Undo the 'Dirty Water Rule'

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Sponsor: The Rainforest Site

Changes to the Clean Water Act have left millions of miles of American rivers and wetlands at risk of industrial pollution.


The Clean Water Act of 1972 established federal protections for all "waters of the United States," but those protections have been under assault by industry, developers, and political gain. The law as it stands today is ineffective and confusing1.

The Clean Water Rule, or "Waters of the United States" -- enacted by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and EPA in 2015 -- provides science-based guidance on how to decide which waters are protected under the Act2.

To appease landowners, the "Navigable Waters Protection Rule" repealed or weakened nearly 100 environmental rules and laws, loosening or eliminating rules on climate change, clean air, chemical pollution, coal mining, oil drilling and endangered species protections3.

The Navigable Waters Protection Rule, also called the "Dirty Water Rule," puts our nation's wetlands and streams at risk of pollution without consequence to those who pollute to increase corporate profit4. It rolls back guaranteed protections to certain wetlands and streams that run intermittently or run temporarily underground, 18 percent of stream and river miles and 51 percent of wetlands5.

Landowners and property developers are now permitted to dump pollutants such as pesticides and fertilizers directly into hundreds of thousands of waterways, and to destroy or fill in wetlands for construction projects3.

This is leaving millions of Americans vulnerable to polluted water5. And a legacy of confusion surrounding the law going forward. Definitions used in the new rule are so vague -- and ignorant of sound science -- that consultants may be required to determine whether a water body falls under federal jurisdiction5.

We're losing wetlands at an alarming rate, putting countless Americans at risk. One need only look at the devastation of Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, Florence, and Michael to see what can happen when wetlands disappear. The Dirty Water Rule makes matters worse by stripping protections from tens of millions of acres of wetlands that communities across the country rely on to absorb floodwaters and filter ground water4.

We cannot allow our country's streams, wetlands, and lakes to be used as a political bargaining chip. The Dirty Water Rule is putting the health of Americans and native flora and fauna at risk, despite the fact that it was based on no scientific, legal, public health, or fiscal sense4.

Sign the petition below and demand stronger protection for the Waters of the United States by restoring the Clean Water Act.

  1. Rebecca Bowe, Earth Justice (21 April 2020), "What the Trump Administration Is Doing to Your Water."
  2. Ryan Richards, Center for American Progress (27 March 2019), "Clean Water Rule: Definition of 'Waters of the United States'."
  3. Coral Davenport, New York Times (6 July 2020), "Trump Removes Pollution Controls on Streams and Wetlands."
  4. Surfrider Foundation (17 December 2018), "Dirty Water Rule."
  5. Ryan Richards, Center for American Progress (27 March 2019), "Debunking the Trump Administration's New Water Rule."
  6. Catherine D. Little, Annie M. Cook, Elizabeth McCormick & Morgan Gerard, Troutman Pepper (3 June 2020), "EPA Overhauls Clean Water Act Section 401 Regulations."
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The Petition:

Environmental Protection Agency Administrator,

The Waters of the United States have been under assault ever since the "Navigable Waters Protection Rule" was put into place. If this "Dirty Water Rule" is not rolled back, the health of millions of Americans will be threatened by water pollution.

The Clean Water Rule, or "Waters of the United States" (WOTUS) -- enacted by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and EPA in 2015 -- provides science-based guidance on how the Corps and the EPA may decide which waters are protected under the Act.

The "Navigable Waters Protection Rule" does not. Its requirements are so vague -- and ignorant of sound science -- that consultants may be required to determine whether a water body falls under federal jurisdiction. In the meantime, Americans and our native flora and fauna are losing their homes or being poisoned.

We're losing wetlands at an alarming rate across the country and it's putting communities at risk. One need only look at the devastation of Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, Florence, and Michael to see what can happen when wetlands disappear.

We cannot allow our country's streams, wetlands, and lakes to be open to pollution of any sort. I demand you remove the "Navigable Waters Protection Rule" from the Clean Water Act and restore this law to the 2015 revision.

Sincerely,

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Signatures: