The Clean Water Blog

Stream, image from the surface of the water. Photo credit: Olesya Mishkina / Shutterstock

Scott Pruitt: Rigging The System Against Clean Water

Instead of ensuring vital parts of our nation's water infrastructure are safeguarded, under Scott Pruitt the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has proposed to retroactively delay protections for streams, wetlands, and drinking water sources while the agency works on its reckless plan to repeal and replace the Clean Water Rule.

If that sounds strange to you, it is.

This proposal is a pathetic attempt to hide the fact that even Scott Pruitt knows he can't justify his reckless plan to repeal commonsense protections for precious water resources, including drinking water sources. If Pruitt truly cared about clean water, he would instruct EPA to enforce the Clean Water Rule as soon as his agency is able to. But he knows once people see the Rule works and his special interest talking points claiming government overreach have no basis in reality, his case to eliminate the Rule will collapse.

Even with what we know about Scott Pruitt - that he has a completely different view from most of us about what  EPA's mission is and that he will do anything industry asks of him - you might wonder why he would waste time delaying the Clean Water Rule when EPA is going to rewrite it in the next few months. Here's where it gets a little complicated.

In 2015 special interests and their allies in some states sued to stop the Clean Water Rule. Two federal courts issued stays, stopping EPA from enforcing these commonsense safeguards. Right now the Supreme Court is considering whether challenges to the 2015 Rule belong in federal appeals or district courts. If the Court decides the legal challenges belong in district courts, one of the stays would be lifted and the Clean Water Rule would immediately go into effect in the 37 states not covered by the other stay from a U.S. District Court for the District of North Dakota. So Pruitt wants to delay the Clean Water Rule for at least two years to give the EPA more time to write a replacement, in case the Supreme Court voids the October 2015 nationwide stay. He doesn't want people to see these protections in action.

Scott Pruitt is wasting taxpayer money and leaving water resources at risk because his scheme to repeal and replace the Clean Water Rule has no legal or scientific basis - it's simply another giveaway to his industry allies. His entire campaign to gut the Rule also flies in the face of public opinion. The vast majority of public comments supported the 2015 Clean Water Rule and overwhelming majorities of Americans expect EPA to protect clean water and public health. But instead of listening to the public, Scott Pruitt is putting polluters and special interests first.

More than 200 organizations and thousands of individuals submitted comments rejecting Pruitt's proposed delay and urged EPA to protect clean water as soon as possible. More than 550,000 people told Scott Pruitt's EPA repealing the 2015 Clean Water Rule is a terrible idea. The question is will our voices be heard?

If Pruitt is going to continue his dishonest campaign to weaken protections for streams, wetlands, and drinking water he should know Clean Water Action and our nearly one-million members will be fighting back, every step of the way.