Illinois local officials voice support for EPA’s proposed clean water rule

From Environment Illinois

CHICAGO — In advance of a rare joint congressional hearing to be held this Wednesday, Feb. 4, Elgin Mayor David Kaptain, Chicago aldermen and other local elected officials called on members of the state’s congressional delegation to support restoring protections to 56 percent of Illinois’ streams, including those that feed into Lake Michigan and the Mississippi River. Environment Illinois submitted their letter to U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Illinois.

The Clean Water Act not only provided us with drinking water for the city of Elgin,” said Mayor Kaptain, “but with an economic development tool to move our economy forward.”

As a result of loopholes in the law from polluter-driven lawsuits, more than 48,000 miles of streams no longer have clear protection from pollution under the Clean Water Act.

In March, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposed a rule to close these loopholes and restore protections to thousands of waters that feed drinking water supplies for more than 1.6 million Illinoisans.

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 expected to provide disproportionate voice to the clean-water rule’s opponents rather than to its base of supporters.

The letter from 34 in Illinois and more than 250 local officials nationwide is the latest showing of public support for the rule.

Today, our cities and towns are counting on our leaders in Congress to stand up for clean water,” said Wouter Hammink, organizer with Environment Illinois. “We know Sen. Durbin cares deeply about clean water. Now is a critical time for all clean-water champions to publicly stand up for Lake Michigan and the rest of Illinois’ waters.”

The Clean Water Act has been vital to Illinois waterways. The Clean Water Act has been used to defeat a proposed factory farm, protecting the Apple River and the state park preserving the canyon it carved.

From the Feb. 4-10, 2015, issue

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