Press Release Jan 23, 2020

Trump Administration Dismantles Clean Water Rule Days After Gutting National Environmental Policy Act, Putting Park Waters Further at Risk

The administration’s rollback of clean water protections is a devasting blow to our national parks and surrounding communities. 

Washington, DC – Today, the Trump administration announced its final rewrite of the 2015 Waters of the United States (WOTUS) rule, also known as the Clean Water Rule. The revised water rule eliminates protections for more than half of America’s wetlands, along with many rivers and streams that were once protected under the Clean Water Act — threatening drinking water for millions of people and national park waterways across the country.

The administration’s revised water rule paves the way for more pollution from mining, manufacturing and large farms to flow into waterways, which will ultimately impact water that we all depend on for drinking, fishing and swimming. Today’s announcement comes just two weeks after the administration’s rollback of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) that requires government agencies to carefully consider public health and our environment before permitting proposed projects on federal lands, while also giving the public a voice in the process. The administration continues to go to great lengths to dismantle some of our country’s bedrock environmental laws, paving the way for industry interest and at the expense of our public lands and environment.

Statement from Theresa Pierno, President and CEO for National Parks Conservation Association:

“The administration’s rollback of clean water protections is a devasting blow to our national parks and surrounding communities. With two-thirds of national park waters impaired and many communities living with unsafe drinking water, we need more protections for our waterways, not less.

“In just two weeks, the administration has dismantled two of our nation’s most fundamental environmental laws. These bipartisan laws were put in place to protect human health and our environment, including the waterways we use for drinking, swimming and fishing. Today’s action erases decades of progress in our efforts to clean up America’s waters, paving the way for more pollution that threatens our national park waterways from trout streams in Yellowstone to wetlands in the Everglades. NPCA will continue to fight to ensure the protection of our waterways for our health, our communities, our parks and all who rely on them.”

BACKGROUND: The Trump administration announced its final repeal of the 2015 Waters of the United States (WOTUS) rule in September 2019. The original WOTUS 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 millions of 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. Today’s final rule completes this process.

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. Not every park has a water resource, however out of the 356 parks that do, two-thirds have water quality that is impaired. 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.

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About the National Parks Conservation Association: Since 1919, the nonpartisan National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA) has been the leading voice in safeguarding our national parks. NPCA and its nearly 1.4 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.