Washington, D.C. — The Trump administration’s proposed “Waters of the United States” rule appears to be a giveaway to the mining industry that would hamstring efforts to effectively protect the nation’s waters from pollution, according to a new column from the Center for American Progress.
The U.S. Geological Survey has estimated that the rule would remove federal protections from 51 percent of wetlands and 18 percent of stream and river miles in the United States, putting protections at their lowest levels since the Reagan administration and leaving millions of Americans vulnerable to polluted water.
The column finds that while farm groups opposing the new rule have received most of the media attention, lobbying records indicate that since 2017, the National Mining Association alone has spent $3.5 million on lobbying activities related to the new rule and several coal and hard-rock mining companies list millions of dollars in advocacy for the rule in their lobbying reports.
Despite the Trump administration’s claim that the changes were made to simplify what waterways are covered by the Clean Water Act, a close reading of the rule suggests that the changes add little clarity. This would place further stress on farmers and landowners who are making good-faith efforts to follow the law. The rule’s narrowed definitions would overwhelm states with new regulatory responsibilities and hamstring the booming restoration economy.
Read the analysis: Debunking the Trump Administration’s New Water Rule by Ryan Richards
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