EPA: Hear Our Voices, Protect Clean Water

We all deserve clean water, be it for drinking, swimming, or fishing. However, the Trump Administration is on a path to roll back Clean Water Act protections that have safeguarded our waters from pollution for more than four decades. Last week, the Environmental Protection Agency ended a brief public comment period on its hastily-proposed plan to repeal the 2015 Clean Water Rule, threatening our nation’s drinking water and outdoor heritage.

The widely-support Clean Water Rule  clarifies what kinds of water bodies are protected by the Clean Water Act – and which ones aren’t. This much-needed rulemaking reestablishes protections for headwater, rain-fed, and seasonal streams and wetlands that provide the drinking water for more than 117 million Americans. These same waters serve as nesting habitat for more than half of North American migratory waterfowl and spawning grounds for trout and salmon. Small streams and wetlands also help recharge groundwater supplies, filter pollution and protect communities from floods.

Photo by Don Sand via canva.com

The Clean Water Rule was informed by years of research and more than 400 stakeholder meetings. The science behind the rule is backed by more than one thousand peer-reviewed scientific publications. The public was able to provide input on this process for seven months. During this lengthy public comment period, the EPA received more than one million comments, 87% of which were supportive of the rule.

Despite the extensive scientific and public support for the rule, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt is moving ahead with the proposed repeal of the Clean Water Rule – and he’s doing it in a much more restrictive, less transparent way. In contrast to the seven month comment period that informed the final Clean Water Rule, the comment period on the proposed repeal was open for only 60 days; an attempt to diminish the voices of those impacted most by the repeal.

Repealing the rule could put our drinking water and 60% of our nation’s stream miles and millions of acres of wetlands that provide essential fish and wildlife habitat at risk.  The $201 billion dollar hunting and fishing industry that accounts for 1.5 million jobs relies on healthy wetlands and could be severely threatened by the repeal of the rule.

Photo by Mikey Sabadic via canva.com

Americans care about clean water. Last week, they made their voices heard. A broad coalition of national, regional, and local organizations have submitted hundreds of thousands of comments to the EPA, demanding they abandon the reckless plan to repeal the Clean Water Rule.  The coalition is comprised of clean water stakeholders from a wide range of backgrounds – including conservation, environmental, public health, faith, environmental justice, business, and community organizations.  More than half a million stakeholders commented in support of the Clean Water Rule, and 417 organizations signed onto a letter .

While we have done great work to highlight the importance of clean water, the fight is far from over.  The EPA is expected to quickly roll out step two of their assault on water, which will likely propose to replace the Clean Water Rule in a way that dramatically rolls back the historic scope of the Clean Water Act. As this process unfolds, we still need your help to defend water. The EPA is currently accepting comments on step two.

Add your voice now to protect clean water.

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