According to an article by the Society of Environmental Journalists, the future of the Clean Water Act is one of twelve alarming environmental issues that Americans should be aware of under the upcoming Trump administration.
“Clean water, crystal clean water is vitally important. Safety is vitally important,” Trump said in an interview with the New York Times [NYT] in November 2016.
Environmental activists are unsure of this statement, as Trump also claimed at the North Dakota Petroleum Conference in May 2016 that he plans to “rescind all the job-destroying Obama executive actions, including the Climate Action Plan and the Waters of the U.S. rule [Clean Water Act].”
The Environmental Protection Agency’s [EPA] Clean Water Act regulates hazardous pollutants to ensure water quality and human health. The Act was established in 1948, but the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System [NPDES] program was formed when the Act expanded in 1972. In order to legally discharge certain contaminants into surface waters, U.S. citizens must obtain a NPDES permit.
In Army Corps of Engineers v. Hawkes Co. Inc. [October 2016], the Supreme Court decided “unanimously that a landowner can appeal through the federal court system a determination from the Army Corps of Engineers that a water body is subject to federal jurisdiction and permit requirements under the Clean Water Act,” shared a story by The Hill.
The decision of the case went against the Obama administration, who aimed for more strict permit guidelines. This pivotal outcome works in favor of Trump, as he is an advocate for less intrusive executive control.
“Overregulation costs our economy two trillion dollars a year and reduces household wealth by almost fifteen thousand. I propose a moratorium on new federal regulations that are not compelled by Congress or public safety,” Trump said during his speech to the Economic Club of New York in September 2016.
On November 22nd, Trump officially announced Myron Ebell as head of the EPA transition team. A NYT article called Ebell a “climate change contrarian” and that his “organization is financed in part by the coal industry.” At the United Nations’ Paris Climate Change Conference in 2015, Ebell was deemed “wanted” for being a global warming doubter, shared another NYT story.
“We want safety regulations. We want environmental regulations. We’re not people that don’t want these things. We have to have that. We want clean air. We want clean water. To do that, you don’t have to destroy our country and destroy our businesses,” Trump declared at a rally in North Carolina in August 2016.
Future Clean Water Act determinations made by the incoming political leaders will impact local communities in Georgia and states beyond. Come January, there will be many skeptics of Donald Trump who will analyze him and his decision-making very closely; nature conservationists are surely some on the top of the list.
Environmentalists question whether the President-elect will continue to make it accessible for Americans to appeal against judgements of the EPA, or will he dismantle the EPA and Clean Water Act all together. What do you think? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.
(Analysis and Commentary by Mari Kasuya)