The Trump administration is implementing a dangerous effort to eliminate national protections for waters—and communities—across the country. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is finalizing a new regulation that would remove historically protected rivers, streams, lakes, wetlands, and other waters from protection under the Clean Water Act, a law which gave us the legal framework to clean the nation’s waterways after decades of neglect.
Will you join us in asking your Governor to ensure we have national laws that safeguard pure water to fish in, pure water for our children to play in, and pure water to drink?
By the 1960s, unregulated pollution had turned some of our rivers into flowing dumps of flammable trash, chemicals, and debris. The Clean Water Act changed that by providing a national standard of protection for our waterways and giving any citizen the right to take legal action against polluters.
The Clean Water Act provides essential basic protections for our waterways, which are all connected, despite state lines and other artificial boundaries. We don’t need to see which state can have the weakest water standards or enforcement in a public health race to the bottom. We already did that in the 1950s and ‘60s. The result: A Senate committee found our nation’s water protections “inadequate in every vital aspect.”
When water protections were left solely to the states, our rivers were slicked with oil, or clogged with grease balls as big as oranges, or reeking of human waste. States weren’t set-up to handle all of the complex issues relating to controlling pollution of our nation’s water resources, especially when the polluters were located upstream, in another state. When states were left to fend for themselves without national standards and financial support, rivers flowed with undrinkable water and caught fire—this is why Congress passed the Clean Water Act in 1972. .
Without strong national clean water standards, we all pay the price. We’ll pay in higher utility bills. We’ll pay with our health and the health of our children. And we’ll pay with our tax dollars, as already stressed state-budgets would have to accommodate the costs of out-of-state pollution and developing new state programs to replace the national ones that would be lost.
Under the administration’s proposal, at least 60 percent of the stream miles in the continental United States would lose federal Clean Water Act protections, and the losses will be even higher in Western states, such as in New Mexico where more than 90 percent of streams could lose protection.
Millions of acres of vital wetlands would be left unprotected and possibly destroyed. We can’t afford to lose that valuable habitat and flood protection.
Please join us in fighting for the heart of the Clean Water Act by asking your Governor to tell EPA your state opposes the new regulation that would remove Clean Water Act protections from its rivers, streams, wetlands, and lakes. National clean water standards that protect all of our waters are essential for the health of the public and the environment.
*Image by Fejetlenfej