Report: Trump’s Rollback Of Clean Water Rules Will Poison 60% Of U.S. Waterways

William James

President Trump's finalized rule replaces an Obama-era rule that protected nearly 60 percent of U.S. waterways.

President Trump finalized a rule on Thursday, replacing an Obama-era rule that protected roughly 60 percent of the U.S.’s waterways, and is the latest step in the Trump administration’s push to gut the National Environmental Policy Act, according to Vanity Fair

Trump previously called President Barack Obama’s “Waters of the United States” regulation “horrible,” “destructive,” and “one of the worst examples of federal” overreach.

The Obama rule protected large bodies of water such as the Chesapeake Bay, Puget Sound, and Mississippi River, as well as smaller wetlands, headwaters, and streams. It limited the discharge of substances like pesticides, fertilizers, and industrial chemicals into those waters.

However, Trump’s rule removes protections for many other waters, and legal experts say that it reaches farther than simply repealing and replacing the 2015 Obama rule. It also eliminates protections to smaller headwaters that have been implemented for decades under the 1972 Clean Water Act. 

“This is rolling back federal jurisdiction of the Clean Water Act further than it’s ever been before,” Patrick Parenteau, a professor of environmental law at Vermont Law School, said. “Waters that have been protected for almost 50 years will no longer be protected under the Clean Water Act.”

Fossil fuel producers, farmers, and real estate developers unsurprisingly cheered the change, but the EPA’s Scientific Advisory Board said the new rule flagrantly ignores science by “failing to acknowledge watershed systems,” adding that it found “no scientific justification” for excluding certain bodies of water from protection.

The board concluded that pollutants dumped in smaller and seasonal bodies of water can still have a massive impact on the health of larger water systems. 

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