The United States is experiencing a massive and multi-pronged attack on federal environmental statutes, regulations, enforcement, and funding by the President, Congress and numerous regulatory agencies. These attacks, undertaken on behalf of the richest, most polluting corporations in the world, threaten our nation’s most important public health and environmental protections and the very foundations of our democracy.
Congress is considering legislation that will slash funding for environmental programs and fundamentally alter key provisions of major environmental laws like the Clean Water Act (CWA), National Environmental Policy Act, Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, and other statutes that are central to our mission. Whereas experts at the federal agencies would have historically provided key scientific and policy testimony to oppose this effort, the agencies now are being led by people who lack this knowledge and often actually support weakening federal environmental laws and regulations. We are witnessing unprecedented administrative action by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and other agencies to weaken environmental protections by rolling back or eliminating regulations, ceasing investigations and enforcement, limiting funding for programs and cutting or replacing staff.
Waterkeeper Alliance helps lead the opposition to this ideological assault on the laws and systems that have protected public health and the environment for more than four decades. We believe that grassroots organizing, advocacy and litigation, combined with coordinated national action with our network of diverse coalition partners, is the most effective way to prevent the destruction of our nation’s environmental laws and regulatory programs. In addition to advocacy and litigation at the national level, Waterkeeper Alliance is one of the only international water advocacy organizations with the power of a connected network of community-based grassroots advocates who have the earned trust of, and the ability to mobilize, thousands of individuals in the fight for clean water.
In response to these threats, Waterkeeper Alliance launched Dive Into Democracy, a weekly roundup of current attacks on America’s clean water protections that includes straightforward language about the threats and instructions on how to take action.
The Clean Water Act is under attack from both Congress and EPA. EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt has placed a high priority on dramatically reducing the numbers and types of waters that can be protected against pollution and destruction under the Clean Water Act. There are similar efforts proposed in Congress. At the same time, there are bills in Congress seeking to severely limit the ability for private citizens and groups to enforce the Clean Water Act, exempt pesticides from Clean Water Act permitting requirements, and relaxing Clean Water Act requirements for municipal wastewater discharges. We are committed to stopping the attacks on the Clean Water Act in Congress, before EPA and in the courts.
The administration and Congress are aggressively seeking to eliminate environmental regulations through Executive Orders and a host of legislation intended to reduce “regulatory burden” on industry without consideration of the impacts to public health and the environment. Waterkeeper Alliance is monitoring these efforts and is taking legal and other actions to oppose them.
Waterkeeper Alliance, Waterkeeper Organizations and Affiliates and our partners are aggressively opposing legislation to weaken federal environmental laws and cut key EPA programs through budget reductions and riders. Major legislative threats include attacking citizen suit power, exempting CAFOs from environmental laws, limiting the role of science in creating regulations, weakening Safe Drinking Water Standards, and crippling the EPA’s ability to investigate and bring enforcement actions against polluters through budget cuts.
Waterkeeper Alliance frequently brings litigation to address EPA failures to implement federal environmental laws. Recently, we have:
Waterkeeper Alliance conducted extensive research on Scott Pruitt’s record, and worked extensively to document and expose his anti-environment stances and practices, as well as his divergence with well-established norms. Senate Democrats on the U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works hosted a panel discussion to further examine EPA Administrator nominee Scott Pruitt’s environmental record and highlight his lack of qualifications needed to lead the agency. Waterkeeper Alliance’s Senior Attorney Kelly Hunter Foster spoke as an expert witness; as the former Environmental Protection Unit Chief in the Oklahoma Attorney General’s Office, she is uniquely familiar with Pruitt’s dangerous environmental track record.