Press Release Jan 13, 2016

Congress Again Moves to Dismantle Clean Water Protections for Parks

House of Representatives votes for two bills that undo efforts to strengthen clean water protections

WASHINGTON – The House of Representatives voted this week for two bills that undo efforts to strengthen clean water protections critical to our country and our national parks.

The first bill, S.J. Res 22, seeks to block the Obama administration’s restoration of the Clean Water Act. The administration’s plan will protect millions of users of our nation’s rivers, lakes, and other bodies of water – including those in national parks.

More than one third of the total U.S. population gets their drinking water from small headwater streams and tributaries. More than half of our national parks have waterways that are considered ‘impaired’ under the Clean Water Act. These waterways do not meet healthy water quality standards for activities like drinking, fishing and swimming. The final Clean Water Rule, finalized by the Environmental Protection Agency and the Army Corps of Engineers last year, aims to better protect our waters by stating more clearly which waters are protected under the Clean Water Act.

The second bill, H.R. 1644, would stall the implementation of updates to mining regulations, called the Stream Protection Rule, which is an important tool for guarding mountain streams from the impacts of mountaintop coal mining.

Some of the country’s most beautiful national parks – Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area, Bluestone National Scenic River, New River Gorge National River – and their visitors are impacted when streams are completely ruined after mining companies remove mountaintops and dump them into the nearest valley. The Stream Protection Rule, which this bill affects, proposes much-needed revisions to regulations for these coal mining operations.

Below is a statement by Theresa Pierno, President and CEO of the National Parks Conservation Association:

“National parks are inseparable from the waters that are in, surround, and flow through them. But instead of recognizing the benefits strengthening our clean water protections will have for our parks, their visitors, and the rest of the nation, the House of Representatives voted this week to reject those protections.

“The Clean Water Rule and the updates to the Stream Protection Rule provide clear, science-based and legal frameworks for protecting the waters of the United States. Rather than blocking these important policies, Congress should work to ensure our national parks have the clean waters they deserve.”

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About National Parks Conservation Association
Since 1919, the nonpartisan National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA) has been the leading voice in safeguarding our national parks. NPCA and its more than one million members and supporters work together to protect and preserve our nation’s natural, historical, and cultural heritage for future generations. For more information, visit www.npca.org.