Urgent: Make Calls Today to Protect Spruce Victory
We urgently need you to make calls today or tomorrow. The Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) of 2013 is on the Senate Floor. Pressure is high to pass this bill, as it is loaded with pork for projects around the country. If the Senate passes this bill it becomes the law of the land.
Senator Manchin (D-WV), angered over our recent victory in court -- see "Appeals court backs EPA's veto of Spruce Mine" -- is planning to offer amendments (846 and 850) to the WRDA, which broadly take away EPA’s authority under the Clean Water Act. Amendment 846 would retroactively reverse the EPA’s power to veto mountaintop removal permits, even reaching back to 1972. With this amendment, Manchin puts EPA’s Spruce veto, and vital Appalachian waterways in the crosshairs.
You can see why it's urgent that you call at least some of these Senators today and tomorrow, as soon as possible. Urge them to oppose Manchin amendments 846 and 850, attacks on clean water.
Please alert friends and family who live other states to call their Senators today, and please spread the word on social media.
To get a good understanding of what is going on here, we strongly urge you to read this entire Coal Tattoo blog posting, "More of the same: Politicians and the Spruce Mine."
Here's Senator Manchin's number in case you want to call him: 202-224-3954. And Senator Rockefeller's number is: 202-224-6472.
Return to Index
Amendment #846 by Senator Manchin would critically limit the EPA’s ability to protect clean water and stop the most damaging projects that discharge dredge and fill materials into rivers and streams. In more than 40 years, the EPA has used its retroactive authority to withdraw a dumping permit on only three occasions.
Most recently, it vetoed a waste dump for what would have been one of Appalachia’s largest mountaintop removal mines, the Spruce No. 1 Mine in Logan County, WV. This mine would have buried more than six miles of streams and polluted downstream waters with mining waste, causing permanent damage to ecosystems and water and threatening the well-being of local communities.
This amendment would prohibit EPA from using its Clean Water Act authority to veto a dumping project that has various adverse effects, if EPA acts after the Corps issues a permit, as was the case with the Spruce mine. Currently, under the Clean Water Act, the EPA has the authority to veto permits for dredge and fill activities, such as mountaintop removal mining, that discharge dredge and fill materials into rivers and streams when the activities will have a significantly adverse effect on drinking water, fisheries, wildlife, or recreational areas. This amendment undermines that critical backstop by restricting the EPA’s authority to veto a permit to protect clean water once the permit has been issued by the Army Corps. The EPA’s authority to deny Corp-issued fill permits, only when necessary to prevent unacceptable harm, is the last line of defense for protecting municipal water supplies, fishery areas, wildlife and recreation areas from destructive dumping activities.
This amendment also has a strange provision that says that the requirement takes effect in 1972, which would presumably undo any prior EPA post-permit veto, of which there have been a small few. The CWA plainly gives EPA this authority, as the U.S. Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit recently confirmed, in a unanimous opinion from two judges appointed by President George W. Bush and one appointed by President George H.W. Bush. Moreover, EPA has used its veto authority sparingly – only 13 times since 1972. EPA’s fact sheet about its “veto” authority explains this well.
Return to Index
Amendment #850 by Senator Manchin goes even further than Amendment #846. This is the Clean Water Cooperative Federalism Act of 2011 (H.R. 2018) in the form of an amendment, and it’s key to note that the White House threatened to veto HB 2018 if it came to the President’s desk, on the basis that it would “roll back the key provisions of the [Clean Water Act] that have been the underpinning of 40 years of progress in making the Nation’s waters fishable, swimmable, and drinkable.”
This amendment would remove EPA’s critical yet scarcely used authority under Section 404(c) to stop Section 404 permits for harmful projects that discharge dredge and fill materials into rivers, lakes, and streams such as mountaintop removal mining.
The Bush Administration successfully used this authority in 2008 to protect more than 200,000 acres of wetlands along the Mississippi River, saving taxpayers over $220 million. This amendment also removes EPA’s authority to ensure states effectively implement state water quality standards and improve them when those standards fail to protect clean water. This amendment would also prevent EPA from objecting to state-approved National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permits that manage discharges of pollutants into our waters.
Return to Index
Senators Who really Need to Hear From You
Senator Sherrod Brown, OH 202-224-2315
Senator Lamar Alexander, TN 202-224-4944
Senator Bob Corker, TN 202-224-3344
Senator Tim Kaine, VA 202-224-4024
Senator Mark Warner, VA 202-224-2023
Senator Robert P. Casey, PA 202-224-6324
Senator Tammy Baldwin, WI 202-224-5653
Senator Tim P. Johnson, SD 202-224-5842
Senator Susan M. Collins, ME 202-224-2523
Senator Kay R. Hagan, NC 202-224-6342
Senator Mark Udall, CO 202-224-5941
Senator Max Baucus, MT 202-224-2651
Senator Jon Tester, MT 202- 224-2644
Seantor Bill Nelson, FL 202-224-5274
Senator Kelly Ayotte, NH 202-224-3324
Senator Mark Begich, AL 202-224-3004
Senator Mark Steven Kirk, IL 202-224-2854
Senator Harry Reid, NV 202-224-3542
Senator Claire McCaskill, MO 202-228-6326
Senator Mark Begich, AK 202-224-2354
Return to Index