EPA Announces Plan to Kill 2015 Clean Water Rule
This afternoon, EPA Director Scott Pruitt announced a proposal to repeal the 2015 Clean Water Rule, which protects the water supply for 117 million Americans. The rule, also known as the Waters of the United States (WOTUS) rule, clarified longstanding confusion about the water protected by the 1972 Clean Water Act, declaring streams and wetlands and millions of acres of small waterways—in addition to navigable waterways—eligible for federal protection from pollution.
Now the EPA wants to roll back this protection and redefine “waters of the US,” leading to the same confusion the Clean Water Rule was designed to address and putting our drinking water at risk.
“We are taking significant action to return power to the states and provide regulatory certainty to our nation’s farmers and businesses,” Mr. Pruitt said in a statement. “This is the first step in the two-step process to redefine ‘waters of the U.S.’ and we are committed to moving through this re-evaluation to quickly provide regulatory certainty, in a way that is thoughtful, transparent and collaborative with other agencies and the public.”
Before finalizing the Clean Water Rule in 2015, the EPA held more than 400 meetings with stakeholders across the country and published a synthesis of more than 1200 peer-reviewed scientific publications, which showed that the small streams and wetlands the rule safeguards are vital to larger downstream waters. The process was the opposite of quick, and resulted in the regulatory certainty Mr. Pruitt claims to seek with this repeal.
More importantly, the Clean Water Rule provides certainty not only to polluters about what they can and can’t pollute, but to the 117 million Americans who rely on the EPA to safeguard their drinking water from these polluters. Rolling back the rule is bad governance, bad for businesses who rely on regulatory certainty, and bad for our communities that deserve clean water.
In the next few days, we’ll be asking for your help to prevent the EPA from repealing this critical protection, but the environmental community is responding immediately with a #DefendWater campaign on social media. Tell Scott Pruitt and the EPA to keep protecting our waters.
photo by Scott Smithson via Flickr under a Creative Commons license