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Great Lakes Article:

Opposition builds against defintion of fill rule

From Clean Water Network

Appalachian activists, Network members in Washington, DC and across the country, members of Congress and even a few celebrities are all mounting an effort to overturn a recent Bush administration decision to allow the dumping of waste in U.S. waters.On May 3, the Bush administration finalized a rule to modify the Army Corps of Engineersí definition of "fill" material to allow the Corps to permit the dumping of waste into our nationís waters.

On May 8, the federal district court for the southern district of West Virginia ruled against the Bush administrationís rule in a citizen suit challenge to the Corps' permitting of valley fills associated with mountaintop removal coal mining.Also on May 8, Representatives Shays (R-CT) and Pallone (D-NJ) and a bipartisan group of representatives introduced a bill to counteract the administration's definition of fill rule change. The new bill, H.R. 4683, the "Clean Water Preservation Act", simply clarifies that under the Clean Water Act fill material cannot be comprised of waste.To view the bill, go to and enter H.R. 4683.

Since the introduction of the bill in May, Network members across the country have been contacting their members of Congress asking them to support the bill via our Legislative Action Center (at, Network members in Washington, DC have been educating members of Congress about this rule change and the new legislation, and Appalachian activists have been rallying both in Appalachia and Capitol Hill.

On May 15, Network members and others from Appalachia went to Washington, DC to educate members of Congress on the issue of mountaintop removal mining and on the new bill to overturn the Bush administrationís new rule.At one of their meetings Senator Jeffords (I-VT) promised to hold a hearing on this devastating issue.On June 6 a hearing was held in the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee,Subcommittee on Clean Air Wetlands and Climate Change, chaired by Senator Lieberman (D-CT).At the hearing Joan Mulhern with Earthjustice Legal Defense Fund gave testimony as well as Keith Richardson with the Backstreet Boys and the Just Within Reach Foundation, the EPA Office of Water Deputy Assistant Administrator, a representative of the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection, an entomology specialist, and a West Virginia developer.In addition to Sen. Lieberman, the subcommittee co-chair, senators in attendance included Sens. Jeffords (I-VT), Carper (D-DE), Clinton (D-NY) and Corzine (D-NJ).

After the hearing, Robert Kennedy Jr. with the Riverkeepers, Backstreet Boy Keith Richardson and numerous Appalachia residents affected by the practice of mountaintop removal mining held a press conference calling on Congress to reverse the Bush administration rule.

For a great collection of news from across the country on this issue as well testimonies from the June 6 hearing, more information on mountaintop removal mining and more photos, go to the Ohio Valley Environmental Coalitionís web site at to OVEC for providing the Network with material to write this article and for the use of their pictures.

What You Can Do!

The Network is asking all members to contact their members of Congress and urge them to support H.R. 4683, a bill to overturn the recent Bush rule change and to ban waste disposal as a permitted practice under the Clean Water Act.Go to our Legislative Action Center at to take action electronically, or call or write your member of Congress and ask them to support H.R. 4683.Call the Capitol Swithboard at 202-224-3121 to connect to your memberís office.Though this bill has only been introduced in the House of Representatives, a Senate version may be introduced soon.We will keep you posted.

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