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SELC Challenges Water Protections Repeal

CHARLESTON, S.C. –The Southern Environmental Law Center Wednesday on behalf of several conservation groups challenged the repeal of clean water protections under the Clean Water Act.

Filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of South Carolina, the lawsuit contends that the Environmental Protection Agency and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers violated a long-standing law prohibiting agencies from altering basic environmental safeguards without giving the public adequate notice and opportunity to comment, according to the SELC. The agencies have 60 days to respond to the lawsuit.

“Clean water is a way of life we take for granted in America, but now large polluters are trying to dismantle bipartisan water protections in place for almost 50 years,” said Blan Holman, a managing attorney at the SELC, in a statement. “The administration is pretending that pollution dumped upstream doesn’t flow downstream, but its plan puts the water used by hundreds of millions of Americans for drinking, bathing, fishing, and business at risk. We are going to court to protect clean water across the country.”

The Southern Environmental Law Center filed the challenge on behalf of American Rivers, Charleston Waterkeeper, Chattahoochee Riverkeeper, Clean Water Action, Defenders of Wildlife, Friends of the Rappahannock, National Wildlife Federation, Natural Resources Defense Council, North Carolina Coastal Federation, North Carolina Wildlife Federation and South Carolina Coastal Conservation League.

“Ending science-based protections for the streams our kids play in and fish from, along with wetlands that filter pollution and protect communities from flooding, is reckless and radical,” said Jon Devine, Director of Federal Water Policy for the Natural Resources Defense Council.

“Without the Clean Water Rule’s critical protections, innumerable small streams and wetlands that are essential for drinking water supplies, flood protection, and fish and wildlife habitat would be vulnerable to unregulated pollution, dredging and filling. We will keep fighting for the Clean Water Rule because every American should have clean drinking water and healthy rivers,” said Bob Irvin, president and CEO of American Rivers in a statement.

Jim Murphy, director of Legal Advocacy with the National Wildlife Federation, in a statement said that when Americans are facing increased threats to their drinking water and increasingly intense and damaging storms and floods that threaten communities upstream and down, “we should be strengthening stream and wetland protections, not weakening them. Instead, the agencies’ repeal the Clean Water Rule and rollback of Clean Water Act protections threatens the drinking water supplies of more than 117 million Americans and more than 20 million wetland acres remaining in the continental U.S. The repeal of the 2015 Clean Water Rule will strip the protections that have prevented harmful pollution of the nation’s waterways for decades.”

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The story was compiled by staff members of Coastal Review Online.