New Attack on Clean Water & Democratic Processes
Everyone wants clean water for drinking, fishing, and swimming. People also deserve a say in their government’s actions. Right now though, threats are brewing for both our clean water and the integrity of our democratic processes.
EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt has already begun a plan to roll back our clean water safeguards, threatening drinking water supplies for more than 117 million Americans. A bad provision in the House and Senate spending bill for fiscal year 2018 is making it easier for Pruitt to get away with this by changing existing law and cutting the public out of the process entirely.
A critical part of our democratic process is the legal requirement that federal agencies make decisions through an open, transparent process with public input and accountability. The longstanding law that protects the public’s interest this way is called the Administrative Procedure Act, which governs how federal agencies develop and issue regulations, policy statements, licenses, and permits and requires that agencies provide opportunities for the public to comment on proposed rulemakings. This ensures that federal rules are informed by science, facts, the public’s interest, and the law.
The rider in the spending package allows Scott Pruitt to disregard the Administrative Procedure Act and “any provision of statute or regulation,” and ignore public input as the Trump Administration attempts to repeal the 2015 Clean Water Rule. This will considerably ease the repeal effort because the public support for clean water is so strong. When the Clean Water Rule was developed, 87% of the 1 million public comments were supportive of the rule.
This rider also sets a dangerous precedent for future rulemakings of any kind. If agencies are allowed to make unaccountable, backroom decisions on important matters like public health, worker safety, climate change and other matters with only lobbyists whispering in their ears, it undermines our democratic process, our laws, and puts us all at risk.
At the same time, the EPA Administrator Pruitt is traveling around the country meeting with industry advocates and agri-businesses about rolling back the Clean Water Act. So far, these meetings have excluded everyone else – hunters, anglers, vulnerable communities – anyone who might care about strong clean water standards.
The proposed repeal of the Clean Water Rule could have ramifications for the drinking water for 1 in 3 Americans, 60% of our nation’s stream miles, and millions of acres of wetlands that provide essential fish and wildlife habitat. The habitats protected by the rule support America’s nearly $900 billion outdoor recreation economy. The public deserves a say in how our waters are – or are not – protected.
We need your voice now more than ever! The EPA may not want to hear from the public – but that makes it even more important.