For Immediate Release: Wednesday, April 29, 2020
Contact: Kyla Bennett (508) 230-9933; Kirsten Stade firstname.lastname@example.org
EPA Rule Paves Way for Destruction of Wetlands and Small Streams
CHARLESTON, S.C. – Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) joined 13 conservation groups today in filing a lawsuit in federal court against the Trump Administration’s effort to eliminate clean water protections for wetlands and streams that feed drinking-water sources for 200 million Americans. The legal challenge, filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of South Carolina, opens a major court battle over the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ re-definition of what waters are protected under the Clean Water Act that leaves many waterways, as well as the communities and wildlife that rely on them, unprotected.
The Southern Environmental Law Center filed today’s challenge on behalf of PEER and American Rivers, Charleston Waterkeeper, Chattahoochee Riverkeeper, Clean Water Action, Defenders of Wildlife, Environment America, Friends of the Rappahannock, James River Association, National Wildlife Federation, North Carolina Coastal Federation, North Carolina Wildlife Federation, Roanoke River Basin Association and South Carolina Coastal Conservation League.
The lawsuit contends that the agencies’ wholesale stripping of protections was an unlawful departure from decades of bipartisan practice. PEER earlier filed a Scientific Integrity Complaint with EPA that demonstrated that the drafting of the rule by EPA deliberately ignored, or shunted aside, the agency’s scientific integrity requirements. PEER’s Complaint relied on confidential disclosures provided by several still-active EPA scientists, and was endorsed by a large number of retired EPA and U.S. Army Corps officials.
“Trump’s proposed waters of the U.S. (WOTUS) rule not only ignores basic science, but is contrary to the Clean Water Act’s goal of protecting the integrity of America’s waterways,” stated PEER Science Policy Director Kyla Bennett, a scientist and attorney formally with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. “This was the key point in PEER’s Scientific Integrity Complaint, and is corroborated by EPA’s own Science Advisory Board, which warned that the proposed rule flew in the face of established studies and research.”
The agencies’ bid to dramatically reduce water protections was met with overwhelming opposition, with the bulk of more than 600,000 comments submitted from across the country opposed to the stripping away the Clean Water Act’s reach.