Waterkeeper Alliance and More Than 100 of its U.S. Waterkeeper Groups Send Memorandum to President-Elect
“It’s Now or Never,” Says Waterkeeper’s Executive Director
After four years of the nation’s environmental protection laws being systematically dismantled—putting the health of the environment and the public at risk— the leading environmental nonprofit Waterkeeper Alliance, including more than 100 of its U.S. Waterkeeper groups, is urging the incoming Biden administration to take specific actions within the first 100 days of his administration in order to immediately begin to reverse the most egregious threats to our clean water and communities.
In a memorandum sent to President-elect Biden’s transition team, Waterkeeper Alliance called for a ban on new fossil fuel leasing on publicly owned federal lands, rescinding unprecedented and damaging executive orders carried out by the Trump administration, the immediate restoration of Clean Water Act and National Environmental Policy Act regulations, and a renewed and emboldened effort to advance environmental justice in Black, Indigenous, people of color (BIPOC) communities.
“The last four years have brought immeasurable harm to our waterways, climate, and communities. It’s not irreversible damage, but it’s now or never if we’re to correct course,” said Marc Yaggi, executive director of Waterkeeper Alliance. “It’s critical that the new administration hit the ground running in the first 100 days to protect water, air, land, and climate as a top priority.”
As proposed, the 5-point action plan urges the Biden administration within the first 100 days to:
- Protect Public Lands and Waters from Fossil Fuel Extraction: Ban new fossil fuel leasing on publicly owned federal lands;
- Prioritize Environmental Justice: Immediately prioritize reversing the grave systemic damage done to environmental justice policy and enforcement in the United States over the past four years and bringing our nation’s environmental justice policies and systems into the 21st century;
- Issue a New Executive Order to Restore the Clean Water Act: Expedite the process for repairing the broken definition of “waters of the United States,” repealing the Trump Dirty Water Rule and replacing it with a new regulatory definition that fully restores science-based protections for our waterways, and reinstating state and tribal authority and public participation rights under the CWA section 401 water quality certification process;
- Restore the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA): Issue an executive order directing the Council on Environmental Quality to promptly repeal the Trump NEPA rollback rule and to replace it with new regulations that will effectuate the statute’s purposes consistent with the administration’s priorities; and
- Rescind Trump’s Most Damaging Environmental Executive Orders: Rescind executive orders that directed all federal agencies to repeal at least two existing regulations for each new regulation issued (EO1371), directed the EPA and the Army Corps to weaken the definition of WOTUS (EO 1378), directed federal agencies to review, rescind, and/or revise rules and agency actions that impede U.S. energy production (EO 13783), directed Commerce to assess the opportunity cost associated with potential energy and mineral exploration and production at national monuments and marine sanctuaries (EO 13795) and directed the EPA to reduce state and tribal authority under the Clean Water Act (EO 13868).
“Since the Trump administration took office, the Environmental Protection Agency has been gutted, and environmental protections have been left on the chopping block,” said Gloria Reuben, Waterkeeper Alliance’s newly appointed president. “More than 100 environmental protections were rolled back in the span of four years, upending decades of environmental progress and fracturing the United States’ standing on the world stage. Now, it’s time we fix that.”
Waterkeeper Alliance is a leading advocate for clean and healthy waterways in the United States and one of the nation’s largest and fastest-growing environmental nonprofit organizations. In the memorandum to the Biden transition team, Waterkeeper Alliance welcomes a meeting with the new administration.
To read the full 5-point action plan, please click here.
Photo: Jana Shea/Shutterstock