As part of Trump’s clearly stated, ongoing mission to rollback regulations that stand in the way of increased fossil fuel and other industrial development, the administration yesterday revealed more about its plans to eliminate rules that protect our nation’s streams, creeks, rivers, ponds and wetlands from pollution.
One of the administration’s primary targets has been the Clean Water Rule, otherwise known as the “Waters of the United States” (WOTUS) rule, which happens to be, for anglers, likely the most important environmental regulation in existence. In testimony before congress, and later through the formal release of a proposal that would rescind the 2015 WOTUS rule, EPA administrator Scott Pruitt declared that the agency would “provide clarity” by “withdrawing” the Clean Water Rule.
Trump and Pruitt’s war against the Clean Water Rule is a move that enjoys virtually no popular support outside of industrial circles—namely fossil fuel producers, big agribusiness and real estate developers—and a handful of phobics that cite the EPA’s heavy handedness in telling Wyoming farmer Andy Johnson that he couldn’t dam a tributary of the Green River in order to build a pond on his property as grounds to abolish the EPA entirely.
The reasons for this lack of popular support are manifold. In addition to the common sense understanding held by most Americans that “what goes up must come down” and thus that clean water in our lakes, rivers and oceans cannot be protected if we do not protect the waters that feed them, waters protected by the Clean Water Rule represent 60 percent of stream miles in the United States and provide 1-in-3 Americans with their drinking water. These are not only the waters countless Americans swim, fish and play in, but the waters from which they drink.
Since the administration first made clear that it intended to follow through on Trump’s campaign promises to rollback the Clean Water Rule, over 500,000 Americans have filed public comments urging Trump and the EPA to keep the rule in place.
But the fact that Trump and his administration seem keen to ignore the wishes of most Americans, who cite clean water as a pressing concern, or the more than 8-in-10 (82 percent) of hunters and anglers who support the Clean Water Rule should, and for most does, come as no surprise. Since taking office, the administration has made it abundantly clear that its priority is furthering the profiteering of fossil fuel companies and their investors as part of some consequences-be-damned getaway day scheme before the oil and gas industries fully kick into terminal decline (coal already has).
One of the only groups representing hunters and anglers that spoke out against the appointment of Scott Pruitt—a known and unabashed colluder with the fossil fuel industry that had sued the EPA 14 times during his tenure as Oklahoma’s attorney general appointment to the EPA—the National Wildlife Federation, stated that “the repeal and replacement plan is likely to roll back Clean Water Act protections for a majority of the nation’s streams and wetlands, including the headwater streams that are so important for trout and other species of fish, plus millions of acres of seasonal wetlands that store flood waters and provide essential habitat for more than half of North American migratory waterfowl and a diverse array of other birds, amphibians, and reptiles.”
Trout Unlimited CEO Chris Wood had harsh words for the Trump administration in a statement released yesterday. Wood noted that “Clean water is not a political issue. It is a basic right of every American. Water runs downhill, gravity works cheap, and it never takes a day off. We all live downstream. To be effective, the Clean Water Act must be able to control pollution at its source, upstream in the headwaters and wetlands that flow down through communities to our major lakes, rivers, and bays. The EPA’s action places the health of our streams and rivers at significant and unacceptable risk.”
Wood also warned that the administration’s efforts to replace the Clean Water Rule represented “a fast moving train,” in that the EPA was allotting a mere 30 days for a public comment period on the new proposed rule. Wood added that “Trout Unlimited’s members and its allies will use each one of those days to respond vigorously to oppose the rescission and to urge EPA to reconsider the path it is on.”