WHAT IT IS
- Feb. 27, 2017: President Trump signed an executive order to roll back the 2015 Clean Water Rule.
- The order directs head of the EPA, Scott Pruitt, to begin the legal process of rewriting the rule.
- The Obama Administration completed the rule in Spring 2015.
- The rule gives the federal government authority to limit pollution in major bodies of water (ex. Chesapeake Bay, Mississippi River, & Puget Sound).
- This includes streams and wetlands draining into larger waters.
WHY IT MATTERS
A similar cost-cutting logic was used in Flint, Michigan. The city’s finances were taken over by the state in 2011 after an audit projected a $25 million deficit, with 41.2 percent of residents live below the poverty line. In order to reduce a water fund shortfall, the city switched water sources in 2014 to the Flint River while awaiting a new pipeline connecting Flint and Lake Huron. Since the switch, the city has continued to use the river despite lead levels as high as 13,200 ppb, 8,200 ppb above the level that classifies water as hazardous waste. It is possible that the neglect of the environment through lack of governmental oversight seen in Flint could be replicated across the country with no policy or law in place.
WHERE WE ARE NOW
- Overturning the rule won’t happen immediately, as the rule is on hold by the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
- The fight is expected to end up in the Supreme Court.
THINGS TO THINK ABOUT
- What’s the larger issue: stifled economic growth or public health?
- Does the federal government have jurisdiction on private property?