Lawsuit Challenges Trump Administration Push to Slash Protections for Waterways, Wetlands


A coalition of nine conservation groups filed a lawsuit on June 13 supporting US federal protections of US waterways and wetlands. 

The suit, file in the Northern District of California, is prompted by alleged failure of the United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) and the United States Army Corps of Engineers (Army Corps) to comply with the country's Clean Water Act.

The coalition consists of Center for Biological Diversity, Center for Food Safety, Turtle Island Restoration Network, Waterkeeper Alliance, Humboldt Baykeeper (a program of the Northcoast Environmental Center), Russian Riverkeeper, Upper Missouri Waterkeeper, Snake River Waterkeeper and Monterey Coastkeeper (a program of the Otter Project).

The lawsuit challenges portions of a 2015 ruling that removed clean-water safeguards in place since the 1970s for certain types of critically important waterways. 

In addition, the lawsuit cites the Trump administration decision to delay the 2015 Clean Water Rule for two years. This delay is the first of several anticipated actions from the Scott Pruitt-led Environmental Protection Agency and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in response to President Trump’s Executive Order 13778, which called for slashing critical water-quality protections, according to the group.

Among the waters now facing destruction or increased harm from pollution are wetlands that provide vital habitat for hundreds of imperiled species. They include vernal pools in California, boggy “pocosins” important to water quality and flood control on the country's East Coast, and “prairie potholes” in the upper Midwest that help support about one-third of North America’s water birds, including the last migratory flock of whooping cranes in the world.