Today, the Trump administration announced it submitted a proposal for inter-agency review that would reportedly gut the Clean Water Act, stripping longstanding protections for streams, wetlands, and smaller waterways that feed drinking water sources for millions of people in the South.
“EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt just launched a full-frontal assault on our country’s most vital and time-tested environmental protection,” said Blan Holman, managing attorney for SELC’s Charleston office. “The Clean Water Act has prevented unlimited pollution from contaminating our waterways and drinking water sources for nearly 50 years and has made our rivers, lakes, and coast swimmable and safe. Now Washington wants to take that defense away. Big polluters are in control and it looks like they want a free pass to dump where they want when they want. We aren’t going to let them turn back the clock.”
While the administration has attempted to position its proposal as an alternative to the Obama administration’s Clean Water Rule—which clarified waters and wetlands that received federal protections—reports of the Trump replacement proposal signal a fundamental unwinding of water protections in our country.
According to SELC attorneys, when the Environmental Protection Agency announced the Clean Water Rule in 2015, the agency estimated a possible 2-5 percent modest increase in waters and wetlands covered by the Clean Water Act. Based on reports, the Trump administration proposal could result in the loss of Clean Water Act protections for as much as 50 to 60 percent of streams and more than 90 percent of wetlands, depending on location.
SELC has taken the administration to federal court over recent efforts to weaken clean water protections and will oppose this, and any other, actions by the administration to clear the way for polluters to contaminate the water our families, communities, and economies depend on.