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Tribes, advocacy groups sue EPA over rule narrowing scope of federal waterway protections

Tribes, advocacy groups sue EPA over rule narrowing scope of federal waterway protections
July 8, 2020 Indiana Environmental Reporter

By Enrique Saenz, Indiana Environmental Reporter

A group of native American tribes and labor and environmental groups filed suit to stop the implementation of a new federal rule that limits the scope of waterways under federal protection.

The Quinault Indian Nation, Fond Du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa, Menominee Indian Tribe of Wisconsin, the Bad River Band of Lake Superior Chippewa and Pascua Yaqui Tribe filed suit in Washington state against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

The tribes were joined in their suit by the Puget Soundkeeper Alliance, Sierra Club, Idaho Conservation League and Mi Familia Vota, a national Latino civic engagement organization.

The tribes and organizations asked federal courts in Washington state and Arizona to set aside the Trump administration’s Navigable Waters Protection Rule, which limits which waterways are protected by the Clean Water Act and other federal laws, and reinstate the Clean Water Rule, an Obama-era rule that expanded the definition of “waters of the United States” that fall under federal protection.

“Water is a gift from our Creator. It brings life to all things. Water is a blessing and we must do everything we can to protect it,” said Pascua Yaqui Tribe Chairman Peter S. Yucupicio. “The Pascua Yaqui Tribe will be joining other Tribes in the fight against the current administration’s attempt to roll back the protections of the Clean Water Act. Should these rollbacks occur, the vast majority of Arizona’s waterways will become unprotected from pollution and degradation. It is our responsibility not only to protect our tribal lands but our ancestral homeland.”

The Trump administration has rolled back dozens of environmental regulations throughout its term and is in the process of rolling back dozens more.

President Donald Trump took aim at the Clean Water Rule from the beginning of his presidency, signing an executive order a little more than a month after he took office that set the blueprint for the dismantling of the law.

The Clean Water Rule expanded the definition of “waters of the United States” to eight broad categories. The law faced multiple legal challenges and was blocked from being implemented in 28 states, including Indiana.

The Navigable Waters Protection Rule was finalized in January and went into effect June 22 in most of the U.S., except Colorado. The law repeals the Clean Water Rule and limits the definition of “waters of the United States” to four categories: territorial seas and navigable waters; perennial and intermittent tributaries; certain lakes, ponds and impoundments; and wetlands adjacent to jurisdictional waters.

Also read the article here at the Indiana Environmental Reporter website.


Read more on federal rollbacks on Great Lakes Now:

Regulatory Rollbacks: Loss of federal water protections impacts Great Lakes region

Clean Water Rule: Ohio U.S. Rep. challenges Trump on rollback while key Great Lakes legislators stay silent

Conflicted Congressman: Mich. Rep. Huizenga backs federal money for Great Lakes, supports Trump’s Clean Water Rule rollback

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