House introduces legislation to defund Clean Water Act guidance




Clean Water Act guidance is essential to beginning the process of more clearly defining which U.S. waters and wetlands are subject to CWA protections. The process would ultimately provide an opportunity to restore long-standing protections to many of the nation's wetlands. (Photo courtesy Brent J. Gale)
In April, the Administration initiated steps to restore Clean Water Act protections to many wetlands and other waterways. While sportsmen across the country support efforts to establish Clean Water Act guidance that will clarify how to sustain wetlands and conserve the prairie potholes, the nation's most important breeding habitat, recent actions in the U.S. House of Representatives are threatening to stop this important effort. 

The House Appropriations Subcommittee on Energy and Water Development met last week to deliberate and amend the FY 12 budget for the Army Corps of Engineers and other water development agencies. One provision accepted would completely disallow funding for completion of the CWA guidance or a rulemaking. 

This guidance is essential to begin the process of more clearly defining which U.S. waters and wetlands are subject to CWA protections. The process would ultimately provide an opportunity to restore some of the long-standing protections to many of the nation's wetlands, streams, lakes and headwaters that have remained threatened since 2001 in the wake of two U.S. Supreme Court decisions and subsequent agency guidance. 

If implemented, the proposed CWA guidance would begin restoring protections for intermittent streams that sustain critical fisheries, provide wetlands with water, and supply public drinking water for more than 117 million Americans, and take steps to restore protection to at least 20 million acres of the nation's wetlands, particularly prairie potholes and wetlands essential to waterfowl. 

"If these wetland protections are not restored, the prairie potholes, the most important waterfowl breeding habitat in North America, will continue to be threatened, as well as many other key wetlands necessary to sustain waterfowl populations and hunting," Dr. Scott Yaich, DU director of conservation operations, said. "Wetlands are important to waterfowl, and also important to those who care about waterfowl, including duck and goose hunters."