The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) announced a final “Waters of the U.S. Rule” on January 23rd. This rule replaces a 2015 Rule, which clarified the extent of jurisdictions for clean water act protections. This new 2020 rule not only reverses the clarifications made in the 2015 rule, but further reverses protections that have been in place dating back to the 1970s. To read the announcement, click on Announcement. Trout Unlimited believes the new rule will remove Clean Water Act protections for as many as six million miles of “ephemeral” streams, along with millions of acres of wetlands— a rollback to levels not seen in generations. To read their fact sheet, click on Facts.
The EPA is also taking aim at the authority of States and Tribes to protect water resources through the Section 401 water quality certification process. The proposed rule would vastly undercut state and tribal authority to protect coldwater resources. In issuing this proposal, the EPA rejects decades of administrative practice and directly defies numerous judicial interpretations, including at least two Supreme Court rulings. It is not overstatement to say that we are facing one of the greatest threats to the Clean Water Act in its long and effective history.
If you’re concerned about the effect these changes will have, Trout Unlimited has suggestions regarding ways to communicate with your congressmen. Click on Communicate.