Watchdog: Pruitt all wet on critical Clean Water Rule

Clean getaway: Environmentalists want no part of EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt's proposal to rescind the 2015 Clean Water Rule.
By HEATHER LEIBOWITZ, ESQ. //

Today, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt proposed repealing the 2015 Clean Water Rule, which restored federal protections to half our nation’s streams and thousands of wetlands across the country.

Repealing the Clean Water Rule turns the mission of the EPA on its head: Instead of safeguarding our drinking water, the Trump administration is proposing to stop protecting drinking water sources for more than 11 million New Yorkers.

It defies common sense, sound science and the will of the people of New York.

Clean water is vital to our ecology, our health and our quality of life. New York’s waterways should be clean – for swimming, drinking and supporting wildlife.

On a national level, we are already seeing drinking water contaminated by algal blooms and toxic chemicals, and a dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico that scientists now estimate will be the size of New Jersey this summer. The last thing we should do is weaken protections for our water.

Heather Leibowitz: “Reckless repeal” is a serious environmental threat.

Finalized in 2015 with widespread public and scientific support, the Clean Water Rule restored federal protections to over 28,000 miles of New York’s streams. These streams and headwaters feed waterways like the Great Lakes, the Long Island Sound and the Hudson River, while helping to provide drinking water to 11 million New Yorkers.

The rule also protects wetlands, which help filter out pollutants and provide wildlife habitat.

More than 67,000 New Yorkers and over 800,000 Americans – including business owners, local officials, farmers, health professionals and others – supported the historic Clean Water Rule.

On the other side, the most vociferous opponents of the rule include the oil and gas industries, coal companies, developers and lobbyists for corporate agribusiness.

We call on the EPA to reconsider this reckless repeal and stand up for our drinking water, not for polluters.

Ms. Leibowitz is the director of Environment New York, a statewide advocacy organization.