On Wednesday, April 25 at 10 a.m. eastern the Senate Environment and Public Works committee will hold a hearing on the Waters of the United States Rule, more commonly known as the Clean Water Rule. You can watch the hearing live, here. To learn more about the Clean Water Rule, read our Frequently Asked Questions page. We’ll be live-tweeting the hearing, so join us on Twitter @healthylakes and check out our social media guide for the hearing. Of particular note for the Great Lakes region is that Sens. Kristin Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) and Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.) are both members of the committee.
The landmark 1972 Clean Water Act took a major step forward in protecting the drinking water in the United States from pollution and toxins. However, starting with a Supreme Court case in 2001, the extent of the waters protected by the Clean Water Act began to become less clear. By 2006 (and a second Supreme Court case) it was obvious that something would be needed to clarify the extent of the Clean Water Act or streams and wetlands throughout the country–which millions rely on for drinking water–would go dangerously unprotected from pollution.
For years, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers worked to gather input for a rule which could provide the clarity the country badly needed to protect our waters as intended under the Clean Water Act. Finally, after months of open public comment and revisions, the former Obama Administration published the final rule in the Federal Register on June 29, 2015. The rule, known as the Waters of the United States Rule or the Clean Water Rule, provided protections for the drinking water of 117 million Americans–including 37 million in the eight Great Lakes states alone.
Now, the Trump Administration has signaled that it plans to repeal the Clean Water Rule and begin again, even though sound and thorough science backs the rule as it stands.