House Democrats Introduce the Clean Water Act of 2023
The bill would undo the damage of the Supreme Court’s misguided Sackett decision by reinstating the historic and bipartisan, federal-state partnership that has protected our waters for over 50 years
Washington, October 18, 2023
Ranking Member of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure Rick Larsen (D-WA), Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Water Resources and Environment Grace Napolitano (D-CA), Rep. Don Beyer (D-VA), Rep. Melanie Stansbury (D-NM) and 114 House Democrats introduced the Clean Water Act of 2023. The legislation undoes the damage from the Supreme Court’s Sackett decision by reinstating the historic and bipartisan, federal-state partnership that has protected our rivers, streams, and wetlands for over 50 years; by establishing a clear, level playing field for businesses and industries to thrive while protecting critical natural resources; and ensuring clean water for families and communities.
“Clean water means the difference between healthy communities and sick ones, thriving businesses and stunted ones, preserved natural environments and polluted ones,” Ranking Member Larsen said. “The Clean Water Act of 2023 restores historic, bipartisan protections to the estimated 50% of wetlands and 70% of streams lost through the misguided Sackett decision. I commend Ranking Member Napolitano, Rep. Beyer, and Rep. Stansbury for their leadership as well as the more than one hundred House Democrats who cosponsored this critical legislation, which balances essential protections of the health of our environment and our local economies.”
“Clean water is not and should not be a partisan issue. Families depend on clean water to drink, farms depend on clean water to grow their crops, and businesses depend on clean water for a healthy economy,” said Ranking Member Napolitano. “The Clean Water Act of 2023 will restore the strong federal protections struck down by the conservative Supreme Court and put back into place the successful protections which cleaned up our rivers over the last five decades. I thank Ranking Member Larsen, Congressman Beyer, and Congresswoman Stansbury for their leadership and joining me in introducing this vital legislation to protect clean water for all.”
“Everyone needs clean water, and the Clean Water Act has been a historic success safeguarding Americans’ water quality for over 50 years,” said Representative Don Beyer. “Unfortunately, the right wing of the Supreme Court recently sided with polluters to weaken essential protections for our streams, rivers, lakes, and wetlands. This legislation would help restore the full strength of the Clean Water Act and defend one of our most precious natural resources for generations to come.”
“New Mexicans know that water is life and that we must protect our clean water,” said Representative Stansbury. “Now, with the recent Sackett Supreme Court decision that undermines our access to clean water, it’s more important than ever that we protect our waterways. That’s why I am proud to be a co-lead of the Clean Water Act to restore critical federal protections. I’m grateful to partner with Ranking Member Larsen, Congressman Beyer, and Congresswoman Napolitano to deliver clean water for all.”
In May 2023, the U.S. Supreme Court (SCOTUS) issued its Sackett v. EPA decision, which significantly narrowed the historic, bipartisan scope of the Clean Water Act (CWA). SCOTUS judicially rewrote the tests for determining what rivers, streams and wetlands retain a minimum standard of federal protection and created new criteria—with no precedent in statute or in the decades-long, bipartisan agency interpretation of the Clean Water Act.
In July 2023, Ranking Members Larsen and Napolitano joined Democratic colleagues and clean water advocates for a roundtable on: “Murky Waters: Navigating a Post-Sackett World.” During the roundtable, members and experts discussed the potential impacts on water quality, human and environmental health, and local economies as a result of the Sackett decision. The roundtable culminated in the report titled “Lessons from the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure Democratic Roundtable – Murky Waters: Navigating a Post-Sackett World.” The report outlines the real world impacts of the Sackett decision and identifies critical waterbodies that are now at risk of degradation or destruction. The report also discusses how 50 years of federal clean water investment and progress in reviving local waterbodies could be squandered, even if proactive measures are taken at a state or local level. Lessons learned from the roundtable, along with input from communities and stakeholders, contributed to the Clean Water Act of 2023. To read the report, click here.