EPA proposes reversing harmful Trump rule that stripped protections from many waterways
CHAPEL HILL, N.C.—The Southern Environmental Law Center released the following statement regarding EPA’s announcement today of a draft rule to reverse a harmful, destructive rule by the Trump administration that removed federal Clean Water Act protections against pollution and destruction from streams, wetlands, and lakes. The prior administration’s so-called “Navigable Waters Protection Rule” removed protections from several public lakes including Lake Keowee, a drinking water reservoir for almost 400,000 people in South Carolina, and from wetlands such as the nearly 400 acres of wetlands next to the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge in the way of a mining operation in Georgia.
“Everyone who relies on clean water benefits from getting rid of the previous administration’s unlawful rule that put the interests of industrial polluters before the health and safety of families, communities, and our waterways,” said Kelly Moser, senior attorney and leader of the Southern Environmental Law Center’s Clean Water Defense Initiative who led litigation against the rule in federal court on behalf of 14 conservation groups. “Now the Biden administration must act quickly to strengthen clean water protections so that our nation’s waters are safe for fishing, swimming, and as sources of drinking water.”
The prior administration stripped protections under the Clean Water Act from countless streams, lakes and wetlands, leaving thousands of stream miles, many public recreational lakes, and millions of acres of wetlands without protections that have been in place for decades through every other administration and putting our communities and water supplies at risk. Wetlands help protect many Southern communities facing increased, more intense rain events and flooding with climate change.
Since the prior administration’s rule took effect in June 2020, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has slated thousands of wetlands and other waterways to be destroyed by industry. Among those projects are two recently revised jurisdictional determinations that removed protections from nearly 400 acres of wetlands by the Army Corps of Engineers for a massive mine on the doorstep of the iconic Okefenokee Swamp and from about 200 acres of wetlands that absorb floodwaters in a flood prone area for a large development near the Savannah National Wildlife Refuge in South Carolina.
For more than 30 years, the Southern Environmental Law Center has used the power of the law to champion the environment of the Southeast. With over 80 attorneys and nine offices across the region, 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 our natural resources and the health and well-being of all the people in our region. www.SouthernEnvironment.org