The Supreme Court’s decision in the SWANCC case has caused a great deal of confusion and concern. It has many people questioning the intent of Congress when we first passed the Clean Water Act more than 30 years ago.
Although I was not here in 1972, I have been here during subsequent consideration of Clean Water Act legislation. I do not believe that we have ever wanted to protect less of our nation’s waters. However, this decision does just that - it reduces the protection of isolated wetlands under the Clean Water Act.
We are here today to hear varying opinions about the ramifications of the SWANCC decision on our nation’s waters. Some, like Senator Feingold and myself, believe that the definition of water in the Clean Water Act should be changed to make clear the intent of Congress - that all waters of the U.S. should be protected.
Others feel changes to existing regulations are necessary, and some believe nothing needs to be done in light of the SWANCC decision.
The Administration is pursuing a regulatory solution to the implications of the SWANCC decision. I have serious concerns about the EPA and the Corps’ guidance and Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, and the effect they will have on the protection of waters throughout the United States from pollution.
I look forward to hearing from each of our witnesses today on the implications of the SWANCC decision, the guidance, and the ANPRM.
I am compelled, Mr. Chairman, to bring up the recent troubling news regarding EPA’s Clean Water Act enforcement program. Two recent articles in the New York Times and the Washington Post document extensive non-compliance with discharge permits, a dramatic decline in enforcement, and an apparent lack of commitment to modernizing the data control system used to verify permit compliance. I ask unanimous consent that these articles be inserted into the record. I hope that the EPA is taking this issue seriously, and I look forward to hearing your plans to strengthen your enforcement.
It is imperative that we not allow the Clean Water Act to become, or, perhaps to remain, a license to pollute.
I have several documents that I would like to ask unanimous consent to submit for the record including a statement from Senator Lieberman, a statement from Senator Graham, and a letter from the Association of State Water Pollution Control Administrators.
I would also like to submit excerpts of comments by several states on the Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to the committee record.