Today, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) formally proposed to repeal the Clean Water Rule, also called the Waters of the United States Rule. This action came after President Trump signed an Executive Order in February, instructing the EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers to review and reconsider the Rule.
The Clean Water Rule was finalized by the EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers in 2015 to clarify what streams, rivers, and wetlands fall under the jurisdiction of the federal government. The Trump Administration’s argument that the Rule protects “puddles and ditches” is purposely dishonest. The rule specifically excludes ditches and puddles that are not tributaries. Furthermore, the Rule does not change the exemptions for agriculture established by the Clean Water Act.
74% of Kentucky residents get their drinking water from sources that rely on small streams that were protected by the Clean Water Rule. Under this Rule, protections were restored to 8,185 miles of streams that feed Kentucky’s drinking water sources and thousands of acres of wetlands that provide flood protection, recharge groundwater supplies, filter pollution, and provide essential wildlife habitat were safeguarded.
On top of the President’s proposed budget that decimates our water protection programs, the Trump Administration’s reckless and rushed repeal of the Clean Water Rule compounds the potential damage to our precious waterways. Clean water is essential to the outdoor economy. In 2011, hunters spent $34 billion, anglers spent $41.8 billion, and wildlife watchers spent $55 billion. Repealing the Clean Water Rule and attacking the Clean Water Act puts our economy at risk.
This repeal is part of a huge assault on basic protections for clean water, including the Clean Water Act. The repeal will put the drinking water of 1 in 3 of us at risk while EPA proposes a much weaker rule. Low income communities and communities of color are already disproportionately impacted by contaminated water, which can cause a variety of health problems, especially for children. This action taken by the EPA could put many of these communities at further risk.
Repealing the Clean Water Rule is another step in a polluter-powered assault on public health and our communities. Families will not accept a future of more polluted rivers and dirtier water flowing through our taps, our communities, and our bodies. The Trump Administration underestimates how much the public cares about commonsense protections for clean water.