The proposed rule will take us back five decades in our effort to clean up our waterways.
BACKGROUND: Today, the Trump administration is attempting to significantly weaken or eliminate clean water protections, threatening drinking water for communities and national park waterways across the country. Reportedly, under the administration’s proposed Waters of the United States (WOTUS) replacement rule, streams that flow only after rainfall will no longer be federally protected from pollution, which will have major impacts on national parks, particularly in the west and other arid regions of the U.S. Additionally, up to half of remaining wetlands in the U.S. could lose protection, adding to water quality problems, hindering the ability of ecosystems to adapt to climate change, diminishing flood control, and eliminating vital habitat for wildlife, including endangered and threatened species.
The original WOTUS rule, also known as the Clean Water Rule, was developed over a multi-year process that included bipartisan support. The goal was to end confusion about which of our nation’s streams, wetlands, lakes and rivers — the source of drinking water for 117 million Americans — are protected under the Clean Water Act. Almost immediately after taking office, President Trump issued an executive order instructing the Environmental Protection Agency and Army Corps of Engineers to revisit the Clean Water Rule.
The National Park Service oversees thousands of miles of waterways and coasts throughout the country – from trout streams in Yellowstone to wetlands in the Everglades. For more than 20 years, national park visitors have consistently ranked water quality or water access as a top-five most valued attribute when visiting national parks. The Outdoor Industry Association found that consumers spend $887 billion annually on outdoor recreation, with nearly $140 billion on kayaking, rafting, canoeing, scuba diving and other water and recreation activities, all of which takes place in our parks.
Statement by Theresa Pierno, President and CEO for National Parks Conservation Association
“We need more protections, not less, when it comes to clean water. The administration wants to roll back water protections for wetlands and small streams, many of which flow in and around our more than 400 national parks. We cannot allow pollution from mining, manufacturing and large farms to flow into small waterways, which will ultimately have harmful impacts on water we all depend on for drinking, fishing, swimming and kayaking. Furthermore, wildlife, some of whom are endangered, rely on healthy parks and waters for the survival of their species.
“The proposed rule will take us back five decades in our effort to clean up our waterways. In fact, the administration’s rule will actually pave the way for pollution that threatens our drinking water and national park waterways.
“We must ensure clean water protections extend to all streams, wetlands, lakes and rivers that contribute to the health of larger water bodies downstream, and our communities, parks and wildlife that depend on them. To eliminate commonsense protections for our nation’s waters, which serves to ensure our children, communities and our national parks have clean water, is a waste of taxpayer time and money. We will fight to ensure the highest level of protections for our nation’s waters – for our health, our communities and our parks.”
About National Parks Conservation Association Since 1919, the nonpartisan National Parks Conservation Association has been the leading voice in safeguarding our national parks. NPCA and its more than 1.3 million members and supporters work together to protect and preserve our nation’s most iconic and inspirational places for future generations. For more information, visit www.npca.org.
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Angela GonzalesAssociate Director, Communications