Letter to Administrator Pruitt, RE: the Clean Water Rule

Dear Administrator Pruitt: On behalf of our millions of supporters, we write to provide our perspective on your avowed intention to eliminate the important federal safeguards included in the 2015 Clean Water Rule — a process initiated when President Trump signed Executive Order 13,778 on February 28. We seek your commitment to carry out any such rulemaking in a way that is at least as deliberate, inclusive, and protective of vital waterways as the Clean Water Rule process was and that is based in sound science. In contrast to the extensive and inclusive process that led to the Clean Water Rule, the administration reportedly plans a hasty rulemaking without meaningful public participation. We are dismayed by reports that the agency intends to provide very little time for stakeholder engagement before proposing to undermine the Clean Water Rule’s protections and for official public comment on the proposal. And we especially fear the damage that a final rule would inflict on the nation’s waterways if, as Executive Order 13,778 forecasts, it relies on a legal test that a majority of the justices on the Supreme Court rejected and that would weaken the federal rules so that they protect fewer resources than they have in several decades. Read the rest of the...

Proposed Budget Would Increase Water Pollution

By Jon Devine, Senior Attorney, Water Program, NRDC Originally published here President Trump announced his proposed budget on Thursday. If it were to be adopted by Congress, it would threaten public health and our natural resources enormously. Although this budget is so radical that it has no chance of enactment, it still bears close examination for a couple reasons. First, it provides a window into the values that the Trump administration holds (or, based on this document, lacks). Second, we need to be on guard for attempts to cast the president’s budget as the starting point for discussing the ultimate funding levels, such that Congress seems reasonable by providing more funding than the president would for environmental programs, but cutting them below already-insufficient current levels. This post examines President Trump’s budget with respect to water programs. I’m sorry to report that it is an unmitigated disaster. It’s no exaggeration to say the administration has declared war on clean water, when one looks at this budget combined with the administration’s rollback of water rules protecting communities from coal mining and its initiation of a scheme to weaken safeguards for a variety of critical water bodies, including streams that feed the drinking water supplies of one in three Americans. Water Infrastructure Funding: Not What Administration Wants You to Think Let’s start with the least bad news, as the Trump administration has touted the budget’s alleged “robust funding for critical drinking and wastewater infrastructure.” It is true that the levels that this proposal suggests for EPA’s clean water and safe drinking water infrastructure funds are roughly the same as in recent years.But...

What They are Saying: Environmental, Conservation, and Public Health Groups on President Trump’s Budget Outline

Clean Water Action on the President’s Billionaires Budget Washington, DC – Today President Trump released the details of his budget outline. Clean Water Action President and CEO Bob Wendelgass released the following statement. “This is a reckless and dangerous budget. It’s also completely unsurprising. President Trump has made his priorities perfectly clear – he will put polluters first at all costs. The massive cut to the Environmental Protection Agency’s budget would devastate protections for drinking water and public health. It not only undermines EPA’s ability to carry out our laws, but any reduction in EPA’s financial support to the states would have a huge impact on states’ ability to safeguard our families and stop pollution. ” “It’s fitting this travesty was released on the first day of March Madness  – it is the opposite of everything  Americans want. Poll after poll shows that Americans expect their elected officials to do more, not less to protect clean water and clean air.” “This budget is so outrageous that even Republicans in Congress are skeptical. These are the same Republicans who have been strangling EPA’s budget for years. While we are likely to see a big cuts to EPA, because Republicans are committed to putting corporate profits before public health, the President’s proposal most likely doesn’t have a chance in Congress.” ___________________________________________ President’s Budget Puts Clean Water and Rivers at Risk Nationwide (American Rivers) Washington — President Trump’s proposed budget cuts to clean drinking water and river restoration efforts would cause serious harm to the nation’s health, economy, and quality of life, American Rivers said today. The President’s budget proposal includes deep...

President Trump Attacks Clean Water

By Jon Devine, Senior Attorney, Water Program, NRDC This was originally published here Today, President Trump signed an executive order directing the Environmental Protection Agency and the Army Corps of Engineers to begin repealing the Clean Water Rule, a landmark measure many years in the making. Likewise, new EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt recently told Fox News that he plans to go “full speed ahead” to attack the rule. The President’s order and Administrator Pruitt’s happy obedience insult all Americans―especially the 117 million of us who get drinking water drawn from streams the rule would help protect from pollution. Axios political reporter Jonathan Swan obtained and tweeted an image of the order as it is expected to read, which I’ve posted below. EO attacking Clean Water Rule — from Jonathan Swan We rely on clean water for drinking, to irrigate crops, for swimming and fishing, and as habitat for wildlife. Wetlands and other waters reduce flooding and filter pollution. Since 1972, the Clean Water Act, one of our earliest and most important environmental laws, has helped restore and protect our Nation’s waters. The rule aimed to ensure that water bodies that perform these essential functions warrant protection from pollution and destruction under the Clean Water Act. Although the Trump administration has targeted the Clean Water Rule for repeal, today’s action does not kill it. Repealing a rule requires a full public process. It has to be justified by the law and the evidence available. That’s going to be rough sledding for the new administration, because the rule relies on an extensive scientific record and its protections are easily consistent with...

Executive Order Takes Aim at Our National Parks; Threatens Clean Water for All

By Chad Lord, Senior Director of Water Policy for the National Parks Conservation Association Originally posted here. A little more than a month since President Trump was sworn into office, we have seen his administration take a series of actions to weaken or eliminate the very protections our parks depend on. These actions include eliminating protections for our waterways from mining, a hiring freeze making it impossible for the National Park Service to fill its more than 1,700 vacant, full-time positions, and orders that aim to eliminate or rollback safeguards for public health and the environment. And there is more. Today, President Trump signed an order that threatens the long-term health of the American people and our national parks. The order instructs the EPA and Army Corps of Engineers to revisit the Waters of the United States rule, also known as the Clean Water Rule, which will likely lead to weakening protections for 60 percent of the water bodies in the country. The rule was developed to end confusion about which of our nation’s streams, wetlands, lakes and rivers — the source of drinking water for 117 million Americans — are protected under the 1972 Clean Water Act. The rule was developed after more than a decade of engaging the public in more than 400 public meetings with community leaders, farmers, ranchers, hunters, anglers, and state and local governments; yet the Trump administration seems determined to roll back this commonsense protection for our nation’s waters. There is no need to revisit, revise, or rollback this safeguard that only serves to ensure clean water for our kids, communities, wildlife, and parks. Luckily, revoking this...

What They are Saying about the Dirty Water Order: Elected Officials

Former EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy Statement on Clean Water Rule Executive Order BOSTON – This administration needs to answer to the American people why it’s sidelining EPA’s public health mission and the law and putting our nation’s health, economy and our national security at increased risk. An Executive Order may give the illusion they’re fulfilling a campaign promise to gut the EPA, but it doesn’t “trump” a rule. Only a new rule based on a new record can make current rules go away. The only thing these orders do is make clear this Administration will defer needed public health protections for the American people for the sake of partisan politics. In fact, these EOs reflect the administration’s fear that the court will find the rules are necessary and legally solid – as EPA has said all along. They can’t change science and facts, the bedrock of the Clean Power Plan and the Clean Water Rule, to fit their campaign rhetoric. A Clean Water Rule Executive Order just continues to deny 117 million people in the US of the comfort of knowing the waters they rely on for drinking water are not being protected. And a Clean Power Plan Executive Order doesn’t stop the clean energy transition; it simply sends a signal to the business and international community that Trump would rather hand over our leadership on climate action to China. __________________________________________ NEW YORK A.G. SCHNEIDERMAN LEADS COALITION OF AGs OPPOSING PRESIDENT TRUMP’S EXECUTIVE ORDER THAT GUTS CLEAN WATER PROTECTIONS AGs: “We Won’t Hesitate To Protect Our People And Our Environment—Including By Aggressively Opposing In Court President Trump’s Actions That...