Analysis: Repealing the Clean Water Rule would be Devastating for the Great Lakes basin

Media Contacts
Heather Leibowitz

New York, NY – New analysis by Environment New York shows 53% of all stream miles in the Great Lakes basin will be left without federal protections by U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott Pruitt’s proposal to repeal the Clean Water Rule. The Clean Water Rule restored federal protections to half our nation’s streams and thousands of wetlands across the country. This includes more than 5,728 miles of intermittent, ephemeral or headwater streams that feed into drinking water systems in New York State.

“Repealing the Clean Water Rule would be devastating to the Great Lakes basin. Instead of safeguarding our drinking water, Administrator Pruitt is proposing to stop protecting drinking water sources for 1 in 3 Americans, including over 11 million New Yorkers. It defies common sense, sound science and the will of the American people,” said Heather Leibowitz, Director of Environment New York.

Clean water is vital to our ecology, our health, and our quality of life.  We are already seeing drinking water contaminated by algal blooms and toxic chemicals, and a dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico that scientists now estimate will be the size of New Jersey this summer. The last thing we should do is weaken protections for our water.

Finalized in 2015, the Clean Water Rule restored federal protections to half the nation’s streams, which help provide drinking water to one in every three Americans.  The rule also protects millions of acres of wetlands that provide wildlife habitat and keep pollutants out of America’s great waterways, from the Delaware River to the Chesapeake Bay.

More than 800,000 Americans – including more than 1,000 business owners, local officials, farmers, and health professionals – supported the historic clean water rule. On the other side, the most vociferous opponents of the rule include the oil and gas industry, coal companies, developers, and lobbyists for corporate agribusiness.

“From the Great Lakes basin to the Delaware Water Gap, these are the places we like to fish, swim, canoe, and just enjoy the scenery with our families. We also rely on these waterways for drinking water, and they need more federal protections not less. We call on the EPA to reconsider this reckless repeal and stand up for our drinking water, not for polluters,” said Leibowitz.