Statement: EPA issues new Clean Water Act rule

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Advocates commend the agency for restoring federal protections for some waterways but call for further action to protect others

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) finalized a new rule on Friday defining which waterways are protected under the Clean Water Act. The rule replaces the Trump administration’s weak regulation (often called “the Dirty Water Rule”) and restores federal protection to some wetlands and other waters. The agency’s “Revised Definition of the Waters of the United States” comes even as the U.S. Supreme Court is considering a case that could — once again — drastically curtail the jurisdiction of the Clean Water Act.

Environment America Research & Policy Center has been working to protect the nation’s waters from pollution and degradation for nearly 20 years — issuing research reports, generating public comments and organizing the support of key constituencies. Our partners at Environment America have also participated in litigation to defend the Clean Water Act.

In response to the EPA rule, John Rumpler, Environment America Research & Policy Center Senior Clean Water campaigns director said: 

The EPA’s new rule makes progress by restoring federal protections to at least some waterways. It officially cleans up  the Trump administration’s Dirty Water Rule, which wiped out federal protections for thousands of waterways and nearly half of all wetlands across the country. The Trump rule provoked widespread public opposition and was criticized by the  EPA’s own science advisors

But securing the promise of the Clean Water Act requires us to protect all our streams and remaining wetlands from polluters. Small streams help provide drinking water to millions of Americans. Wetlands filter out pollutants, provide vital wildlife habitat and protect our communities from flooding in a climate-changed world.

Regrettably, the EPA could not deliver fully on this promise today, as an extreme challenge to the Clean Water Act at the Supreme Court hangs like a sword of Damocles over the agency’s head. We will not rest until we counter that looming threat and all of America’s waterways get the protection they deserve.”