Clean Water Rule Update

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As promised during last year’s presidential campaign, President Trump is starting the process of repealing the Clean Water Rule. The rule clarifies which waters come under federal protection through the Clean Water Act. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Army Corps of Engineers sent a proposal to the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) to repeal the rule – a step required before the proposal can be published in the Federal Register for public notice and comment.

Implementation of the Clean Water Rule, which was finalized in May 2015, has been under a nationwide stay imposed by the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. The U.S. Supreme Court has also been asked to review whether the Circuit Court of Appeals or federal District Courts should hear numerous legal challenges to the rule.

OIRA has 90 days to review the proposal, after which the agency could send the proposal back to EPA and the Corps to be posted in the Federal Register for public comment. The Trump Administration must scientifically back its proposal to repeal the Clean Water Rule. It’s still unclear how the administration will try to dispute a lengthy technical report that supplemented the 2015 rule as well as a review of the Clean Water Rule from the EPA's Science Advisory Board.

The League and many other conservation organizations support the Clean Water Rule. Waters protected under the rule serve as the source of drinking water to one in three Americans – that’s 117 million people. Those waters are also critical to habitat for many species of fish and wildlife and outdoor recreation opportunities nationwide. The League will send out an action alert soon to help League members tell congressional representatives that they oppose this change.