Since Donald Trump’s inauguration, he has signed Congress’ disapproval of the Stream Protection Rule and aims to cut the budget of the Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”) by 25%, which would be $2 billion. Ahead of his speech Tuesday night, President Trump signed an Executive Order, instructing the EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers to review and reconsider a 2015 rule known as the Clean Water Rule. President Trump believes that the rule regulates “nearly every puddle or every ditch on a farmer’s land” and thus wants to see it eliminated.
This is simply not true. The Clean Water Rule, also known as the Waters of the United States rule, was finalised 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 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.
Under the rule, 60% of the nation’s streams and millions of acres of wetlands are protected, which creates healthy habitats for many species of wildlife. Eliminating the rule would make innumerable streams and wetlands vulnerable to pollutants. Many Kentucky communities get their drinking waters from these streams and many Kentuckians recreate in them. Eliminating the rule would mean that our major waterways, such as the Ohio and the Mississippi, will be also be vulnerable to more pollution.
In his address to the join session of Congress on Tuesday night, February 28th, President Trump vowed to “promote clean air and clean water”. His rhetoric, however, does not match his actions.