Environmental Leaders Call on President Obama to Restore Critical Clean Water Act Protections

American Rivers * Clean Water Action * Defenders of Wildlife * Earthjustice * Environment America Friends of the Earth * Green for All * Greenpeace * Izaak Walton League of America League of Conservation Voters * National Audubon Society * National Parks Conservation Association National Wildlife Federation * Natural Resources Defense Council * Pew Environment Group Sierra Club * Trust for Public Land * Waterkeeper Alliance * The Wilderness Society

The Honorable Barack Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Ave. NW
Washington, DC 20500

January 17, 2012

Dear Mr. President:

As leaders of the nation's largest environmental organizations, we write you on behalf of our millions of members and supporters to urge you to act quickly to restore critical Clean Water Act protections to America's waterways by finalizing guidelines developed by the Environmental Protection Agency and the Army Corps of Engineers and by conducting a rulemaking in 2012 to make these protections even stronger and more long-lasting. Given the urgent need for action, we request a meeting with you in the next few weeks to discuss ways that we can move forward on the guidance and rulemaking.

From the Chesapeake Bay to the Great Lakes, from the Everglades to Puget Sound, America's waterways are fundamental to our country. Millions of Americans enjoy our rivers, lakes and streams every year for swimming, fishing, boating, bird-watching, and vacation. In addition, people around the country depend on nearby lakes, rivers, creeks, coastal waters and wetlands for their livelihoods and for the health of their families and communities. Furthermore, wetlands and headwater streams are critical to ensuring that our larger rivers and lakes are healthy and clean.

Passage of the Clean Water Act forty years ago was one of the most important and popular environmental decisions in our history, creating a legacy of cleaner water in the United States. However, misinterpretations of the Act created by two poor and deeply divided U.S. Supreme Court decisions over the past decade have left nearly 60 percent of our country's streams, at least 20 million acres of wetlands, and 117 million Americans' drinking water at increased risk of pollution. We only truly can continue our country's legacy of clean water created over the past forty years by restoring Clean Water Act protections to all waters of the United States.

Your administration took an important step by proposing guidelines to help protect these waters, but unless your administration finalizes those guidelines in the very near future, critical resources will remain insufficiently protected. Furthermore, to make those protections more robust and durable, it is essential to propose and finalize a rule in 2012. Doing so will give our waterways—both large and small—the protection they need for many years to come.

We believe finalizing the guidelines and undertaking a rulemaking to restore critical Clean Water Act protections to America's waterways should be the centerpiece of your administration's commitment to clean water. Please protect America's legacy of clean water so that future generations may continue to benefit from these critical resources.

Sincerely,

Margie Alt
Executive Director
Earthjustice 

Trip Van Noppen
President
Earthjustice

Frances Beinecke
President
Natural Resources Defense Council 

Michael Brune
Executive Director
Sierra Club 

David Hoskins
Executive Director
Izaak Walton League of America 

Larry Schweiger
President and CEO
National Wildlife Federation 

Phaedra Ellis-Lamkins
Chief Executive Officer
Green for All 

Phil Radford
Executive Director
Greenpeace

Wm. Robert Irvin
President
American Rivers 

David Yarnold
President and CEO
National Audubon Society 

Bob Wendelgass
President
Clean Water Action 

Joshua Reichert
Managing Director
Pew Environment Group 

William H. Meadows
President
The Wilderness Society 

Tom Kiernan
President
National Parks Conservation Association 

Jamie Rappaport
President and CEO
Defenders of Wildlife 

Clark Erich Pica
President
Friends of the Earth 

Will Rogers
President and CEO
Trust for Public Land 

Gene Karpinski
President
League of Conservation Voters 

Marc Yaggi
Executive Director
Waterkeeper Alliance