Virginia local officials voice support for EPA proposed clean water rule.

congressIn advance of a rare joint congressional hearing to be held this Wednesday, elected officials called on members of the state’s congressional delegation to support restoring protections to 57% of Virginia’s streams, including those that feed into the Chesapeake Bay. Environment Virginia submitted their letter to Senator Kaine, who has yet to publicly declare his position on the clean water rule.

“Waterways link us all beyond the geographic and political distinctions of cities, counties and states,” said Charlottesville City Councilor Kristin Szakos. “If we don’t work together, we can’t protect them, and if we don’t protect our water, we all lose.”

Due to loopholes in the law from polluter-driven lawsuits, more than 28,000 miles of Virginia’s streams no longer have clear protection from pollution under the Clean Water Act. In March the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency proposed a rule to close these loopholes and restore protections to thousands of waters that feed drinking water supplies for over 2 million Virginians.

Unfortunately, big developers, agribusinesses and other polluters have waged a bitter campaign against the rule. Their allies in Congress have taken up their cause, and Wednesday’s joint hearing between key committees of the U.S. Senate and House is widely expected to provide disproportionate voice to the clean water rule’s opponents rather than to its wide base of supporters.

Today’s letter from over a dozen officials here in the state and more than 250 local officials nationwide is the latest showing of public support for the rule. Previously, over 50 small businesses, watershed, and environmental groups, and thousands of Virginians have joined Environment Virginia in support of the rule.

“Today, our cities and towns are counting on our leaders in Congress to stand up for clean water,” said Jessie Mehrhoff, Clean Water Organizer with Environment Virginia. “We know Senator Kaine cares deeply about clean water. Now is a critical time for all clean water champions to publicly stand up for the Chesapeake Bay.”

Last year, polluters put communities’ drinking water at risk in Toledo and in West Virginia. The clean water rule would restore protections for sources of drinking water for 117 million Americans

“This is our drinking water – our leaders in Washington should be doing everything they can to protect it.” said Mehrhoff.  “That is why it is so critical that EPA be allowed to move forward with its proposed clean water rule now.”

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