Chicago, IL—(ENEWSPF)—November 3, 2015. Senator Dick Durbin and other champions of clean water beat back an attempt today by Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) to roll back the Clean Water Rule, the Obama administration measure that restores protections for streams that feed Lake Michigan and help provide drinking water for over 1.6 million Illinoisans. Senator Mark Kirk joined Sen. Barrasso and other polluter allies to vote oppose the rule.
Finalized in May, the Clean Water Rule has support from more than 800,000 Americans including 33,000 Illinoisans and is backed by more than 1,200 peer-reviewed scientific studies. But it has drawn the ire of a wide variety of powerful polluting interests, including big developers, agribusinesses, and coal-giant Murray Energy, who have vowed to fight in the measure in Congress and in the courts.
“We’re disappointed to see Senator Kirk side with the polluters rather than with Illinoisans and our rivers and lakes, especially after forming an energy and environment working group,” said Brittany King, campaign organizer with Environment Illinois, “but we’re glad Senator Durbin and clean water won today.”
The Clean Water Rule returns safeguards under the Clean Water Act to 2 million miles of streams and millions of acres of wetlands, including more than half of Illinois’s streams, left vulnerable to pollution and development following a pair of Supreme Court decisions in the 2000’s.
Today’s attempt to overturn the rule won’t be the last. Senator Jodi Ernst (R-Iowa) has filed a separate measure to invalidate the rule under the Congressional Review Act, and a vote is expected as soon as this week.
“With leaders in Congress bent on doing polluters’ bidding, we know that today’s attack on clean water is one of several,” said King. “But with the strong backing of Senator Durbin, the president, and Illinoisans, the Clean Water Rule will survive, and our rivers, lakes, streams and wetlands will get the protections they deserve.”