Three things the President got wrong about the Clean Water Rule
Last Monday, President Trump directly criticized the Obama-era Clean Water Rule in a speech to the American Farm Bureau, attacking a regulation that would have protected the drinking water of 117 million Americans. The President called the Rule (also known as the “Waters of the US” rule) “terrible” and a “disaster,” and celebrated his administration’s efforts to roll it back:
The President’s remarks, however, got three things wrong about the Clean Water Rule:
- The Clean Water Rule wasn’t a “disaster.” The Rule benefitted many Americans: by closing a loophole in the Clean Water Act that left many streams and wetlands vulnerable to pollution, the Clean Water Rule protected the drinking water of 117 million Americans.
- It didn’t take anyone’s property away. The Rule simply extended basic protections to waterways and wetlands that were important to larger waterways and our drinking water.
- The Rule hasn’t been ditched yet. The administration has several more legal and regulatory hurdles to clear before they can fully repeal and replace the Rule. The Rule is still being considered in court, and while the courts decide the constitutionality of the Rule, the EPA will need to propose a new rule to replace it. When they introduce that new rule, likely one with a far narrower interpretation of the Clean Water Act, Americans will have another opportunity to make their voices heard through public comment.
The last point is important, because even though the President’s message got applause from the crowd on Monday, it has been soundly rejected by people across the nation, who have consistently supported stronger protections for our waterways. In fact, so many people (more than half a million) opposed the Clean Water Rule’s repeal during a public comment period this summer that the EPA’s Office of Water had to push back the deadline to replace the Rule. The rule making process will ensure that Americans get another chance to stand up for clean water.
A rider in the Senate’s EPA budget, however, could take that away. That’s because the budget, which should be voted on in the next month, has a rider that would exempt the Clean Water Rule rollback from all federal laws, meaning there would no requirement for scientific backing or public comment period for the new rule. If passed, the rider would shut the public out of the rule making process, make it easier for the the EPA to roll back protections for our waterways, and set a dangerous precedent for future rule making.
It is unacceptable that our government is trying to roll back protections for our waterways, but even less acceptable that they would attempt to shut the public out of the process. Every American that has stood up for clean water should stand up for their right to do so in the future.
Call your senator today and ask them to vote no on any poison pill riders. You can reach your senator by dialing the Senate switchboard: (202) 224–3121.