Conservation groups rally together to voice support for fish and wildlife habitat, wetlands, and headwater streams
Conservation groups are opposing the Administration’s rollback of the 2015 Clean Water Rule, which was finalized today. The Administration’s action will leave roughly 50 percent of wetlands and 60 percent of stream miles across the country vulnerable to pollution and destruction. The 2015 Clean Water Rule had clarified longstanding Clean Water Act protections for millions of acres of wetlands and many headwater streams that protect communities from flooding, contribute to the drinking water supplies of one in three Americans, and provide essential fish and wildlife habitat that supports a robust outdoor recreation economy worth $887 billion.
“Sportsmen and women are outside every day experiencing the benefits of clean water,” says Whit Fosburgh, president and CEO of the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership. “Rolling back these protections for wetlands and headwater streams threatens our hunting and fishing traditions and the outdoor economy that powers our communities.”
“No one wants to fish a lake covered in toxic algae, duck hunt in a bulldozed wetland, or pitch a tent next to a creek filled with feces,” says Collin O’Mara, president and CEO of the National Wildlife Federation. “Unfortunately, this Administration is working on multiple fronts to rewrite the rules that protect our waters, hoping no one will notice. The collective impact of these changes would be devastating for public health and wildlife across the country—and we will continue to fight to protect America’s waterways every step of the way.”
“Clean water is a basic right of every American,” says Chris Wood, president and CEO of Trout Unlimited. “To be effective, the Clean Water Act must be able to control pollution at its source. Unfortunately today’s action by the EPA places the health of 60 percent of the stream miles and the drinking water of one in three Americans at risk. Trout Unlimited will not rest, and will use all of the tools at our disposal, to compel EPA to reverse course on this misguided direction.”
“More than 100 million people across the US engage in fish- and wildlife-based recreation, approximately half of whom participate in fishing,” says Patrick Berry, president and CEO of Fly Fishers International. “It is clear the opportunities available to enjoy these outdoor pursuits is directly limited by the health of our natural systems and their ability to support healthy and abundant populations of fish and wildlife. Rolling back protections of wetlands, our lakes streams and rivers—some of the most diverse and productive wildlife habitats—not only compromises our natural heritage, but threatens the cultural and economic value of recreational fishing.”
“This rule will irreparably impact wetlands in America’s duck factory—the prairie pothole region—and threaten the health of riparian habitat critical for big game and 80 percent of all wildlife species,” says Land Tawney, president and CEO of Backcountry Hunters and Anglers. “Weakened protections translate to lost access and reduced opportunities for hunting and fishing. Hunters and anglers must not stand for shortsighted polices that compromise the integrity of fish and wildlife habitats that have been safeguarded for decades under the Clean Water Act.”
“EPA’s decision to repeal the Clean Water Rule is wholly unsupported by science, can’t be squared with the clear intent of the Clean Water Act, and fails the common sense test,” says Scott Kovarovics, Executive Director of Izaak Walton League of America. “To make matters worse, this is only a prelude to the second blow when EPA finalizes a new rule later this year that will further undermine protections for small streams, wetlands, and drinking water supplies across America.”
“The EPA is tossing out 50 years of peer-reviewed science and in doing so threatens to undermine the integrity of the Nation’s waters that support fish and wildlife,” says Doug Austen, executive director of the American Fisheries Society. “Allowing unchecked pollution and destruction in the waters and wetlands in the upper reaches of a watershed imperils the sustainability of fish stocks in both upstream and downstream waters and places valuable recreational fisheries and endangered species at risk.”
In a 2018 poll, 80 percent of sportsmen and women said Clean Water Act protections should apply to headwater streams and wetlands. Additionally, 92 percent believe that we should strengthen or maintain current clean water standards, not relax them.
More information about the proposed changes to the Clean Water Rule is available HERE.
47 Responses to “Sportsmen and Women: Rolling Back Clean Water Act Will Harm Habitat”
This administration says it’s for Americans. Letting our water to be poisoned is no way to look after the health of this great country!
he ongoing vagueness problem with the Clean Water Act is a concern that the Supreme Court has repeatedly brought up, including then-Justice Anthony Kennedy, who stated in 2016 in the oral argument for Army Corps of Engineers v. Hawkes Co., “[T]he Clean Water Act is unique in both being quite vague in its reach, arguably unconstitutionally vague, and certainly harsh in the civil and criminal sanctions it puts into practice.”
At the start of the Clean Water Act, Congress made it clear that it’s “the policy of the Congress to recognize, preserve, and protect the primary responsibilities and rights of States to prevent, reduce, and eliminate pollution … .”
The Obama rule ignored this state role. When the federal government tries to regulate every water imaginable, it doesn’t leave much room for states and local governments to address water issues.
Critics will argue that getting rid of this vast federal role in regulating waters will undermine water protection. Congress rejected that argument when it passed the Clean Water Act.
Legislators recognized that states should play the lead role in addressing water pollution. That makes sense, because states are in the best position to address most water issues, and that’s because they are closest to the issues and can develop policy that’s tailored to address specific problems.
The Clean Water Act regulations are also just one piece in a massive web of laws and programs that helps to protect surface waters. (In addition to other federal programs and laws, there is, of course, state and local governments.)
It should also be noted that a separate federal law, the Safe Drinking Water Act, protects the water we drink.
Lisa Waite. Your analysis is spot on. Vague definitions of streams, wetlands and seasonal flows have led to unintended consequences for land owners, and inevitably to those who wish to exploit them to frustrate lawful land uses.
There is no evidence that states are better positioned to address clean water. And that’s particularly true when a significant portion of waterways run between states. This is an interstate issue which needs interstate solutions and this was a very problematic roll back of protections. Hunters and anglers should be concerned.
In my opinion, the previous Administration vastly overreached when it amended (basically, by executive order) decades of precedent and body of law to impose the CWA on virtually every inch of soil in America. Many Americans railed against the move then, just as many (including TRCP) rail against the current Administration’s actions. The best solution would seem to be for Congress to clarify the CWA and provide clearer principles and legal guidance for when and how CWA regulations should be implemented going forward. Passage of the LWCA demonstrated that Rs and Ds can work together when they want to.
Despite clearly articulated concerns from countless conservation organizations, we experience yet another assault on the rules protecting our fish and the waters they swim in!
This is outrageous!
We need ” clean water ” just like we need ” clean air ” to survive ! Period !!
Why aren’t they listening to the people?
We as a country must protect our natural resources. Of paramount importance are clean air and clean water. Removing protections will endanger human life as well as wildlife.
The Federal government has zero business providing anything other than roads and military. Each state should have their own ways of providing clean air and water. It wouldn’t hurt to eliminate all of these programs and re-prioritize any funds toward clean water and air– basics. This would level the country for certain, but we should start over, endure the pain, and make things right for our grandchildren. No hand outside, no free rides, no whining, bootstrap your own life and respect the natural environment. If you pollute then you get your ass beat until you’re smart enough not to do it again.
This is what you get when you have a president like Diaper Don the Con, who grew up in limousines and penthouses, selecting Lobbyists for the Coal industry to lead our Environmental PROTECTION Agency. They mask deregulation as “freedom,” but its spineless cowards bending over for energy barons while simultaneously giving the middle finger to our ecosystems and honest men and women who believe in the virtue of stewardship of our land and waterways.
Once again this president has show himself to be no friend to the land, water, air we ALL NEED to live. Just another developer who borrows other peoples money runs in destroys what there and leave the mess for someone else to CLEAN UP
The water on the planet is not up for debate. There is not their water and our water. It’s connected! If you poison the groundwater, it is poisoned! Leave it alone! Get rid of the clown currently running the EPA and put someone in who is really for the environment, not corporations!!!
This Administration is totally insane. Clean water is the baseline of decent living. Just plain Goofy !!!!!!!!!!!!
And in a spite of all the mistakes and down right stupidity that this administration commits sportsman organizations, conservationists, and hunters still support them. Sci is having trump jr. at their convention bragging about how wonderful he is. I am now starting to drop anything that supports them.
Ditto what Lisa Waite said. Also, there will be no reduction in the quality of water we drink or in the quality of any Watershed are and Wildlife Habitats in question.!!! If there is, please advise when and where. Until then, contact your States Fish and Game and ask if they are changing their enforcement …they are NOT, or at least they shouldn’t be.
This is very important. Any wildlife habitat is important. Especially waterways because I feel they are the most vulnerable. They are polluted by roadways and factories more than any other resource. It’s sad to me that politicians have any control over it at all, whether at the state or federal level. It’s common sense to me that we need all of our natural resources to be cared for and that we need to do anything we can to ensure longevity in all categories. I hope for our future generations that it will become common practice.
Keep our water clean from pollution if we don’t we are just going to be one mass of sick and dying wildlife,people and everything around. Take a good look at where we are since tRump started changing all the good others before him have done, he doesn’t give a shot for any of the wildlife or their habitats or for the peoples wishes and safety all he and his cronies cate about is more money in their pockets. Frigging wake up America tRump is killing us slowly an getting richer for it !!
This is painfully ridiculous, I expect there will be enough people who disagree with this mistake to make a change for the better!? Speak up , sign everything you see to oppose this disgrace….
Water quality, like air quality is a federal issue more than a state issue because, like air, water flows between states. Remember the creamy pumpkin color of the mine waste water discharged in Colorado’s Animas River in 2015? You can rest assured New Mexico remembers. Say WY tries to bolster its fading economy by greatly reducing water regulations for coal, gas and oil operations. That waste goes into the Colorado River, which CA, NV and AZ depend on for their domestic water.
The government is not protecting it’s citizens. They are ignoring what the majority want. This needs to change!
This rollback is obscene. All of the hard work sportsman and others have done to clean up and conserve for future generations is now at risk. I’ve never been a single-issue voter but that may be changing now.
I understand that many of the lobby efforts to rollback the CWA come from the Ag community who are unable to irrigate their fields. Not sure if their WOTUS arguments are directly related to the Clean Water Act, but I suspect that some parts of the CWA are hard on our Ag brothers, and that the Trump Administration is trying to help those folks out. It would be nice if the conservation and Ag communities could work together on this to come up with a good compromise.
I’ll vote Democrat over Republican everyday of the week just to protect the outdoors. Democrats did more for TN’s outdoors and it’s hunting rights than any Republican ever has.
You must not have seen California lawmakers at work, They will go way out of their way to make it harder on hunters and they will get around to the fishermen too.
Our wetlands and water quality are to important to be degraded and polluted. This is a terrible plan and should not be policy.
This the way of the trump republicans,take care of oil and gas and coal people,time to put an end to this madness.
Every single person in America who cares at all about our air, land, water, and wildlife have to vote for politicians who support our air, land, water, and wildlife. Trump and his administration and those politicians (sadly many if not most of them Republicans) and organizations who support them are not it. This is not the time to compromise on anything. We will have no healthy air, land, water, or wildlife if this administration and those that support any of them continue to remain in control. Time for Americans to say enough, you will get no support from us if you do not do what is right to protect and defend “this house” – our air, water, land, and wildlife.
I never thought the Reagan era could be surpassed as far as daily attacks on conservation and our environment. This administration only cares about profit and appeasing industry..ridiculous. This must stop and I hope too much damage has not already occurred.
I am way beyond ready for the current administration to go away now, permanently. Method irrelevant!
Hunters and anglers are against the repeal of the Clean Water Act. Has anyone looked at the ridiculous ‘erosion’ control on any road repair job? They are “required” to use to reduce silt runoff into our streams and rivers. Has anyone paid attention to the banks of the Yellowstone and Missouri rivers? One spot is a shoreline that is 2000′ long and has eroded 50′ deep, by 12′ high. What gives a person the idea we can stop ANY amount of erosion using the Clean Water guidelines? They are stupid. Hunters and Anglers, they do not own any of the land they want to save and if they did own any land, they too would feel the heavy handed restrictions limiting their freedoms. They cannot drain a pothole that might float one duck, one time every 5 years, but it is considered a wet land under the old CWA. More rules are never better.
We need to keep the clean water act as it is.
Unfortunately, this administration does NOT care about our environment, water, land , air and wildlife. We must fight and vote for people who care about what we the people care about. Common sense!!
The GOP is morally, ethically and scientifically bankrupt. I no longer will support them. I’m voting Democrat. Hopefully I’ll still have a tree to hug in my old age.
This administration is a National disaster. TR would be fighting mad! All Americans must vote this insanity out in November!
current administration consistently chooses ‘here and now profit’ over everything, there is no honor
Clean water is the foundation for life. It is foolhardy to say the least to remove these protections. Greed drives this change, not common sense.
As we all know, under this administration the EPA as many other Departments have been neutered. The only way policies will change is if we vote out the current occupant of the White House and replace with an occupant that will reverse the damage that has been thrust upon this great nation of ours. It’s up to us, the voters to reverse the direction we are headed in. VOTE!
I see a lot of political agendas here. Lots of Republican bashing. Teddy Rosevelt was a Republican. Just sayin’.
Trump has to be the worst press for sportsmen
Especially If your Senator/s and/or Member of Congress is a Republican you MUST speak up strongly and repeatedly against this and ALL environmental protection rollbacks! The polluters and their DC allies are the only ones who benefit. NOT you, NOT me, NO ONE who truly loves and understands what it means to be an American sportsman or woman. We gotta reject the fear mongering, smear tactics and outright LIES perpetuated by the administration that divide the conservation community. The Ship of State is listing heavily – dangerously – and needs to come back to an even keel.
WHAT THE HECK IS WRONG WITH THE EPA? I WOULD NOT TRUST THEM EVER AFTER THIS! THEY APPEAR TO JUST FOLLOW ALONG . IN MY OPINION, GUTLESS! NO REPSECT HERE!
The ying and yang of ruling by regulation on a poorly written act/law. If you want something to last, make it a law. Regulations are subject to the whems of the current administration, whomever’s that is. As I understand, much of this is a roll back of Obama’s federalization of / changes to / broadening of the Clean Water Act. Thus, what rules one administration can add, another may take away.
Congress should do some actual work for the citizens and improve the Clean Water Act, and we wouldn’t be in this mess…
It would be helpful if the actual final rule was linked to this story so that readers could review the rule themselves.
This is a setback for water quality, habitat and flood risk reduction. Thank you for your position. Undoing this new policy is important; as is providing federal funds to states to protect these wetlands and streams.