Trump Administration Goes After Clean Water

The EPA and Army Corps of Engineers have proposed to repeal the Clean Water Rule, which protects the water supply for 117 million Americans.
Credit: Michael Warren/iStock

The EPA and Army Corps of Engineers will be issuing a proposal to repeal the Clean Water Rule, which protects the water supply for 117 million Americans.

When the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Army Corps of Engineers issued the Clean Water Rule in May 2015, they clarified, after decades of confusion and debate, that tens of millions of acres of smaller waterways across the United States were, in fact, eligible for protection under the Clean Water Act. Less than two years later, in February 2017, after several failed attempts by Senate Republicans to kill the rule, President Trump signed an executive order directing the EPA and the Army Corps to begin the process of repealing the Clean Water Rule, with the aim of eliminating it altogether. Today, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt indicated that the two agencies will send a proposal to repeal the rule.

“This proposal strikes directly at public health,” said NRDC president Rhea Suh. “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, also known as the Waters of the United States (WOTUS), limits pollution in the streams and wetlands that feed our larger waterways—critical for safeguarding the drinking water that more than 117 million Americans rely on and for ensuring that people across the nation can continue to swim in and otherwise enjoy these bodies of water. “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.” Suh said.