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Conservation Update: Clean Water Finding Few Friends in Washington

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January 25, 2012

Conservation Update: Clean Water Finding Few Friends in Washington

By Bob Marshall

When it comes to wetlands protections, it's hard for sportsmen to find any heroes in Washington these days. We have a House majority that spent last year shouting its opposition to restoring protections to 20 million acres of vital wetlands stripped by the Supreme Court, and vows to continue that assault this election cycle. And we have a president who makes a lot of noise about helping--but then doesn't follow through.

So as Congress returns to work this month, sportsmen's conservation groups find themselves fighting on two fronts in the battle to restore protections to those temporary and isolated wetlands. Here's the situation:

When the GOP blocked attempts to correct those court rulings with the proposed Clean Water Restoration Act, conservationists were cheered when the Obama Administration stepped in last spring sending its agencies a proposed new wetland "guidance"--spelling out which wetlands they could protect. This wouldn't put protections back on everything, but it would help.

The next step would be the start of a legally required "rule-making process"--a series of hearings in which the administration laid out how the agencies could go about protecting those wetlands outlined in the guidance.

One year later nothing has happened.

That proposed guidance has never been made official--even after an extended comment period (which, by the way, wasn't legally required). And the rule-making process has never started.

So now we're entering an election cycle, one that promises to be especially nasty with some on the GOP side already (and incorrectly) blaming regulations for the high unemployment rate. Sportsmen's groups expects the going to be especially tough.

The real fear is that the Obama Administration and congress people who had been acting as friends before the campaigns start will back off if they see supporting protection could cost them votes. You can expect the well-financed special interests opposed to these protections--the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, energy sectors and agriculture--to pour money into the issue trying to convince voters--and the candidates seeking their support--to oppose the regulations.

"The push back on this has been enormous," said Steve Kline, working the issue for the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership. "We don't expect any let up this year. We're really facing a deadline if the administration doesn't get moving on this."

Sportsmen can help by firing off letters and emails to their congressional reps--as well as the administration. You can find out how at www.contactingthecongress.org.

Comments (11)

Top Rated
All Comments
from Dcast wrote 2 years 12 weeks ago

Being in the construction business and being responsible for receiving permits, let me tell you there are plenty of EPA regulations to deal with clean water. If you ever dealed with the EPA you would know the regulations are outlandish at the least. Don't get me wrong I'm for clean water and protecting natural resources, but this article sounds overblown and highly partisan B.S. Also if wetlands are disturbed by anything like construction you must be permited to do so and you must replace the wetlands with equal wetland area, and in fact some states such as Ohio require you to increase the wetlands by 15% I believe this number is on the lower end but it has been awhile since I've dealt with the wetlands. May I also state that bring politics into this doesn't help make your point, and I would venture to guess what you said is half true as far as the obstruction goes.

-3 Good Comment? | | Report
from RealGoodMan wrote 2 years 12 weeks ago

Bob is just stating a fact. Republicans in Congress have time and time again put price tags on our lands and natural resources and they continue to push to dismantle clean air, clean water and other environmental protection laws. Not to mention, environmental agencies. Get real. Don't tell Bob not to bring politics into this, tell that to your lawmakers. Don't get offended and all sensitive if you're a republican, do something about it. You should be ashamed. This is bull crap. I left the GOP as soon as they declared war on science and conservation and I haven't looked back since. It's an embarrassment to this country.

+4 Good Comment? | | Report
from jbird wrote 2 years 12 weeks ago

Unfortunately politics plays a HUGE part in our hunting and fishing.

What exactly do you think the Repubs are talking about when they say "regulation is killing the economy"???

They're talking about environmental protections folks. Protections that help stop or slow down the whole-sale destruction of the LAND and WATERS we HUNT and FISH!
Yet the states with the most to lose, and the states with the most outdoorsmen are nearly all Republican dominated. Doesn't make sense to me.

Google "fracking", take a look at the chemicals used, then tell me that we should "get out of industry's way" and not regulate it. Are you kidding me?

You can call Bob's piece "partisan" all you want, but unfortunately it's also CORRECT.

+3 Good Comment? | | Report
from labrador12 wrote 2 years 12 weeks ago

In the east of the US, the water clarity and quality hasn't been this good since the early 1800s. Eagles and osprey don't expand their populations in a poor water quality environment. Bob is a "Big Green" stooge. Nobody wants to go back to the environmental quality of the 60s and 70s. The laws passed in the 70s have resulted in the habitat that we have today. Only a wealthy country can afford a clean environment. The first 95% of pollution is much more cost effective to clean up than the last 5%.

-4 Good Comment? | | Report
from DaveCO wrote 2 years 11 weeks ago

"Only a wealthy country can afford a clean environment?". Wow, Labrador12, that sounds like the kind of thing the Chinese Government would say. In the America that I live in, we protect the environment because it is the right thing to do, period. We don't sacrifice our principles because it might save a buck. And, factually, we can afford a clean environment. Time and again, study after study, it is clear that a clean, healthy environment creates jobs and saves taxpayers money. Protecting wetlands and headwaters is the cheapest way to ensure that our cities have clean drinking water. It's also good for ducks and fish, don't forget about them.

Bob isn't pushing some radical agenda in this post. He's supporting a bill that already has 200 cosponsors and broad support in the hunting and fishing community, and he's just asking the Obama Administation to follow through on a promise they already made. This issue is easy and common sense, and it will be a sad statement on Washington if the politicians can't even handle this one.

+6 Good Comment? | | Report
from Dcast wrote 2 years 11 weeks ago

How have republicans or anyone started war on conservation and science? If your talking Global Warming Hoax, Ok I agree and support. If your talking stem cells from fetuses, Ok I agree and support. If your talking creationism, Ok I agree and support.

Jbird, Regulation is killing the economy and they aren't talking about the CWA. There is a plethora of assinine laws on the books preventing businesses to expand, not just clean water. By the way BO just touted fracking.

I'm all for conservation of land and water but to hide behind partisan propaganda and calling it conservation is wrong and dishonest. Furthermore having the POTUS & democrats travel the country side saying republicans want dirty water, dirty air, ect... is partisan propaganda that Nazi Germany & Soviet Union would have been proud of. I'm sure there maybe some who would like to see the CWA gone however you can't just through out blanket mistruths. Some peoples minds are like a 90 yrs old arthritic joints slow, crickety, and can only do so much while others have open minds and use thought process.

My initial point was you don't need to make up false statements blaming one political group over another because all want the same but go about it different ways. Furthermore you isolate people by doing so which is far worse than the lie.

-3 Good Comment? | | Report
from Dcast wrote 2 years 11 weeks ago

Lab12 I understood your point.

-1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Horseapples wrote 2 years 11 weeks ago

I've often said that the Golden Rule is just as applicable to governments and administrations as it is to you and me. Do not endorse sacrificing environmental quality or my health for the sake of bringing more sheckles into the pockets of those whose pockets are already bulging. It is immoral.

"We abuse land because we regard is as a commodity belonging to us. When we see land as a community to which we belong, we may begin to use it with love and respect." Aldo Leopold - 1948

+4 Good Comment? | | Report
from Mike Diehl wrote 2 years 11 weeks ago

CWA regulations aren't all that complicated and they're easy to comply with, even in construction. But they are there and you DO have to comply with them. SWPPP, dust control, and wetlands mitigation. It's not rocket science. It's just logistics, knowing what the rules are, and complying with them.

Most of the contractors I have met who snivel about the EPA are people who are habitually the sorts who cut corners wherever possible. Show me a construction firm that has difficulty managing EPA compliance, and I will show you a construction firm that makes crappy structures.

+3 Good Comment? | | Report
from tom warner wrote 2 years 11 weeks ago

Bob is dead on. In Washington, EVERYTHING is politics, and often the right thing to do be damned! At the moment the Republicans are no longer Republicans,having been taken over by far right radical fringe, who certainly appear to most of us to be anything but our friends. I have always tended to the Republican side, but no more. I have been around for almost 80 years now (sigh!) and I cannot recall anything quite like the mess they have created. If some of us cannot agree, I say that they are in severe denial.

+3 Good Comment? | | Report
from Morgan Bearden wrote 2 years 11 weeks ago

The fact of the matter is that on almost every environmental issue the Republicans are against protecting the environment. A look at the latest available scores (2010) from the League of Conservation Voters (LVC) will show you that the eight Democratic House and Senate leaders have an average LVC score of 100. Their Republican counterparts score an astounding 2.4. Hardly a passing grade.

And isn’t it interesting that someone who uses the word “plethora” doesn’t know the difference between “your” and “you’re”?

+1 Good Comment? | | Report

Post a Comment

from DaveCO wrote 2 years 11 weeks ago

"Only a wealthy country can afford a clean environment?". Wow, Labrador12, that sounds like the kind of thing the Chinese Government would say. In the America that I live in, we protect the environment because it is the right thing to do, period. We don't sacrifice our principles because it might save a buck. And, factually, we can afford a clean environment. Time and again, study after study, it is clear that a clean, healthy environment creates jobs and saves taxpayers money. Protecting wetlands and headwaters is the cheapest way to ensure that our cities have clean drinking water. It's also good for ducks and fish, don't forget about them.

Bob isn't pushing some radical agenda in this post. He's supporting a bill that already has 200 cosponsors and broad support in the hunting and fishing community, and he's just asking the Obama Administation to follow through on a promise they already made. This issue is easy and common sense, and it will be a sad statement on Washington if the politicians can't even handle this one.

+6 Good Comment? | | Report
from RealGoodMan wrote 2 years 12 weeks ago

Bob is just stating a fact. Republicans in Congress have time and time again put price tags on our lands and natural resources and they continue to push to dismantle clean air, clean water and other environmental protection laws. Not to mention, environmental agencies. Get real. Don't tell Bob not to bring politics into this, tell that to your lawmakers. Don't get offended and all sensitive if you're a republican, do something about it. You should be ashamed. This is bull crap. I left the GOP as soon as they declared war on science and conservation and I haven't looked back since. It's an embarrassment to this country.

+4 Good Comment? | | Report
from Horseapples wrote 2 years 11 weeks ago

I've often said that the Golden Rule is just as applicable to governments and administrations as it is to you and me. Do not endorse sacrificing environmental quality or my health for the sake of bringing more sheckles into the pockets of those whose pockets are already bulging. It is immoral.

"We abuse land because we regard is as a commodity belonging to us. When we see land as a community to which we belong, we may begin to use it with love and respect." Aldo Leopold - 1948

+4 Good Comment? | | Report
from jbird wrote 2 years 12 weeks ago

Unfortunately politics plays a HUGE part in our hunting and fishing.

What exactly do you think the Repubs are talking about when they say "regulation is killing the economy"???

They're talking about environmental protections folks. Protections that help stop or slow down the whole-sale destruction of the LAND and WATERS we HUNT and FISH!
Yet the states with the most to lose, and the states with the most outdoorsmen are nearly all Republican dominated. Doesn't make sense to me.

Google "fracking", take a look at the chemicals used, then tell me that we should "get out of industry's way" and not regulate it. Are you kidding me?

You can call Bob's piece "partisan" all you want, but unfortunately it's also CORRECT.

+3 Good Comment? | | Report
from Mike Diehl wrote 2 years 11 weeks ago

CWA regulations aren't all that complicated and they're easy to comply with, even in construction. But they are there and you DO have to comply with them. SWPPP, dust control, and wetlands mitigation. It's not rocket science. It's just logistics, knowing what the rules are, and complying with them.

Most of the contractors I have met who snivel about the EPA are people who are habitually the sorts who cut corners wherever possible. Show me a construction firm that has difficulty managing EPA compliance, and I will show you a construction firm that makes crappy structures.

+3 Good Comment? | | Report
from tom warner wrote 2 years 11 weeks ago

Bob is dead on. In Washington, EVERYTHING is politics, and often the right thing to do be damned! At the moment the Republicans are no longer Republicans,having been taken over by far right radical fringe, who certainly appear to most of us to be anything but our friends. I have always tended to the Republican side, but no more. I have been around for almost 80 years now (sigh!) and I cannot recall anything quite like the mess they have created. If some of us cannot agree, I say that they are in severe denial.

+3 Good Comment? | | Report
from Morgan Bearden wrote 2 years 11 weeks ago

The fact of the matter is that on almost every environmental issue the Republicans are against protecting the environment. A look at the latest available scores (2010) from the League of Conservation Voters (LVC) will show you that the eight Democratic House and Senate leaders have an average LVC score of 100. Their Republican counterparts score an astounding 2.4. Hardly a passing grade.

And isn’t it interesting that someone who uses the word “plethora” doesn’t know the difference between “your” and “you’re”?

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Dcast wrote 2 years 11 weeks ago

Lab12 I understood your point.

-1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Dcast wrote 2 years 12 weeks ago

Being in the construction business and being responsible for receiving permits, let me tell you there are plenty of EPA regulations to deal with clean water. If you ever dealed with the EPA you would know the regulations are outlandish at the least. Don't get me wrong I'm for clean water and protecting natural resources, but this article sounds overblown and highly partisan B.S. Also if wetlands are disturbed by anything like construction you must be permited to do so and you must replace the wetlands with equal wetland area, and in fact some states such as Ohio require you to increase the wetlands by 15% I believe this number is on the lower end but it has been awhile since I've dealt with the wetlands. May I also state that bring politics into this doesn't help make your point, and I would venture to guess what you said is half true as far as the obstruction goes.

-3 Good Comment? | | Report
from Dcast wrote 2 years 11 weeks ago

How have republicans or anyone started war on conservation and science? If your talking Global Warming Hoax, Ok I agree and support. If your talking stem cells from fetuses, Ok I agree and support. If your talking creationism, Ok I agree and support.

Jbird, Regulation is killing the economy and they aren't talking about the CWA. There is a plethora of assinine laws on the books preventing businesses to expand, not just clean water. By the way BO just touted fracking.

I'm all for conservation of land and water but to hide behind partisan propaganda and calling it conservation is wrong and dishonest. Furthermore having the POTUS & democrats travel the country side saying republicans want dirty water, dirty air, ect... is partisan propaganda that Nazi Germany & Soviet Union would have been proud of. I'm sure there maybe some who would like to see the CWA gone however you can't just through out blanket mistruths. Some peoples minds are like a 90 yrs old arthritic joints slow, crickety, and can only do so much while others have open minds and use thought process.

My initial point was you don't need to make up false statements blaming one political group over another because all want the same but go about it different ways. Furthermore you isolate people by doing so which is far worse than the lie.

-3 Good Comment? | | Report
from labrador12 wrote 2 years 12 weeks ago

In the east of the US, the water clarity and quality hasn't been this good since the early 1800s. Eagles and osprey don't expand their populations in a poor water quality environment. Bob is a "Big Green" stooge. Nobody wants to go back to the environmental quality of the 60s and 70s. The laws passed in the 70s have resulted in the habitat that we have today. Only a wealthy country can afford a clean environment. The first 95% of pollution is much more cost effective to clean up than the last 5%.

-4 Good Comment? | | Report

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