Federal legislation seeks to broaden “clean water” authority.

Three Strikes – You’re Still Not Out: Senate To Again Consider Controversial Legislation to Broaden Federal Clean Water Authority
by Jeff Kray, partner at Marten Law Group.

The Obama Administration is supporting legislation to broaden federal Clean Water Act (“CWA”) jurisdiction over wetlands and other isolated waterbodies. For the fourth time in 6 years, legislation has been introduced to extend federal jurisdiction over an estimated 20 million acres of wetlands, tributary and isolated waters, prairie potholes, and mudflats. The United States Supreme Court has held these types of waterbodies to be generally outside federal jurisdiction.

Legislation was introduced in Congress in 2003, 2005, and 2007 to bring them under federal jurisdiction. All three times, the legislation failed to pass. But three strikes do not mean the legislation is out this year. This time the bill, the Clean Water Restoration Act of 2000 (“CWRA”), S.787 has the support of the White House and federal agencies.

In a May 20, 2009 letter, Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”) Administrator Lisa Jackson, acting Army Corps of Engineers (“Corps”) Chief Terrence “Rock” Salt, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, and Council on Environmental Quality Chairwoman Nancy Sutley urged passage of the bill in order to make the definition of waters it protects “clear, understandable, well-supported, and transparent to the public.”

This article appeared in the July 12, 209, edition of the Marten Law Group Environmental News. Click here to read the rest of the story with citations.

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