8/19: Public Comments on EPA Waters of the United States Rule (WOTUS)
**Deadline September 27** On February 28, 2017 President Trump issued an Executive Order requiring review of the 2015 Waters of the United States Rule (WOTUS). Following extensive expert review and public input this rule was intended to refine the existing Clean Water Act, with a focus on providing protection for smaller streams and wetlands. However, WOTUS was not implemented due to a series of lawsuits brought against it. The EPA has initiated a two-step process designed to eliminate crucial Clean Water Act prohibitions on pollution discharges that have protected our nation’s waterways for more than four decades. The first step toward rescinding WOTUS is currently open for public comment. The second step will include a review of the 1972 Clean Water Act. Directed by Administrator Scott Pruitt, EPA is planning to gut the Clean Water Act by reducing the type and number of waterways to which federal public health and environmental protections can be applied. Pruitt has said that EPA should narrow the definition of WOTUS to only apply to “large bodies of water capable of serving as pathways for interstate commerce.” If the definition is changed, most smaller water bodies in the country would be excluded from Clean Water Act protection – including many, if not most, rivers, lakes, reservoirs, streams, wetlands, and coastal waterways.
EPA Proposed Rule:
EPA-HQ-OW-2017-0203, Definition of “Waters of the United States” – Recodification of Pre-existing Rules
SUGGESTED MEMBER SCRIPT:
“Hi, my name is…, I’m a constituent from “i.e., Durango” zip code 81***. I am writing to voice my opposition to the elimination of clean water protections under the Clean Water Act. The EPA’s plan to review and revise its definition of “waters of the United States” (WOTUS) is an attempt to gut the Clean Water Act and would allow industry to freely pollute water bodies, potentially leading to widespread degradation of waterways. Limiting the scope of the federal Clean Water Act ignores that 1) waterways are connected and pollution moves downstream and 2) just because a stream may flow only seasonally does not mean it does not play an important ecological function, and destroying or polluting it will have widespread impacts.Therefore, I am opposed to limiting the scope of the Clean Water Act to only “large bodies of water capable of serving as pathways for interstate commerce,” and ask that you maintain Clean Water Act protections for historically protected waterways.
WHO TO CONTACT :
United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
Link to EPA’s public comment page: https://goo.gl/2WXQVz
WHEN TO CALL OR WRITE:
The deadline for public comment is September 27th
WHY THIS IS IMPORTANT:
Without federal Clean Water Act protections, industry would be free to discharge untreated toxic, biological, chemical, and radiological pollution directly into water bodies without ensuring their waste will not harm human health or water quality. There has been much confusion and misrepresentation of what WOTUS does and does not do. The EPA prior to 2017 clearly stated WOTUS does not add any new requirements for agriculture or interfere with or change private property rights.
For further information on the 2015 Waters of the United States Rule click on this link to view the EPA website as it existed on January 19, 2017:
To view a current EPA website containing information on the repeal and rulemaking process go to:
A summary of the effort to change the 2015 Waters of the United States Rule is available here: