This week, the full House of Representatives will likely consider a bill attacking a years-long initiative to protect waterways that we use as sources of drinking water, swim in, fish from, and boat on. Sponsors of this bill (H.R. 1732) call it the "Regulatory Integrity Protection Act," but it is more appropriately dubbed the "R.I.P. Act," as it would kill a nearly-complete public rulemaking process to restore Clean Water Act safeguards against pollution and destruction for a majority of the nation's waterways. Killing this commonsense rule is a key element of the Republican Congressional leadership's Big Polluter Agenda.
The R.I.P. Act will indefinitely put off protections for water bodies that the science overwhelmingly shows are vital to the chemical, physical, and biological health of downstream waters, including streams that feed into the drinking water supplies of one in three Americans. And the bill would postpone the adoption of clear rules of the road under the Clean Water Act, for which regulated industries, state and local officials, sportsmen and environmental groups, Supreme Court justices, members of Congress, agricultural organizations, small businesses and others have called. These clearer standards – which actually will protect fewer resources than were covered by policies in place during the Reagan administration – are essential to ensure a consistent baseline level of pollution controls across the country.