Earlier this week, the Clean Water Rule, which we’ve been advocating for throughout the year, was under attack in the U.S. Senate. The Clean Water Rule was finalized by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in May of this year, providing needed clarity on the extent of the Clean Water Act around the nation. The two threats in the Senate to this rule were defeated this week, thanks to the hard work of coalition members and others around the region. Read the letter we sent to Senators here.
In the Great Lakes, the Clean Water Rule protects small streams and wetlands that feed into the Great Lakes from pollution and destruction. Millions of people in the eight Great Lakes states of Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and New York get their drinking water from streams that were ambiguously protected before the rule was finalized.
The bill Senator Barrasso (R-Wy.) put forward would have undermined these restored protections and would have required the U.S. EPA and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to start the rule-making process from scratch. The bill needed 60 votes to pass, but the vote was 57 to 41. Senators in the Great Lakes region who opposed this bad bill were: Sens Durbin (D-Ill.), Peters (D-Mich.), Stabenow (D-Mich.), Franken (D-Minn.), Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Schumer (D-N.Y.), Casey (D-Pa.), and Baldwin (D-Wis.). Senator Brown abstained and all other Senators supported this bad bill.
The second attempt to undermine the Clean Water Rule failed as well. Senator Ernst (R-Iowa) tried to invalidate the rule through the Congressional Review Act—a process that requires Presidential support to be enforced, or a veto-proof majority. Although the motion passed 53 to 44, the president has said he’ll veto it and there are not enough Senators in opposition to the Clean Water Rule to override his veto.
Thanks to all those who worked hard this week to protect the Clean Water Rule and our Great Lakes!