Latest Senate Attack on Public Waters, Wetlands Threatens Hunting, Fishing

Bill unveiled today continues legislative assault on ‘Waters of the U.S.’ rule; sportsmen stand strong in pushing for rule’s completion

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Backcountry Hunters and Anglers

Washington, DC -( The latest in an increasingly aggressive series of attacks against a federal rule that would improve fisheries and waterfowl habitat and enhance recreational opportunities for sportsmen was launched this morning in the U.S. Senate, where Sens.

John Barrasso and Joe Donnelly introduced the Federal Water Quality Protection Act. The new assault by members of the Senate was swiftly condemned by sportsmen’s groups, including Backcountry Hunters & Anglers, which stressed the importance of headwaters streams and wetlands to fish, wildlife, waterfowl and communities that depend on clean drinking water. BHA urged finalization of the “Waters of the U.S.” rule, which would restore clarity to the federal Clean Water Act.

“America’s Clean Water Act represents a decades-long commitment made by citizens, including hunters and anglers, to the responsible management and long-term conservation of these most important public resources,” said BHA Executive Director Land Tawney. “The measure introduced today by Senators John Barrasso and Joe Donnelly speaks to the undue influence held by industrial interests in the U.S. It does not represent the will of the American people, and it fails to uphold the vision for our natural resources advanced more than 40 years ago.”

As framed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Environmental Protection Agency, the waters of the U.S. rule would eliminate confusion in the Clean Water Act caused by two Supreme Court decisions. The sportsmen emphasized that the waters of the U.S. rule is a practical approach that addresses the needs of both industry and the general populace.

“As currently framed, the waters of the U.S. rule explicitly defines exemptions that address water features important to farming, forestry, mining and other industries,” Tawney continued. “At the same time, it restores longstanding Clean Water Act protections to waters important to fish, wildlife, sportsmen and the population at large. Hunters and anglers remain united in urging Congress to reject these attacks and enable the finalization of this vital conservation tool.”

Meanwhile, in the U.S. House of Representatives, Pennsylvania’s Bill Shuster introduced legislation earlier this month (H.R.1732) that would force the rule’s withdrawal, drawing criticism from sportsmen. In a separate but related development, a corrosive policy rider in the Energy and Water Development and Related Agencies Appropriations Act (H.R.2028) released by House members would officially block the rule’s finalization and threaten critical fish and wildlife habitat.

BHA, along with more than 200 sportsmen’s organizations, has joined 1 million-plus Americans who have submitted public comments in favor advancing the waters of the U.S. rule.

Backcountry Hunters & Anglers is the sportsmen’s voice for our wild public lands, waters and wildlife.

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Backcountry Hunters & Anglers is The Sportsman’s Voice for Our Wild Public Lands, Waters and Wildlife.

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