SELC, partners take Trump administration’s clean water attacks to federal court

Today conservation groups challenged in court the Trump administration’s effort to strip away crucial clean water protections from rivers, lakes, streams and other waters that feed drinking-water sources for nearly 20 million people in the South and 117 million people across the country. The legal challenge, filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of South Carolina, opens a major court battle over the administration’s suspension of clean water protections under the Clean Water Act, one of the nation’s bedrock environmental laws. The recent suspension of some protections is the first in a series of attempts by the Trump administration to repeal long-standing safeguards for clean water.

“Clean water is a way of life we take for granted in this nation thanks to bipartisan laws passed almost 50 years ago, but large polluters now want to dismantle it all,” said Managing Attorney Blan Holman. “The administration is pretending that pollution dumped upstream doesn’t flow downstream, but their plan puts the water used by hundreds of millions of Americans for drinking, bathing, cooking, and recreation at risk. We are going to court to protect clean water across the country.”

The lawsuit contends that EPA and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers violated long-standing law that prohibits agencies from altering basic environmental safeguards without giving the public notice and a chance to weigh in. According to the lawsuit, the agencies failed at their most basic responsibilities: evaluating the effect of their reckless actions and allowing the public to comment on their decision to eliminate scientifically backed protections for streams and wetlands.

The agencies have 60 days to respond to the lawsuit.

SELC filed today’s challenge on behalf of American Rivers, Clean Water Action, Defenders of Wildlife, Charleston Riverkeeper, Chattahoochee Riverkeeper, Coastal Conservation League, North Carolina Coastal Federation, North Carolina Wildlife Federation, and One Hundred Miles.