Proposed Repeal of “Clean Water Rule” Disregards Clean Water Act’s Objective, Lacks Factual and Legal Foundation, and Ignores and Contradicts Previous Findings.
New York, NY - August 15, 2018 - Attorney General Barbara D. Underwood, leading a coalition of 12 Attorneys General, today called on the Trump Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Army Corps of Engineers (ACOE) to abandon their proposal to dismantle the “Clean Water Rule,” a fundamental clean water regulation adopted in 2015. In detailed comments submitted to Acting EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler and Assistant Secretary for the Army for Civil Works R.D. James, the coalition contends that the repeal of the rule – and reestablishment of the dated, problematic regulations that the rule replaced – “would be arbitrary and capricious and not in accordance with law.” The coalition calls on EPA and ACOE to proceed no further with the repeal.
Today’s comments follow a lawsuit filed earlier this year by the New York Attorney General following the Trump administration’s suspension of the Clean Water Rule.
“New Yorkers’ health, environment, and economy depend on clean water,” Attorney General Underwood said. “Yet the Trump EPA continues to turn its back on the science and law, threatening New York’s decades-long fight to ensure our residents’ access to safe, healthy water. We will continue to fight back against this reckless rollback of Clean Water Act protections, and the Trump administration’s continued assault on our nation’s core public health and environmental protections.”
Joining Attorney General Underwood in the comments are the Attorneys General of California, Connecticut, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington, and the District of Columbia.
The Trump Administration proposed rule seeks to repeal the Clean Water Rule, adopted by the Agencies in 2015 to clarify what types of waters are covered by – and thereby are afforded protection under – the Clean Water Act. The 2015 Rule rests on a massive factual record. It was developed through an extensive multi-year public outreach process that elicited over one million public comments, and was based on over 1,200 peer-reviewed scientific studies demonstrating how waters are connected by networks of tributaries, intermittent streams, and wetlands. In the 2015 Rule, the EPA and ACOE also relied on EPA’s Science Advisory Board’s independent review of the Rule’s scientific underpinnings.
In their comments, the coalition provides evidence that the proposed repeal rule fails to consider important issues, lacks factual and legal support, and ignores and directly contradicts the Agencies’ previous findings and conclusions without a reasoned basis. The coalition also argues that, in proposing to repeal the Clean Water Rule, the EPA and ACOE have failed to assess the impact that repeal would have on the Clean Water Act’s objective “to restore and maintain the chemical, physical, and biological integrity of the Nation’s waters.”
The comments are intended to supplement comments submitted by the Attorneys General of New York, California, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Oregon, Vermont, Washington, and the District of Columbia in September 2017 in opposition to the Trump Administration’s proposal to repeal the 2015 Rule.
This matter is being handled for Attorney General Underwood by Assistant Attorneys Timothy Hoffman, Philip Bein, and Environmental Scientist Jennifer Nalbone of the Environmental Protection Bureau. The Environmental Protection Bureau is led by Bureau Chief Lemuel M. Srolovic and is part of the Division of Social Justice, which is led by Executive Deputy Attorney General for Social Justice Matthew Colangelo.