May 08, 2020

Chairs DeFazio, Napolitano Introduce Legislation to Block Implementation of Trump’s Dirty Water Rule

Trump’s Dirty Water Rule would roll back bipartisan clean water protections for streams, rivers, and wetlands, jeopardizing access to clean water for millions of Americans in the middle of a global pandemic 

Washington, D.C. – Today, Chair of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure Peter DeFazio (D-OR) and Chair of the Subcommittee on Water Resources and Environment Grace F. Napolitano (D-CA) introduced the Clean Water for All Act, which would prohibit the implementation of the Trump administration’s Dirty Water Rule – the most draconian rollback of clean water protections in the history of the Clean Water Act. In addition, the bill would require the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to start over and instead develop a new regulation to protect rivers, streams, and wetlands, that is based on the best available science, and whose implementation will not degrade water quality, contaminate drinking water, or increase local flood-related risks.

On April 21, 2020, the Trump administration published its final rule to roll back bipartisan clean water protections for the Nation’s rivers, streams, and wetlands, jeopardizing the drinking water of more than 117 million American households. This new rule radically reinterprets decades-old Clean Water Act protections endorsed by Republican and Democratic administrations alike – virtually assuring the destruction of rivers, streams, lakes, and wetlands throughout the nation.  Internal EPA documents estimate that the Dirty Water Rule would eliminate Federal Clean Waterprotections on as many as 60 percent of stream miles in the lower 48 States that do not flow year round – almost 2 million stream miles – and an estimated 110 million acres of wetlands. That’s why President Trump’s new rule is best described as the “Dirty Water Rule.”

The Clean Water for All Act would prevent this rule from being implemented.

“Though the Trump administration has shuffled through political appointees managing environmental portfolios, a clear message has been sent to each of them—it’s time to wage a war on our nation’s water,” said Chair DeFazio. “By removing critical protections at the behest of industry, Trump’s Dirty Water Rule will make streams and waterways more vulnerable to pollution, which is devastating for the 117 million Americans who rely on these waterways for drinking water.I have been sounding the alarm on this plan for months, but we can’t wait any longer to act. That’s why I’ve introduced the Clean Water for All Act, legislation to block the Dirty Water Rule from taking effect. I remember the bad old days when American rivers were so polluted they literally caught fire and couldn’t sustain life. Back then, Americans demanded the Federal government and Congress establish regulations to protect our rivers and streams – and now they are calling on us to block Trump’s Dirty Water Rule from moving forward. Putting the safety of our nation’s water at risk, especially during a global pandemic, is exceptionally cruel.”

Watch Chair DeFazio discuss the importance of blocking the Dirty Water Rule from taking effect here

“The tremendous clean water infrastructure needs facing our country have only been intensified by the COVID-19 pandemic. All of our communities—large and small, urban and rural, and tribal—need access to a safe and reliable water supply for drinking and washing our hands, clothes, and bodies. We should be doing all we can to fight the spread of the virus, protect families, and save lives. A national health care crisis is no time to slash protections of our nation’s clean water. Yet, to appease corporations, the Trump administration has followed through on its promise to destroy bedrock clean water standards by allowing polluters to dump into streams. This is especially harmful in California, where many of our residents get their water from streams that only flow following major storm events. This also further strains our local water agencies, who are focused on delivering a healthy, sustainable water supply to residents and will now have to spend billions of dollars creating treatment facilities to clean up the mess caused by polluters. The President’s Dirty Water Rule puts both the health of our nation’s waters and our American families at risk, which is why I am proud to introduce the Clean Water For All Act to stop it from taking effect. Clean and safe water is a basic human need in times of crisis or not, and it is a right that should be afforded to every individual in the United States,” said Chair Napolitano. 

“Americans deserve the ‘crystal clear’ water President Trump promised us. We want swimmable beaches, clean drinking water and healthy fishing streams,” said Gina McCarthy, president and CEO of NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council). “This bill upholds longstanding, science-based protections for waterways and wetlands around this country that provide critical nurseries for fish, trap dangerous flood water and filter pollution, and feed communities’ drinking water supplies.” 

Bill text can be found here.

Fact sheet can be found here.

List of supporters:

American Rivers

American Sustainable Business Council

Clean Water Action


Environment America

Environmental Law and Policy Center

League of Conservation Voters

National Parks Conservation Association

National Wildlife Federation

Natural Resources Defense Council

Sierra Club

Southern Environmental Law Center

Trout Unlimited