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Community Engagement Division
Office of Attorney General Maura Healey
One Ashburton Place
Boston, MA 02108
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE MEDIA CONTACT:
February 28, 2017 Chloe Gotsis
AG HEALEY JOINS COALITION OF ATTORNEYS GENERAL OPPOSING PRESIDENT TRUMP’S EXECUTIVE ORDER THAT GUTS CLEAN WATER PROTECTIONS
Joins Attorneys General From New York, Connecticut, The District of Columbia, Hawaii, Oregon and Vermont Vowing to Fight the Order and Protect the Environment
BOSTON — Attorney General Maura Healey today joined attorneys general and chief legal officers from New York, Connecticut, the District of Columbia, Hawaii, Oregon and Vermont in releasing the below statement opposing President Trump’s executive order which the President described as paving the way to eliminating the Clean Water Rule (also known as the Waters of the United States Rule):
“We strongly oppose President Trump’s executive order that undermines Clean Water Act protections and the public health and environment of our states.
The President’s order runs counter to the Clean Water Act’s, and the EPA’s, purpose -- achieving clean water. The Clean Water Rule is a measured, reasonable, and lawful application of sound and uncontroverted science to protect our nation’s upstream source waters. We rely on these waters to ensure clean drinking water, water recreation, and viable commercial fishing and navigation.
Rescinding the Clean Water Rule would allow uncontrolled pollution of these critical water resources, and could also harm the competitiveness of our state economies by forcing us to spend more to clean up the pollution of deregulated waters coming from upstream states that refuse to control such pollution in order to benefit their economies. Clean water is essential to life and the people of our states and the nation deserve the strong federal baseline established by the Rule to ensure that the benefits of clean water are shared equally regardless of state lines.
We won’t hesitate to protect our people and our environment—including by aggressively opposing in court President Trump’s actions that ignore both the law and the public’s paramount need for clean water.”
In April 2014, EPA and the Army Corps proposed the Clean Water Rule to define the “waters of the United States,” and made the rule available for an extended public comment period. After receiving over one million comments, most of which supported the rule, the agencies published the final rule on June 29, 2015.Massachusetts was part of a coalition of seven states (New York, Connecticut, Hawaii, Oregon, Vermont and Washington) and the District of Columbia that successfully intervened to defend the Rule in litigation challenging it in the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit.
The Rule clarifies the scope of waters that are protected under the Clean Water Act. It protects waters with a “significant nexus” to downstream waters, such as tributary streams, wetlands, and open waters in floodplains and riparian areas, consistent with Supreme Court precedent. In drawing those lines, EPA and the Corps relied on a robust EPA science report that considered more than 1200 peer-reviewed publications. The agencies also relied on an independent review of the science report by EPA’s Science Advisory Board.
The Rule enhances environmental protection benefits enjoyed by states and the public by clearly defining the Act’s reach to include waters that significantly contribute to the quality of the nation’s waters. By clarifying the scope of the Clean Water Act, the Rule also benefits both regulators and the regulated community by reducing time-consuming, inefficient and potentially inconsistent case-by-case jurisdictional determinations that have hampered effective implementation of the Act for years and led to significant, time-consuming litigation across the country.
The Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office has long supported an interpretation of the term “waters of the United States” that follows the scientific evidence and thus best achieves the Act’s central water-quality-protection purpose as a means to reinforce Massachusetts’s own strong water quality protection laws, including the Massachusetts Clean Waters Act and the Massachusetts Wetlands Protection Act.