Statement: Federal court invalidates ‘Dirty Water Rule’

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Environment America Research & Policy Center hails ruling, calls on EPA to swiftly restore protections to U.S. waterways

Environment America Research and Policy Center

BOSTON — The United States District Court for the District of Arizona on Monday vacated the Trump administration’s Navigable Waters Protection Rule (NWPR), which wiped out federal protections for half the nation’s remaining wetlands and thousands of streams that provide drinking water to millions of Americans. Citing serious legal errors and harm caused by the rule, the court decreed that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Army Corps of Engineers need to draft a new rule defining the scope of waterways protected under the federal Clean Water Act

The ruling comes as the EPA and Army Corps of Engineers are accepting comments until this Friday on both the NWPR, which has come to be known as the “Dirty Water Rule” and the scope of the Clean Water Act. 

John Rumpler, Senior Attorney and Clean Water Program Director for Environment America Research & Policy Center, issued the following statement: 

“The court’s decision to repeal the Dirty Water Rule is a victory for our nation’s waterways. From the Great Lakes to the Chesapeake Bay, streams and wetlands are vital to America’s supply of clean water. In particular, streams in the Southwest, which do not run year-round, help provide drinking water to millions of people. Beyond drinking water, wetlands filter out pollutants, provide wildlife habitat and protect communities from flooding.

“Every American can celebrate this decision. Whether it’s the water in your tap, the lake where you swim, or the river you fish, we all interact with water. And that water has been at risk of serious contamination without the protections of the Clean Water Act. 

“The Dirty Water Rule defied the law, common sense and thousands of scientific studies showing how waterways are connected. Faced with such fatal flaws, the court logically made the urgent decision to strike down the Dirty Water Rule.

“With the path cleared by the court, the EPA should move with due speed to restore Clean Water Act protections to all of our waterways. Our drinking water and our ecosystems depend on it.”

The case was brought by Earthjustice and the Pascua Yaqui Tribe, Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa, Tohono O’odham Nation, Menominee Indian Tribe of Wisconsin, Quinault Indian Nation, and Bad River Band of Lake Superior Chippewa.