Clean water is under attack.
Clean water is under attack – on protections against future pollution and on the tools to clean up current contaminated sites. The Trump administration is trying to weaken the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) by repealing the Clean Water Rule and gutting the EPA budget, especially for the Superfund program. There are two actions you can take to fight this attack and protect clean water and healthy Montana rivers: Ask your representatives to 1. defend the Clean Water rule (anchor to info); 2. fully fund EPA and its essential Superfund program (anchor to info).
What to do:
- Send comments opposing the repeal of the Clean Water Rule to the EPA before September 27.
- Submit comments online.Click on the link for “Definition of Waters of United States – Recodification of Pre-Existing Rules”
- Include docket # in comments: Docket ID No. EPA-HQ-OW-2017-0203
Sample comment text:
I oppose the Environmental Protection Agency’s and Army Corps of Engineers’ proposal to repeal the 2015 Clean Water Rule. The widely-supported Clean Water Rule helps the Clean Water Act achieve its goals by clarifying which waters are protected by the Act. It better protects millions of acres of small streams and wetlands that serve as critical fish and wildlife habitat as well as provide the drinking water for 117 million Americans. The rule is guided by sound science, extensive and transparent public input, and the law.
I oppose this effort to repeal the 2015 Clean Water Rule and attack the safeguards that have protected our nation’s waters for decades. I urge the Administration to withdraw this proposal immediately. Any potential revision to the 2015 Clean Water Rule must help achieve the goals of the Clean Water Act, and must be based on a rulemaking process that is robust, inclusive, transparent, science-based, and legally sound.
- Contact your congressional delegation and demand that they fully fund the EPA.
- In Montana contact:
Sample comment text:
Water is central to everything we care about in Montana, so I’m demanding that you support a fully funded EPA, a fully funded Superfund program, and a robust regulatory framework that helps Montana communities and rivers recover from pollution mistakes of the past.
The ecological and economic results really stack up for communities when Superfund resources are in play. Silver Bow Creek in Butte and at the Clark Fork-Blackfoot confluence were near dead in terms of aquatic life and community contributions just 10 years ago. Thanks to EPA and Superfund, they’re cleaned up and paying dividends for people, fish, and wildlife.
There’s still a lot of work to do—in Butte, Anaconda, Opportunity, the Deer Lodge Valley, and at the Smurfit-Stone site in Frenchtown. And that’s not even the whole picture. Many other Montana communities live with pollution from years past, and are counting on Superfund to build a better future.
A fully funded Superfund is the best way to keep our land, water, and communities clean and safe.
Clean Water Rule
Since 1972 the landmark Clean Water Act (CWA) has protected clean water resources and dramatically improved water quality in communities across the country, protecting them from pollution and toxic dumping. Now this bedrock environmental law is threatened as never before, with proposed debilitating budget cuts and threats to delegitimize the CWA itself.
The most recent attack on clean water protections is the Trump administration’s proposal to repeal the Clean Water Rule (CWR) – a set of regulations established in 2015 that clarifies the CWA’s protection of headwater streams, wetlands, and drinking water sources. These rules were established after years of research and public outreach, and enjoyed broad support from the public and other stakeholders when passed.
More about the Clean Water Rule:
The Clean Water Rule was passed in 2015 to clarify unresolved questions about which water resources in the United States are subject to the requirements of the Clean Water Act and fall under EPA’s jurisdiction.
Years of scientific study, agency review, and public input went into the creation of the Rule. Outreach included 400+ meetings with states, small businesses, farmers, academics, miners, energy companies, counties, municipalities, environmental organizations, federal agencies, and others. The EPA received more than 1 million public comments on the rule, the vast majority of which (87%) supported it.
In the end, the Rule was built around recognition of:
- the key role headwaters and tributary streams play in maintaining the chemical, physical, and biological integrity of downstream waters;
- the fundamental importance of wetlands and open waters to protecting clean water and maintaining the ecological integrity of our watersheds;
- the vital importance of clean water to a strong and healthy economy
As such, the CWR includes strong protections for headwaters and tributary streams. In fact, the Rule protects 60% of the streams in the United States, along with 20 million acres of vitally important wetlands. In fact, one in three Americans get their drinking water from sources that the original Clean Water Act did not protect, but which did receive protections under the CWR.
The Rule also recognizes the water use needs of agricultural producers, and includes a number of exclusions/exemptions that protect ranchers and eliminates confusion for landowners, municipalities, and small businesses.
Still, many misperceptions persist about the CWR and are cited in current attempts to repeal it. Popular myths are that it regulates ditches and puddles, constitutes an EPA land grab, regulates where livestock are allowed to walk, and triggers excessive lawsuits. We tackle each of these myths below:
Myth v. Reality
Rules don’t solve every problem. But the Clean Water Rule, as a clarification of Clean Water Act jurisdiction, provides critically important protections for some of our most important water resources. It protects people, communities, and fish and wildlife from pollution, and prevents toxic dumping in some of our most vulnerable creeks and streams.
We can’t risk contaminating our most precious natural resource. And as threats to our waterways continue to grow, we need rock-solid protections in place to ensure that the springs, headwater streams, wetlands, and tributaries that help define western Montana are clean, safe, and secure for the long term.
What’s at risk in western Montana?
The Clean Water Rule helps protect innumerable creeks, streams, and tributaries in western Montana that had been in limbo, or were not protected at all, under the Clean Water Act.
This is because protections for so-called “intermittent reaches,” or portions of streams that do not flow year-round, were unclear under the CWA. The 2015 Clean Water Rule helped clarify where the Clean Water Act applies.
Biologists have long known that intermittent stream reaches are critical for native fish species – providing spawning habitat, migration corridors, and protection from predators as well as dangerously warm stream temperatures.
In western Montana, such streams include familiar waterways used by countless anglers, hunters, and others, including:
- Petty Creek
- Fish Creek
- Trout Creek
- Monture Creek
- Dunham Creek
- Landers Fork of the Blackfoot River
- North Fork of the Blackfoot River
- Dry Cottonwood Creek (one of our “Eight Gr8 streams” in the Upper Clark Fork)
- Many, many others