[Philadelphia, PA] -- Pennsylvanians have overwhelmingly responded to the Trump administration’s attempt to repeal protections for streams, rivers, wetlands, and drinking water supplies, with tens of thousands of Pennsylvanians submitting comments in less than 90 days requesting that these safeguards remain intact.
Gutting the Clean Water Rule would have far-reaching detrimental effects for Pennsylvania's rivers and streams. Officials believe that by undoing this important clean water protection, nearly 50,000 miles of streams in Pennsylvania alone would lose critical protections from encroaching development, fracking and other industrial threats, and increased pollution. All told, more than 2 million miles of streams across the U.S. would lose these protections with these rollbacks.
The implementation of the Clean Water Rule received overwhelming support from the general public when originally proposed under the Obama administration. Over 50,000 concerned Pennsylvanians from all walks of life submitted letters, signed postcards and petitions, and sent in public comments in support of the Rule and strengthening protections for our rivers and streams. This includes comments from local businesses that rely on clean water to flourish, from local elected officials, and from Democrats and Republicans alike.
Before finalizing the Clean Water Rule in 2015, U.S. EPA held more than 400 meetings across the country with stakeholders and unveiled more than 1,200 peer-reviewed scientific publications which showed that the small streams and wetlands that the Clean Water Rule is meant to protect are vital to larger downstream waterways like the Delaware and the Susquehanna. Yet EPA Administrator Pruitt now plans to fast-track through the repeal of the Clean Water Rule.
"It's pretty simple - repealing the Clean Water Rule is a double-whammy: it threatens the rivers and streams we love and have worked hard to restore, and threatens our health . People know that and they spoke out," said Stephanie Wein, Clean Water & Conservation Advocate at the PennEnvironment Research Policy Center.
"We denounce the Trump administration’s efforts to rollback historic safeguards for rivers and streams under the federal Clean Water Act,” said Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds Brown, Chair of the City Council Committee on the Environment. “What is more important to our survival as human beings than the air we breathe and the water we drink? The safety of our drinking water should not depend on what state we live in. All Americans have a right to clean and safe water."
"When we catch wild trout in Valley Creek, when we float the Delaware River, when we take our children out on a lake, we know we can only do it because a generation ago we made a commitment to protect our water with the Clean Water Act, so it makes no sense that the new administration plans to roll back the protections of this landmark law by repealing the Clean Water Rule," said Peter Hughes, President of Valley Forge Trout Unlimited.
Repealing the Clean Water Rule would impact Americans from all walks of life, but, as with many issues. Rolling back the Rule will increase water contamination and cause a variety of health problems. In addition, small and rural communities, who rely on private wells or whose water systems lack the resources to deal with polluted sources are particularly reliant on federal protections for our streams.
“We must uphold protections for small streams and wetlands. They are essential to our clean drinking water supplies, healthy communities and strong economies,” added Liz Deardorff of American Rivers. If the Trump Administration repeals the Clean Water Rule, they will jeopardize these vital waterways and the health and well-being of millions of Americans.”
“This decision, like many from this administration does not utilize sound science, which should be the basis for any rulemaking from the Environmental Protection Agency and the Corps of Engineers,” said Will Callaway of Appalachian Mountain Club. “In fact, directors of four Pennsylvania departments noted in a letter dated June 19 of this year that the federal agencies, however, did not provide the stakeholders with any informed discussion on the scientific rationale or environmental and regulatory consequences associated with the new rule.”
"Nearly 45 years after the passage of the Clean Water Act, waterways in Pennsylvania have made tremendous progress. Rolling back the Clean Water Rule will set that progress back.” concluded Wein. “President Trump and Administrator Pruitt are putting our most vulnerable communities at risk. When President Trump said he wanted to drain the swamp, people expected him to clean up politics, not destroy our actual waterways and wetlands. Few things are more fundamental to our health than the water we drink, no one should have to worry about pollution when they turn on the tap. That is exactly what could happen if the Trump Administration succeeds in repealing the Clean Water Rule and that's why so many people have spoken up."
A coalition of nonprofits, including PennEnvironment, American Rivers, Trout Unlimited, the Pennsylvania Council of Churches, Appalachian Mountain Club, PennFuture, Clean Water Action, the National Parks Conservation Association and Coalition for the Delaware River Basin gathered at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Region 3 Offices in Philadelphia today to mark the delivery of these comments
PennEnvironment Research & Policy Center is the statewide research and public education organization dedicated to protecting our air, water, and open spaces. We investigate problems, craft solutions, educate the public and decision-makers. For more information, visit www.PennEnvironment/Center.org