Our organization got its start as the “Fisherman’s Clean Water Action Project.” We were central to building the national movement that won the Clean Water Act’s passage. From the beginning, we used grassroots organizing to mobilize the public and build the power to persuade public officials to vote for clean water on behalf of their constituents.
Clean Water Action’s programs expanded in the 1980s to include campaigning to elect — or defeat — candidates for local, state and federal office based on their records and positions. We needed more champions who would support the Clean Water Act other laws that make our water safer to drink, reduce our exposure to toxic chemicals, and otherwise improve our health and quality of life.
The Clean Water Act is a successful partnership between states and the federal government through which each state creates and enforces its own water quality standards. Regional waters such as the Chesapeake illustrate the importance of federal protections. No one state controls the Bay’s water quality. Whatever Virginia, Maryland and DC do to protect the Bay will not succeed without Pennsylvania and New York. What those states do to protect and restore the Susquehanna, the Bay’s largest tributary, is also critically important.
Clean Water Action members helped to elect Barack Obama in 2008. President Obama recently earned our endorsement for his 2012 reelection based on actions he has taken to protect our water and our health. One of those actions, Executive Order 13508, mandates enforcement of new “pollution diet” rules (TMDL’s) under the Clean Water Act. For years, state and local officials around the Bay relied on voluntary measures such as the Chesapeake Bay Agreement, to get the job done. But voluntary efforts have not been very successful and delayed action required under the federal law. Finally, it took the Obama Administration’s action, backed by court rulings, to create new Watershed Implementation Plans (WIPs). These detailed blueprints will develop local policies capping pollution that is strangling the Bay.
Predictably, the polluters are fighting these measures in Congress and the states. Clean Water Action and the President support maintaining the Clean Water Act’s strong federal-state partnership for restoring the nation’s waters, including the Chesapeake. This approach and the clean water it brings will continue to create and protect good-paying jobs, improve public health, enhance our quality of life and strengthen our economy. We need your help to help keep the Clean Water Act strong. Take action today at cleanwater.org/action.