News | September 2, 2021

Fight to restore clean water protections moves forward

Following on the heels of a good decision by an Arizona federal court this week in a case brought by several tribes, the Southern Environmental Law Center submitted comments calling on the Biden administration to restore urgently federal clean water protections against pollution and destruction of streams, wetlands, and lakes on behalf of 84 groups representing communities across America and the South.

The prior administration stripped protections under the Clean Water Act from countless streams, lakes and wetlands, leaving thousands of stream miles, many public recreational lakes, and millions of acres of wetlands without protections that have been in place for decades and putting our communities and water supplies at risk. This summer, the Biden administration announced it would consider repeal of that action and public comment will be important when it puts forward a proposal.

Businesses, farmers and ranchers, faith leaders, hunters and anglers, conservationists, and community groups joined us in calling on the administration to protect clean water.

“The Biden administration still must work quickly to put in place stronger clean water protections, but this decision gives us hope for our waterways and wetlands like those in jeopardy near the Okefenokee and helping our Southern communities weather increasingly intense storms and floods.” said Kelly Moser, senior attorney and leader of the Clean Water Defense Initiative at the Southern Environmental Law Center.

Since the prior administration’s rule took effect in June 2020, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has allowed thousands of wetlands and other waterways to be destroyed by industry. Among those projects are two recently revised jurisdictional determinations that removed protections from about 400 acres of wetlands by the Army Corps of Engineers for a massive mine on the doorstep of the Okefenokee Swamp and from about 200 acres of wetlands that absorb floodwaters in a flood prone area for a large development near the Savannah National Wildlife Refuge in South Carolina.