SALT LAKE CITY – The American public will have 30 days to comment on the Trump administration’s plan to repeal and replace the 2015 Clean Water Rule, once it’s published in the federal register.
Jan Goldman-Carter, wetlands and water resources director for the National Wildlife Federation, said the move would remove pollution limits from streams and wetlands that supply a third of the nation’s drinking water and which also are home to countless fish and wildlife species.
“The American public has long thought – since the 1972 act – that their water is protected, their wetlands are protected, their streams are protected from pollution,” she said. “None of us can really take that for granted anymore.”
The Clean Water Rule restored protections under the Clean Water Act for headwaters, streams and wetland habitat that had been left uncertain because of convoluted U.S. Supreme Court rulings. Current Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt has argued that rolling back the measure will provide certainty to farmers and other businesses by returning regulatory authority to states.
Carter said western states rely on clean water to fuel their multi-billion-dollar outdoor recreation industries. She pointed to polls that show nearly 80 percent of hunters and anglers favor Clean Water Act protections. Dozens of craft brewers also have come out in support of the 2015 measure. Carter said a majority of the nation’s stream miles and wetland acres are at stake.
“All of those smaller streams are at significant risk, and then would literally be removed from Clean Water Act protections under the proposal that the administration is headed toward,” she said.
According to the Environment America Research and Policy Center, the Clean Water Rule, supported by more than 80 percent of small-business owners, was expected to generate more than $400 million annually in economic benefits. Public comments can be submitted at Regulations.gov.
The EPA plan is online at epa.gov/wotus-rule, and the Environment America brief is at environmentamericacenter.org.
—Eric Galatas, Utah News Connection