Washington, D.C.— The Trump administration has formally suspended the Clean Water Rule, a regulation that’s been hotly contested amongst anglers, farmers, and ranchers. The rule, which was set in motion during the Obama administration, set tight guidelines for agricultural pollutants near headwaters and wetlands.
The Clean Water Rule had not yet been implemented, but was set to go into effect this spring after a January Supreme Court Decision gave jurisdiction of the rule to district courts. Future regulations included limiting the use of chemical fertilizers around small streams. Before regulation could begin; however, EPA administrator Scott Pruitt, at the direction of a 2017 executive order from President Trump, signed legal documents to suspend the Clean Water Rule for two years.
“Today, the EPA. is taking action to reduce confusion and provide certainty to America’s farmers and ranchers,” Pruit said in a statement. “The 2015 WOTUS rule developed by the Obama administration will not be applicable for the next two years, while we work through the process of providing long-term regulatory certainty across all 50 states about what waters are subject to federal regulation.”
The move has left environmental supporters up-in-arms.
“By delaying the Clean Water Rule, the Trump administration is making clear that it has no intention of protecting our rivers, wetlands and clean water,” said Bob Irvin, President of American Rivers. “Without the Clean Water Rule’s critical protections, innumerable small streams and wetlands that are essential for drinking water supplies, flood protection, and fish and wildlife habitat will be vulnerable to unregulated pollution, dredging and filling.”
Irvin’s 275,000-member organization has operated to protect and restore American waterways since 1973, and claims more than 150,000 miles of revitalized and protected waterways in the five decades since its inception. American Rivers, along with the National Resources Defense Council, has pledged to defend the Clean Water Rule in court.
“This action is unwise, harms the public, and violates the law. We will challenge the administration in court and look forward to defending clean water for families and communities,” Irvin said.
Across the country, small streams and wetlands protected by the Clean Water Rule contribute to the drinking water supplies of 117 million Americans, and provide tremendous economic benefits by reducing flooding and pollution, recharging groundwater, and providing wildlife habitat and recreation opportunities.