Victory! A federal judge in South Carolina recently reinstated water protections in 26 states, following a lawsuit filed by environmental groups against the Trump administration for illegally suspending the Clean Water Rule early this year. The law clarifies which bodies of water are covered by the Clean Water Act’s pollution-control programs. Although implementation is still on hold in 24 states, the ruling is a decisive win for the environment—and for the millions of Americans whose water supplies are now better protected from pollution.
Here’s why this win is such a big deal.
The water supply of one in three Americans is at stake.
The Clean Water Rule improves protections for numerous water bodies, including streams feeding the water supplies of about one-third of all Americans. These safeguards limit pollution like wastewater discharge from power plants, which contains toxic metals such as mercury and arsenic. Though the Trump administration plans to repeal the Clean Water Rule outright (something that will spark yet another legal showdown), the suspension of the rule in the meantime threatened ecosystems and our drinking water. The longer the Clean Water Rule was on hold, the longer Trump threatened our communities’ health.
It’s not about “puddles.”
The Trump administration, alongside industry forces, has tried to misrepresent the Clean Water Rule as an attempt to regulate “nearly every puddle” and trample on property rights. This couldn’t be farther from the truth. The Clean Water Rule explicitly exclude puddles, and what’s more, it protects only those waters with a “demonstrated and significant impact on the physical, chemical, and biological condition of downstream water bodies,” says Jon Devine, NRDC’s director of federal water policy.
In speech, @EPAScottPruitt says again 2015 Clean Water Rule regulated "puddles": https://t.co/tBOBU8wtmB. Proof that's false pictured here. Only 2 possibilities: (1) he hasn't read the rule or received accurate information about it; or (2) he’s lying. There’s no third option. pic.twitter.com/K4EpqxpGTM— Rob Moore, Water & Climate Team Director, NRDC (@NRDCAdapts_Rob) November 13, 2017
As most fifth-graders know, large bodies of water—lakes, rivers, oceans—are interconnected with smaller ones, such as wetlands and streams that run seasonally. To keep pollution out of critical ecosystems and our water supplies, we have to keep all these pathways clean. This is not politics; it’s science.
Environmentalists are on a roll!
Albeit partial, this win is the latest in a recent string of legal triumphs against the Trump administration’s environmental rollbacks. In fact, this is the seventh victory over the course of just one week (but who’s counting?). To name a few, workers at chemical plants had their rights to basic safety measures affirmed. The endangered vaquita porpoise won out against deadly gillnets. And opponents of the dirty Keystone XL pipeline are celebrating a court order demanding a more thorough environmental review. Alongside the Clean Water Rule decision, the courts’ messages to the Trump administration are loud and clear: You can’t break the rules—or our environmental laws.
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The upcoming U.S. Supreme Court case is nothing less than a judgment on the Clean Water Act itself.
The rollback jeopardizes the streams that flow into the state’s rivers, lakes, and bays, millions of acres of wetlands across the country, and the drinking water supply.
With their latest rollback, the president and the EPA chief show that they either don’t understand how water pollution works—or simply don’t care.
In a move that could open the door to industrial waste and interstate squabbles, the Ohio River Valley Water Sanitation Commission is making its water quality standards voluntary.
President Trump revokes the Clean Water Rule and doubles down on his fake weather forecast, while the Bureau of Land Management hitches up its wagons to move west.
Plus, the president warns states against protecting their own waterways, and the man Scott Pruitt would call for scientific advice is not a scientist.
Otherwise, it was just an ordinary week of secret meetings and betrayals of the public interest.
Plus, the president defies Congress on conservation and wants to force pipelines on states that don’t want them.
More than 100 craft breweries from across the country, including Brooklyn Brewery and New Belgium Brewing Company, are joining NRDC to explain why clean water is essential for great-tasting beer.
In the small city of Great Falls, residents push back against a Big Ag plant that would consume 3.5 million gallons of water—and produce 102,995 pounds of waste—per day.
Earthquakes, spills, and groundwater contamination—wastewater wells come with many risks and few rewards for Trumbull County residents.
As the Trump administration ratchets up its rhetoric demanding billions for a wall, American communities along the Mexico border are in need of basic services, like reliable sewage treatment.
For drinking water, flood control, climate defense, habitat protection, fishing, swimming, and, of course, craft beer.
Our rivers, reservoirs, lakes, and seas are drowning in chemicals, waste, plastic, and other pollutants. Here’s why―and what you can do to help.
The regulations that protect Americans’ health, economy, and environment now need our protection.
We are not holding our breath that President Trump will start backing up his administration’s environmental agenda with scientific facts. But we are holding him accountable for what he says.