Sportsmen today joined together in condemning attempts by the U.S. Senate to derail a federal rule that would improve the health of America’s fisheries and wetlands and the safety of its drinking water, Backcountry Hunters & Anglers announced.
This morning, the Senate Subcommittee on Fisheries, Water and Wildlife convened a hearing to consider legislation that would scuttle the “Waters of the U.S.” rulemaking, a multi-stakeholder process aimed at restoring clarity to the federal Clean Water Act and conserving the headwaters streams and wetlands important to fish, wildlife, waterfowl and sportsmen.
The confusingly named “Federal Water Quality Protection Act” (S. 1140), introduced by Sens. John Barrasso and Joe Donnelly in April, is strongly opposed by sportsmen, who decry the negative impacts its passage would have on hunting, angling and other recreational opportunities, as well as the clean water supplies relied upon by millions of Americans.
“No more fundamental American value exists than clean water,” said BHA Executive Director Land Tawney, “whether it’s the free-flowing stream where we cast a line for trout, the healthy wetlands depended upon by ducks and other waterfowl, or the drinking water we rely on for sustenance. The legislation introduced by Senators Barrasso and Donnelly does not represent the interests and values of our citizenry. It is, quite simply, un-American.
“The Clean Water Act began as a bipartisan effort to conserve and sustain the resources central to our nation and crucial to our survival,” continued Tawney. “It remains one of our most important natural resources laws, but its impact has been diluted over the years. The rulemaking underway represents a good-faith effort to restore the letter of this critical law, conserve our fish and wildlife populations and uphold the integrity of our supply of drinking water. We must strongly oppose efforts to undermine it – and question the motives of those who would put a halt to this process and the beneficial impacts it would have on our natural resources and our economy.”
Economic issues took center stage this afternoon at a hearing convened by the Senate Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committee, which met to consider the fiscal implications of the Waters of the U.S. rulemaking. Sportsmen testified at the hearing in support of the rule’s impacts on America’s outdoors-based economy.
“Access to healthy habitat creates recreational opportunity that drives economic activity and jobs,” said Benjamin Bulis, president and CEO of the American Fly Fishing Trade Association. “Our industry provides the waders, rods, guides and boats that 47 million sportsmen and women utilize every time they step foot in their favorite piece of water. Their quality of experience, and thus our return sales to enhance those days, is dependent on access to clean water.”
AFFTA represents the fly fishing industry, including manufacturers, retailers, outfitters and guides. Outdoor recreation in the United States sustains a robust and growing economy, providing $646 billion in revenues annually and supporting 6.1 million non-exportable jobs.
The administration is expected to release a final version of the Waters of the U.S. rule for public comment shortly. BHA, along with more than 200 sportsmen’s organizations, has joined 1 million-plus Americans who have submitted public comments in favor advancing the rule and protecting the nation’s clean water.
Backcountry Hunters & Anglers is the sportsmen’s voice
for our wild public lands, waters and wildlife