Thousands of Letters Delivered to EPA Leader on Banks of Connecticut River: Advocates Call For Stronger Protections for Local Rivers, Streams, and Wetlands

Oct 6th, 2014 | By | Category: Top Story, Water

epa-eventHARTFORD – Officials joined environmental advocates and local businesses on the banks of the Connecticut River to emphasize the benefits of clean water for Hartford and all of Connecticut.

With everyone gathered at Mortensen Riverfront Plaza, U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal, U.S. Rep. John Larson, state Rep. Mary Mushinsky, New England Regional EPA head Curt Spalding and DEEP Commissioner Rob Klee, Clean Water Action, Rivers Alliance, Citizen’s Campaign for the Environment, Sierra Club, CT Coalition for Environmental Justice, Interreligious Eco-Justice Network and other groups stressed the need for improved water protections and to showcase the importance of clean water for everyone.

Speakers underscored the critical nature of the EPA’s Clean Water Rule that, when finalized, will protect and restore the Clean Water Act. For over a decade, many streams and wetlands have been vulnerable to pollution and destruction. Whether you live upriver or downriver – everyone has a role to play in protecting water. Nationally, there are 2 million stream miles, 20 million acres of wetlands, and the drinking water of 117 million Americans currently at risk until the rule is final.

Clean Water Action’s Susan Eastwood introduced Senator Richard Blumenthal, a long-time advocate for Connecticut’s environment. Senator Blumenthal said, “No natural resource is a precious or as critical as clean water. I applaud the EPA for this important regulatory clarification, continuing to protect our nation’s water sources while reducing conflicting regulations on agriculture and business. I urge the EPA to listen carefully to the comments and strengthen the regulation to ensure our water quality continues to improve.”

Curt Spalding, Regional Administrator for EPA in New England, who travelled from Boston for the event, said “EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers have made a common-sense proposal based on extensive scientific analysis, to ensure that the federal Clean Water Act protects the streams and wetlands that impact water downstream. We are protecting public health by protecting clean water. It also means we are working to preserve our iconic places, including the Connecticut River and Long Island Sound,” said Curt Spalding, Regional Administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s New England office.

Connecticut Department of Energy and the Environment Commissioner Robert Klee also spoke in support of the proposed rule, “Connecticut has a long, proud history of utilizing federal programs alongside state law to cleanup and protect the state’s precious water resources,” said Commissioner Klee. “The proposed EPA rule will provide a welcome clarification of jurisdiction over this nation’s waters.”

Congressman John Larson and State Representative Mary Mushinsky and heads of several environmental organizations also spoke at the event.

The proposed rule put forth by the EPA and the Corps clarifies the scope of waterways protected under the Clean Water Act after more than 1,000 peer-reviewed scientific studies. All Hartford residents receive at least some of their drinking water from waterways that would be protected once the rule is finalized.

Clean Water Action’s State Director, Anne Hulick concluded the press conference by officially presenting Administrator Spalding with 3500 handwritten letters and postcards from concerned New England residents calling on the EPA and the Corps of Engineers to protect clean water. Nationwide, over 250,000 comments have been generated in favor of the rule. The comment period ends October 20th. Clean Water Action is one of the leading environmental organizations championing the rule.

Hulick added “We need more leaders like Senator Blumenthal, Congressman Larson, Commissioner Klee and State Representative Mary Mushinsky to stand for common-sense rules that protect our vital resources. We applaud them for supporting EPA’s proposed rule to clarify protections for waters under the jurisdiction of the Clean Water Act. Water is vital to our health and our economy and is an increasingly precious resource as we face the challenges of climate change. “

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