Clean Water Act Under Threat

The Trump administration’s upcoming proposal will dramatically reduce the scope of streams and wetlands protected under the Clean Water Act.

This radical reinterpretation of the Clean Water Act could remove federal pollution safeguards for vital water bodies like ephemeral streams and wetlands. The new Dirty Water Rule is also likely to apply the protections of the Clean Water Act to only wetlands with a “continuous surface connection” to larger waters. These streams provide drinking water to tens of millions of people while these wetlands filter pollution and protect our communities from flooding.

The Trump Administration’s Dirty Water Rule makes no scientific, legal, or fiscal sense. Streams and wetlands work as natural filters and sponges—keeping our drinking water supplies safe while preventing floods.

If these streams and wetlands lost Clean Water Act protections, the consequences could be dire. For example:

● Oil spills—such as pipeline breaks—into these streams or wetlands may no longer be considered violations of the Clean Water Act.

● Industrial facilities or factory farms could discharge chemical waste or toxic pesticides into unprotected streams without fear of federal consequences.

● Developers may no longer need to obtain a permit before paving over or building on wetlands—leading to a loss of important wildlife habitats and increase in flooding downstream.

● Water treatment plants might be able discharge partially treated sewage into streams without adhering to water quality standards;

● States may no longer be required to clean up polluted streams or wetlands;

● Oil storage facilities near these waters may no longer have to develop oil spill prevention and response plans.

● When agencies fail to enforce the law against polluters of these waterways, the public could no longer hold polluters accountable through citizens’ suits under the Act.

For more than 46 years, the Clean Water Act has helped us ensure more waters are safe for swimming, fishing, and drinking, but there’s much more to be done to ensure everyone has access to clean, safe water. Instead,he Trump administration wants to turn back the clock to a time when fewer protections existed to safeguard people and wildlife from harmful pollution in our waters.

A Threat to Public Health

This rule will jeopardize clean drinking water sources across the United States. This will disproportionately affect low-income communities, rural communities, and communities of color where families already struggle for access to clean water.

Putting Polluters Before People

Dismantling Clean Water Act protections for so many streams and wetland will benefit special interests, not the public. The Dirty Water Rule gives polluters the freedom to contaminate our streams and and destroy our wetlands without regard for how this will impact people’s drinking water, increase flood risks or harm wildlife habitats.

Risking America’s Outdoor Recreation Economy

A recent poll of hunters and anglers found that 92 percent of respondents want to strengthen federal clean water protections rather than weaken them.

America’s outdoor recreation economy – activities like hiking, boating, fishing, and camping along lakes, rivers, and streams – depends on clean water. The recreational economy generates $887 billion in consumer spending annually, $65 billion in tax revenue, and supports nearly 8 million jobs – all of which could be at risk under the Dirty Water Rule.

How Did We Get Here? In response to a series of conflicting and confusing court decisions that potentially left more than half our nation’s streams and millions of acres of wetlands at risk, the Obama administration set out to clear up the confusion. In 2015, the Clean Water Rule clarified that those streams and wetlands are protected under the Clean Water Act. Those streams help provide drinking water to 117 million Americans. The Clean Water Rule was supported by more than 1,000 scientific studies and over 800,000 public comments.

In February 2017, President Trump issued an Executive Order directing the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to repeal and replace the Clean Water Rule. EPA has already proposed the repeal.

What is coming next is the replacement. In fashioning this new rule, the Executive Order instructed EPA to follow Justice Scalia’s extremely narrow interpretation of the jurisdiction of the Clean Water Act. As such, the expected result is almost certain to be a Dirty Water Rule.

We urge you to editorialize against the Dirty Water Rule. The public cannot afford this administration’s ongoing assault on our clean water. [INSERT EXPERT} from [XXX] is available to speak to the human impact and environmental damages that would result if this Dirty Water Rule is not stopped.

Action Alerts

Trump’s Dirty Water Rule is the last thing we need. If it is finalized it will jeopardize the sources of drinking water our families rely on and create uncertainty for the communities and businesses need access to clean water and the protections that wetlands provide, like filtering pollution and absorbing floodwaters.

Americans want the federal government to do more to protect clean water, but the Trump administration is doing the opposite. Let’s make sure EPA hears from as many people as possible. Send a message today to let EPA know you oppose this dangerous scheme.

Message to EPA

RE: Docket ID: xxx-xxxx-xxxx

Acting Administrator Wheeler,

EPA’s proposed replacement to the 2015 Clean Water Rules should be withdrawn. It wipes out basic Clean Water Act protections for wetlands and streams across the country. This will put our health and drinking water at risk. Our communities can’t afford your Dirty Water Rule.

Your proposed replacement ignores the sound science that tells us streams and wetlands are connected to the larger water bodies that provide our drinking water. Allowing small streams and wetlands to be destroyed will put drinking water at risk by allowing pollution to flow more freely downstream.

This proposed rule also sidesteps public opinion. Broad majorities or the public believe that we should do more, not less, to protect clean water. The only people who will benefit from this scheme will be the corporate polluters who have fought to reduce the scope of the Clean Water Act for more tjhan 40 years.

Please take this comment into account and withdraw this Dirty Water Rule.