'Sixty percent of U.S. waterways will be at risk for pollution from corporate giants, critics say, following the Trump administration's announcement Tuesday that it will roll back an Obama-era water rule meant to protect Americans' drinking water and all the waterways that flow into it.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced that the Obama administration's 2015 Waters of the U.S. rule (WOTUS) rule would be redefined and no longer protect many of the nation's streams and wetlands.
"This is an early Christmas gift to polluters and a lump of coal for everyone else," said Bob Irvin, president of the national advocacy group American Rivers. "Too many people are living with unsafe drinking water. Low-income communities, indigenous peoples, and communities of color are hit hardest by pollution and river degradation."
.@EPA is gutting the Clean Water Act.
This move would strip federal protections from an estimated 60-90% of US waterways — all so industries can pollute and destroy those waterways. #ProtectCleanWaterhttps://t.co/kRp0PY2LW7
— Friends of the Earth (@foe_us) December 11, 2018
Under the Trump administration's proposal, which Common Dreams reported as imminent last week, streams that flow only after rainfall or snowfall will no longer be protected from pollution by developers, agricultural companies, and the fossil fuel industry. Wetlands that are not connected to larger waterways will also not be protected, with developers potentially able to pave over those water bodies.
EPA Acting Administrator Andrew Wheeler suggested that WOTUS had created unfair roadblocks for industries, farmers, and ranchers who wanted to build and work near the nation's waterways and were kept from doing so because of the potential for water pollution.
But green groups slammed the EPA for once again putting the interests of businesses ahead of the families which rely on the rule that keeps at least 60 percent of the nation's drinking water sources safe from pollution while also protecting wildlife and ecosystems which thrive in wetlands across the country.'
Read more: In Early Holiday 'Gift to Polluters,' Trump Guts Protections for 60 Percent of Nation's Streams, Wetlands, and Waterways