MADISON - The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Army Corps of Engineers have now revoked federal protection for thousands of waterways across Wisconsin. With our ecosystems and drinking water at stake, Wisconsin Environment and its national network will challenge the Dirty Water Rule in court.
Streams and wetlands are crucial to the health of Lake Michigan and other large bodies of water. Wetlands filter out pollutants, provide wildlife habitat, and protect communities by absorbing floodwaters. If streams are polluted, that pollution can flow into larger rivers and our drinking water. Yet the Dirty Water Rule wipes out protections for countless streams and wetlands — a move that was recently rebuked by EPA’s own science advisors.
Megan Severson, Wisconsin Environment State Director, issued the following statement:
“Fifty years ago, the first Earth Day demonstrated Americans’ overwhelming bi-partisan support for clean water. Now one day before Earth Day 50, the EPA has just marched forward with the worst rollback in the history of the Clean Water Act.
“As surely as water flows downstream, the Dirty Water Rule endangers the waterways where Wisconsinites swim, fish, boat, and draw our drinking water. Moreover, the rule violates the Clean Water Act itself, as we noted in our comments to the EPA. The Dirty Water Rule defies common sense, sound science and the law. We will not allow it to stand.
“Public support for maintaining Clean Water Act protections is widespread. More than one million Americans — including business owners, local officials, scientists, and hunters and anglers — have provided comments to EPA, urging the agency to protect streams and wetlands under the Act.
“But lobbyists for corporate agribusiness, developers, and the oil and gas industry have long demanded that federal protections be removed for streams and wetlands. Pollution from agribusinesses contributes to toxic algal outbreaks, fish kills, dead zones, drinking water contamination and fecal bacteria that can make swimmers sick. Some developers are eager to build on wetlands and the oil and gas industry has countless pipelines running through them.
“This is just plain wrong. Clean water is vital for our health, our way of life, and for nature itself. We will not rest until protections for America’s waterways are restored.”
Wisconsin Environment is dedicated to protecting our water, air and open spaces. We investigate problems, craft solutions, educate the public and decision-makers, and help the public make their voices heard in local, state and national debates over the quality of our environment and our lives.