Last week, President Trump issued an executive order initiating a review of the Clean Water Rule, also know as the Waters of the United States (WOTUS) rule. It is the first step in a long process that may result in the rescinding or revising of this important protection of America’s streams and wetlands, including those providing crucial habitat for millions of ducks and geese. Many migratory species such as the Mallard, Blue-winged Teal and Northern Pintail spend much of their lives in places protected under the rule. Their breeding grounds in the Prairie Potholes Region and wintering grounds along the Gulf Coast will now face an uncertain future after the President’s executive order.
The review of the WOTUS rule—partially in the hands of the Environmental Protect Agency—underscores the significant role the President’s cabinet secretaries will play in key decisions impacting Audubon’s conservation efforts (see related article).
The EPA was instrumental in the recovery of the Bald Eagle, once on the verge of extinction, and many other birds such as Peregrine Falcons and Mallards have benefited from the EPA’s clean water protections. In a rare move, Audubon opposed the nomination and confirmation of Scott Pruitt, the newly confirmed head of the EPA, based on his record of fighting against clean water and air protections. Now, Pruitt will be overseeing the process to potentially roll back the WOTUS rule. It is one of the many responsible, commonsense clean water and air safeguards directed by the EPA. We will remain vigilant of any movement at the EPA to dismantle efforts that protect the health of birds and people across our nation.