On June 27, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott Pruitt moved to roll back the Clean Water Rule, which protects 2 million miles of drinking water sources for 117 million Americans.
Just weeks after taking office, President Trump had ordered Pruitt to repeal and rewrite the rule, which was designed to plug a gaping loophole in the Clean Water Act that left the law’s protection of many streams and wetlands in question.
When the Trump administration’s latest announcement came, Environment America and our state affiliates were ready. We released a statement, the Associated Press picked it up, and within 24 hours, our message had reached the readers and viewers of over 100 news outlets, including ABC, NBC, Fox News, the Washington Post and The New York Times.
"Clean water is vital to our ecology, our health and our quality of life," Environment America Senior Attorney John Rumpler said in the statement. "Repealing the Clean Water Rule turns the mission of the EPA on its head."
Next, our clean water team enlisted 1,000 business, political and thought leaders to voice their support of the Clean Water Rule. Our state leaders submitted op-eds and letters to the editors of dozens of local papers as well as national media outlets like The New York Times and CNBC.
Our defense of the Clean Water Rule is part of a larger effort to stop the Trump administration and Congress from dismantling key environmental protections. This summer, Environment America and our state affiliates are running a $7.5 million public education campaign on the issue. With more than 30 campaign offices in 22 states and the District of Columbia, we’re aiming to hold face-to-face conversations with 1 million Americans, and reach Congress and the EPA with 350,000 petition signatures, public comments, phone calls and emails.
Clean water has long been a priority for Environment America and The Public Interest Network. We were instrumental in establishing the Clean Water Rule in the first place. Over nearly a decade, we recruited and mobilized a diverse and powerful coalition, rallying civic leaders and ordinary citizens to demand action to close the loophole in the Clean Water Act.
Together with our allies, we gathered more than 800,000 public comments, held more than half a million face-to-face conversations, and united more than 1,000 farmers, business owners and local elected officials behind us. Our national team held meetings with more than 50 congressional offices to urge them to champion clean water. Environment America Research & Policy Center published extensive research into threats to America’s waterways and highlighted Clean Water Act success stories.
Those efforts came to fruition when President Obama finalized the Clean Water Rule in 2015. But with the rule under attack in the courts, in Congress and now in the administration, our work is far from done.
Now, our canvassers are putting on sunscreen, filling up their water bottles, and hitting the sidewalks to defend clean water, as well as clean air, public lands and climate progress. They’re knocking on doors and rallying support from Maine to California, from Minnesota to Texas.
Meanwhile, Environment America is also running a campaign to get the lead out of the drinking water of America’s schools. And our litigation team is taking action against water polluters in Florida, Pennsylvania and Massachusetts. For more on our work on clean water, visit EnvironmentAmerica.org or EnvironmentAmericaCenter.org.