It’s called the Waters of the United States rule or WOTUS. It was updated during the Obama era in 2015 to protect streams, wetlands and groundwater. Last week, Trump and his EPA stripped away those protections. From the New York Times:
The new water rule for the first time in decades allows landowners and property developers to dump pollutants such as pesticides and fertilizers directly into hundreds of thousands of waterways, and to destroy or fill in wetlands for construction projects.
Sen. Steve Daines praised the move. From an email blast:
…the Obama administration instituted a burdensome regulation that told Montana farmers and ranchers how to manage their own land.
The Trump administration rewrite is about commonsense policies that protect Montana water, support Montana ag, and protect our property rights without overbearing regulations from DC bureaucrats.
I applaud President Trump and his administration for rewriting the rule to ensure that Montanans are allowed to manage the land they know best.
No mention from Daines about dumping wastes from fracking operations into waterways or bulldozing wetlands or pouring agricultural toxins in ditches — just a nod to the “property rights” of Montana farmers and ranchers. (And perhaps a wink to exclusive resorts that obliterate wetlands to build golf courses and ski runs.)
Oil and gas industries, and the lobbyists for big ag., are ecstatic. Trump’s administrative directive rescinds important conservation and health rules from the 1972 Clean Water Act that have mitigated industrial and agricultural pollution, and waterway destruction.
“This is rolling back federal jurisdiction of the Clean Water Act further than it’s ever been before,” said Patrick Parenteau, a professor of environmental law at Vermont Law School. “Waters that have been protected for almost 50 years will no longer be protected under the (revised) Clean Water Act.”
Daines saying the change will “protect Montana water” and calling it a “rewrite” is Orwellian at best. It is, however, just one of the many of Trump’s attacks on the environment that Daines condones:
(Trump’s) new rule, which will be implemented in about 60 days, is the latest step in the administration’s push to repeal or weaken nearly 100 environmental rules and laws, loosening or eliminating rules on climate change, clean air, chemical pollution, coal mining, oil drilling and endangered species protections.
Has our Junior Senator ever spoken out against Trump’s rollbacks of clean water and clean air regulations, his assaults on wildlife and wild lands, or the most pressing crisis facing Montana and the world: climate change?
It’s a rhetorical question. Speaking of which, Daines ends his email with another of his signature, vacuous polls:
Yes, most Montanans do know how to manage their lands. But how about the out-of-state mining company, trophy ranch owner or resort developer?
This is just another example of Daines stumping for his campaign contributors and low-information base, using buzzwords and duplicity in the face of science.