The USA’s Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released a proposal June 27th to dismantle the country’s Clean Water Rule which protects the nation’s rivers and streams from pollution.
The Rule, passed in 2015 under the administration of President Barack Obama, had expanded federal authority under the jurisdiction of 1972’s Clean Water Act and preceding legislation to include all “navigable waters”. Huffington Post reports that the Act and Rule, the “latest target from the notably anti-environmental administration of President Donald Trump…ultimately protected the drinking water of more than 117 million Americans”.
In February this year Trump signed an executive order urging the EPA and the US Army Corps of Engineers to dismantle the Rule, an instruction which has now been followed by the release by Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt of a plan to roll back the Rule. Trump had described his Executive Order at the time as “paving the way for the elimination of this very destructive and horrible rule.”
“We are taking significant action to return power to the states and provide regulatory certainty to our nation’s farmers and businesses,” Pruitt said this week.
It is likely that states where lawmakers are influenced by, for example, the petrochemical industry or agricultural lobbies will take the opportunity of devolved regulatory authority to weaken rules governing protection of water bodies from industrial pollution.
Environmental groups have criticized the Trump administration’s plan and pledged to protect the Obama-era Rule. A statement by the Natural Resources Defense Council described Trump’s plan as “a reckless attack on our waters and health (that will) strip out needed protections for the streams that feed drinking water sources for one in every three Americans. Clean water is too important for that. We’ll stand up to this reckless attack on our waters and health.”
Michael Brune, executive director of Sierra Club said that “once again, the Trump administration has agreed to do the bidding of the worst polluters in our country, and once again it’s putting the health of American families and communities at risk…we will fight this and every other attempt by polluters and the Trump administration to destroy our water resources.”