New proposal would eliminate pollutant discharge protections, water quality standards, and other key Clean Water Act provisions


Washington (December 11, 2018) – Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), a member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, released the following statement after the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposed to redefine the “Waters of the U.S.” – also known as WOTUS or the Clean Water Rule – that would receive federal protections under the Clean Water Act. The Clean Water Rule, issued in 2015 by the Obama administration’s EPA and Army Corps of Engineers, had expanded Clean Water Act protections to include two million miles of streams that flow into larger bodies of water, along with 20 million acres of wetlands. It secured safe drinking water for 117 million Americans.


“In Boston we may sing about ‘dirty water’ at Fenway Park, but pollution of our nation’s waterways is a threat to our economy, environment, and public health,” said Senator Markey. “The Clean Water Act has been integral to cleaning up our waters to protect wildlife, ensure safe drinking water, and provide economically valuable sources of recreation. Boston Harbor, the Charles River, the Connecticut River, and hundreds of other irreplaceable Massachusetts waterways and sources would be in jeopardy if this rule is enacted. Rolling back key protections for clean water and public health to benefit a handful of ranchers and miners is simply bad policy, and I will continue fighting to ensure that we maintain health of the waterways we’ve worked so hard to clean up.”


The proposed revision follows former EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt’s two-year suspension of the Clean Water Rule in January 2018 while the administration developed a replacement. President Trump had declared rolling back the Clean Water Rule to be one of his top priorities when he took office, and issued an executive order in February 2017 calling for its elimination.