Center for Biological Diversity

For Immediate Release, April 17, 2018

Contact: Emily Knobbe, (202) 849-8400,

Senate Republicans Launch Attack on Clean Water Act Groundwater Protections

WASHINGTON— The Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works will hold a hearing Wednesday on slashing the Clean Water Act’s authority to stop groundwater pollution.

Under the Clean Water Act, it is illegal to discharge pollution into any “waters of the United States” without first seeking a permit from the Environmental Protection Agency. But in the wake of a recent court ruling upholding the EPA’s authority to regulate groundwater pollution, Senate Republicans have signaled a desire to dramatically curtail or even eliminate that authority.

The committee’s actions were spurred by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals recent decision on Maui’s practice of injecting up to 5 million gallons of sewage water into the ground each day. The court ruled that because the injected wastewater flowed underground into the Pacific Ocean, the injection required compliance with the Clean Water Act.

“Senate Republicans would have us believe that sewage water magically disappears after being injected into the ground,” said Emily Knobbe, EPA policy specialist at the Center for Biological Diversity. “This dangerous push to loosen critical federal protections for groundwater puts the interests of polluters above the health of our children and environment.”

Senate Republicans have sought repeatedly to weaken the Clean Water Act. Last year Sen. Mike Crapo (R-Idaho) introduced S. 340, which would eliminate Clean Water Act protections when pesticides are applied directly into water.

Meanwhile Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) has led efforts to use the appropriations process to repeal the “Waters of the United States” rule. If successful, the repeal would eliminate Clean Water Act protections for many wetlands and other important surface waters.

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.6 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

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