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Looming Threat to Clean Water Legislation | Business

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Looming Threat to Clean Water Legislation
Looming Threat to Clean Water Legislation

A Statement Released by Buffalo Riverkeepers

BUFFALO, N.Y. - Over the last month there has been the passage of two significant pieces of legislation that will have direct impacts on Western New York’s water resources.

Yesterday, the House of Representatives passed HR 2018, the so-called Clean Water Cooperative Federalism Act of 2011, by a vote of 239-184. Much of our community called or sent notes to our Representatives asking them to oppose this bill. Our local representatives did just that. If passed in the Senate, this bill would allow state agencies to override EPA decisions on pollution permits for riverside factories, the treatment of sewage waste, and the handling of dredging materials.

President Obama has indicated he would veto the bill in its current form if it reached his desk, and this is just the first of numerous bills and appropriation riders that are being rushed through Congress this summer.

In addition, the Ohio State Legislature recently passed legislation that would allow individual unregulated water withdrawals from Lake Erie of up to 5 million gallons per day. (For comparison, New York State regulates water withdrawals of 100,000 gallons or more per day.) The Ohio legislation is in complete contrast to the Great Lakes Compact, ratified by Congress in 2008, and the Governor of Ohio has until July 18th to veto the legislation or it becomes law.  Both Congressman Higgins and NYSDEC Commissioner Joe Martens have publicly criticized this legislation and urged their counterparts in Ohio to veto this bill.

Lake Erie is the shallowest and most sensitive to lake level fluctuation of all the Great Lakes. The cumulative impact of large scale, unregulated mass water withdrawals is still yet unknown. However, this region has already seen the negative impacts that lower water levels can have on the maritime economy and shoreline ecology via algal blooms, navigation restrictions and loss of shoreline habitat.

It is believed that Governor Cuomo will be making public remarks today urging a veto of the Ohio bill.  Riverkeeper has urged our supporters to call the Governors office today and ans ask him to vote No on Sub  H.B. 231 as it would be helpful to the efforts of those in Ohio to get this bill vetoed.

Go to the Buffalo Niagara Riverkeepers website for more information.


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