Groups: The Trump administration is putting America’s water resources more at risk than they have been in a generation

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Contacts:

Michael Kelly, Clean Water Action: 202-393-5449, mkelly@cleanwater.org

Amy Kober, American Rivers:  503-708-1145, akober@americanrivers.org

Rob Friedlander, Earthjustice:  202-797-5249, rfriedlander@earthjustice.org

John Rumpler, Environment America:  617 747-4306, jrumpler@environmentamerica.org

Milly Hawk Daniel, PolicyLink: 212-502-6492, mdaniel@policylink.org

Trey Pollard, Sierra Club: 202- 495-3058, trey.pollard@sierraclub.org

Washington, DC – Just before the second anniversary of the Obama administration’s most significant water pollution control initiative – the adoption of the Clean Water Rule – the Trump administration’s assault on public safeguards put America’s water resources more at risk than they have been in well over a generation, according to environmental, conservation, equity-focused, and community organizations. The groups marked the anniversary of the Clean Water Rule and contrasted that achievement with the Trump Administration’s planned rollback of vital protections for water and health and its proposed budget cuts to important clean water programs. They noted that the Trump administration is wildly out of step with the public, pointing out that recent polls show that concern about drinking water is as high as it has ever been and the Americans want environmental protection to be prioritized.

“When it comes to the environment, everything President Trump has done in his first four months in office has been focused on one thing – putting polluters’ interests before public health and clean water. Repealing the Clean Water Rule and the cuts in the budget are part of this assault, said Bob Wendelgass, President and CEO of Clean Water Action. “We don’t get clean water by gutting protections for streams and wetlands. We can’t support small businesses by putting the infrastructure they rely on at risk of destruction. We won’t protect public health by ignoring science.”

The Clean Water Rule, finalized two years ago, strengthens protections for the drinking water sources for more than 117 million Americans. EPA took years to develop the Rule. The Rule received more than one million public comments, the vast majority of which were supportive. EPA held more than 400 meetings with stakeholders across the country and published a synthesis of more than 1200 peer-reviewed scientific publications which showed that the small streams and wetlands the Rule safeguards are vital to larger downstream waters.

“Without the Clean Water Rule’s critical protections, innumerable small streams and wetlands that are essential for drinking water supplies, flood protection, and fish and wildlife habitat will be vulnerable to unregulated pollution, dredging and filling,” said Bob Irvin, President of American Rivers.

Despite the broad public support and overwhelming science supporting the Clean Water Rule, industry groups and several states sued to stop the Rule. Before becoming EPA Administrator, Scott Pruitt led one of the lawsuits as Oklahoma Attorney General. The Clean Water Rule is on hold while that litigation plays out, leaving the drinking water supplies for 1 in 3 Americans at risk of pollution or destruction.

The Trump administration intends to make things significantly worse by repealing the Clean Water Rule and then issuing a far less protective rule, one that would cut the heart out of the Clean Water Act. While the Clean Water Rule took roughly four years to develop, propose, and finalize, Administrator Pruitt wants to propose and finalize the new rule in less than a year. This will mean less time for meaningful consideration and public engagement.

“Even as millions of Americans look forward to swimming and fishing this summer, President Trump has just proposed to wipe out funding for vital clean water programs across the country,” said Margie Alt, executive director of Environment America. “Congress should reject this extreme proposal and pass a budget that reflects the overwhelming bipartisan support for protecting our rivers, lakes, bays, and beaches.”

“No one should believe Trump’s rhetoric on clean water. Among the first things he did in office were decimate laws protecting vulnerable streams and the drinking water for 1 in every 3 Americans. Now, he’s proposing a budget that slashes funds for enforcing clean water rules by nearly a third, putting the profits of polluters before the health of our families and the availability of clean, reliable water that’s necessary for business, recreation, and health,” said Michael Brune, the Executive Director of the Sierra Club

Beyond the Clean Water Rule, President Trump and Administrator Pruitt are putting our water at risk in other ways. The Trump administration’s budget for 2018 proposes drastic cuts to EPA, reducing its budget by almost a third and cutting more than 3,000 staff positions.  These cuts will impact every program within the Agency. Some programs, like the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, the Chesapeake Bay Program and other regional programs, will be cut entirely.

“Low-income communities and communities of color facing extreme water insecurity—from deteriorating water systems, chemical and toxic exposures, exorbitant water costs, and climate change-induced flooding or droughts—rely on full funding of these EPA programs to restore their communities and families to health through clean water,” aid Kalima Rose, Vice President for Strategic Initiatives for PolicyLink.

“President Trump’s EPA budget shows where his true priorities lie – with polluting industries rather than the health of American families. Since he was on the campaign trail, President Trump has asserted his desire for ’crystal clear water for all’ yet his actions since taking the oath of office show the opposite. We need a budget and safeguards that reflect the growing concerns about water quality across the nation, not a wholesale assault on bedrock environmental protections,” said Trip Van Noppen, President of Earthjustice.

EPA efforts to protect public health and drinking water should be based on sound research and science. Ensuring that EPA has the funding to protect drinking water is vital. Cuts to EPA’s budget will harm this vital research and impact EPA’s ability to make sound decisions to protect health and water.

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Michael Kelly
202-393-5449
Amy Kober
503-708-1145
Rob Friedlander
202-797-5249