SELC: Trump Attack on Nation’s Clean Water Protections Illegal, Dangerous

Washington, D.C. – The Southern Environmental Law Center (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 the Southern Environmental Law Center’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.

Among the organizations joining SELC in its comments in support of clean water protections are: Alabama Rivers Alliance, Altamaha Riverkeeper, Appalachian Voices, Atlanta Audubon Society, Black Warrior Riverkeeper, Blue Ridge Land Conservancy, Broad River Alliance, Cahaba River Society, Carolina Wetlands Association, Catawba Riverkeeper Foundation, Center for a Sustainable Coast, Charleston Waterkeeper, Chattahoochee Riverkeeper, Chattooga Conservancy, Coastal Carolina Riverwatch, Coastal Conservation League, Congaree Riverkeeper, Conservation Voters of South Carolina, Coosa River Basin Initiative, Crystal Coast Waterkeeper, Defenders of Wildlife, Dogwood Alliance, Environment Georgia, Flint Riverkeeper, French Broad Riverkeeper, Friends of the Rappahannock, Friends of the Reedy River, Georgia ForestWatch, Georgia River Network, Green Riverkeeper, Harpeth Conservancy, James River Association, Lynnhaven River NOW, MountainTrue, North Carolina Coastal Federation, North Carolina Conservation Network, North Carolina Wildlife Federation, Obed Watershed Community Association, Ogeechee Riverkeeper, One Hundred Miles, Potomac Riverkeeper Network, Rivanna Conservation Alliance, River Guardian Foundation, Roanoke River Basin Association, Satilla Riverkeeper, Savannah Riverkeeper, Save Our Saluda, Shenandoah Valley Network, Shoals Environmental Alliance, Sierra Club-Virginia Chapter, Sound Rivers, SouthWings, South Carolina Native Plant Society, St. Marys EarthKeepers, Tennessee Citizens for Wilderness Planning, Tennessee Clean Water Network, The Wilderness Society, Upstate Forever, Waccamaw Riverkeeper, WakeUP Wake County, Watauga Riverkeeper, White Oak-New Riverkeeper Alliance, Winyah Rivers Foundation.

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About The Southern Environmental Law Center:

The Southern Environmental Law Center is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year. With nine offices across the region (Charlottesville, VA; Chapel Hill, NC; Atlanta, GA; Charleston, SC; Washington, DC; Birmingham, AL; Nashville, TN; Asheville, NC; and Richmond, VA), SELC is widely recognized as the Southeast’s foremost environmental organization and regional leader. SELC works on a full range of environmental issues to protect the South’s natural resources and the health and well-being of all the people in our region. www.SouthernEnvironment.org

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