Repeal of Clean Water Act Protections Challenged in Federal Court

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CHARLESTON, SC (October 23, 2019) — Conservation groups have challenged the administration in court over clean water protections. The legal challenge, filed under the US District Court for the District of South Carolina, opens a battle over the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the US Army Corps of Engineers' repeal of protections under the Clean Water Act. The repeal of these standards is one of several steps announced by the administration to change long-standing clean water protections, including a proposal currently subject to public comment that would redefine what waters are protected.

The Southern Environmental Law Center filed today’s challenge on behalf of American Rivers, Charleston Waterkeeper, Chattahoochee Riverkeeper, Clean Water Action, Defenders of Wildlife, Friends of the Rappahannock, National Wildlife Federation, Natural Resources Defense Council, North Carolina Coastal Federation, North Carolina Wildlife Federation, and South Carolina Coastal Conservation League.

The lawsuit contends that EPA and the US Army Corps of Engineers violated a long-standing law that prohibits agencies from altering basic environmental safeguards without giving the public adequate notice and a chance to weigh in. According to the lawsuit, the agencies failed at evaluating the effect of their actions and giving the public a meaningful opportunity to comment on their decision to eliminate scientifically backed protections for streams and wetlands.

“Clean water is a way of life we take for granted in America, but now large polluters are trying to dismantle bipartisan water protections in place for almost 50 years,” said Blan Holman, a managing attorney at the Southern Environmental Law Center, which is representing the conservation groups in court. “The administration is pretending that pollution dumped upstream doesn’t flow downstream, but its plan puts the water used by hundreds of millions of Americans for drinking, bathing, fishing, and business at risk. We are going to court to protect clean water across the country.”

The agencies have 60 days to respond to the lawsuit.

For more information and comments from the groups who filed in federal court today, visit the Southern Environmental Law Center website

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