Policy Update Mar 6, 2023

Position on H.J.Res. 27

NPCA submitted the following position to members of the House of Representatives ahead of an expect floor vote.

NPCA urges members to oppose H.J. Res. 27, a resolution overturning restored clean water protections.

Clean water is a basic need for national parks and their visitors, and right now too many parks and nearby communities have water that does not meet their state standards. Of the 360 national parks with a waterbody, about two-thirds have a river, lake or stream that is impaired. National parks only have authority to protect the waters within their boundaries for the over 300 million people who visit them every year and the wildlife they go to see. However, most of the pollution affecting park water, like from mining, grazing, big farms, development or other activities, is originating outside park boundaries. Parks and communities rely on the Clean Water Act’s Waters of the U.S. (WOTUS) definition to keep water that is flowing into and through parks safe and clean.

In January, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Army Corps of Engineers finalized a new WOTUS rule restoring clearer, well understood protections for visitors, businesses and wildlife. The new rule:

  • Restores protections for an estimated 86 percent of Indiana Dunes National Park’s wetlands lost under a 2020 EPA and Army Corps proposal. The park is one of the most biodiverse in the country and is home to the Great Marsh and more than 1,500 plant and animal species.
  • Provides stronger protections for wetlands in and around the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Wetlands are critical for improving the health of park waterways, better protecting its prized native brook trout and the area’s recreational fishing industry.
  • Restores protections for an estimated 81 percent of the wetlands in the Big Cypress Swamp watershed lost under EPA and Army Corps’ 2020 proposal. This includes sections of Everglades National Park. The park is home to many endangered and threatened species including the Florida panther and supports roughly $110 million in visitor spending and more than 1,500 local jobs.

H.J. Res. 27 overturns this rule and limits future similar safeguards putting at risk the drinking water for park visitors. Our waters are connected; we cannot allow pollution into small waterways without it affecting the rest of the water we all depend on. NPCA’s members know wetlands flow into streams, which flow into small rivers, into bigger rivers, and into lakes, including in parks, and ultimately the ocean. There are no streams and rivers where it is safe to pollute, which is why we need consistent, clear rules for everyone.

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