For Immediate Release

Organization Profile: 
Contact: 

Brian Willis, 202.675.2386, Brian.Willis@sierraclub.org

Trump Administration Proposes Free Pass for Water Polluters

WASHINGTON - The Trump administration took action today to weaken key parts of the Clean Water Act. The Environmental Protection Agency and Army Corps of Engineers agencies jointly proposed exempting polluters from important programs that prevent and clean up water pollution, by removing protections from certain streams,wetlands, and other water bodies.

This Dirty Water Rule would wipe out safeguards for water bodies that provide drinking water to tens of millions of people, including vulnerable populations such as children, and for wetlands that filter pollution and protect our communities from flooding.

For more than 45 years, the Clean Water Act has helped work toward a time when all water bodies are safe for swimming and fishing, and when drinking water supplies are protected from pollution. Now the Trump administration is moving backwards.   

Clean water is essential for healthy fish and wildlife habitat and for quality outdoor recreation opportunities. The outdoor recreation economy supports 7.6 million jobs and $887 billion in consumer spending, and it depends on clean water.

Polluted water harms local economies and businesses. Breweries, outdoor recreation, tourism and local businesses rely on clean water to create jobs and power local economies. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) estimates, for example, that algae outbreaks and “dead zones,” such as the one that forms annually in the Gulf of Mexico, cost fishermen nearly $82 million annually in lost seafood catches.  These problems are fueled by pollution into streams and rivers.

Members of the Clean Water for All Coalition offered these responses:

“Nurses understand the negative health effects of exposure to dirty water—whether it’s from neurotoxic chemicals, like lead in drinking water, or chemicals linked to cancers and hormone disruption found in coal ash ponds, or fracking waste water that pollutes groundwater sources,” said Katie Huffling, executive director of the Alliance of Nurses for Healthy Environments and a nurse. “This attack on the Clean Water Rule is an urgent public health threat, and we strongly oppose any efforts to repeal this vital,health-protective rule.”

“This is an early Christmas gift to polluters and a lump of coal for everyone else,” said Bob Irvin, President and CEO of American Rivers. “Too many people in our country, urban and rural, are living with unsafe drinking water. Low-income communities,indigenous peoples and communities of color are hit hardest by pollution and river degradation. Instead of rolling back the rules and creating new loopholes for polluters, we need to strengthen safeguards for the rivers, streams, and wetlands that supply our drinking water.”

“Clean water is as essential to a healthy economy as it is to a healthy environment. Business depends on clean water. We don’t get clean water by gutting protections for streams and wetlands. We can’t support and grow businesses by putting the natural water infrastructure they rely on at risk of destruction. The Trump Administration’s proposal to replace the Clean Water Rule puts polluters ahead of the rest of the business community, said “Hammad Atassi, CEO of the American Sustainable Business Council, which has a member network representing more than 250,000 businesses across the country.

“Every American wants to be sure that their family is safe, and that means clean, safe drinking water.” said Kim Glas, executive director of the BlueGreen Alliance. However, the Trump administration today proposed to significantly weaken the Clean Water Rule, which safeguards the drinking water supplies for 117 million Americans. Enough is enough. The EPA should scrap their changes to this rule and instead enforce the existing rule that protects the water quality for millions of Americans.”

“Everyone deserves the right to safe and healthy water, especially those communities most vulnerable to harmful exposures such as children,” said Nsedu Obot Witherspoon, Executive Director of the Children’s Environmental Health Network.  “Our children of today and tomorrow simply deserve better and need better actions for their protections.”

“The Dirty Water Rule continues the Trump administration’s unbroken streak of doing whatever it can to put corporate special interests and their priorities first,” said Bob Wendelgass, president and CEO of Clean Water Action. “This proposal will put our health and drinking water in jeopardy by radically reinterpreting the Clean Water Act while ignoring science. No one benefits from this scheme except for developers, the fossil fuel industry, and other companies who will have a free hand to pave over or plow under streams and wetlands.”

“Today’s action is nothing short of a full attack on clean water for millions of Americans. It’s another shameless scheme to line the pockets of the multi-billion dollar polluters who helped put President Trump in office,” said Abigail Dillen, President of Earthjustice.

“This Dirty Water Rule turns the mission of the EPA on its head: EPA is proposing to strip federal protection from drinking water sources for millions of Americans,” said John Rumpler, director of the clean water program for Environment America. “It defies common sense, sound science, and the will of the American people.”

“This outrageous move comes at a time when our communities are already facing crumbling infrastructure,increasing impacts from climate change, and corporate polluters that face extremely limited accountability for poisoning our people and planet,”said Rev Lennox Yearwood Jr., President& CEO of Hip Hop Caucus. “The consequences of this move are that millions of people will have less access to clean drinking water and those responsible will continue to get away with it. Unfortunately, low-income and communities of color will continue to bear the largest burden.”

“This despicable attack on our clean water from Trump and his corrupt administration comes as no surprise as they have clearly and consistently put the profits of polluters ahead of what’s best for our families,” said Gene Karpinski, President of the League of Conservation Voters. “However, with too many communities across the country struggling with health crises related to their water, whether it be lead poisoning in Flint or toxic red tide in Florida or coal ash and hog waste-contaminated rivers in North Carolina, Trump’s Dirty Water Rule is still an appalling rollback of critical safeguards for our waterways. It is crystal clear that we must do more, not less, to ensure every family in this country has access to clean and safe drinking water, and we pledge to fight this dangerous proposal to turn our drinking water sources back into the waste dumps of big polluters.” 

“Healthy streams and wetlands are essential for people and wildlife,” said Collin O’ Mara, president and CEO of the National Wildlife Federation.  “Today’s action allows a few to cut corners while increasing the risks to wildlife and to the drinking water for millions of Americans.”

“This gives polluters a free pass to dump into the water bodies that supply our drinking water and the waters we use for fishing and swimming,” said Jon Devine,director of the federal water program at the Natural Resources Defense Council.  “We will fight this illegal effort to do away with important protections that have helped us clean up our nation’s lakes, streams, and wetlands.”

“People should be able to drink water and take showers in their homes without fear of being poisoned,”said Michael McAfee,president and CEO of Policylink.  “Yet, nearly 77 million Americans live in communities that lack access to clean, safe water or sustainable water infrastructure. Low-income people and communities of color are already disproportionately impacted by contaminated water, which can cause a variety of health problems, particularly for children, and this proposal will exacerbate this inequity. Water is life.  Caring for it is our shared responsibility.  We must urge Americans to take a stand against this proposed Dirty Water Rule to ensure a future where everyone has access to clean water.” 

“This latest attack on our water is a new low for Trump and Wheeler as they again unabashedly side with corporate polluters instead of our families,”said Michael Brune, executive director of the Sierra Club. “Not only will this rollback endanger the drinking water sources for millions of people, but it also jeopardizes wildlife habitat, outdoor recreation, and economies that rely on safe, clean water. The Trump administration must stop rigging the system for special interests and start listening to the American public by acting to protect our water.”  

“Big polluters could not have crafted a bigger free pass to dump if they wrote it themselves,” said Blan Holman, managing attorney for the Southern Environmental Law Center’s Charleston office. “This administration’s efforts to dismantle the Clean Water Act are a full-frontal assault on one of our country’s most important and longstanding environmental safeguards that has prevented unchecked and unlimited pollution from contaminating our waterways and drinking water sources for nearly 50 years. Protecting the South’s waters against pollution is our top priority. In the face of this serious threat, SELC and our partners will fight this dangerous proposal in court.”

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