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Senate makes next step toward protecting America's waters

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Environment and Public Works Committee passes CWRA

WASHINGTON - June 18, 2009 - The U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works Committee voted 12 to 7 today to advance an amended Clean Water Restoration Act (CWRA) to the full Senate. Ducks Unlimited says this is a positive move to protect wetlands for waterfowl and clean water for America.

"This is a huge step toward restoring the Clean Water Act's safety net for prairie potholes and well over 20 million acres of wetlands throughout the United States that provide critical habitat for waterfowl and other fish and wildlife - and waterfowl hunters," said Don Young, executive vice president of Ducks Unlimited.

Sens. Max Baucus (D-MT), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Barbara Boxer (D-CA) clarified through an amendment to the original Feingold bill that broad, existing Clean Water Act exemptions for agriculture and forestry were to be retained. DU supported the continuation of the agricultural and forestry exemptions, including the additional exemptions for prior converted cropland and manmade waste treatment systems. The National Farmers Union also expressed support for the compromise amendment, lending agriculture's support for the bill.

"The amendment accepted by the committee improves the bill and represents a positive compromise, and we thank Sens. Baucus, Klobuchar and Boxer for their efforts," Young said. "We will now be supporting the bill as it moves to the full Senate and the House of Representatives to ensure our wetlands are protected."

CWRA is supported by DU and other conservation and sportsmen's groups. Under the amended bill, Clean Water Act protections will be restored to geographically isolated wetlands at risk of pollution and destruction under current guidance from the Environmental Protection Agency and Army Corps of Engineers.

The guidance on interpreting the Clean Water Act from the EPA and Army Corps came in response to two Supreme Court cases. Since the guidance was released, confusion over permitting requirements among farmers, ranchers, developers and other landowners and managers has increased dramatically as agencies have struggled to apply the guidance to proposed projects. Under the amended CWRA, the guiding language would be restored to the way it was in 2001, which would reduce confusion over jurisdiction and the time to receive permits for altering wetlands, streams and other waters.

To learn more about DU and the Clean Water Restoration Act, see www.ducks.org/cleanwater.

With more than a million supporters, Ducks Unlimited is the world's largest and most effective wetland and waterfowl conservation organization with more than 12 million acres conserved. The United States alone has lost more than half of its original wetlands - nature's most productive ecosystem - and continues to lose more than 80,000 wetland acres important to waterfowl each year.

Jennifer Kross
jkross@ducks.org
701.202.8896

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