Soon after taking office, the Trump administration bowed to industry and launched a full-scale attack on our water protections. In February 2017, Trump signed an executive order that began the process of repealing the Clean Water Rule—a critical requirement that specifies what bodies of water fall under the 1972 Clean Water Act, which safeguards the country’s waters from harmful pollutants like industrial waste, sewage, and toxic coal ash, and holds polluters accountable. Then in early 2018, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency illegally suspended the Clean Water Rule’s implementation until 2020—only to see the suspension invalidated by federal judges.
But most recently, in December 2018, the administration proposed its own Dirty Water Rule, which tosses out protections for streams and tributaries that flow only after rain, as well as millions of acres of wetlands. Wetlands are particularly important to ecosystem health, as they filter contaminated runoff and replenish groundwater supplies. The Dirty Water Rule’s impact could be huge, likely to affect waters important to millions of people’s drinking water supply—all for the benefit of oil drillers, developers, and other industrial polluters.
Conservation and public health groups, including NRDC, have already begun the legal battle to save the health of America’s water and we won’t stop protecting this critical natural resource.