Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Letter from the Delta Chapter Chair on the Clean Water Restoration Act

March 4, 2009

Congressman Charles Boustany
1117 Longworth House Office Bldg
Washington, DC 20515-1807

Dear Congressman Boustany,

This is to express our appreciation for the meeting in the Longworth House Office Building on Feb 26, 2009 with you and Ryan Evans, Legislative Correspondent. The meeting was attended by me as Chair of the Delta (Louisiana) Chapter of the Sierra Club, and Cynthia Sarthou, Executive Director of the Gulf Restoration Network. We work together as member participants in the Clean Water Network. The Clean Water Network (CWN) is a coalition of more than 1,200 public interest organizations across the country, representing more than 5 million people, working to strengthen and implement federal clean water and wetlands policy.

We hope to obtain your support for The Clean Water Restoration Act, introduced last year as H.R. 2421 and S. 1870. We are greatly concerned that internal documents obtained by Chairman James Oberstar of the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, and Chairman Henry Waxman of the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, indicate that USEPA has dropped or de-prioritized over 500 Clean Water Act enforcement cases since July 2007 because of questions about whether the waters that the polluters discharged into are still covered by the Clean Water Act. It appears that EPA was using a restrictive interpretation of Rapanos v. United States to issue guidance in 2007 that resulted in greatly reduced jurisdictional coverage for the Clean Water Act.

Information obtained by CWN shows that in Louisiana 24 percent of the population is served by source water areas receiving flow from streams that would not be protected under this more restrictive interpretation of Clean Water Act jurisdiction. We are also concerned about the impact that increased water pollution could have on the Gulf of Mexico hypoxia problem (The Dead Zone) and gulf fisheries. We strongly believe that Congress must act to fix this problem and we ask for your support for Clean Water Restoration Act legislation when it is re-introduced.

The second subject of our discussion was the continued funding of the Clean Water State Revolving Fund (SWSRF) and the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund (DWSRF). Our concern comes from the fact that funding for the State Revolving Funds for water infrastructure had been seriously declining over a number of years. We want to voice our support for adequate funding for these very important water infrastructure programs.

We very much appreciate the meeting and this chance to express our concerns for Clean Water nationally and in the State of Louisiana. I would be happy to follow up with any additional information or discussion that may be helpful to you in considering these important issues.


Haywood R. Martin, Chair
Sierra Club Delta Chapter

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