Action Would Weaken Protections for Vernal Pools, Prairie Potholes
WASHINGTON –- (RealEstateRama) — The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced a proposed rule today that would rescind the 2015 Clean Water Rule in its entirety and roll back the framework used to protect wetlands, rivers and streams under the Clean Water Act to the 1986 regulations.
Today’s action follows an executive order signed by President Trump that required the EPA to replace the rule with a very narrow interpretation of the Clean Water Act’s ability to protect wetlands and other water bodies.
“Scott Pruitt is smashing everything he touches at the EPA,” said Kierán Suckling, executive director of the Center for Biological Diversity. “Revoking the clean water rule will open the door to polluting and bulldozing some of America’s most important wetlands. From vernal pools in California to prairie pothole ponds in the Midwest, small wetlands provide essential habitat to hundreds of endangered species, birds and migrating wildlife.”
Trump’s executive order requires the EPA to adopt a narrow interpretation of the Clean Water Act advanced by Justice Scalia in the 2006 Supreme Court Rapanos v. United States case. Under Scalia’s view, only wetlands that have a relatively permanent, surface connection to a downstream water body that is “navigable in fact” can be protected under the Clean Water Act. This view has never been adopted by the full Supreme Court, and none of the lower courts have concluded that Scalia’s test should be the sole rationale under which a wetland can be protected.
Reducing the jurisdictional reach of the Clean Water Act would likely hurt endangered species. Ephemeral aquatic habitats are important habitats for endangered Chiricahua leopard frogs, Sonora tiger salamanders and crustaceans like vernal pool fairy shrimp. Removing legal protections for wetlands that support these species will mean these areas could be degraded more easily without proper mitigation to protect endangered species.
“Even places as dry as the Arizona desert have wetlands that teem with life. This action by Scott Pruitt and the Trump EPA represents a first step on a long path that will destroy these special places,” said Suckling. “We’ll fight this cynical attempt to gut protections for our waters and wildlife, and we will prevail.”
The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.3 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.
Contact: Brett Hartl, (202) 817-8121,