Today President Trump’s EPA announced a draft proposal to repeal the Clean Water Rule. The Clean Water Rule, finalized in 2015, protects the streams and wetlands that feed the drinking water sources for 1 in 3 Americans. Responses to this irresponsible and dangerous proposal, from environmental, conservation, equity-focused, public health, and community groups, follow.
Clean Water Action – Trump Administration Action Will Put Water at Risk to Benefit Polluters
Washington, DC – Today Scott Pruitt and President Trump put drinking water sources at risk. The Environmental Protection Agency announced a draft proposal to repeal Clean Water Act protections for streams and wetlands that filter pollutants, protect communities from floods, and provide vital habitat for wildlife.
Clean Water Action President and CEO Bob Wendelgass released the following statement in response.
“The only people who benefit from repealing Clean Water Act protections are the special interests who have tried to weaken and gut protections for clean water for decades. Repealing the Clean Water Rule does nothing but increase confusion about what streams and wetlands are protected and put the drinking water for 1 in 3 of us at risk. ”
“The Clean Water Rule is essential to public health. It is vital to communities that rely on healthy wetlands and streams to power small businesses and provide drinking water. We’re not going to protect clean water by ignoring science and commonsense. Americans understand that – yet President Trump and Scott Pruitt don’t seem to.”
“More than a million Americans commented on the Clean Water Rule, with nearly 80% supporting strong protections. EPA held over 400 stakeholder meetings, and used the best science to develop the rule. Scott Pruitt wants an end-run around the public because he knows he’s wrong. He knows that we expect our public officials to protect public health and clean water – not make it easier for polluters to harm our water.”
“We’re going to make sure that Scott Pruitt hears from Americans every step of the way during this reckless and rushed process. Because this is just the start – Scott Pruitt and the President aim to attack the heart of the Clean Water Act next. We can’t let that happen.”
GreenLatinos Statement on EPA Proposal to Eliminate the Clean Water Rule
WASHINGTON, DC – Today in response to EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt’s proposal to repeal the Clean Water Rule,
a regulation that protects streams and wetlands that are connected to the drinking water sources of 117 million Americans,
Chris Espinosa, Executive Vice President & COO of GreenLatinos issued the following statement:
“As our Allies, the Standing Rock Sioux Nation have made clear – Water is Life. Today’s action by Administrator Pruitt places the health of our waters, and thus our health as communities at greater risk. The clean water rule – that was underpinned by thousands of pages of peer-reviewed scientific analysis and supported through hundreds of thousands of public comments – will protect the drinking water sources of 117 million Americans, provide tremendous economic benefits, and will ensure that ours and future generations can benefit from water sources that are protected for drinking, recreating, and enjoying.
For millions of Latino communities across the country – who are already disproportionately burdened with higher rates of pollution and poor water quality – today’s action by the EPA is completely contrary to its mission of protecting the environment and their public health. GreenLatinos opposes Administrator Pruitt’s attempt to repeal the Clean Water Rule in the strongest possible terms.”
National Parks Conservation Association – Trump Administration Action Puts National Parks at Risk, Moves to Derail Clean Water Protections
Today, in a devastating blow to national parks and communities that depend on clean water, the Trump Administration calls for the repeal of the Clean Water Rule.
Statement by Theresa Pierno, President and CEO for National Parks Conservation Association:
“This dismantling of the Clean Water Rule puts Americans, as well as our national parks and their visitors, at serious risk. Clean water is essential to our health, our parks and our economy. Today’s decision will likely lead to weakening protections for many water bodies in the country including those that surround and flow through our parks.
“From Acadia to Grand Canyon, and Everglades to Glacier, water is a defining value in our national park experiences. More than 330 million annual park visitors enjoy swimming, fishing, paddling and wildlife watching in these treasured places. And clean water and water access remain among the most valued attributes when visiting them.
“Playing politics with our water is not acceptable. This rollback sets back progress made to hold polluters accountable and better protect the drinking water for our communities, and waterways for wildlife and our parks.”
The Healing Our Waters Coalition – Trump Administration Begins to Dismantle Clean Water Act
ANN ARBOR, MICH. (June 27, 2017)—Today the Trump Administration took the first step in rescinding a part of the Clean Water Act, which provides protections for 117 million Americans. The target of the rollbacks is the Clean Water Rule, which provides needed clarity for Clean Water Act protections and was finalized in June 2015 after months of public comment. This move by the Trump Administration creates uncertainty around which streams and waters fall under the protection of the Clean Water Act and which are exempt.
“With this rollback of the Clean Water Rule, the Trump Administration has taken another step backwards when it comes to protecting the Great Lakes,” said Todd Ambs, Campaign Director for the Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition. “The Clean Water Rule provides drinking water protections for 30 million people in the Great Lakes region and regulatory certainty for businesses here as well. Repealing the rule threatens to pollute our drinking water and provides an unnecessary blockade to business development.”
According to a 2015 poll, 80% of voters nationwide support the Clean Water Rule and a majority of Americans think that the government should do more to protect water from pollution. Similarly, 80% of small business owners expressed support for the Clean Water Rule and the regulatory certainty it provides. The rule was initially needed because of two Supreme Court decisions that created uncertainty about which waters were protected by the Clean Water Act.
“The Trump Administration’s move today is counter to public opinion and common sense—we need to strengthen drinking water protections at the state and national level, not weaken them,” said Ambs. “The Clean Water Act is one of the bedrock laws that have helped restore the Great Lakes, which provide drinking water for 30 million people. In the wake of two high-profile drinking water disasters in Flint, Mich. and Toledo, Ohio, we can’t afford to weaken drinking water protections anywhere.”
The Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition consists of more than 145 environmental, conservation, outdoor recreation organizations, zoos, aquariums and museums representing millions of people, whose common goal is to restore and protect the Great Lakes. Learn more at www.healthylakes.org or follow us on Twitter @healthylakes.
Alliance of Nurses for Healthy Environments Statement on EPA Plan to Rescind the Clean Water Rule
Today, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt announced that the EPA was rescinding the Clean Waters Rule. This rule was finalized in 2015, after significant public input, and provides necessary safeguards to protect the drinking water supply of over 117 million Americans.
“As nurses we recognize clean water as an essential component of human health,” said Katie Huffling, a registered nurse and the executive director of the Alliance of Nurses for Healthy Environments. “Many of those impacted by unsafe drinking water are low-income families or communities of color. These communities need the EPA to strongly enforce current regulations, not rescind them, so children and families are not unknowingly being exposed to unsafe drinking water. By cutting these clean water safeguards, Administrator Pruitt is putting the health of millions of Americans at risk.”
BlueGreen Alliance – As Cities and Towns Across Country Struggle with Water Quality, EPA Proposes Ill-Conceived Clean Water Rule Rollback
WASHINGTON, DC (June 27, 2017) – Following the proposal by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to rescind the Clean Water Rule—a joint effort by the EPA and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers that restored Clean Water Act protections for wetlands, streams and other waters to help better protect our drinking water supply—the BlueGreen Alliance released a statement from Executive Director Kim Glas:
“Rescinding this rule puts the drinking water of 117 million Americans at risk. Right now, too many cities—including Flint, Michigan; Toledo, Ohio; and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania—are struggling to provide clean, safe water to their residents. The federal government should lead the way to make sure that having clean, safe water isn’t a luxury for American families.”
Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership, National Wildlife Federation, Trout Unlimited, Izaak Walton League of America – Repealing Clean Water Rule Creates Uncertainty for $887B Outdoor Recreation Economy
The EPA’s decision to withdraw Clean Water Act protections for headwaters and wetlands will impact trout, waterfowl, and businesses that rely on quality places to hunt and fish
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and Environmental Protection Agency have begun the process of rescinding the 2015 Clean Water Rule that clarified protections for headwater streams and wetlands under the Clean Water Act, despite broad public support for the rule and its benefits for fish and wildlife habitat. This is the first step in a two-step process to replace the rule, set into motion by an executive order in February 2017.
“If the president intends to fulfill his stated goal of having the cleanest water, he should direct his administration to identify paths forward for defending and implementing the Clean Water Rule based on sound science, regulatory certainty, and the national economic benefits of clean water,” says Whit Fosburgh, president and CEO of the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership. “Instead, today’s action to rescind the rule puts at risk the fish and wildlife that rely on more than 20 million acres of wetlands and 60 percent of the country’s streams, while the process for ensuring the protection of these clean water resources remains unclear.”
President Trump’s order directed the agencies to consider revising the rule with an eye toward minimizing regulatory uncertainty and cited former Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia’s opinion that seasonal streams and many wetlands do not merit protection. But hunters and anglers consider this vital habitat.
“The repeal and replacement plan is likely to roll back Clean Water Act protections for a majority of the nation’s streams and wetlands, including the headwater streams that are so important for trout and other species of fish, plus millions of acres of seasonal wetlands that store flood waters and provide essential habitat for more than half of North American migratory waterfowl and a diverse array of other birds, amphibians, and reptiles,” says Collin O’Mara, president and CEO of the National Wildlife Federation.
The EPA and Army Corps of Engineers spent four years reviewing available science and engaging stakeholders to finalize the rule. Sportsmen, conservation groups, and many others submitted one million public comments to help shape the end product, which was celebrated for its potential to reverse a troubling trend of wetlands loss.
The repeal could impact outdoor recreation businesses that depend on certainty around clean water and healthy fish and wildlife habitat. The outdoor recreation industry fuels $887 billion in annual spending and supports 7.6 million jobs, including 483,000 jobs directly related to hunting and fishing. Many game species rely on headwater streams and wetland systems that would be under threat of pollution or destruction without the clarity of the 2015 Clean Water Rule.
“Clean water is a basic right of every American,” says Chris Wood, president and CEO of Trout Unlimited. “To be effective, the Clean Water Act must be able to control pollution at its source. Unfortunately today’s action by the EPA places the health of 60 percent of the stream miles and the drinking water of one in three Americans at risk. Trout Unlimited intends to work with our hundreds of thousands of members and supporters to convince the EPA to reverse course on this misguided direction.”
Going forward, sportsmen want this administration to maintain strong Clean Water Act protections for waters and wetlands. With the rule’s rescission today, the federal government’s decisions on Clean Water Act protections for sensitive streams and wetlands will once again be made on a case-by-case basis, throwing tremendous uncertainty back into the decision-making process.
“The Clean Water Rule is critically important to improving and protecting water quality nationwide,” says Scott Kovarovics, executive director of the Izaak Walton League of America. “It is based on extensive science but also common sense, which tells us that it is impossible to improve water quality in our rivers and lakes unless the small streams flowing to them are also protected from pollution.”
The TRCP will ask sportsmen and women to support the conservation benefits of the 2015 Clean Water Rule during any public comment period on the rule rescission.
Sierra Club – Once Again the Trump Administration Does the Bidding of Polluters at the Expense of American Families and Communities
Scott Pruitt ignores the need for clean water, announces he is repealing 2015 Clean Water Rule
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Donald Trump’s EPA Administrator, Scott Pruitt, announced that he will be repealing the 2015 Clean Water Rule that provided vital clean water protections against dangerous pollution contaminating America’s waterways and drinking water supplies.
The Clean Water Rule was created after the EPA held more than 400 meetings with stakeholder groups across the country and published a combination of more than 1,200 studies in peer-reviewed scientific publications. The rule’s strong grounding in the Clean Water Act and reliance on the significant scientific evidence showed the need for strong and clear protections against pollution in America’s rivers, lakes, and waterways.
Trump’s and Pruitt’s decision to repeal these important clean water safeguards will put communities across the country at risk.
In response, Michael Brune, Executive Director of Sierra Club, released the following statement:
“Once again, the Trump Administration has agreed to do the bidding of the worst polluters in our country, and once again it’s putting the health of American families and communities at risk.
“The Clean Water Rule was meticulously created to protect America’s water resources from pollution and destruction after doctors, scientists, public health advocates, and community leaders weighed in with the EPA. After years of thorough research and informed advice from policy experts and stakeholders, the rule was finalized in 2015. It was ready to protect the drinking water of 117 million Americans and then, within a few months of being in office, Donald Trump and Scott Pruitt threw it into the trash bin to appease their polluter allies.
“It goes without saying that the Trump Administration doesn’t care about the environment, public health, or its duty to protect our most precious natural resources — and that is why it’s up to us, the American people, to hold them accountable. We will fight this and every other attempt by polluters and the Trump Administration to destroy our water resources.”
Environment America – Repealing the Clean Water Rule turns the mission of the EPA on its head
Today, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott Pruitt proposed repealing the Clean Water Rule, which restored federal protections to half our nation’s streams and thousands of wetlands across the country. John Rumpler, Environment America’s senior attorney and clean water program director, issued the following statement:
“Repealing the Clean Water Rule turns the mission of the EPA on its head: Instead of safeguarding our drinking water, Scott Pruitt is proposing to stop protecting drinking water sources for 1 in 3 Americans. It defies common sense, sound science and the will of the American people.
“Clean water is vital to our ecology, our health, and our quality of life. We are already seeing drinking water contaminated by algal blooms and toxic chemicals, and a dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico that scientists now estimate will be the size of New Jersey this summer. The last thing we should do is weaken protections for our water.
“Finalized in 2015, the Clean Water Rule restored federal protections to half the nation’s streams, which help provide drinking water to one in every three Americans. The rule also protects millions of acres of wetlands that provide wildlife habitat and keep pollutants out of America’s great waterways, from the Great Lakes to the Chesapeake Bay to Puget Sound.
“More than 800,000 Americans – including more than 1,000 business owners, local officials, farmers, and health professionals – supported the historic clean water rule. On the other side, the most vociferous opponents of the rule include the oil and gas industry, coal companies, developers, and lobbyists for corporate agribusiness.
“We call on the EPA to reconsider this reckless repeal and stand up for our drinking water, not for polluters.”
American Rivers – Rollback of Clean Water Rule Puts Americans’ Drinking Water at Risk
Washington – The Environmental Protection Agency today put the drinking water supplies of 1 in 3 Americans at risk when it took official action to roll back the Clean Water Rule.
“The move by the Trump Administration to roll back the Clean Water Rule is another major blow to clean drinking water and the health of American families,” said Bob Irvin, President of American Rivers.
“Few things are more fundamental to our health than the water we drink. No one should have to worry about pollution when they turn on the tap,” Irvin said.
More than a decade ago, two U.S. Supreme Court decisions raised questions over which of the nation’s waters are subject to federal protection under the Clean Water Act, and this confusion placed millions of miles of streams, particularly headwater streams, and millions of acres of wetlands in jeopardy. The Clean Water Rule remedied that situation by providing clarity as to which streams and wetlands are protected by the Clean Water Act, and which are not.
Said American Rivers board member Jo Ellen Darcy, “Every American deserves clean drinking water, and the public deserves clarity and predictability in decision-making. Today’s move to rescind the Clean Water Rule creates more risk for river health and more uncertainty for federal agencies, landowners and communities. By tossing out years of scientific study and public input, Scott Pruitt and the Trump Administration are muddying the very waters the Clean Water Rule sought to clarify.” Ms. Darcy was Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works in the Obama Administration and co-author of the Clean Water Rule.
Across the country, small streams and wetlands contribute to the drinking water supplies of 117 million Americans and provide tremendous economic benefits to the public in the form of reduced flooding, pollution filtration, groundwater recharge, wildlife habitat and recreation opportunities.
“Without the Clean Water Rule’s critical protections, innumerable small streams and wetlands that are essential for drinking water supplies, flood protection, and fish and wildlife habitat will be vulnerable to unregulated pollution, dredging and filling, “ Irvin said.
More than 1,200 individually peer-reviewed studies provided the scientific foundation for the Clean Water Rule, and over one million comments demonstrated overwhelming popular support for strong protection for the country’s small streams and wetlands.
“Administrator Scott Pruitt and President Trump are throwing away carefully crafted safeguards that were based on strong economic arguments, sound science and broad public support, “ Irvin said. “As the nation’s voice for rivers, American Rivers will fight to safeguard the rivers and streams that connect us all, and to protect clean drinking water for American families and future generations.”
Physicians for Social Responsibility Statement on Repeal of the Clean Water Rule
Washington, DC- Clean water is a public health issue for all communities. Today EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt announced the repeal of the Clean Water Rule. The rule, enacted in 2015, protects the streams and wetlands that are the headwaters of drinking water supplies for one in three U.S. residents.
“Clean drinking water is essential for everyone. Thousands of U.S. residents become ill each year from contaminated drinking water. Science demonstrates that upstream headwaters and wetlands act together to influence downstream waters by contributing clean water for drinking and recreation; filtering pollution; and reducing downstream flooding. As the climate changes and we begin to see more extreme weather events, wetlands can serve as an invaluable protection against flooding. Getting rid of the Clean Water Rule puts polluter profits before public health. Our communities won’t get clean water by gutting protections for streams and wetlands.” —Kathy Attar, MPH, Toxics Program Manager, Physicians for Social Responsibility
Environmental Law and Policy Center – Trump Administration’s Clean Water Rollbacks Threaten America’s Drinking Water
Pausing Clean Water Standards Wrong For the Great Lakes Region and America
CHICAGO – The Trump Administration EPA’s repeal of Clean Water Rule announced today will threaten progress made to protect the Midwest’s vital lakes, rivers and streams Midwest including the Great Lakes and the Mississippi River basins.
A previously announced delay of coal plant pollution rules further threaten American drinking water, as well as water used for boating, swimming, fishing and growing food.
“The Trump Administration’s attacks on safe clean drinking water standards will allow more pollution of the Great Lakes and the Mississippi River watersheds harming public health and fish and wildlife habitat,” said Howard Learner, Executive Director of the Environmental Law & Policy Center.
The Trump Administration’s action today rolls back clean water standards that define which waterways are protected by the Clean Water Act. The standard recognized that our water resources are so interconnected that in order to protect our celebrated waterways – the Mississippi River and the Great Lakes – it’s necessary to protect the backyard brooks, community creeks and steady streams that feed them.
“This foolish rollback of clean water standards rejects years of work building stakeholder input and scientific data support, and it imperils the progress for safe clean drinking water in the Midwest,” Learner said. “We can’t afford to go backwards when it comes to reducing pollution of community rivers, lakes and streams.”
Last month, the Administration said it would indefinitely delay regulation of toxic pollutants that coal plants can dump into waterways, such as arsenic, chromium, lead, and mercury. In the five years before the standard, for example, the Havana Power Station in Illinois dumped more than 1,000 pounds of lead into the Illinois River. In the same period, Ohio’s Cardinal Power Station dumped 11,500 pounds of arsenic into the Ohio River and Indiana’s Petersburg Generating Station dumped 5,800 pounds of arsenic and 1,100 pounds of lead into the White River.
“Let’s make it safe to eat the fish we catch in Midwest rivers, lakes and streams. Allowing coal plants to keep discharging toxic pollutants collected into local waterways is dangerous and short-sighted,” Learner said. “The Ohio River and White River provide drinking water for millions of people. State health departments along these waterways have advisories warning people about eating fish caught in these rivers. Rather than rolling water protections backwards, we should move forward to protect our vital resources.”
National Wildlife Federation – New Administration Rule Would Muddy Clean Water Protections
Washington, DC –Today, the Trump Administration released a proposed rule repealing the 2015 Clean Water Rule, which had legally clarified which streams and wetlands were protected under the Clean Water Act. This is the first step in the Administration’s effort to repeal and ultimately replace the Clean Water Rule with a new rule based on Justice Scalia’s non-majority opinion in the 2006 Rapanos case. A rule based on this decision could leave the majority of the nation’s stream miles and wetland acres in the lower 48 states unprotected by the Clean Water Act.
“Every American should be able to turn on the tap and get clean, safe drinking water,” said Collin O’Mara, president and CEO of the National Wildlife Federation. “The president campaigned on the promise of ‘crystal clear water.’ The best way to make that promise a reality is to prevent pollution in the first place. Today’s hasty and haphazard repeal would do just the opposite. It disrespects the broad public support and strong legal and scientific basis for the Clean Water Rule and it fails to provide the clarity inherent in the Rule.
“The repeal and replacement plan could end up rolling back Clean Water Act protections for a majority of the nation’s streams and wetlands, including the headwater streams that are so important for trout and other species of fish, and millions of acres of seasonal wetlands that store flood waters and provide essential habitat for more than half of North American migratory waterfowl, as well as a diverse array of other birds, amphibians, and reptiles.”
Trout Unlimited – EPA announces process to rescind Clean Water Rule – Repealing the rule puts thousands of miles of stream at risk
(June 27, 2017) WASHINGTON D.C. – The Environmental Protection Agency announced today that it would begin the process of repealing and replacing the Clean Water Rule in accordance with an executive order signed by President Trump in February.
The Clean Water Rule of 2015, which was a critical step in protecting headwaters streams and wetlands across the country, was the result of a multi-year process which utilized the best available science and drew more than one million comments before being finalized. In contrast, the repeal allows only a 30 day comment period and the “replace” step will likely reduce protections on thousands of miles of streams.
Chris Wood, President and CEO of Trout Unlimited, issued the following statement in response to the announcement:
“Today, the EPA published a proposed rule that begins the process of unraveling the protections of the Clean Water Act for small headwater streams. This Rule would have provided protection to streams, rivers and wetlands, including 60 percent of the stream miles in the U.S. that flow seasonally. It is important to note that these waters were protected for the first 30 years of the Clean Water Act.
Removing protections from these streams is harmful not only to anglers, but also to the one in three Americans whose drinking water comes from small seasonal streams.
Clean water is not a political issue. It is a basic right of every American. Water runs downhill, gravity works cheap, and it never takes a day off. We all live downstream. To be effective, the Clean Water Act must be able to control pollution at its source, upstream in the headwaters and wetlands that flow down through communities to our major lakes, rivers, and bays. The EPA’s action places the health of our streams and rivers at significant and unacceptable risk.
This is a fast moving train. Today’s proposal to rescind and weaken the Clean Water Rule has a mere 30 day comment period. TU’s members and its allies will use each one of those days to respond vigorously to oppose the rescission and to urge EPA to reconsider the path it is on.
That path includes a second, ill-conceived step. EPA has said that as it re-writes this rule it will consider relying on a minority Supreme Court opinion that would dramatically diminish the number of streams and wetlands protected by the Clean Water Act. If this direction is followed, 60 percent of U.S. streams and 20 million acres of wetlands would lose protection of the Clean Water Act creating an unmitigated disaster for fish and wildlife, hunting and fishing, and one of our most basic rights, clean water.
Legally, scientifically, and logically a reliance on the Supreme Court minority opinion is wrong-headed. But there’s still time, working through the new rulemaking process, to make it right. When EPA replaces the Clean Water Rule, it must listen to the voices of tens of millions of sportsmen and women who want more clean water, more fish and wildlife habitat, and more hunting and angling opportunities.
Trout Unlimited intends to work with our hundreds of thousands of members and supporters to reverse course on this misguided direction.”
LCV Statement in Response to the Proposed Rollback of the Clean Water Rule
WASHINGTON, DC-Today EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt proposed the rollback of the Clean Water Rule, which protects the small streams and wetlands that contribute to the drinking water of 1 in 3 people in this country. LCV President Gene Karpinski released the following statement in response:
“It is appalling, though not surprising, that the Trump administration is rolling back these critical protections in order to help out corporate interests. This rollback of drinking water safeguards would allow big polluters to dump waste into the drinking water of 117 million people. The Clean Water Rule is vital for protecting the small streams and wetlands that our families, communities, and businesses depend on, and we know this is the first step in the administration’s effort to gut the Clean Water Act itself. But just like the attacks on efforts to tackle climate change and the proposed rollback of our national monuments, and so much more, the Trump administration will face fierce opposition. The public will not stand idly by while Trump and his cronies try to decimate safeguards for our environment and our health, and LCV and our members are ready to fight to ensure everyone has access to clean water.”
NRDC – Trump Administration Stripping Protection for Clean Water
WASHINGTON – At a hearing today, Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt indicated that the EPA and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will send to the Federal Register today a proposal to repeal the Clean Water Rule.
The following is a statement by Rhea Suh, president of the Natural Resources Defense Council:
“This proposal strikes directly at public health. It would strip out needed protections for the streams that feed drinking water sources for one in every three Americans. Clean water is too important for that. We’ll stand up to this reckless attack on our waters and health.
“The Clean Water Rule provides the clarity we need to protect clean water. Its repeal would make it easier for irresponsible developers and others to contaminate our waters and send the pollution downstream.”
The EPA and the Army Corps issued the rule in 2015 to clarify legal protection for tens of millions of acres of wetlands and thousands of streams across the United States after more than a decade of confusion—and extensive legal debate—over which bodies of water were protected under the landmark Clean Water Act. Today’s proposed repeal would return the rule to that previous state of confusion over what the Act protects.
For more information, see this blog by NRDC’s Jon Devine.
Statement from the Ohio Environmental Council on the Trump Administration’s plans repeal the Clean Water Rule
Columbus, OH — This statement can be attributed in full, or in part, to Kristy Meyer, Managing Director, Natural Resources, at the Ohio Environmental Council:
“Today, the Trump Administration announced plans to repeal the Clean Water Rule, which holds polluters accountable whenever they degrade or destroy a wetland, river, or stream. Currently, Ohio is second in the nation for wetland loss. Wetlands are vital to cleansing our drinking water, by filtering out pollutants before slowly recharging groundwater, rivers, and streams.
“The health of streams and rivers are essential to safe drinking water. In Ohio, more than 115,000 miles, or nearly 70 percent, of streams and rivers are unprotected. Approximately 90 percent of Ohioans rely on these rivers and streams for their drinking water.
“Few things are more fundamental to our health than the water we drink. The Clean Water Rule is a sensible, albeit modest step in the right direction to ensure all Ohioans have clean, safe drinking water. No Ohioan should have to worry if their tap water is polluted. The Trump Administration’s decision to repeal this important rule endangers the health and safety of millions of people across Ohio and the country. The OEC urges all Ohioans to contact their Congressional members and voice their support for the Clean Water Rule.”
SELC – Trump Administration’s Proposed Repeal of Clean Water Rule Poses Significant Threat to Water Quality
Washington, D.C. – The Southern Environmental Law Center released the following statement regarding today’s announcement of the Trump administration’s proposal to repeal the Clean Water Rule as a first step in dismantling water quality protections under Clean Water Act.
“EPA’s proposal to rescind the Clean Water Rule calls into question basic protections for many streams and wetlands and jeopardizes clean water for all Americans, and nowhere is that threat greater to the health and wellbeing of our communities than in the South,” said Derb Carter, director of the Southern Environmental Law Center’s North Carolina offices. “Compared to other regions, Southern states have more miles of streams, more acres of wetlands, and weak and underfunded state water quality programs, making the region especially vulnerable to the loss of federal clean water protections.”
“Repealing this rule and ultimately replacing it with a weaker rule is a gift to polluters that will harm our drinking water and the creeks, rivers, lakes, and wetlands we all use and enjoy,” said Carter. “We have worked hard to clean up and protect our waters from unchecked pollution for over 30 years, and remain committed to challenging any attempts to undermine these critical safeguards.”
The Environmental Protection Agency issued the Clean Water Rule in May 2015 in response to a U.S. Supreme Court decision on the extent and types of waters protected by the Clean Water Act. The rule clarifies which streams, wetlands, and other waters are protected from pollution.
These basic safeguards protect the waters that nearly 20 million people in SELC’s six states—Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama and Tennessee—depend on for drinking water. These states are also home to more than 600,000 miles of streams and approximately 22 million acres of wetlands, which help to filter polluted runoff, reduce the risk of flooding, and provide important wildlife habitat.
In a February 28 Executive Order, the Trump administration took a first step towards dismantling important Clean Water Act protections.
The administration declared its intent to repeal the Clean Water Rule and replace it with a new rule that would severely limit the protection provided by the Clean Water Act by embracing an interpretation of the Act that has been rejected by multiple appeals courts and the U.S. Supreme Court.
Without Clean Water Act protections in place, factories, developers, and other polluters may be able to dump pollutants including sewage, toxic materials, and fill materials directly into small streams and wetlands and in some cases destroy the streams and wetlands entirely.
When proposed, the Clean Water Rule received more than a million comments from state leaders, small businesses, local elected officials, sportsmen groups, health organizations and conservation groups, with over 87 percent of the commenters in support of the rule.
After EPA adopted the Clean Water Rule, some states led by then Oklahoma Attorney General (and now EPA administrator) Scott Pruitt, developers, and polluting industries challenged the regulation. Other states and conservation organizations, including SELC, on behalf of the Coastal Conservation League and One Hundred Miles, filed motions to intervene in the cases and defend the rule.
In an initial setback for the Trump administration, on April 3, the U.S. Supreme Court rejected the Trump administration’s request for a delay in ruling on which court has jurisdiction over challenges to the Clean Water Rule. SELC filed a brief opposing the delay.
Southern waters facing the greatest risk if the Clean Water Rule is repealed include:
Alabama: Isolated wetlands and over half (54 percent) of the stream miles that supply water for public drinking water systems for 2.6 million people.
Georgia: Small creeks in the northern mountains, cypress domes in the Coastal Plain, and over half the stream miles (56 percent) in the Piedmont that supply water to public drinking water systems for 4.9 million people.
North Carolina: Small trout streams in the Appalachians, pocosin wetlands that help maintain fishery nursery areas along the coast, and over half (56 percent) of the stream miles in the Piedmont and mountains that supply water for public drinking water systems for 4.7 million people.
South Carolina: Small creeks in the mountains that flow into the Reedy and Congaree Rivers, namesake Carolina Bays along the coast, and approximately half (51 percent) of the stream miles that supply water for public drinking water systems for 1.9 million people.
Tennessee: Small trout streams in the mountains, upland swamps on the Cumberland Plateau and highland bogs, and over half (57 percent) of the stream miles that supply water for public drinking water systems for 3.5 million people.
Virginia: Small trout streams and bogs in the mountains, headwater streams and associated wetlands that filter much of the pollution that would otherwise enter Chesapeake Bay, and over half (57 percent) of the stream miles that supply water for public drinking water systems for 2.3 million people.
Percentages given above are from EPA’s own analysis in 2009.