would eliminate the vital safeguards of the Clean Water Rule for waters that feed drinking water supplies of 117 million people and protect streams, headwaters, wetlands, and other water bodies that serve as habitat for wildlife, reduce flooding risk, and naturally filter pollution.

Our groups also oppose any efforts to include proposals from the administration’s infrastructure package, or similar measures that threaten our water resources. The administration’s infrastructure scheme would undercut our ability to make sure that infrastructure projects do not destroy or pollute our waterways—including our sources of drinking water and natural infrastructure that protects communities from flood and storm damages. A common theme of the proposals in the administration’s plan is dramatically undermining the environmental review process, avoiding scrutiny of projects that profoundly impact the health of the nation’s waters and the safety of our communities. This is the exact wrong approach. Ensuring meaningful reviews and full evaluation by the most expert and fair decision-makers and members of the public makes projects better and more effective and helps avoid wasteful and destructive actions. The notion that existing law hinders infrastructure development has been repeatedly debunked by independent reviews and federal agency studies. Most often, the source of delay is simply a lack of funding.

Further, we urge you to reject any attempts to eliminate important Clean Water Act safeguards that protect our streams, rivers, and lakes from excessive pesticide pollution. Congress should reject provisions that would allow pesticides to be sprayed into water bodies without any meaningful oversight. There is no need to change these existing, commonsense Clean Water Act protections because the system has been working well since the safeguards were put in place six years ago and alarmist predictions from pesticides manufacturers have proven to be untrue.

As you consider the Water Resources Development Act of 2018 please reject any attempts to attach anti-environmental amendments that would undermine clean water protections and the review process for water resources infrastructure projects. This legislation should not be used to roll back our bedrock environmental laws.

Sincerely,

Alabama River Alliance

Alliance for the Great Lakes

Alliance of Nurses for Healthy Environments

American Rivers

American Sustainable Business Council

Children’s Environmental Health Network

Citizens for Pennsylvania’s Future

Clean Water Action

Conservation Pennsylvania

Earthjustice

Endangered Habitats League

Environmental Advocates of New York

Environmental Law & Policy Center

Freshwater Future

Friends of the Earth

Friends of the Mississippi River

GreenLatinos

Hip Hop Caucus

Illinois Stewardship Alliance

Latino Farmers and Ranchers Trade Association

League of Conservation Voters

Montana Trout Unlimited

National Medical Association

National Wildlife Federation

Natural Heritage Institute

Natural Resources Council of Maine

Natural Resources Defense Council

Ohio Environmental Council

Policy Link

Puget Soundkeeper Alliance

River Network

Rural Coalition

Sierra Club

Smart Growth America

Southern Environmental Law Center

Sustainable Business Network of Greater Philadelphia

The Wetlands Initiative

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