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EPA Continues to Loosen Clean Water Act Rules
Risks of More Polluted Water Feared

EPA Continues to Loosen Clean Water Act Rules

The Environmental Protection Agency has historically used the Clean Water Act to block projects deemed as posing to great a risk to the wellbeing of U.S. waterways.

In his campaign promises to "clean the swamp," then-candidate Trump was partly referring to removing long-term politicians and bureaucrats from power and dislodging rules and regulations that hinder the progress of commercial endeavors such as oil and gas development, mineral extraction and infrastructure construction.

And as promised, the administration has rolled back many of those impediments - much to the delight of industrialists and entrepreneurs and to the disdain of environmentalists. In a bit of irony, recent changes by the Environmental Protection Agency to 1972's Clean Water Act has some worried that the symbolic swamp-cleaning that Trump was referring to could actually be leading to more swamp-like conditions in our waterways.

Three actions of the EPA in particular were cited in an opinion piece in The Hill as evidence of this. One was a shortened period for public comment on a proposition "that would eliminate protections for half of America's wetlands and countless miles of smaller streams," states Jim Murphy, who wrote the piece and is the director of legal advocacy for the National Wildlife Federation. This in turn could lead to, among other things, more frequent and larger instances of polluted, flooded areas.

Another was the agency's statement that underwater aquifer systems would lose some of the protections that the Clean Water Act provides against the discharge of pollution and sewage into them, even if those underwater supplies eventually end up in lakes and rivers.

The third act was an order from Trump to the EPA to curtail the time that states have to decide whether to approve or disapprove of federally permitted projects, which without suitable time for investigation and research of the environmental impacts of a given project can of course lead to disastrous results to waterways.

Murphy summed up, "(W)e can't afford to have an administration or an EPA that are willing to risk the health and well-being of all Americans to benefit a few industries that seek to profit from fouling our waters."

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February 17, 2020, 1:43 pm PDT

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