SELC: Trump attack on nation’s clean water protections illegal, dangerous

Favorite fishing spots, crucial wetlands, and drinking water sources could lose important protections under the Trump administration’s repeal of the Clean Water Rule. (© Matt Eich)

SELC, along with 63 organizations, today filed formal objections to the Trump administration’s proposed repeal of the Clean Water Rule, which safeguards streams, wetlands, and other waters that feed drinking water sources for nearly 20 million people in the South. SELC’s objections set the stage for a legal fight against the Trump administration’s efforts to strip away crucial longstanding clean water protections.

“The Trump administration has taken this alarming first step to severely weaken America’s Clean Water Act, a bedrock of our country’s environmental and public health protections,” said Blan Holman, managing attorney for SELC’s Charleston office. “We will not allow this administration to turn back the clock nearly 50 years to a time when our rivers, lakes, and drinking water sources were threatened with pollution.“

The Clean Water Rule, the result of a multi-year process of public and scientific input, clarifies the bodies of water protected by the Clean Water Act. The rule affirmed crucial protections to more than 60 percent of our nation’s stream miles—critical to the South’s special natural resources as well as a $12 billion tourism industry. Without the protections outlined in the Clean Water Rule, industrial operations, sewage treatment facilities, and other polluters may be able to directly dump into these waterways without any public notice, threatening drinking water supplies and harming families and communities.

The SELC comments contend that the Trump administration’s attempt to repeal the Clean Water Rule is illegal, costly, and dangerous. Among other things, the proposed repeal omitted entirely the economic benefits of the nation’s wetlands, especially valuable and important in the South, particularly as protection against flooding from hurricanes and storms.

“Americans depend on safe drinking water and the ability to enjoy local rivers and lakes because of our longstanding common sense pollution protections, but the Trump-led EPA wants to tear all that down,” said Holman.

More than a million comments were received on the Clean Water Rule when it was proposed and 80% were supportive, including comments from ordinary citizens as well as state leaders, small businesses, local elected officials, sportsmen groups, health organizations, and conservation groups.

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