Senators push for more time on Clean Water Rule

This week, 22 Senate Democrats pushed to extend the timeframe for public input on the repeal of a rule that protected more than 60 percent of stream miles in the United States.

Led by Sen. Tom Carper, the group sent a letter to the Environmental Protection Agency and U.S. Army Corp of Engineers requesting they extend the short 30 day comment period on the repeal.

This letter is a great show of support for clean water protections from these Senate leaders. And TU thanks each and every one of them. The Clean Water Rule was developed over the course of years, informed by extensive public comment and rooted in a record of scientific study. Following an Executive Order from President Trump, the EPA is now undertaking the process of reversing this process by repealing and replacing the Clean Water Rule. What took years of deliberative thought to build, the EPA would deconstruct with no more than a 30 day comment period.

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These Senators are right to push for more time to consider input and we hope that EPA agrees to extend the comment period.

We all deserve clean water and air. This is not and should not be a privilege reserved for the few. After the exhaustive effort that went into creating the 2015 Clean Water Rule, it’s only fair to provide the public ample opportunity to voice their opinion as they try to repeal and replace the rule.

The order, signed earlier this year by the Trump Administration, rolls back the 2015 rule that reinstated and clarified the protections that were in place for small and intermittent streams for the first 30 years of the Clean Water Act. The subsequent repeal puts at risk the drinking water of one in three Americans, critical habitat and spawning grounds for our country’s fish and wildlife populations, and most headwater streams, the last refuges for many species coping with climate change.

The process for repealing and replacing the rule was announced earlier this month, but the 30 day comment period on the repeal has yet to open.

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“The 30-day comment period EPA proposes in its Notice of Proposed Rulemaking is far too short to allow full review, careful analysis, and heartfelt feedback from as many of the millions of Americans potentially impacted by this endeavor as wish to share their views, including the 117 million (or one in three Americans) who receive drinking water from the waterbodies affected by this proposal,” the senators wrote.

“We would urge you to extend that comment period to at least the same duration as offered by the previous Administration when it first proposed the 2015 rule – 90 days. As you know, EPA and the Corps of Engineers extended the comment period twice in response to requests to do so, resulting in over 180 days of input. The full comment period extended from April 21—November 14, 2014, yielding more than a million comments. It makes no sense to deny affected and concerned Americans the same opportunity to weigh in on your proposal to rescind that rule.”

Learn more about the Clean Water Rule

Read Trout Unlimited’s Presdient and CEO Chris Wood’s statement on the executive order to repeal and replace the Clean Water Rule

By Shauna Stephenson. Shauna Stephenson has been a writer, photographer, communicator and conservationist for nearly two decades, the past decade being spent at Trout Unlimited, working on projects…