Quantcast
Popular
"Their plan puts the water used by hundreds of millions of Americans for drinking, bathing, cooking and recreation at risk." Blan Holman, Southern Environmental Law Center

Trump Administration Sued for Suspension of Clean Water Rule

Multiple states and conservation groups are legally challenging the Trump administration's decision to delay the Obama-era Clean Water Rule.

Last week, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) put a two-year suspension on the rule, also known as Waters of the United States (WOTUS), which protects large water bodies like lakes and rivers but also listed smaller waterways such as streams, ponds and wetlands for federal protection.


The decision to withdraw and replace WOTUS was advocated by industry groups like the American Farm Bureau Federation and the American Petroleum Institute, as well as Republican politicians and farmers, ranchers and real estate developers who viewed the rule as an infringement on property rights.

WOTUS was supposed to take effect in the coming weeks after the Supreme Court decided last month that cases regarding the matter should be heard by district courts. However, EPA administrator Scott Pruitt's action halted the rule from implementation to come up with a more industry-friendly alternative.

But environmentalists say the suspension will allow uncontrolled pollution and destruction of our nation's rivers, streams, lakes and wetlands.

New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman is leading a coalition of 11 Democratic attorneys general from California, Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington and the District of Columbia to block the move.

In their suit filed in the Southern District of New York on Tuesday, the attorneys general charge that in suspending the Clean Water Rule the EPA and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers violated federal law by taking action "with inadequate public notice, insufficient record support and outside their statutory authority."

"Clean water is fundamental to New Yorkers' health, environment and economy," Schneiderman said. "The Trump Administration's suspension of the Clean Water Rule is clearly illegal, threatening New York's decades-long efforts to ensure our residents have access to safe, healthy water. We will fight back against this reckless rollback and the Trump administration's continued assault on our nation's core public health and environmental protections."

The Natural Resources Defense Council and the National Wildlife Federation filed in the New York southern district, contending that the Trump administration's attempt to prevent the enforcement of needed protections for lakes, rivers and wetlands, including streams that feed into the drinking water supplies of 117 million Americans.

Jon Devine, director of federal water policy and senior attorney for the Natural Resources Defense Council, said: "These safeguards should be working to protect our nation's drinking water and recreation resources, but the Trump administration has instead pursued a rushed and illegitimate process to try and stop them."

"The administration's attack on clean water violates the law and runs roughshod over public concern about their waterways. It's dangerous and that's why we're going to court," Devine said.

Jan Goldman-Carter, director for wetlands and water resources for the National Wildlife Federation, added, "The American people have made it crystal clear they want to see our rivers and streams protected. They want to be able to fish in the local stream, swim in a nearby lake and turn on the tap and get a glass of safe, clean water to drink. The Clean Water Rule provides that protection and the Trump administration is working to take it away. We have no choice but to defend America's waterways in court."

The Southern Environmental Law Center also filed a lawsuit Tuesday in the U.S. District Court for the District of South Carolina.

"Clean water is a way of life we take for granted in this nation thanks to bipartisan laws passed almost 50 years ago, but large polluters now want to dismantle it all," said managing attorney Blan Holman. "The administration is pretending that pollution dumped upstream doesn't flow downstream, but their plan puts the water used by hundreds of millions of Americans for drinking, bathing, cooking and recreation at risk. We are going to court to protect clean water across the country."

The Southern Environmental Law Center filed the challenge on behalf of American Rivers, Clean Water Action, Defenders of Wildlife, Charleston Riverkeeper, Chattahoochee Riverkeeper, Coastal Conservation League, North Carolina Coastal Federation, North Carolina Wildlife Federation and One Hundred Miles.

In response to the lawsuits, the EPA said the 2015 rule never went into effect.

"It's worth noting that these lawsuits are over an embattled regulation that's been put on hold by the courts to prevent it from taking effect," EPA spokesman Jahan Wilcox told The Hill. "Our delay rule will keep in place that status quo."

Show Comments ()

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Sponsored
Health
Pexels

5 Ingredients for Health: Starting with Food

On Food Talk with Dani Nierenberg, Dr. Robert Graham—board-certified physician and founder of FRESHMed NYC—combines mainstream medical practices with therapies inspired by ancient wisdom: an integrative model of medicine. "My dad was a biochemist, so I grew up in this integrative model. One of the things that really stood out is my mom was distrustful about the conventional Western model. She still thinks she's the only doctor in the house, because food is such a powerful medicine, especially from her culture," said Graham.

Keep reading... Show less
Popular
Malte Mueller / Getty Images

When Profit Drives Us, Community Suffers

By David Korten

As I was reading the current series of YES! articles on the mental health crisis, I received an email from Darcia Narvaez, professor of psychology at University of Notre Dame. She was sending me articles being prepared for an anthology she is co-editing with the working title Sustainable Vision.The articles present lessons from indigenous culture that underscore why community is the solution to so much of what currently ails humanity.

Keep reading... Show less
Popular
The Revelator

Interactive Map: Air Pollution in 2100

By Dipika Kadaba

Having a little trouble breathing lately? That's no surprise. Air pollution is already bad in many parts of the country, and climate change is only going to make it worse. Even though many industries are reducing their emissions, a warming climate could actually offset these reductions by intensifying the rates of chemical reactions and accumulation of pollutants in the environment.

Keep reading... Show less
Health
ddukang / iStock / Getty Images Plus

Is Apple Cider Vinegar Good for You? A Doctor Weighs In

By Gabriel Neal

When my brother and I were kids back in the '80s, we loved going to Long John Silver's.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored
Animals

Dumpster Debacle Distracts From Serious Spike in Whale Deaths

This week, a video of a failed attempt to put a dead, 4,000-pound whale into a tiny dumpster made the rounds on the internet, garnering chuckles and comparisons to Peter Griffin forklifting and impaling a beached sperm whale on Family Guy.

The juvenile minke whale washed up on Jenness Beach in Rye, New Hampshire on Monday morning, NBC 10 Boston reported. It was found with entanglement wounds, so researchers with the Seacoast Science Center and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) wanted to move the carcass from the beach to a lab for a necropsy to study its death.

Keep reading... Show less
Adventure
Muir Woods, which costs $10 for entry, will have free entry on Sept. 22. m01229 / Flickr / CC BY-NC 2.0

Visit Any National Park for Free This Saturday to Celebrate 25th National Public Lands Day

If you're stuck for plans this weekend, we suggest escaping your city or town for the great outdoors.

This Saturday marks the 25th National Public Lands Day, organized by the National Environmental Education Foundation (NEEF).

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored
Climate
A glacier flows towards East Antarctica. NASA Goddard Space Flight Center / CC BY 2.0

Temperatures Possible This Century Could Melt Parts of East Antarctic Ice Sheet, Raise Sea Levels 10+ Feet

A section of the East Antarctic Ice Sheet that contains three to four meters (approximately 10 to 13 feet) of potential sea level rise could melt if temperatures rise to just two degrees above pre-industrial levels, a study published in Nature Wednesday found.

Researchers at Imperial College London, the University of Queensland, and other institutions in New Zealand, Japan and Spain looked at marine sediments to assess the behavior of the Wilkes Subglacial Basin during warmer periods of the Pleistocene and found evidence of melting when temperatures in Antarctica were at least two degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels for periods of 2,500 years or more.

Keep reading... Show less
Energy
Oil well in North Dakota. Tim Evanson / Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0

Pipeline Leaks 63,840 Gallons of Produced Water in North Dakota

A pipeline released 63,840 gallons (1,520 barrels) of produced water that contaminated rangeland in Dunn County, North Dakota, the Bismarck Tribune reported, citing officials with the North Dakota Department of Health.

Produced water is a byproduct of oil and gas extraction, and can contain drilling chemicals if fracking was used.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored

mail-copy

The best of EcoWatch, right in your inbox. Sign up for our email newsletter!