Washington, D.C. – Today, President Donald Trump signed an executive order instructing the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to withdraw its defense of the Clean Water Rule in federal court. Ben Hellerstein, State Director for Environment Massachusetts, issued the following statement:
"President Trump's order turns the mission of the Environmental Protection Agency on its head: Instead of protecting the drinking water sources for one in three Americans, he is telling the EPA to stop protecting these waters from polluters. It defies common sense, sound science and the will of the American people.
"Clean water is vital to our ecology, our health, and our quality of life. We depend on our rivers and streams for safe drinking water.
"That is why more than 800,000 Americans – including more than 1,000 business owners, local officials, farmers, and health professionals – all supported the historic Clean Water Rule. In fact, 79 local officials and 234 businesses recently joined Environment Massachusetts Research & Policy Center and its sister organizations across the country on amicus briefs in defense of the Rule in court."
Finalized in 2015 with widespread public and scientific support, the Clean Water Rule restored protections for and thousands of waters across the country – including 52 percent of Massachusetts' streams, which feed waterways like the Charles River and Connecticut River and help provide drinking water to 4.9 million Massachusetts residents.
Polluters and their allies have sought to overturn the Clean Water Rule in court, and the Trump administration announced its intent to dismantle the Rule in a statement shortly after Inauguration Day. Today’s executive order instructs the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to move forward with a new rulemaking that would remove protections restored under the Clean Water Rule. The order also instructs the agency to stop defending the Rule – even to withdraw the extensive brief the agency already filed with the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals.
Environment Massachusetts is the statewide, citizen-funded advocacy group working for a cleaner, greener, healthier future.