Chris Wood's statement on Trump's Clean Water Rule order

Photo: An angler fishes a small Montana stream that is protected under the Clean Water Rule. A new executive order begins the process of removing protections from this and thousands of other small headwater streams and wetlands across America. 

Today, President Trump signed an executive order that begins to unravel the protections of the Clean Water Act for small headwater streams.

The Clean Water Rule was finalized in 2015 after more than one million public comments and extensive scientific review. It provides protection to streams and rivers including 60 percent of the stream miles in the U.S. that flow seasonally. 

Protecting these headwaters is important not only to anglers, but also to the one in three Americans whose drinking water comes from small seasonal streams.

The Executive Order directs the Army Corps of Engineers and the EPA to rescind and revise the Clean Water Rule. It also directs the agencies to use former Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia’s minority opinion that said seasonal streams do not merit protection, as a basis for the revision. If Justice Scalia’s direction is followed, 60 percent of U.S. streams and 20 million acres of wetlands would lose protection of the Clean Water Act; an unmitigated disaster for fish and wildlife, hunting and fishing, and clean water. (PDF iconClean Water Rule Factsheet 17-02.pdf.)

Sportsmen and women have a simple question for the President and EPA Administrator Pruitt: Are we going forward or backward on clean water?

Today’s announcement is a big step back. Legally, scientifically and logically a reliance on Justice Scalia’s opinion is wrong-headed—but there’s still time, working through the new rulemaking process, to make it right. When the new Administration replaces the Clean Water Rule, it must listen to the voices of tens of millions of sportsmen and women who want more clean water, more fish and wildlife habitat, and more hunting and angling opportunities.

'If Justice Scalia’s direction is followed, 60 percent of U.S. streams and 20 million acres of wetlands would lose protection of the Clean Water Act; an unmitigated disaster for fish and wildlife, hunting and fishing, and clean water.'

The Trump Administration can change direction on this Rule but they can’t change the fact that clean water is not a political issue. It is a basic right of every American. Gravity works cheap, and it never takes a day off. The Administration cannot stop water flowing downhill—and we all live downstream.

To be effective, the Clean Water Act must be able to control pollution at its source, upstream in the headwaters and wetlands that flow downstream through communities to our major lakes, rivers, and bays. The Administration’s action places the health of 60 percent of the stream miles in the U.S. at risk.

Trout Unlimited intends to work with our hundreds of thousands of members and supporters to reverse course on this misguided direction.

—Chris Wood, President and CEO, Trout Unlimited

Comments

 
said on Friday, March 3rd, 2017

don't talk to me about "legally." that's clearly not the plane you function on. Scalia did not conclude that seasonal streams don't "warrant" protection; he concluded the language of the Clean Water Act did not provide that protection. How bout instead of letting our contributions twist in the winds of intellectually dishonest litigation and regulatory lobbying, you put all that effort (and our money) into getting actual legislation passed that very plainly does protect such waters; and maybe focus on doing it at the state level, where it would be much less subject to constitutional challenges, and arguably easier to pass

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said on Saturday, March 4th, 2017

So your supposition is that Scalia wanted to protect these waters, but just couldn't because the law was so poorly written?   Who is being intellectually dishonest?  

Rivers and streams cross state lines and so should the laws that protect them. 

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said on Monday, March 13th, 2017

Splitting ourselves along political lines will not protect our streams. Long philisophical discussions about what Justice Scalia meant will not help our streams. We all need to work together to put lasting protection in place. Whether you enter the discussion from the left or the right is not important. Whether we work together to protect our waters is. 

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said on Monday, March 20th, 2017

Mr Woods is dead on with his comments concerning our  current administration, you could add to this access to public lands, dumping coal slurry in waterways, defunding protection for the Great Lakes and a multitude of other initiatives to roll back environmental gains.  To suggest that legislative action would be more appropriate at the state level is either dishonest or naive.  Too many states have been gerrymandered over the last 15-20 years and are now under the thrall of commercial interests that only care about the bottom line and not the long term health of our environment; capitalism, corporate profit, AND sound environmental  policies can coexist.   Unfortunately this is a political battle and the lines are crystal clear, either get out and vote for candidates who are environmentally friendly or watch our air, water, and land be ruthlessly exploited for the profit of a few

 

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said on Saturday, April 1st, 2017

Executive orders change with each new Administration and hence all the current Administration is doing is reversing an Executive Order of the last Administration; an executive order that in 2015 had no business being signed in first place because in our Democratic-Republic; we pass laws to address these issues; not Executive Orders; and laws are proposed by Congress and Singed into law by the Pres. The issue is with how the last Admin. abused the Executive Order and used Presidential Kingship to put rules in place that Congress did not act on. Lets all remember one thing "The Ends Never Justifies the Means" !!!

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said on Saturday, April 8th, 2017

Sorry, but I didn't intend to add to your approval total.  The idea that the issue of defining Waters of the US goes back to the previous administration is incorrect.  When the Clean Water Act was signed in 1972, the implementing regulations interpreted the legislative intent as protecting headwater streams and wetlands.  This determination was made in keeping with basic watershed science.  In 2002, during the second Bush administration, the legislative intent of the law was circumvented in favor of mining and logging interests, allowing companies to pollute portions of watersheds that had been previously protected.  Rather than attacking a popular law, the definition of Waters of the US was changed to include only navigable waters (wide and deep enough to support commercial transport).  In 2015, in response to years of research on the damages caused by the 2002 changes, the previous administration restored the definition of Waters of the US to its original intent.  One important implication of doing so was to protect Bristol Bay from mining activities.  Rather than assume that problems were caused by the "guy we didn't vote for," or the guy we didn't like, it is often useful to do a bit of research on the laws and regulations, and how they were developed and interpreted in the first place.

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