President Barack Obama vetoed on Tuesday legislation that would have nullified a federal rule designed to protect smaller streams, tributaries and wetlands from pollution.
In his veto message, Obama defended the rule. He said pollution from upstream sources ends up in the rivers, lakes and coastal waters near where most Americans live. He also said the rule would clarify the scope of the Clean Water Act and protect those resources.
"The rule, which is a product of extensive public involvement and years of work, is critical to our efforts to protect the nation's waters and keep them clean," Obama said.
“It’s pretty simple — all water is connected. Even kids understand that,” Clean Water Action, an environmental advocacy group, said on its website. “The health of our rivers, lakes and bays depend on the streams and wetlands that flow into them.”
Many farmers and businesses had countered that expanding the scope of waters subject to the act's jurisdiction was a power grab that would lead to greater permitting requirements for landowners and greater legal liability. They called on Congress to intervene.
Two Supreme Court rulings left the reach of the Clean Water Act uncertain.
Those decisions in 2001 and 2006 left 60 percent of the nation's streams and millions of acres of wetlands without clear federal protection, according to the Environmental Protection Agency, causing confusion for landowners and government officials.
The veto was expected.
The House voted to void the rule last week. The Senate passed the resolution last November. Neither chamber appears to have enough votes to override the president's veto.
The Associated Press