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U.S. Senate Blocks Attack on Waters of the United States Rule

Hunting and fishing groups are cheering the defeat in the U.S. Senate of an amendment that would have lifted certain EPA protections from smaller streams. (Montana Wildlife Federation)
Hunting and fishing groups are cheering the defeat in the U.S. Senate of an amendment that would have lifted certain EPA protections from smaller streams. (Montana Wildlife Federation)
April 22, 2016

HELENA, Mont. – Hunting and angling groups are praising the U.S. Senate for defeating an amendment on Thursday that would have blocked certain Environmental Protection Agency clean water protections on smaller streams and tributaries.

The amendment to the energy appropriations bill would have killed the Waters of the United States rule that defines which smaller waterways are protected under the federal Clean Water Act.

Dave Chadwick, executive director of the Montana Wildlife Federation, says feeder streams are critical habitat for fish and wildlife in Big Sky country.

"It's really essential in Montana to protecting wetland areas and also our head water streams,” he stresses. “Here in Montana, our head water streams really are our trout hatchery."

Statistics show that hunting and fishing, both of which depend on clean water, bring $1.4 billion in economic activity every year to Montana.

Opponents of the Waters of the United States rule say it's an example of government overreach.

But Chadwick argues it provides regulatory certainty for farmers and developers, and that it has ample exemptions for agriculture.

"This has happened a couple of times they've tried to block the rule,” he points out. “And we're going to need to continue to be vigilant, so that the EPA can just move forward with implementing the rule that was developed over many years, with a lot of public input."

U.S. Sen. Jon Tester of Montana voted to keep the rule. Sen. Steve Daines voted to kill it.


Suzanne Potter, Public News Service - MT