Speeches By EPA Administrator
Remarks Prepared for Delivery
Administrator Carol M. Browner
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
July 11, 2000
Today, the Clinton-Gore Administration is taking the single most important action in a generation for cleaning up America’s polluted rivers, lakes and shorelines. This action is geared to finish the job of restoring the quality of America’s waters. Americans want and deserve clean beaches and safe waters in which to swim and fish. Yet, 40 percent of America’s waters are still too polluted. Some 20,000 river segments, lakes and estuaries across America do not meet water quality goals for protecting public health. More than 90 percent of all Americans live within 10 miles of a polluted body of water. This program is designed to control the greatest remaining threat to America’s waters -- polluted runoff. The time has come to live up to the promise of the Clean Water Act and make our waters fishable and swimmable once again.
The action for clean water that we are taking today, however, has been severely set back by an anti-environmental rider attached to an emergency supplemental spending bill by the Congressional leadership shortly before the Fourth of July recess. The effect of this rider is to prohibit EPA from ensuring that states set water protection standards and develop programs to reduce pollution to meet those standards. Simply put, the rider restricts EPA’s ability to enforce the Clean Water Act. This Administration is calling on Congress to amend and eliminate this rider so that we can finish the job of protecting America’s public health.
Today, before the President must sign the humanitarian measures in the spending bill, thereby making it law, we are signing this rule, and signaling our continued commitment to clean water in America. Because of the rider, however, EPA has been forced to make the effective date for this program coincide with the end of the delay, as set by Congress. That date presently is October 1, 2001.
This rule, known to most of you as the TMDL rule, which stands for Total Maximum Daily Load, would require for the first time comprehensive planning on a river-by-river, lake-by-lake and bay-by-bay basis by local and state governments working in partnership with EPA. It would provide for great flexibility in meeting those goals.
Many of these changes, ironically, came in part, after considering comments from some Members of Congress since President Clinton announced the proposal of this rule in his radio address last year. We have also taken the step, with regard to today’s action, of elevating it to “major rule” status so that it will be eligible for review by Congress under the Congressional Review Act -- a debate we welcome.
The action we are taking today derives from a 25 year-old provision of the Clean Water Act, and comes after a four year process of extensive consultations with a wide variety of stakeholders. Addressing problems locally, on a watershed-by-watershed basis, is a proven, common-sense method for cost-effectively addressing our nation’s water quality problems. We have used this method very successfully with regard to both the Great Lakes and the Chesapeake Bay. And it will work for citizens everywhere to improve the nation’s rivers and beaches.
Clean water has been a bipartisan national goal for more than 25 years. We hope that we can again move forward together to bring cleaner water to all Americans as soon as possible.