APCC Joins in Opposition to Proposed Repeal of Clean Water Rule

Environmental groups across the nation join in opposition...

The Association to Preserve Cape Cod today joined other environmental groups from across the country in opposing the Trump administration’s proposal to repeal the 2015 Clean Water Rule, which was adopted during the Obama administration to define the federal government’s role in protecting streams and wetlands under the Clean Water Act. 

The 2015 rule was issued by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to provide consistency and clarity regarding the government’s regulatory authority over wetlands that have a hydrological or ecological relationship to navigable waters. All navigable waters in the U.S. are under federal jurisdiction, as defined in the Waters of the United States rule of the Clean Water Act.

With the proposed repeal, the Trump administration seeks to weaken federal jurisdiction over connected streams and wetlands, thereby removing the government’s role in regulating actions that may affect those water bodies.

In a letter submitted to EPA Acting Administrator Andrew Wheeler and Assistant Secretary of the Army R. D. James, APCC and other environmental organizations challenged the Trump administration’s motivations in moving to repeal the rule. In proposing the repeal, the Trump administration claims that too much weight was placed on science in crafting the 2015 Clean Water Rule and not enough on other considerations.

“The 2015 Clean Water Rule is based on sound science, which should be the bottom line for decisions affecting our water resources. Protecting small streams and wetlands protects the rivers and other larger water bodies found downstream,” explained Andrew Gottlieb, APCC’s executive director. “You can’t ensure good water quality in our rivers, bays and coastal waters without adequate protections in place on the smaller systems that feed them,” he said.

“This proposed rule change is a step backward by the administration in meeting the responsibility it has to safeguard our environment and the public health of the citizens of Cape Cod and of this nation,” said Gottlieb.

A transcript of the letter to the EPA and Army Corps of Engineers follows.

The Honorable Andrew Wheeler

Acting Administrator

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

1200 Pennsylvania Ave NW

Washington, DC 20460

 

The Honorable R.D. James

Assistant Secretary of the Army, Civil Works

U.S. Department of the Army

104 Army Pentagon Washington, DC 20310

 

August 13, 2018

 

RE: Docket ID Number EPA-HQ-OW-2017-0203: Comments on Definition of “Waters of the United States”—Recodification of Preexisting Rule, Federal Register, Vol. 83, No. 134 (July 12, 2018)

 

Dear Acting Administrator Wheeler and Assistant Secretary James:

 

On behalf of the undersigned 187 organizations and our millions of members and supporters across the country, we oppose the Trump administration’s attempt to repeal the 2015 Clean Water Rule and urge the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”) and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (“Army Corps”) to withdraw this proposed repeal. We also oppose the agencies’ plan to permanently weaken commonsense protections for streams and wetlands through a new rulemaking. Repealing the 2015 Clean Water Rule and replacing it with a rule that limits which streams and wetlands are covered under the Clean Water Act’s pollution prevention programs is an assault on water quality and public health.

 

The administration’s latest attempt to justify its proposal to repeal the Clean Water Rule lacks merit. The new legal theories forwarded by the administration in this supplemental notice fail to justify repealing the Rule and ignore the overwhelming scientific evidence that protecting small streams and wetlands is essential to ensuring water quality in downstream rivers and larger water bodies. The 2015 Clean Water Rule creates more certainty, not less, regarding which water resources are federally protected, and is legally and scientifically sound. It was for these reasons, and others, that the EPA and Army Corps received more than 685,000 comments on their first attempt to repeal the Clean Water Rule (dated July 27, 2017) and more than half a million of those comments were in strong opposition to this plan.

 

The current administration’s assertion that the previous administration relied too much on science when crafting the 2015 Clean Water Rule is absurd. Commonsense water policy decisions must be based on the best available science if we are ever to achieve the Clean Water Act’s water quality goals. Headwater, seasonal, and rain-dependent streams contribute to the drinking water sources for more than 117 million people in the United States. Wetlands filter pollutants and can buffer communities from flooding. These rivers, wetlands, lakes, and streams provide recreational opportunities for millions powering a robust outdoor economy. In its latest proposal, the administration would abandon the agencies’ prior scientific and economic rationale for protecting streams and wetlands without offering any scientific evidence to support its plan to permanently repeal effective Clean Water Act protections for these water resources. Science tells us that we should be doing more, not less, to protect our nation’s water resources.

 

Not only is the administration’s plan to repeal the 2015 Clean Water Rule unjustified by science or law, it disregards more than 800,000 comments submitted in support of the 2015 Rule. The agencies should withdraw the proposed repeal immediately. Moreover, any potential revisions to the 2015 Clean Water Rule must bring us closer to achieving the goals of the Clean Water Act, and must be carried out in a transparent rulemaking process that is science-based and legally sound, and that provides a meaningful opportunity for all stakeholders to participate.

 

Sincerely,

 

350.org

Allegheny Mountain Chapter of Trout Unlimited

Alliance for the Great Lakes

Alliance of Nurses for Healthy Environments

Alternative Solutions, LLC

American Chestnut Land Trust

American Rivers

Amshoff Farm LLC

Anacostia Watershed Society

Anna K. Murray & Associates, P.C.

Association to Preserve Cape Cod

Audubon Naturalist Society

Baltimore Tree Trust

Beargrass Creek Alliance

Berkshire Environmental Action Team (BEAT)

Breast Cancer Prevention Partners

Brodhead Chapter of Trout Unlimited

Burns Environmental

California Coastal Protection Network

Charles River Conservancy

Charles River Watershed Association

Chesapeake Foodshed Network

Chesapeake Wildlife Heritage

Chestnut Ridge Chapter of Trout Unlimited

Chicago Audubon Society

Cincinnati Naacp

Citizens Campaign for the Environment

Clark Fork Coalition

Clean River Project, Inc.

Clean Water Action

Climate Action Now, Western Massachusetts

Codorus Chapter of Trout Unlimited

Columbia County Chapter of Trout Unlimited

Committee on the Middle Fork Vermilion River

Community Water Center

Concerned Citizens of Cattaraugus County

Conservation Alabama

Conservation Colorado

Conservation Voters New Mexico

Cumberland Valley Chapter of Trout Unlimited

CURE (Clean Up the River Environment)

Delco Manning Chapter of Trout Unlimited

Detroit Audubon

Donegal Chapter of Trout Unlimited, Inc.

Earthjustice

Earthworks

Ecological Land Management

Environment Minnesota

Environmental Advocates of New York

Environmental Law & Policy Center

Environmental League of MA

Environmental Protection Network

Environmental Working Group

Florida Wildlife Federation

FLOW (For Love of Water)

Forbes Trail Chapter of Trout Unlimited

Fort Bedford Chapter of Trout Unlimited

Freshwater Future

Friends of Dyke Marsh

Friends of the Earth

Friends of the Malden River

Friends of the Mississippi River

Friends of the Rappahannock

Genesee Valley Audubon Society

God's Country Chapter of Trout Unlimited

Gold Creative Design LLC

Greater Boston Chapter of Trout Unlimited

Green Newton

GreenLatinos

Greenpeace

Groundwork Lawrence

Harpeth Conservancy

Hilltown Anti-Herbicide Coalition

Hip Hop Caucus

Hop Brook Protection Association, Inc

Illinois Council of Trout Unlimited

Indiana Wildlife Federation

Interfaith Partners for the Chesapeake

Iron Furnace Chapter of Trout Unlimited

JAPRI.Org

Jim Zwald Chapter of Trout Unlimited

Junction Coalition

Kentucky Resources Council, Inc.

Kentucky Waterway Alliance

Lackawanna Valley Chapter of Trout Unlimited

Lakeshore Natural Resource Partnership

Lakeside Publishing MI

Lancaster Land Trust

League of Conservation Voters

League of Women Voters

League of Women Voters of Ohio

League of Women Voters Upper Mississippi River Region

Lincoln Land Conservation Trust

Little Lehigh Chapter of Trout Unlimited

Littledove Farm

Lloyd Wilson Chapter of Trout Unlimited

Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy

Maine Conservation Voters

Maryland League of Conservation Voters

Mass Audubon

Massachusetts Association of Conservation Commissions

Massachusetts Rivers Alliance

Mattawoman Watershed Society

Merrimack River Watershed Council (MRWC)

Michigan League Of Conservation Voters

Michigan Wildlife Conservancy

Midwest Environmental Advocates

Millers River Watershed Council

Milwaukee Riverkeeper

Minnesota Division Izaak Walton League of America

Minnesota Environmental Partnership

Mississippi River Collaborative

Monocacy Chapter of Trout Unlimited

Montana Trout Unlimited

Montana Wildlife Federation

Mystic River Watershed Association

Nantucket Land Council

Nashua River Watershed Association

National Parks Conservation Association

National Wildlife Federation

Natural Resources Council of Maine

Nature Abounds

NC League of Conservation Voters

Neponset River Watershed Association

Neshannock Chapter of Trout Unlimited

Nevada Conservation League

New Hampshire Rivers Council

Northwest Watershed Institute

Ohio Environmental Council

Ohio River Foundation

Organizing for Action

PennFuture

Penns Creek Chapter of Trout Unlimited

Penns Woods West Chapter to Trout Unlimited

Pennsylvania Council of Churches

Pennsylvania Council of Trout Unlimited

Pequabuck River Watershed Association

Physicians for Social Responsibility Philadelphia

Pike/Wayne Chapter of Trout Unlimited

Planning and Conservation League

PolicyLink

Potomac Conservancy

Prairie Rivers Network

Puget Soundkeeper Alliance

Rachel Carson Council

Red River Outdoors

River City Paddlesports Inc.

River Network

River Network Partners

River Source

Rock Creek Conservancy

Roman Catholic Diocese of Fresno

Savage River Watershed Assn.

Save EPA

Save Our Sky Blue Waters

Save the Illinois River, Inc. (STIR)

Schuylkill Pipeline Awareness

Sea Run Brook Trout Coalition

Seneca Chapter of Trout Unlimited

Shehawken Chapter of Trout Unlimited

Sleepy Creek Watershed Association

South River Watershed Alliance

Southern Maryland Audubon Society

Southern Oregon Climate Action Now

SouthWings

St. Mary's River Watershed Association

Sustainable Business Network of Greater Philadelphia

Taunton River Watershed Alliance

Tip of the Mitt Watershed Council

Tookany/Tacony-Frankford Watershed Partnership

Tradewater / Lower Green Rivers Watershed Watch

Tulpehocken Chapter of Trout Unlimited

Tuolumne River Trust

Valley Forge Chapter of Trout Unlimited

Virginia Conservation Network

Virginia League of Conservation Voters

Washington Conservation Voters

Washington Environmental Council

Water Supply Citizens Advisory Committee

Waterways Alliance

West Virginia Rivers Coalition

Western Organization of Resource Councils

Westfield River Watershed Association

WildEarth Guardians

Wisconsin League of Conservation Voters

Wisconsin Trout Unlimited

Yukon River Inter-Tribal Watershed Council


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