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In Transportation Committee Hearing, DeFazio Blasts EPA on Roll Backs of Clean Water Act

Sep 18, 2019
Press Release

Washington, D.C. — At a hearing today before the Subcommittee on Water Resources and Environment, Chair of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, Peter DeFazio (D-OR), challenged Assistant Administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Dave Ross, about the Trump administration’s recent actions to roll back clean water rules, and the impact those decisions will have for years to come. Chair DeFazio’s opening remarks as delivered can be found here, and questioning of EPA Assistant Administrator, Dave Ross, can be found here.

“The Clean Water Act was enacted in 1972 on an overwhelming and bipartisan basis. Before the Act, Lake Erie was pronounced “dead,” Ohio’s Cuyahoga River literally caught on fire and the Willamette River in Oregon was an open sewer,” said DeFazio. “Thanks to bipartisan efforts over decades to implement the Clean Water Act, our rivers and lakes are cleaner and safer. Yet, the Trump administration has taken and is taking several misguided, misinformed, and fundamentally flawed actions that will undo the progress we have made.”

At the request of special interest groups the Trump administration is pursuing the largest-ever roll back of clean water standards despite what it will mean for tens of millions of regular Americans. This is the first time in three years the EPA has been willing to come before the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee to discuss it. “If the Trump administration takes the most radical approach and removes protections for both intermittent and ephemeral streams, as many as 74 percent of stream miles mapped in my State of Oregon could be left without protections; 87 percent of stream miles in the State of California; 99 percent in the state of Arizona; 97 percent in the state of New Mexico; and 96 percent in the State of Nevada. That is a lot of stream miles that could become more polluted in the future.

“Clearly, the winners of this administration’s roll backs are the developers, manufacturers, and corporate farmers that don’t want to be responsible for the pollutants they dump into our rivers and streams. The losers are our families, our local communities and businesses, and our environment that will have to live with the long-term consequences of dirty water. I will use every resource to fight against the administration’s efforts and protect clean water for the American people.”

An estimated 117 million Americans get their drinking water from sources fed by small streams that could lose protections under this proposal and the costs of cleanup will be passed onto average American families.