Bad news for Americans who drink water: On Tuesday, the Trump Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) published its final repeal of the Clean Water Rule, an Obama-era protection that expanded federal protections for waterways and wetlands across the country.
This is not great for people who enjoy their drinking water without a side of pollutants.
Under Obama, the definition of "waters of the United States" (which the nearly 50-year-old Clean Water Act regulates) was expanded to include the wetlands and tributaries of navigable waterways. This is important because small waterways feed into bigger waterways and are vital to keeping America's rivers and streams, as well as our drinking water, clean and unpolluted. The Obama rule expanded production to sources of drinking water for about 30 percent of the U.S., but that expansion, according to the Trump EPA, is now over, and this will make it harder for states to protect their local waterways.
This announcement was met with anger from the fishing industry, as well as environmentalists and conservation groups. Washington governor/former Democratic candidate Jay Inslee isn't happy about it either: “We strongly oppose the Trump administration's unlawful attempt to limit the authority of states to protect our water resources under Section 401 of the Clean Water Act," the Governor said in a statement with New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo. "This administration has repeatedly abdicated their federal responsibility to protect our families and our environment, and now they are going even further by attempting to take this authority away from the states."
Developers, however, are thrilled, because this will end what they consider cumbersome land and water regulations.
Under Obama's regulations, building on wetlands was strictly regulated. Under Trump's changes, the only wetlands that will be protected by federal law are those connected or adjacent to major waterways. That means protections for half of American streams and 110 million acres of wetlands will be removed and polluters will no longer be required to secure permits to dump pollutants into waterways.
This doesn't just threaten wildlife, it threatens our very own drinking water. Gulp.